80 year old man walks through blizzard to rescue 3 cars of people

80 year old man walks through blizzard to rescue 3 cars of people

Sask. woman survives 14-hour ordeal in swirling blizzard with help from nearby stranger

By: Florence Hwang – CBC News

Shannon St. Onge found herself in the thick of a blizzard on Monday evening, lost on a Saskatchewan road and peering out her rolled-down window for a glimpse of the road. 

With a little luck — and the help of a stranger in Vancouver who saw a Facebook post — she and six others were saved by an 80-year-old retiree who walked through the whirling snow to help them. 

“Once we arrived to [his] house, and I parked the car, I got out and jumped into his arms and gave him a great big bear hug,” she said. “I was sobbing with gratitude, I was so grateful.”   

Monday started as an ordinary day for St. Onge, who lives in Pense, Sask. She drove the approximately 25 kilometres east into Regina for work.

“I needed to go into the office to sign a cheque. I thought it wouldn’t take very long,” said St. Onge, who is the director of finance with First Nations University of Canada.

She kept an eye on highway conditions throughout the day, so she knew about the forecasted blizzard, but thought she could make it. Without giving it much thought, she filled up her car, picked up a new phone charger and bought some pizza for her kids’ dinner. Those actions would help her get through a 14-hour ordeal in the whiteout storm.

She took a dirt road because she thought it would be better for the winter driving conditions, but whiteout conditions left her confused and lost.

She drove at a snail’s pace with her window rolled down, using the edge of the road as her guide. After a while she realized she was lost.

“There was no visibility, and there was no way I was going any further, because it would have been far too dangerous.” 

She pulled over and called 911. The operator suggested she wait the storm out, because she was warm and parked with a full tank of gas.

“Would the gas tank last until morning? What if I was hit by another vehicle? What if I fell asleep and the tailpipe was blocked? What if I didn’t make it home at all?” she wondered, according to a later Facebook post.

St. Onge recomposed herself and went into problem-solving mode. She could make out a sign that said “Bouvier Lane,” giving her some sense of where she was. She got the idea to pin her location on Google maps.

She posted her location on the Pense community Facebook page. Community members started guessing at where she was located. One man — who happened to be originally from Pense, but now lives in Vancouver — figured out her location. 

“He private messaged me and said, ‘I know that family. Send me your phone number and I’ll contact their son,'” St. Onge said. 

Andre Bouvier Sr. was doing some genealogy research when he got the call about St. Onge’s plea for help. He decided to help her out, despite his wife’s concern for his well-being heading out in the storm.

The 80-year-old retiree tried to start his tractor, but it was dead. 

He bundled up, grabbed an LED flashlight and walked about half a kilometre into the raging storm to search for St. Onge’s car. He knew he could walk to where she was as long as he stayed on the road.

“The worst part was the wind. Halfway there, I had to put my mitts in front of my eyes,” he said.

To Bouvier’s surprise, he found two other vehicles with people who also needed help stranded alongside St. Onge.

He led the seven stranded people back to his home and welcomed them in for the evening. 

“They fed us, laughed with us, bonded with us, and gave us blankets, pillows and a warm place to rest our eyes for a few hours,” said St. Onge. 

At 5:00 a.m. CST,  Bouvier plowed his driveway for his guests. By 5:30 a.m., the motorists were back on the road, despite sub-par conditions.

St. Onge has made new friends through this ordeal. Bouvier became a hero overnight. His son and daughter shared a video St. Onge’s made about the ordeal and it went viral.

Bouvier didn’t want much credit for his efforts for a stranger in need.

“Everybody would have done the same thing,” he said. “You don’t think about it, you just do it.”

be kind . be grace . help one another

be PEACE

Peaceful Words for Shelter Dogs

Peaceful Words for Shelter Dogs

This 11-year-old is helping hard-to-place dogs in shelters get attention — and find homes

By Cathy Free / Washington Post

Evan Bisnauth admits he doesn’t always have the most attentive audience when he reads books aloud to shelter dogs at Animal Care Centers of NYC: There are yowls and barks, and sometimes, a dog will fall asleep on its back with its legs in the air. 

“That’s when I know they’re really happy and relaxed,” said Evan, 11. 

It was the summer of 2019 when Evan’s mom, Amanda Persaud, heard about Books With Boroughbreds, an Animal Care Center program that encourages children to enhance their reading skills by reading to abandoned dogs. She took the bus with her son the following weekend from their home in the Bronx to the shelter in Manhattan.

“I spent five hours reading to every dog on the first day,” said Evan, who is now in sixth grade. “After that, I wanted to go every weekend.”

“I’d tell them at the end of the story, ‘Don’t give up — I have a lot of hope for you and I know you’ll get adopted,’ ” Evan said.

When the coronavirus pandemic put his Saturday visits on hold last year, Evan decided to start a Facebook page, EB and the Pets, where he could post short videos he’d made of dogs that needed homes. 

Even if he couldn’t read to the dogs, perhaps he could help them to get adopted if he told their stories, he said.

The shelter supplied Evan with photos of dogs that were most in need of adoption and he got to work making videos with help from an app. The most recent one on his page is a video a shelter made for Myna, a 9-year-old black and white dog with some medical issues. 

He also made a video for Marco, a pup in need of an emergency adoption. 

“Marco is hoping for a helping hands and holding on to the dream that someone will give him a second chance,” he wrote in the post that accompanied an animated video of him interviewing the dog. “He’s scared and losing faith and will need someone to continue with training at a slow but steady pace,” Evan continued. “He requires an adult only single dog home. Please click the link in the bio to learn more and share his story!” 

Another video that featured a dog named Freddy received nearly 2,000 views after it was shared by several pet adoption charities.

“He is social, friendly and has engaging conversations that will make you want to know all about him,” wrote Evan. “[Freddy] is charming and quiet — he is a lover of human and cats and is looking to make his life all about you.” 

All of the dogs featured by Evan quickly find new homes or are picked up by other animal rescue organizations, his mom noted. 

“Either way, they get a second chance,” said Persaud, 39. “Evan tries to never let them down.” 

Evan was honored last month as ASPCA’s Kid of the Year — an award that he hopes might inspire other people his age to help shelter animals in their own communities.

“Helping dogs has brought me a lot of happiness,” he said. “If everybody would read to dogs and try to get them adopted, think how much difference that would make in the world.”

Adoptions of shelter animals increased during the pandemic as more people stayed home, and in some cities, there was actually a shortage of adoptable dogs for a time. Some 90 percent of dogs adopted during the pandemic have remained in their adoptive homes. 

But there is still an abundance of dogs in shelters waiting to be adopted across the country. The most recent numbers from the ASPCA, from 2019, show at the time there were 3.1 million dogs living in shelters across the United States.

Evan’s crusade to help dogs in New York City has helped raise awareness and make older or unsociable dogs more adoptable, said Risa Weinstock, president and CEO of Animal Care Center.

“It’s remarkable to see the calming effect his reading has on each dog,” Weinstock said. “The dogs can sense that he’s there just for them, and there is a visible reduction in their stress level.” 

“Evan’s dedication as a junior volunteer has given hundreds of dogs a taste of what it would be like to live in a home curled up with a good book and a best friend,” she added.

Persaud said that she and her husband, Edward Bisnauth, noticed Evan had a special knack for communicating with dogs at a young age. He would snuggle next to the family’s pets and practice his reading skills in soft and soothing tones, she said.

“When he started reading to the dogs at the shelter, I noticed that he’d make the effort to find out which dogs needed the most help,” said Evan’s mom. 

“He’s found something that he loves and he’s very dedicated to what he’s doing,” she added. “As a parent, I find that really admirable. The only problem is that he now wishes he could bring all of the dogs home.”

Evan said he knows that isn’t possible, so he’s aiming for the next best thing.

“Someday, I want to have my own animal rescue and I’ll take in every dog I find that needs help,” he said.

“I’m still going to read books to them,” he added. “Every single one.”

be kind . be grace . be compassion

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Welcoming Refugees

Welcoming Refugees

Kenneth and Adi Martinez immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 2011, and when given the opportunity to help a family of four who recently fled Afghanistan, they jumped at the chance.

“We know exactly what it feels like to come to a brand new county with no family or anything,” Kenneth told Good Morning America. “We know it can be difficult, and in the case [of Afghan refugees], it’s very difficult.”

The government expects tens of thousands of Afghan refugees will come to the United States over the next year, and resettlement agencies are working with organizations and individuals like Kenneth and Adi to help the refugees find housing, jobs, schools, and medical care.

Kenneth, Adi, and their two small children live in the Seattle area and offered their spare bedroom to the family from Afghanistan. Over the last month, they have been getting to know one another and their respective cultures, with the adults cooking and the kids playing together. Kenneth and Adi are helping the family get adjusted to life in the U.S. and bought them shoes and coats to prepare for the winter. 

“Even though we may think we don’t have a lot, we have an extra bedroom, we have the means and the resources and the ability to help,” Kenneth said. “We are happy that we can help

be kind . be compassionate . help one another .

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Sharing a Batch of Kindness

Sharing a Batch of Kindness

At the start of the pandemic, Maryland teenager Elise Chang would bake cookies and drop them off at her friends’ houses along with a stuffed animal.  Her friends loved the gesture and sent her photos of themselves with the stuffed animals, keeping them all connected.  “That’s why I wanted to continue doing it, because of those small but really meaningful reactions,”  Chang said.

She decided to use this as an opportunity to spread joy in her own neighborhood and launched the ‘Tough Cookie Service Project’, in which she delivers cookies to 20 neighbors each month and leaves a note encouraging them to do something kind for someone else. The pandemic has helped Chang see just how resilient people are, and how even the smallest gesture can mean so much.

“I love random acts of kindness”, Elise said. “You can just make someone smile when they weren’t originally or they’ll just be thinking about you or what you’ve done and want to continue giving kindness to others, which is really important to me.

be kind . be grace . give to others

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Brushing & Braiding Bonds of Love

Brushing & Braiding Bonds of Love

Las Vegas Nurse Brushes and Braids Patients’ Hair on Her Days Off: ‘It’s That Connection’

By Abigail Adams / People

One Las Vegas ER nurse is helping care for hospital patients both on and off the clock.

Brooke Johns, a nurse for 2½ years, spends her days off at Southern Hills Hospital, where she volunteers to pamper patients.

“There’s something therapeutic about the human touch, as well,” Johns told the news station in a profile on the healthcare hero. “Human talking, human touching, it’s that connection that we’re all hard-wired for.”

During her visits, Johns will brush or braid the hair of any patients requesting the service. She is hopeful her kindness can provide a spark for those seeking a human connection while hospitalized.

Johns began tending to patients’ appearance five months ago after a friend ran into a problem while at the hospital battling an illness.

“Her hair was very snarled, she was too weak to brush it out herself and it was something she was very worried about,” she told KNTV. “So, one of the times I was up there I was able to brush out her hair and braid it and just talk with her.”

When she finally left her friend’s room, Johns said the patient “was a different person.”

Johns’ kindness has touched more than one heart. Sierra Stein, a former patient of the young nurse, credits her efforts for getting admitted to the hospital for proper care and treatment.

“COVID is going around and there’s a lot of isolation,” Stein noted. “You can’t have visitors or someone to come in with you or hold your hand and to have someone just to be able to braid your hair makes you feel like you’re at home again.”

As more nurses follow in Johns’ footsteps, the nurse is working on a new idea. Once visitation restrictions are lifted, she plans to dress up as Elsa from Frozen and visit younger patients at Sunrise Children’s Hospital.

“I think nurses, in general, get into this to help other people,” Johns said of her life’s calling.

Be Kind . Be Grace . Help Others

Be PEACE

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