Investing in our Youth – One Woman’s Mission to make a Difference

Investing in our Youth – One Woman’s Mission to make a Difference

Full disclosure this amazing woman is my relative and I couldn’t be more proud of the work she is doing to support the youth in her community.  Her drive, creativity and compassion is inspiring and hopefully a catalyst for others to follow suit. 

Heidi Maxie is more than just a math teacher. She’s seen as a “guardian and protector” of students at her O’ahu school, able to see beyond the surface to their deeper needs. She’s also a builder of bridges to her community, who in turn have all stepped up to support James B. Castle High.

Read the full article HERE

be kind .  be grace . support each other

be PEACE

Free Mom Hugs

Free Mom Hugs

Free Mom Hugs is a beautiful organization started by one amazing Mama with the goal of supporting her son.  From that initial mission she has created a movement that has expanded across the nation and is helping bring love, peace and support to many people.

 

Sara Cunningham began her journey of becoming an advocate of the LGBTQIA+ community through her relationship with her gay son. She founded Free Mom Hugs in 2014 and since that time many parents and allies across the country joined the movement to accept, love and support the LGBTQIA community.  Free Mom Hugs became an established 501(c)(3) non profit organization in 2018 to fight for human rights for all.

Click below to support their efforts.  Oh- and if you’re a hugger be sure to order one of their awesome shirts to wear with PRIDE and help spread the love.  

Here’s one more inspiring video 🙂

Be kind . be grace . support each other

be PEACE

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

be PEACE

A Nurse’s Kindness Rescues

A Nurse’s Kindness Rescues

Nurse goes beyond duty and rescues a hospitalized patient’s dog from the shelter

By Jennifer Hauser / CNN

It was right after Thanksgiving that registered nurse Jennifer Smith got an early morning phone call from John Burley, one of her favorite patients. He was distraught about his beloved dog, Boomer.

“I came into work the Monday after Thanksgiving to the phone ringing at 7 a.m.,” Smith told CNN. “John was calling from his hospital room saying, ‘Boomer is in the pound!’ Boomer is in the pound!’ Boomer is John’s world.”

Smith, who has been a nurse for 12 years, said she could tell he was concerned and also scared about what would happen to Boomer.

“He took a breath and asked me, ‘Will you take care of Boomer?’ And I said, ‘Of course, John. I will find Boomer and take care of him for you,'” Smith told CNN. 

Smith had met Burley at the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Rome, New York, through its adult day health care program, which is for patients requiring supervision, and which allows them to socialize with others while receiving medical care.

The 60-year-old still had his own apartment where he lived alone with his little mutt. Burley had adopted the 12-year-old dog in Arkansas when he was a puppy and later moved to New York. Most of his family still lives in Arkansas, so when he was hospitalized for pneumonia and lung problems, he had no one to take care of his dog. No one — except Smith.

Smith says that she formed a friendship with Burley in the adult daycare program and he would often talk about Boomer, showing off pictures of his furry companion. “I couldn’t separate the two of them. I just couldn’t.”

Burley didn’t know which shelter Boomer was in. Smith immediately looked up nearby animal shelters and when she called the Rome Humane Society, she discovered he’d been taken there.

“I was a little panicked because I didn’t know how long he had been in the shelter or if he had already been adopted to another family. It’s Christmas time and people get animals,” she said. “I told John I have a 13-year-old dog myself who I’ve had since a puppy, so I fully understand the panic. It made my heart sad for him and Boomer.”

She took an early lunch the next day and drove to the shelter where she found 18-pound Boomer in a large cage in the back. Smith said, “OK, where are the adoption papers? I’m going to take him home.”

Although he wasn’t quite ready to be released from the shelter, Smith immediately called Burley to let him know she’d found Boomer, he was OK and she would be bringing him home soon. A short while later, Boomer was set up at Smith’s home and making friends with her dog.

“It was one less worry that John has, and he needs to focus on getting better and taking care of himself and know Boomer is in good hands,” Smith said.

Burley is now temporarily living in the rehabilitation wing of the center. It’s uncertain where he’ll live after he is released. But while he is there, Smith is able to bring Boomer to work with her. She takes him up to Burley’s room a couple times a day. “It helps John with the healing process and gives him peace of mind,” Smith said. 

The other residents love Boomer, too. Smith says that Burley is proud to show off Boomer as he rides on his lap in the wheelchair. They smile and pet him. 

“There are just so many worries in the world right now. If I can take one worry away from John, that’s the least I can do,” she said. “I can’t cure diseases. I’m not a miracle worker … I made a promise to John to take care of Boomer. I will take care of him as long as he needs me to. John knows that. Right now the focus is on John getting better and taking it one day at a time.”

Smith’s kindness hasn’t gone unnoticed. Burley, who struggles a bit with speech, had an important thing to say: “I love Jennifer.”

“John seeing Boomer, that’s the only Christmas present I need right now,” said Smith, who, not surprisingly, said she pursued a career in nursing so she could help people.

be kind . be grace . be there for each other

be PEACE

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