Saturday, August 31, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

102 year old Dorothy Custer celebrates her birthday by jumping off a bridge...

Dorothy Custer is my hero. I mean it. She's 102 years old, and she's not afraid of anything. How do I know this? Because I watched her tandem BASE-jump off an Idaho bridge to celebrate her 102 years on Earth.
Custer, of Twin Falls, Idaho, just keeps coming up with ways to top herself. Last year, for her 101st birthday, she ziplined across Idaho's Snake River Canyon. She had planned to skydive for this year's big day, but that didn't work out. She told, "I was thinking of going to jump out of a plane, but then I found out it was too much. So then I said, 'Forget it! I'll just have a very calm birthday.'" Don't you just love her idea of calm? I know I do.
Custer said she won't allow her age to limit her. "I just went on living and having a good time and doing what was necessary," she said. "I don't think of age right now."
If you think Custer looks familiar but you can't quite place her face, here's why. She has made multiple appearances on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," cracking jokes, flirting with Leno, and even playing the harmonica.
We can't wait to see what fantastic adventures her 103rd birthday, on May 30, 2014, will bring Custer's way. We can only hope that there is video of whatever she does so that we can share it with you all.

Paralyzed BASE jumper Lonnie Bissonnette doesn't let his injury slow him down...

BASE jumping is an extreme sport where a person jumps off a platform and glides to the ground via a parachute.
It does not sound like the sport of a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, unless that paraplegic is Lonnie Bissonnette, an elite extreme athlete from Canada who is not letting a life-changing injury slow him down.

Bissonnette, 48, was injured in July 2004 during his 1,100th BASE.  He was attempting a quadruple gainer jump, an outward facing, inward rotating flip, off a 486-foot-high bridge when the lines of his parachute tangled around his foot, causing it to not open.
Bissonnette went crashing into the river below at about 70 miles per hour.  The impact of the crash broke his neck and spine, several bones in his body and caused a spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed, according to his website.
Bissonnette was told by his doctors that he would never walk again, much less jump, but today, nearly a decade later, the daredevil is proving them wrong.
"I don't let being paralyzed stop me for one moment," Bissonnette told the U.K.'s Daily Mail.  "The first thing I asked after waking up from my accident was, 'How long will I have to wait till I can be back out there BASE jumping again?'"
"BASE-jumping brings an amazing feeling to me that I don't get any other way," he said of the sport, which stands for Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth.
Bissonnette, who made his first jump less than a year after his accident, set a record as the world's first and only paraplegic BASE jumper to have leaped from all four of the objects in the sport's title.
Though the accident left him a paraplegic, Bissonnette has enough feeling in his right arm that he is able to pull the chord of his parachute during his descents, according to the Daily Mail.
Bissonnette has also, so far, completed 1,500 skydives in his wheelchair.
His next challenge is a BASE-jumping trip to Malaysia in September.
"I felt like I owed it to myself to carry on BASE jumping, or else I would have felt like a fake," Bissonnette told the Daily Mail.  "I know the risks and still carry on because it's my passion."
"BASE jumping is one of the most amazing things you can experience," he said.

Man's best friend: Lt. Gary Daugherty's dog reacts when he comes home after six-month deployment.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

74 year old Valerie Harper is defying the odds once again as she battles terminal brain cancer...

Doctors gave Valerie Harper just three to six months to live after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer earlier this year.
More than six months later, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" star, 74, has already surpassed medical expectations and it's possible more good news is coming.
Based on recent tests and scans, the cancer may be retreating for now, People magazine reports.
"I'd say that we're getting pretty close to a remission," neuro-oncologist Dr. Jeremy Rudnick, Harper's physician, told "Today" in a taped segment aired on Thursday. "It defies the odds."
The doctor continues to tell Harper and her husband Tony Cacciotti that the cancer is not cured and can still "develop resistance to the therapy," but that she now has more time.
"The problem is, at any time, this can change … It's not a matter of if (the cancer becomes resistant)," Rudnick told "Today," "it's a matter of when."
But Harper is optimistic and ecstatic that by "buying time," she could potentially have one more holiday season with her family.
"We're looking at Christmas!" she said.

Kayla Smith takes matters into her own hands and outsmarts thief who stole her bike...

Don’t steal from Kayla Smith, because the Vancouver woman won’t hesitate to steal right back.
After her $1,000 bicycle was stolen last week while locked up at the Olympic Village, Smith became despondent.
“I was like, 'I’m a good person, like, why would someone do this to me?'” she told NBC’s Kevin Tibbles.
Then, when a friend noticed a Craigslist ad for a similar bike, selling for $300, she got mad.
“Asked for karma to run him over with a flatbed truck,” the 33-year-old said. “I was so angry.”
Smith had contacted police but thought they might take too long to act.
"THIS GUY IS SELLING MY BIKE RIGHT NOW!!!" she wrote on the online site Reddit. "I am not missing this opportunity waiting for a call. So I jump into action."
Smith turned vigilante and set up a sting. She made arrangements to meet the seller at a local McDonald’s parking lot. She told the seller she needed a test drive. She said the man hesitated but warily let her try out the bike. That’s when Smith hopped on, started pedaling — and never returned.
“I was feeling like an NFL player, like, just scored a touchdown! I was like, Yeah!” she told Tibbles.

Good news for kids as Tooth Fairy prices reach nearly $4 per tooth...

NEW YORK — Days of finding a quarter under your pillow are long gone. The Tooth Fairy no longer leaves loose change.
Kids this year are getting an average of $3.70 per lost tooth, a 23 percent jump over last year's rate of $3 a tooth, according to a new survey by payment processor Visa Inc., released Friday. That's a 42 percent spike from the $2.60 per tooth that the Tooth Fairy gave in 2011.
Part of the reason for the sharp rise: Parents don't want their kids to be the ones at the playground who received the lowest amount.
"A kid who got a quarter would wonder why their tooth was worth less than the kid who got $5," says Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor at Golden Gate University.
To avoid that, Brian and Brittany Klems asked friends and co-workers what they were giving their kids. The Klems, who have three daughters and live in Cincinnati, settled on giving their six-year-old daughter Ella $5 for the first tooth that fell out, and $1 for any others. They say that $5 was enough without going overboard. They didn't want other families to think they were giving too much.
Then Ella found out that one of her friends received $20 for a tooth.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

11 year old double lung transplant recipient Sarah Murnaghan is back at home and "looking forward to a nice long life"

An 11-year-old Pennsylvania girl who received two double-lung transplants after her parents challenged the nation's organ allocation system is back at home, more than two months after the life-saving operations. 
Sarah Murnaghan left Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for the first time since February on Tuesday morning, arriving at her Newtown Square home to a crowd of well-wishers, balloons and welcome signs. She was carried to her family's porch later in the day, dressed in a pink top and flowered shorts, where she waved weakly and told reporters she felt: "So-so."
"Sarah's looking forward to being a regular little kid," her mother, Janet Murnaghan, said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "We're looking forward to Sarah having a nice long life."

Facebook's oldest user, 105 year old Edythe Kirchmaier, receives a new car from an anonymous donor...

Not many Facebook users can claim they learned to drive on a Ford Model T, but Edythe Kirchmaier is a centenarian with millennial tendencies.
These days, though, you'll find the 105-year-old cruising around Santa Barbara, Calif., in a brand new Honda Civic. An anonymous person gave her the car upon learning that troubles with her 1997 Dodge Caravan prevented Kirchmaier from her passion — volunteering with the charity Direct Relief.
Kirchmaier has volunteered with the organization on a weekly basis for the past 40 years and participated in relief work since World War I, Direct Relief spokeswoman Kerri Murray toldMashable.
"She dedicates hours and hours of her time to help bring better health to people around the world," Murray said. "Giving back is something she's been doing her whole life."
Kirchmaier drove her new Honda Civic to its new custom parking spot outside Direct Relief's Santa Barbara headquarters on Friday. Upon receiving the gift, Kirchmaier expressed her gratitude the old-fashioned way: through a Facebook post.
New Car

Kirchmaier became Facebook's oldest registered user when she signed up late last year. According to Murray, when Kirchmaier registered, 
birth year. 
Upon joining Facebook, Kirchmaier asked other users to helpDirect Relief's Facebook page reach 105,000 Likes, coinciding with her 105th birthday on Jan. 22. With appearances on The Tonight Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Kirchmaier surpassed the goal. The page currently boasts more than 123,000 Likes.
Kirchmaier is also California's oldest driver. To boot, she has a perfect driving record. In her 86 years behind the wheel, she never once received a speeding ticket or parking violation, and was never involved in an accident, according to Murray.
Murray said that the gifted car "had nothing to do with" Direct Relief, except that an individual paid for it so Kirchmaier could continue "inspiring people and doing good for others." She also said Kirchmaier is particularly excited about the sportiness of the car and its backup camera.

Cancer isn't about to slow down 4 year old Declan Cassidy..."he runs, it's what he does"

The nightmare often begins with something small and seemingly insignificant: a bruise that won’t heal, a persistent head cold or just a routine visit to the pediatrician. For the Cassidys of Millis, life changed forever the day they moved the couch.
Their only child, Declan, was 2 at the time and was running around the house like a Jack Russell on Red Bull. “It’s what he does,” said his dad, Terry. “He runs around.” On this day in early June 2011, Declan was having trouble with his running route through the living room. His parents had re­arranged the furniture, and the poor kid kept banging into the couch.
Mom and Dad didn’t know what to think so they made an appointment to see an eye doctor. “We thought he might need glasses,” said his mom.
Annette Cassidy then reels off the sequence of events like all Jimmy Fund parents do, like it happened yesterday or like it happened every minute of every day since they heard the news: The eye doctor sent them to a pediatrician, who recommended a neuro-ophthalmologist, who sent them to Children’s Hospital, where they immediately ordered an MRI. Finally, Dr. Nicole Ullrich, a neurologist with a big heart, sat them in her office, where the walls then came crashing down on the young parents of Declan Cassidy.
“She said he had a brain tumor,” Annette said. “It was the size of a mandarin orange.”
Dr. Ullrich said it was called optic tract glioma, and it was inoperable. Their little boy was blind, and there wasn’t much they could do about it.
“It was devastating,” said Annette. “I can’t put into words the feelings you have. You don’t sleep for days. You have so many questions. They said it was in the center of his brain. It was just surrounded by too many vital things. You can’t remove it. He started chemo right away.”
He also started visiting the Jimmy Fund Clinic, which meant the place would never be the same. Declan is 4A now, and two rounds of chemo have done little to slow him down. Like Dad said, he runs around. It’s what he does. He also laughs and hugs and talks and makes colorful bracelets that he hands out to everyone he meets.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

Kelly Cottle thinks nothing of carrying former Marine and now husband Jesse Cottle on her back....

SAN DIEGO - A photo of a Marine's wife holding her wounded husband may look like a symbolic gesture or something grand and intended for viral status, but Jesse Cottle told 10News sometimes it's just how they get around.
He and his wife, Kelly, were having photos taken during a family weekend when everyone gathered in the water. Jesse, a double amputee, then took off his prosthetic legs and hopped on Kelly's back so she could carry him in.
They had no idea what would happen when the photo was posted online to Facebook.
"Everything just kept skyrocketing," said Jesse. "And we were just astounded."
Jesse lost his legs in 2009 in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED. He and Kelly met while he was recovering and were married last year.
"It doesn't matter how heavy he is," Kelly told 10News. "It just makes me thankful, more than anything that I am able to share these moments with Jesse and that he is still here."
Jesse said his wife started carrying him at the beach because his prosthetics do not support him very well in the sand. So when the photographer asked the couple to hop in the water, she did not think twice.
"It kind of symbolizes the kind of person that my wife is … The type of person that she is on the inside and out," said Jesse.
Jesse and Kelly told their story to the world on Tuesday during their interview with Good Morning America.
“We both believe that the husband – he’s the man – he’s the head of the household, but it’s also perfectly OK for the ladies to kind of support the man and carry the man both physically and figuratively,” Jesse told 10News.
They say that the attention is unexpected but they plan to use it to help others.
"It's humbling," said Kelly. "It's hard to think of yourself as a big deal to anyone, but the fact that it may help people does mean a lot to us."
The couple met during a swim meet after Jesse was hurt and now make San Diego their home.

72 year old David Nugent receives his Bronze Star 46 years after saving the lives of his fellow comrades in Vietnam...

Forty-six years after he saved the lives of his comrades in Vietnam by throwing away a grenade that had rolled near them, a Brewster veteran was awarded the Bronze Star.

David Nugent, 72, received the award during a private ceremony Monday at Hanscom Air Force Base attended by about 70 people.

Nugent was pushed by his son-in-law Brady Bagwan, an Army Rangers captain, to pursue the award. Nugent contacted Niki Tsongas’s office, because he is a Lowell native, and they got the ball rolling. Nugent needed signatures from the Marine Corps and the Navy, which he quickly received, and with the help of Sergeant Major Alfredo Franco, the ceremony was organized.

“I’m still a little nervous about it,” said Nugent, a quiet man who prefers to stay out of the spotlight, in a phone interview. He is proud of receiving the award, but is mostly happy that he could share the experience with his family.

“It was so nice sharing it,” he said. “I was overwhelmed.”

Nugent is hoping that ceremony will “stir up patriotism” among the 20 younger members of his family who attended, including his grandchildren and his grandnieces and grandnephews.

Rafael Nadal learns a thing or two from 12 year old Conner Stroud who doesn't let being born without hips, ankles, femurs or knees get in the way of him playing tennis

NEW YORK (AP) — Tennis players around the world have learned plenty from Rafael Nadal.
On Tuesday, Nadal learned something from Conner Stroud.
Stroud, a 12-year-old from Spindale, N.C., was born without hips, ankles, femurs or knees. Encouraged by parents who wouldn’t allow their son’s disability to hold him back, Stroud has been playing against able-bodied kids in local tennis tournaments, winning a couple and inspiring people young and old.
Stroud visited the U.S. Open and spent some time with Nadal, who signed autographs and chatted with the youngster outside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
‘‘The most important thing is that he’s happy,’’ Nadal said. ‘‘He’s able to keep practicing the sport. He’s playing tennis. That’s great for him, for the family. That’s a great example that you can be happy even if life doesn’t give you everything. It’s a big example for me and should be a big example for a lot of people.’’
Stroud runs on his stubs — what’s left of his legs due to a birth defect called Bilateral Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD). He was born with feet, but his parents consulted with doctors, who told them Conner would be able to move around more easily if he had all but the heels amputated.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

Nothing stands in the way of Nick Vujicic....

Nick Vujicic, born without arms or legs, refuses to let his rare condition confine him to a wheelchair. Born with Phocomelia, Nick travels the world inspiring millions with his story.
He plays golf, sky dives, swims and surfs. He does not see himself as disabled and has done everything in his power to turn his disadvantage into an advantage.
His most recent book "Unstoppable" just made the New York Times best-selling list. But despite his current success as an author and public speaker, his journey has not always been an easy ride. Watch Nick's incredible story below.

96 year old enters his "song" about his wife- "Oh Sweet Lorraine" into a singer-songwriter contest -studio brings his lyrics to life...

Fred Stobaugh, from Peoria, Ill., wrote lyrics to what he called "Oh Sweet Lorraine" after his 91-year-old wife passed away last April. The couple had met in 1938 and were married for 73 years, according to ABC News.
"Oh sweet Lorraine," the song begins. "I wish we could do all the good times over again."
Stobaugh, who's not a musician, entered the lyrics into a singer-songwriter contest at Illinois' Green Shoes Studios.
His entry was like no other, said Green Shoe's Jacob Colgan. Instead of a YouTube video link, Stobaugh sent a large manila envelop with the lyrics written in a letter:
The memories always linger on. / Oh, sweet Lorraine, no I don't want to move on. / The memories always linger on. / Oh, sweet Lorraine, that's why I wrote you this song.
"I started to read the lyrics and was so touched by the song and without even meeting Fred we thought, we're going to do something," Colgan said.
With Stobaugh's permission, Colgan set the words to music and brought the song to life. In the video below, the 96-year-old hears the tune for the first time.
"Wonderful," Stobaugh says after listening, while holding back tears. "Just wonderful."
If the heartwarming clip has you wanting more, "Oh Sweet Lorraine" is now available on iTunes.

Harold and Ruth Knapke dedicated and loyal to one another for 65 years they show "that there is love that lasts, and that's a good thing"

(CNN) -- They met in elementary school, began a romance during World War II and married not long afterward. They had a lifelong devotion to each other as husband and wife that lasted nearly 66 years -- and one day earlier this month they died, just 11 hours apart.
Their children call it their "final act of love."
Harold Knapke, 91, and his wife, Ruth, 89, died August 11 at the Versailles Health Care Center nursing home in Russia, Ohio, spokeswoman Teresa Pohlmon said.
Their children said they were nine days short of their 66th wedding anniversary.
"It's consoling to us that they went together," said their daughter, Margaret Knapke. "On one hand it's difficult to lose both parents at once when you didn't see it coming ... but it's very consoling that they got to go together."
According to Margaret, her father's health had been deteriorating more quickly than her mother's for about a year.
"We would ask, 'Why is he still here?'" Margaret said. "And the answer was that he was here for Mom."
"He loved her very dearly. He was extremely loyal. He wanted to be here with her," she added. "He would sleep all day toward the end but when he'd wake the first thing he'd ask is, 'Where's your mother? How's your mother?'"

Monday, August 26, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

Surfers reach out to autistic kids to teach them how to catch some waves...

Lots of splashing and smiles at Folly Beach Wednesday as children with autism learned to surf. It was all part of the 6th annual Surfers Healing Camp. The annual event pairs autistic children with professional surfers for a day of fun at the beach.
"It is a day my son looks forward to," said Letiandrea Hinton, her son Jordan has autism. "The smile on his face says it all."
Often, autistic children spend their time with specialists and doctors who try help them cope with problems with motors skills and socials skills. However, at the beach they have more freedom.
"Well you can just tell when the kids go out there they just feel very free," said Shannon Proctor whose 6-year-old son also has autism. "They don't have to worry about anything, they are one with the water."
For a child with autism, a simple conversation with a loved can be a struggle. In the water no words were required.
"You don't really have to talk while you are out there, you can just sit out there and relax and take in the environment," said Angie Smoak, an occupational therapist at Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in West Ashley.
Israel Paskowitz, founder of Surfers Healing, has an autistic son. The positive effect the beach had on his son led him to share his experience with others.
"It's a calming event for Jordan, the first year it was a little ruff." said Hinton. "Each year he progresses and does more."
Some children with autism go to the Pediatric Rehabilitation Center for therapy. But, health care providers say the day at the beach is also a form of therapy.
"In here we motivate kids with various things like toys and swings and things like that, it's a very naturally motivating environment the beach," said Smoak.
Surfers Healing benefits parents too.
"There aren't too many activities that include special needs children," said Anastacia Mallory. "It's just nice to have an event that is designed specifically for them."

Inspiring: Paralyzed bride Rachel Friedman in her own words on holding onto her identity after her accident...

By Rachel Friedman...
There are very few moments that can happen in one's life that can change everything forever. In a split second your relationships change, your job, your finances, your home, your clothes and your independence.
After my accident I felt like I was a new person and it was difficult to accept. I went from being a lifeguard at a local pool to being watched over by a lifeguard while wrapped up in floaties as if i were an infant learning to swim. I used to teach aerobics and light weightlifting to seniors and now here I am having a difficult time lifting a two-pound dumbbell. Being active and athletic was my life. I had gone from being a leader in the aerobics studio to a patient in a rehab facility. I defined myself partly by my work and that part of my life had disappeared completely.
Not working and losing my independence made me feel so infantile. What was I going to do now? I felt lost and confused. How was I supposed to act? How will my friends react? Will I go back to work? Its almost as if i needed to find a new identity.
I had always been so graceful too, having danced since I was little. Now I looked like a rag doll when I tried to dance. Dancing always made me feel so free and beautiful. I took hip hop and ballroom dance classes all through high school and I can't express enough the amount of love I had for dance.
Even my hands are no longer graceful. My hands which were once so feminine were now balled up in a loose fist. The hardest thing to accept was my new body.

One homeless man's random act of kindness...

This story only has a few details, but it's definitely tugging on our heartstrings.
"This homeless man found a bunch of my wife's stolen property strewn all over downtown Tulsa," Redditor anitasanger wrote on Friday. "He took the time to gather it all up in the rain and call us for retrieval. I just want to recognize him as an awesome human being."
A few commenters wrote that they recognized the man from a day center for the homeless.
"Repay him, go to that day centre [sic] and help out," one Redditor suggested. "That is what he would want," he wrote, and included a link to the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless.
"He didn't want a thing in return," anitasanger mentioned later. "We gave him the $15 we had and thanked him for his kindness. It's awesome to be reminded that there is a lot of good in the world."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

Richard Renaldi and his photo project "Touching Strangers"

(CBS News) NEW YORK -- Forty-five-year-old Richard Renaldi is looking for someone -- two someones, actually. Two total strangers who were meant to be together, if only for a moment.
Richard Renaldi
Richard Renaldi
 / CBS News
"They're not exactly sure what they just signed up for, and people are a little nervous at first," Richard says.
Richard is a New York photographer working on a series of portraits. For each shot he grabs strangers off the street -- like Jenny Wood, an airline employee from Virginia, and Dominek Tucker, a college student from Brooklyn -- and poses them like adoring family.
Richard calls the project "Touching Strangers." He started shooting it six years ago and now has hundreds of portraits of these unlikely intimates.
Some of the photos -- you'd never know, they'd never met, while others capture quite well the inherent awkwardness of cuddling a random dude.
Richard poses Jenny Wood and Dominek Tucker like adoring family.
Richard poses Jenny Wood and Dominek Tucker like adoring family.
 / CBS News
Even when the subjects seem eager, their body language often concedes a certain hesitance, at least at first. Ten minutes later, though, it's like Thanksgiving at Aunt Margret's.
And that's the really weird thing. Yes, Richard puts the people in these poses, but the sentiment that seems to shine through is real -- at least so say the subjects.
At first, Brian Sneeden, a poetry teacher, saw no rhyme or reason for posing with 95-year-old retried fashion designer Reiko Ehrman, but eventually he, too, felt a change.
"I felt like I cared for her," Brian says. "I felt like it brought down a lot of barriers."
Pretty much everyone shared that same sentiment.
Hunter, Margaret and Abigail
 / Richard Renaldi
"It was a good feeling," says Dominek Tucker.
Adds Jenny Wood: "And it was nice to feel that comfort."
"Everyone seems to come away with kind of a good feeling," Richard says. "It's kind of lovely. It's lovely."
Most photographers capture life as it is, but in these strangers, Richard Renaldi has captured something much more ethereal and elusive. He shows us humanity as it could be -- as most of us wish it would be -- and as it was, at least for those one fleeting moments in time.
See more of Richard Renaldi's work.

Kids make their own fun at Ronald McDonald Camp for kids with cancer

The room was filled with flashing lights that created a disco ball effect, music and happy kids. This had the vibe of a roller skating party from my youth. It was in fact the Wednesday night “dance for your meds” party at the Ronald McDonald Camp Wellness Center.
Taking medicine typically isn’t fun – especially if you’re a kid and your medicine doesn’t taste very good — but the Wednesday night “dance for your meds” party was fun.
Because the medical staff asked, “Why not?”
Ronald McDonald Camp is for kids with cancer and their siblings. The dance for your meds party was a great reminder that almost anything can be fun. It’s our job—whether we’re at camp, home or work–to make sure of it.
Here are a few other lessons from my favorite week of this year – my week at camp:
Talking about highs and lows is fun
Most nights each camper and counselor in our cabin talked about his highs and lows for the day. It was a great way to see what kids were enjoying and learn what we should do to make the next day even better. Our family has adopted this practice at home before our son goes to bed. It’s interesting and often funny to hear our 4 year-old son’s highs for the day (we don’t do lows yet). And, he loves to hear ours as well.
Focus on others. You’ll be happier
I saw an older camper take the time to explain to a younger camper with a similar problem why things could work out and coach him towards accepting and embracing his opportunities. The older camper used his energy to reach out to others and it was obvious he felt great about it. Feeling down? Want to get a burst of happiness? Research shows that helping someone else boosts happiness.
Also, when you help other people, you can’t help but be in the moment. Camp is one of the few places where I’m not thinking about work or other things. I’m completely focused on making sure every camper has the best possible time. I think you’ll find the same thing when you volunteer.

Once homeless woman Yelitza Castro reaches out to lend a hand to the needy...

Yelitza Castro says homeless men were at first wary when she pulled up along side them in a big white SUV and began promising free meals to any who’d get in the vehicle and go for a short ride.
It’s not unheard of for groups to give food to Charlotte’s homeless on weekends, but this was different: An immigrant woman offering fancy Venezuelan food to African-American men more accustomed to getting hot dogs and burgers on paper plates.
And she had her little girl in the car, too.
“Nobody would come,” says Castro, 41, a native of Caracas, Venezuela. “The men were afraid of my food, that it would not be ‘normal.’ ”
Her daughter Barbara, who was then 11, was just as baffled as the homeless guys. Not only was her mother cooking all the food herself, but she was paying for it out of her own pocket. “I kept thinking: ‘Mom, this is crazy. Why are we doing this?’ ” she says.
But Castro would not take “no” for an answer.
If the homeless weren’t coming to her, she’d bring her food to them. “I packed it up, took it to the shelter and gave it away in the parking lot,” she recalls.
That’s all it took.
Three years later, her twice-monthly Latino buffets attract as many as 180 homeless men to the Camino Community Center in north Charlotte. Sponsors like StoneBridge Church have stepped up to cover the cost and they’re also sending volunteers to help with the work. All this, because an immigrant housekeeper felt she owed Charlotte a debt that had to be repaid.
Giving hope
Castro’s immigrant tale starts with a romantic love story that does not end happily.
The bride-to-be moved from South America to Charlotte in 2001, to reunite with her boyfriend of three years. But the couple got into a fierce argument not long after her arrival and Castro was unceremoniously escorted to the street, out of his family’s house.
“I had been in Charlotte just 15 days and I was homeless,” says Castro, who was 29 at the time. “I had nothing but my suitcases.”
She couldn’t have imagined a worse predicament
But in the weeks that followed, Castro says she experienced one act of kindness after another, starting with a pastor who let her move in with his family for a month.
She found a job in a Cuban restaurant, began working 16 hours a day, and saved every penny to pay the expenses required for her daughter Barbara to come to the United States, too.