In times of hardship battling the pandemic and fighting for justice for George Floyd, the world feels really heavy. Amidst the chaos, I’d like to bring to light stories of people doing good and having each other’s backs. From interviewing these small town heroes, I hope you find optimism and hope in their words. Here are reminders that there is a lot of good in the world...
Communities come together to clean up after protests for George Floyd.
After protests for George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, downtown Los Angeles was left with shattered windows and graffiti from looters acting independently from the peaceful protesters. Ms. Rothberg was out on the sidewalk by 9 AM with her broom and small dustpan. By the afternoon she had more than 100 people helping from her Facebook post and just people passing by. The power of teamwork even led to a pedestrian bringing them 10 pizzas.
In San Jose, California, Mayor Sam Liccardo handed out cleaning kits -- including a bucket, a scraper, some rags and Goo Gone while offering guidance in graffiti removal. These citizens wanted to clean up because they didn’t want the vandalism to outshine the importance of the protest.
11 year-old Jorja Boller and her sister bring joy to senior citizens with their pony Little Peanut.
11 year-old Jorja Boller, 2019 Nebraska State Honoree in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, created Horsing Around Nursing Homes to help her community. With her little sister and their pony, Little Peanut, they help bring smiles to the faces of elderly people living in nursing homes in Nebraska. This team of three has been making socially distant visits at three nursing homes in her hometown by going window-to-window to keep lonely nursing home residents company.
Jorja says, “The senior citizens love seeing my pony! The smiles on their faces were so neat! Some of them didn't want to stop seeing him so they would go into other people's rooms just to see him again. I just really miss volunteering with my people but this lets me try to make them happy because I know some of them don't get any visitors.”
Therabody has donated over 300 percussive therapy devices to hospital break rooms around the world.
The device Theragun has been changing people’s lives with it’s percussive therapy technology to combat muscle soreness from a long day at work or after working out. Their mission is to empower people to take their health and wellbeing into their own hands with natural, whole-body wellness solutions.
Since the pandemic, Theragun has donated over 300 new devices to hospital break rooms, offering healthcare providers relief and recovery in over 60 hospitals around the globe and counting. They’ve also donated thousands of masks to local healthcare facilities worldwide and have pledged to donate 100 meals for every device sold through their website with Feeding America. They already surpassed 250,000 meals!
This high school held a jet ski graduation for seniors on the water.
12 graduates of Somerset Island Prep, a charter high school in Key West, Florida, didn’t get a traditional graduation ceremony due to COVID-19. Instead, after taking a free three-hour jet ski training course, each graduate coasted on the water to pick up their diplomas. One at a time and abiding by social distancing, students met their principal who was standing on a docked boat and used a grabber pole to give each student their diploma without any contact.
Somerset Island Prep in Key West, FL found a unique way to honor the Class of 2020 with a jet ski graduation!— Academica (@Academica) May 27, 2020
In graduation caps, gowns and masks, the students jet skied to their principal who presented them with high school diplomas.#SomersetAcademy #Academica pic.twitter.com/qQtff89FMD
While it was more fun than a traditional ceremony, principal Tom Rompella drove home the message that through creativity and hard work you can overcome any challenge.
Police officers kneel and hold hands with protesters in peaceful protest for Black Lives Matter.
Caliope Yiannos and her family joined protesters for the Black Lives Matter movement in Ocean City, New Jersey. Working toward a common goal, officers and protestors united in a peaceful gathering -- police officers were not in riot gear. Officers stood with protestors, guiding them across the bridge and set up roadblocks.
“The Ocean City cops in the photo are Officer Tyrone Rolls and Lt. Pat Randles. These cops knelt with us and spoke out about the BLM movement, making clear that they support us and were there with us. Officer Rolls spoke about his experience with racism in and out of uniform, and about the love he felt being surrounded by people who were protesting on behalf of BLM. Lt. Randles thanked us all for being there and creating a peaceful and open environment and welcomed us to the city,” Caliope explains.
Over 25 libraries and community centers are converted into childcare hubs for essential workers.
In wake of the pandemic, a partnership quickly formed between the YMCA and the City of Memphis Parks Department with the local government to create a massive meal distribution and childcare program to help the community. The economic impact of COVID-19 has left many families without meals and without childcare. Memphis and many vital partners have acted quickly to plan, strategize, organize and mobilize --resulting in over 400,000 meals distributed in the last two months from 80 meal distribution sites across the city.
The program also includes childcare. Many essential workers do not have someone to watch their child as schools have closed. Community centers are unable to run their typical summer camps this year, so this partnership has converted over 25 libraries and community centers into childcare resource hubs for essential workers across the city. There is no income requirement, and the broad definition of 'essential worker’ means eligibility is vast for local residents.
These senior living associates gave residents a horse race of their own after the 145th Preakness Stakes was postponed.
Many residents at Brightview Avondell were disappointed when the 145th Preakness Stakes horse race was postponed. Senior Concierge Bre Mastromarino tells me, “Since the Preakness was postponed, we jumped at the chance to give our residents something back that they were excited for - it’s such a tradition here in Maryland. It was an excuse for the residents to go all out, showing off their Preakness and Maryland attire.”
Associates gave residents a reason to cheer with their own live "horse" race. Department heads at Brightview wore inflatable horse (flamingo and dinosaur too) costumes and ran their own race outside on the senior community grounds. Abiding by social distancing on balconies and on the ground six feet apart, residents were able to cheer on their favorite staff members.
Microsoft associates have organized over 3,000 virtual graduations for graduates and families.
We all know that graduation ceremonies have looked a lot different this year. Over the past few months, schools, teachers and students have been finding inspiring ways to commemorate 2020 graduates virtually. To help celebrate this important moment, Microsoft has been bringing graduation ceremonies to students’ homes by offering virtual graduations for up to 20,000 people via Teams.
This simply isn’t just a video conference graduation. From virtual diplomas to recreating the school virtually in Minecraft, these Microsoft Store associates are organizing more than 3,000 virtual graduations for school across the country.
“Magical Lunch Lady” makes 1,000 emergency meals a day for kids with themed pickups.
When Pattie’s school in Michigan closed for COVID-19, her team started making over 1,000 emergency meals a day for the kids who used to rely on the lunch they got at school. Nearly 50% of children are experiencing food insecurity. But what makes Pattie Guck so incredible is how she can take families' minds off their troubles, even for a moment, through a magical “experience” at meal pick-up sites.
"We have theme days every day, some favorites being Disney, Superheroes, Pajamas, and Christmas day. The Dream Team, children, and parents dress up and decorate their cars, buses, and sidewalks to have fun with the themes. The reactions we receive from families - thanking our team for feeding them, telling us that seeing us decked out is the best part of their day - are so heartwarming. All it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust. Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. The BPS Chartwells Dream Team is a family and to them the community is family. Our Ohana makes it all worth it," Pattie says.
This GM engineer went from working on vehicles to making emergency ventilators for hospitals.
Tony Vittorini, Engineering Director at General Motors, leads the development of battery and body structures for new vehicles, including electric vehicles. In early March, Tony was tapped to help with a special project -- making ventilators to combat the shortage of them around the country.
Tony says, “When I was offered the opportunity to help GM and Ventec make ventilators, I jumped at the chance. I knew my team and I could help get the project off the ground and that our engineering skills would save lives. With every challenge that arose and the hours that seemed to never end, I always kept in mind that it was worth it and that we were going to help people who needed a ventilator to survive. Seeing the first ventilators delivered to doctors and nurses in Chicago area hospitals made it real. I was helping real people in our country and we were making a difference.”
Shipt Shopper completed his 100th order to a familiar face...the local ICU nurse who saved his life 8 years ago.
Shipt is a company where someone shops for you and then delivers your groceries or products right to your doorstep. Christopher Rothstein is a Shipt Shopper who completed his 100th order to a familiar face - the local ICU nurse who saved his life 8 years ago after suffering from a heart attack.
Years without seeing each other, Christopher instantly recognized his ICU nurse when he opened his front door. Saving Christoper in 2012 was not forgotten -- the nurse told him that he put the anniversary of Christopher’s heart attack on his calendar so he gets a reminder every year ‘that there is a guy somewhere out there and we mattered to each other.’
Throughout these stories, I was reminded of a quote that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Continue to find the good -- sometimes it might be hard to find, but it’s always there.
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