On February 1st, 2013 students at Stony Brook University surprised Zamir, an employee who works the night shift at the local Dunkin Donuts. Check out the great video they made to commemorate the occasion:
Published January 20, 2013 FoxNews.com
Usually, when a waiter refuses to serve someone at a restaurant, customers complain. In this case, customers cheered.
The waiter in question, Michael Garcia, has been receiving goodwill and friend requests on the restaurant’s Facebook page since word spread that he stood up for a child with special needs.
Garcia, who works at the Houston restaurant Laurenzo’s, was waiting on a family, regulars with a 5-year-old child, Milo, who has Down syndrome. The server said that another family at the restaurant commented on Milo’s behavior, which Garcia described as “talking and making little noises.” Garcia moved the complaining family to another table, but they were still unhappy. “Special needs children need to be special somewhere else,” the father reportedly said.
The waiter then took a stand. He told FoxNews.com that such talk is ignorant and is due to people’s fear of the unknown. “My personal feelings took over,” he said, leading him to tell the father, “Sir, I won’t be able to serve you.” The family left the restaurant.
It didn’t take long for the story to get out. The eatery’s Facebook page has received praise from people in Texas and beyond.
Facebook user Tisha Baker wrote, “Thank you so much for speaking up when most just turn away.”
Rick Park posted, “Thank you Mr. Garcia, I have a 17 year old son with Down syndrome and I love to hear about people like yourself standing up for people with disabilities.”
Stephanie Painter added, “Thank you Michael for standing up for this beautiful little boy! Anyone who has ever come in contact with a child, or adult, with Down’s knows how loving and happy they are. Milo is a precious gift from God and so is Michael!”
Outside of Texas, Garcia gained other fans. Sue Pusztai posted, “I wish I lived in Texas so I could eat at your restaurant. I would loved to have met Mr. Garcia and thank him for his compassion and courage.”
Grateful mom of Milo, Kim Castillo, added her thanks online the night of the incident on a friend’s Facebook page: “Yay for people like Michael … who not only love (my son) Milo for who he is — a customer and little boy with Down syndrome, but stand up for him no matter what.”
FoxNews.com’s Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.
At the age of 51, lawyer Tony Tolbert decided to move back into his parents house just so a homeless family could move into his own. This unbelievable act of kindness just has to be seen! This man is truly an angel.
Normally, being stopped by a police officer is not good news. But this traffic stop was not exactly typical.
When Hayden Carlo was pulled over by a Plano, Texas, cop for driving a car with an expired registration, he told the officer the truth.
“I said there’s no explanation for why I haven’t done it, except I don’t have the money. It was either feed my kids or get this registration done,” the 25-year-old told CBS News.
The cop handed Carlo a ticket, along with something extra, “I opened it up and there’s a $100 bill,” said Carlo. “I broke down in my car, what else could I do?”
He could, and did, update his and his wife’s car registrations. Carlo’s grandfather, Billy McIntire, then wrote a letter to the Police Department to commend the good-hearted cop.
McIntire told CBS, “I get emotional when we talk about this type of thing. You just don’t find that many officers who would do this type of thing.”
Or anyone who would, for that matter.
Recently, images of an NYPD officer buying boots for a barefoot man spread on the Web along with praise for the officer’s warm gesture. But the mystery cop in Plano chooses not to be identified.
Still, the department plans to honor him anyway. A Police Department spokesman, David Tilley, told CBS, “As he told me, this man needed it more than him, and it was the right thing to do.”
“He helped me out when I needed it. I appreciate that, I’ll never forget that man,” Carlo said. “It definitely restored my faith in God.”
I’ve been posting “good news” stories here for years. Today it occurred to me that I had never shared the best news of all with you. Here is a post from a Facebook page I received today. I hope it touches your heart.
What Christ did on the cross was sufficient sacrifice to satisfy the debt of your sins against God and to afford you forgiveness of your sins, cleansing through His blood and transference from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, to be born again and filled with His Spirit.
You cannot do good works to tip the scale in your favor. We do good works out of gratitude for what He has already done. We cannot earn heaven. Take part in the believer’s rest and lay down the heavy burden of never knowing if you have done enough to earn heaven.
As the song says,
Jesus said it best, “It is finished.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 (Amplified Bible)
For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved
(delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;
Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law's demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]
Galatians 2:21 (New Living Translation)
I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.
John 6:28-29 (New American Standard)
Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
Love in Christ Jesus, Mark
Meet Gary Gaddist and Danielle Hatherley Carroll. Gary is a hardworking Parks Department worker in lower Manhattan who collects trash five days a week. Danielle lives in the neighborhood that Gary works in and one day she lost something very important to her in the trash and thought it was gone forever – her wedding ring.
Danielle is a painter that takes people in the city on outdoor painting adventures. One Sunday she was teaching a class in Battery Park. Because painting can be messy, she brought along a clear garbage bag where she and her students would put their dirty rags. Danielle thinks that since she was constantly cleaning her hands and throwing rags into the sack, at one point her ring must have come off and she didn’t realize it.
It wasn’t until 3:30 a.m. Monday (early the next morning) that Danielle realized her brand new wedding ring (an updated piece of jewelry that was a gift from her husband) was gone! She and her husband drove back to Battery Park and found the garbage container where she had dumped the trash bag. Nothing was inside and Danielle was in hysterics.
Luckily, the couple spotted a Parks Department truck nearby. “I said, ‘I’ll bet you anything it’s in there,’” Danielle said. “We walked over and nobody was inside. So I wrote a note.” It began: “Hello, I believe my wedding ring is in this truck.”
“Then I put it under the front windscreen,” she said.
When Gary found the note on his truck, he was touched. He worked for the city for 12 years and never saw such an emotional, honest response. So, he called Danielle to get as much information as he could. He told the couple it would be “iffy” but he would do his best to find the ring.
So Gary went over to Randalls Island, where thousands of pounds of garbage was stored after collection. Although he was looking for a needle in a haystack… he found it! After sifting through hundreds of black garbage bags, he spotted the clear one with her art supplies inside. When asked why he would go through such trouble for a stranger, he said, “She sounded like a nice person, and I could tell she and her husband love each other,” he said. “I’m glad I could help.”
We should all feel blessed, for there are so many truly good people in the world! An encounter like this just shows that even complete strangers will go the extra mile – and do the miraculous – if it means they are making someone happy.
At Columbine, I have seen this before. But not up close. As a church pastor in Denver, I have worked as a chaplain with several police and fire departments. I was privileged to counsel parents just hours after the Littleton Columbine shootings. However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22 year old woman from my church, Petra Anderson (pronounced Pay-tra). Petra went to the movies with two young friends who are biking across America. You and I have been inundated with news about what happened next. A joyful movie turned into bloody, unbelievable chaos. Petra was hit four times with a shot-gun blast, three shots into her arm and one bullet which entered her brain. This a bit of Petra’s miracle story.
With awesome people from our caring and pastoral team, I spent all day Friday in the ICU with Petra and her family. Her injuries were severe, and her condition was critical. A bullet had entered Petra’s face through her nose, and then traveled up through her brain until stopping at the back of her skull. The doctors prior to surgery were concerned, because so much of the brain had been traversed by the bullet. Many areas of brain function were involved. They were hoping to keep her alive long enough to get her into surgery. The prognosis was uncertain—if she lived, Petra might struggle with speech, movement, and thinking due to considerable brain damage. With Kim, Petra’s mother (who is in the final stages of terminal cancer), we simply cried, hugged, and prayed.
It is pressed into my memory now. Motion and emotion…
Other families come and go into the ICU waiting room. Some sit with us, and we talk. Others are visited by doctors with “Family Advocates” in tow. The families listen, sob, and then are moved like stunned cattle to a more private space to grieve. We pray. Petra is finally taken into surgery, using two different surgical teams. One team of neurosurgeons will open up the back of her skull to remove the bullet and clean up brain damage as best they can. Another ENT-specialty surgical team will then work through Petra’s nose by scope to follow the bullet’s path up into her brain. Their hope is to remove bone fragments, clean up damaged brain tissue, and reseal her brain to reduce infection.
If you have lived any of your days in a hospital waiting room, you know how long the enduring process is. It has a woeful pattern to it. Sit. Walk. Grab a drink. Sit. Walk. Answer a phone call. Sit. Walk. Hug someone. Sit. Talk to the FBI. Sit. Pick at the food. Sit. Walk. Go down the hall, but not too far because you’re afraid to miss something. Back. Hug. Pray. Sit. Sit. A picture of a five year old waiting for next Christmas from January 1st comes to my mind. FOREVER. Only this feels worse: a heavy forever, with no promise of presents, Santa, or good news at the end.
After the waiting drags for over five hours, tired doctors and nurses spill back into the room, one or two at a time. I look for “Family Advocates” but can find none. I exhale. The doctors update us: “It went well, and she’s recovering now. We found very little damage to the brain, and got the bullet out cleanly. It went better than we hoped for.” Each brings a warrior’s smile, and a bit of information—information that we turn into hope as we regurgitate it over the next hours. Still, the medical team remains professional and reserved, “Something might still go wrong. We just need to wait and see if she makes it for the next 48 hours.”
Tears and thank you’s abound. We are so thankful for these men and women. We hug. Everyone hugs. Then, round two. Sit. Wait. Pray. Fully dressed people cuddle into small snails and try to sleep on the floor. Some are shuttled to a room donated by the Holiday Inn across the street. Thank you, Lord, for every little thing. We sit. We pray. “We’ll understand better tomorrow.”
Petra is moved back to ICU. She looks, surprisingly, wonderful. With a small hole in her nose, and her arm wrapped, she almost looks uninjured. She is medicated and sleeping when I come to visit her on Saturday. I sit, talk, and pray quietly with Kim amid the darkened room, lit by glowing medical screens and power switches. Nurses, like quiet soldiers posted on guard, come in, march attentively through the machines, and go out. These men and women really care. Finally, one of the surgeons comes in to check on Petra. He has had some sleep, and looks more like a movie star this time. As Petra sleeps, he retells the story of the surgery, and we ask questions. The doctor reads the perfect script, as if he is on Hallmark Hall of Fame. He fills us in on the miracle. Honestly, he doesn’t call it that, he just uses words like “happily” and “wonderfully” and “in a very fortunate way” and “luckily” and “we were really surprised by that.” Kim and I know a miracle when we see it.
It seems as if the bullet traveled through Petra’s brain without hitting any significant brain areas. The doctor explains that Petra’s brain has had from birth a small “defect” in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear. Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.
But in Petra’s case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this defect. Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra’s nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. Like a giant BB though a straw created in Petra’s brain before she was born, it follows the route of the defect. It is channeled in the least harmful way. A millimeter in any direction and the channel is missed. The brain is destroyed. Evil wins a round.
As he shares, the doctor seems taken aback. It is an odd thing to have a surgeon show a bit of wonder. Professionally, these guys own the universe, it seems, and take everything in stride. He is obviously gifted as a surgeon, and is kind in his manner. “It couldn’t have gone better. If it were my daughter,” he says quietly, glancing around to see if any of his colleagues might be watching him, “I’d be ecstatic. I’d be dancing a jig.” He smiles. I can’t keep my smile back, or the tears of joy. In Christianity we call it prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future. It’s just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises. Twenty-two years before.
While we’re talking, Petra awakes. She opens her eyes, and sits up, “Mom.” Movie-star doctor spins to grab her, to protect her from falling. The nurse assures him she’s been doing this for a while. He talks to her, and she talks back. He asks questions, and Petra has the right answers. “Where do you hurt, Petra?” “All over.” Amazed, but professional, he smiles and leaves the set shaking his head. I am so thankful for this man.
Petra is groggy and beat up, but she is herself. Honestly, I look worse before my morning coffee. “I’m thirsty,” she proclaims.
“You want an ice cube, honey?” Kim replies.
“Please.” Wow. She lays down, back to sleep, a living miracle who doesn’t even know it yet. Good flowering out of the refuse pile of a truly dark night. “Thank you, Jesus,” I whisper.
Petra, you are amazing. Kim, you, too, are amazing. I am so proud of you both. But God, you are in a league of your own. (Duh.)
There is much ahead. More surgerys. Facial reconstruction, perhaps. And for Kim, chemo therapy to stretch every moment out of life. But life remains.The ending is yet to be written for this family. One final note: I am told Petra will take her first steps today. Time for the miracle to go for a walk.
Kim and Petra need our help. For more on the Andersons, or to help with their medical costs, please visit here. This is a great site.
Former Chicago life guards raise glasses of lemonade in memory of Eleanor Aren at North Beach. Eleanor passed away at the age of 85 on July 3. The former life guards used lemonade in the toast in honor of the lemonade Eleanor would frequently bring to life guards while they were on duty. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune / July 15, 2012)
9:49 p.m. CDT, July 15, 2012
They stood at the edge of the beach late Sunday afternoon, North Avenue lifeguards of beach days past, ready to pay tribute. But exactly where should the memorial be held?
“Her old spot,” George Velisaris called out.
They headed out onto the sand. Everyone knew where it was: midway into the sand on Beach No. 2, just north of the North Avenue overpass over Lake Shore Drive.
Eleanor Arens occupied that spot for at least 60-odd years, and was a frequent beach visitor even longer, since her childhood in the early 1930s.
She was an instantly recognizable fixture along the lakefront, ensconced amidst an elaborate assemblage of beach chairs wrapped in a canvas windbreak or feeding flocks of birds that circled around her head.
But the Bird Lady of North Avenue Beach has flown.
Arens, 85, died of atherosclerosis on July 3, leaving behind memories of a summer-long beach party and the lifeguards’ best friend.
“Eleanor was like part of the beach,” said Joe Pecoraro, 82, the legendary longtime head of Chicago Park District beaches and pools, now retired, who attended the beach memorial.
He met her in 1949 when he was a rookie lifeguard at North Avenue, and became a friend for years. “Eleanor and her mother used to come down and feed the lifeguards,” he said. “Even on a bad day, they’d come down just to drop off some biscuits or rolls for the lifeguards. They never forgot the kids.”
The kids never forgot her.
Now grownups, they turned a lifeguard reunion they had planned for Sunday into a tribute. Over pounding music at Castaways, the rooftop restaurant at the beach, they told how Arens had looked out for them.
“We’d out there in the sun four hours straight, and just when you were about to give out because of third, here came Eleanor with lemonade,” said Velisaris, who worked at North Avenue from 1988 to 1993 and organized the memorial.
Everyone remembered the lemonade. It was the best they had ever tasted, and Arens somehow managed to serve it over ice, even after she had been sitting on the beach for hours.
“Every morning I would beg – beg! – to work on Beach 2,” said Leanne Fanelli.
It wasn’t just the lemonade. Arens gave out peaches, too – sweet, juicy ones that rivaled the lemonade- and grapes, cookies and sandwiches.
And not just for the lifeguards. Her beach encampment became a daily party, said Mary Beth Sammons, who was not at the memorial but grew up as part of the beach scene because her mother knew Arens for more than 60 years.
“There were famous and not-famous people from all walks of life who knew her, and would stop by to say hi,” Sammons said. “She created a community for these disparate people like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
It didn’t end when summer did. Arens invited beach people, including some who were homeless, to her home for her Christmas parties.
“She had the most wonderful parties,” said Isabel Von Driska, Sammons’ mother. “She was the best hostess.”
She was kind and generous, her friends say. She helped pay college costs for several young people in her neighborhood who needed help, said Velisaris. And when Arens learned that her Polish caregiver’s daughter had a cleft palate, she arranged for a surgeon to correct it, without charge.
“She helped support me,” said that daughter, Zofia Starosciak, now 49 and a radiation technologist living in Brookfield. “I didn’t know the language, I was going to school – she would help me with immigration, everything. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be able to make it.”
Famously, she fed birds on a massive scale, hauling numerous 25-bags of seed to the circular drive off the parking lot.
“The birds knew her car,” Pecoraro said. “When Eleanor’s car would enter the circle, all the birds would gather around and sit on the fence and wait for her.”
She also fed birds at her homes, on the Northwest Side and then in Melrose Park. Dismayed neighbors complained, and Arens was ticketed numerous times.
She was following in parental footsteps. It was her mother, Katharina Baumgartner, who started feeding the birds on the lakefront.
Arens’ parents were Austrian immigrants. Her father, who had been given passage to the U.S. when he was mustered out of the Austrian Imperial Navy after World War I, went to North Avenue Beach frequently.
“This was the Depression,” said Katherine Arens, Eleanor’s her daughter, professor of Germanic studies at the University of Texas at Austin. “It was where you went.”
Baumgartner was an iconic beach presence herself. When she died in the early 1980s, six lifeguards served as pallbearers, in uniform of white jeans, lifeguard shirts and jackets, and whistles.
Arens worked as a corporate paralegal for various law firms. Von Driska met her when they worked for law firms in the same La Salle Street building.
“We used to go ice skating together,” Von Driska said. “That’s where she met her husband, at the ice skating rink.” They became part of a sociable group of friends who went out to plays and dinner for years.
Arens’ husband, Edward, a field engineer with General Electric, died in 1998.
She kept going to the beach. “She went as long as she could go,” her daughter said, until ill health intervened about four years ago.
The young lifeguards fought over who one would get to help the aging Arens. “She was like our North Avenue grandma,” said Nora Kennelly, 22.
“Toward the end, we took her in a wheelchair loaned to us by the boat house,” said Pamela Myers, her caregiver.”We walked her into the water.”
“Oh, she loved that beach.”
The beach loved her back.
The lifeguards stood in a circle at her spot, the sand golden, the water a rich, rolling blue, the air warm, the beach perfect.
“Today we are here to honor one of the most special people on the beach – someone who took care of everyone, whether it was a bird or a person,” Velisaris said. “She took care of all of us, and the world is a better place for her.”
The lifeguards raised their Solo cups.
“To Eleanor Arens,” Velisaris said.
“Eleanor Arens,” they chorused.
And they drank a toast.
Have you indicated your wish concerning organ donation? Kaylah did, even at such a young age, and it made all the difference, to her loved ones and at least five other lives. Don’t wait.
By DONNA VICKROY email@example.com May 27, 2012 10:00PM
Kaylah Lentine was a bright, lively, creative soul who loved music, art and posting homemade movies to YouTube.
She was driven, passionate and most definitely blessed with the gift of gab.
“She was in no hurry to grow up,” recalled her mom, Krista Wilkinson, as she sat in the family kitchen just two days after her oldest child was pronounced dead.
“She could be really silly,” Wilkinson said.
Yet, oddly enough, the 14-year-old Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School eighth grader was also wise beyond her years.
Wilkinson said as she sat at Christ Medical Center Thursday night and Friday, dreading the worst, she recalled her daughter’s prophetic words from just a few months back.
“Anyone who doesn’t donate their organs is just plain selfish,” Kaylah had told her parents, as invincibly as only a teenager can.
So when doctors told Wilkinson and Kaylah’s stepdad, Bob Nelson, that their spunky child was brain-dead, Wilkinson said she knew exactly what to do next.
As a result, the young girl who lost her life after a pickup truck slammed into her near the intersection of Southwest Highway and Cicero brought new life to at least five other people, Wilkinson said.
“Her liver went to a 10-month-old baby and her heart to a 56-year-old man,” she said. “She gets to live on in other people. And that gives me peace.”
Kaylah was running late to school on May 24. She was excited to be receiving a leadership award during an assembly that morning. She’d picked out a special outfit the night before.
But when she missed the bus that morning, what was to be a day of celebration turned into a nightmare.
Just after 8 a.m. on that fateful day, Wilkinson was at work, teaching second graders at St. Helena of the Cross School in Chicago. Nelson, who’d recently been laid off his construction job, was getting ready to head up to Kaylah’s school to watch her get an award for two years’ participation in Students Against Destructive Decisions.
He noticed the traffic snarl near Cicero and Southwest Highway and circumvented the mess to get to the assembly on time.
Wilkinson’s dad, who lives in Oak Forest, was already at the school.
“The saddest thing is that either of them could have picked Kaylah up and driven her to school if they’d known she’d missed the bus,” Wilkinson said.
But, like a lot of kids, Kaylah seemed determined to rectify the situation herself and decided to run the 2.3 miles to school.
The assembly was abuzz with activity.
“I heard her name called but I figured I just didn’t see her stand up with the others. I couldn’t find her in the crowd,” Nelson recalled.
Later that morning, Nelson said the school called. Kaylah wasn’t in attendance. A little later, Oak Lawn police called, saying they’d found a cell phone near the intersection and Nelson’s number was on it.
Wilkinson, who keeps her phone off while in class, checked it during lunch. Police had called her, too. She’d been planning to leave early that day to attend a play that featured her other children, 8-year-old twins Jayce and Delanie, Kaylah’s step-siblings. She headed to the station instead.
Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle came together and Wilkinson and Nelson learned that Kaylah was in critical condition at Christ, suffering head and chest trauma.
Even though well-intentioned callers promised her daughter would pull through, Wilkinson said she somehow knew what sadness awaited them.
“I tried to stay positive, but I had this intuition she wasn’t going to wake up,” she said.
Friday afternoon, the worst became reality. Wilkinson said after being told she immediately asked to see someone about organ donation.
She had recalled another sad story about a woman who had planned to donate a kidney to her brother but was killed before that could happen. She remembered Kaylah’s outrage that the killer robbed two people of a future.
“I can’t have the one thing I want, but this is the next best thing, to know she helped so many others,” Wilkinson said.
So the girl who loved Anime and the ‘80s band Journey, who had so many friends that her yearbook is now bursting with sentiments, who wrote poems and stories and songs, is now also a lifesaver.
The teen who told her good friend Marty Feigl that she wanted to be either a florist, a photographer or a psychologist when she grew up has now given others the opportunity to plan and hope.
“It’s not goodbye,” Marty said. “It’s see you later.”
On Wednesday, three of Kaylah’s friends will accept her diploma on stage and present it to her parents.
Wilkinson and Nelson are easily overcome by the bittersweetness of it all.
“I’ve been crying for three days, both because she’s gone and because all these people get a future now,” Nelson said.
Services for Kaylah Lentine are pending. To see her YouTube movies, enter kapactlovesu
This is truly a beautiful display of God’s design for love and marriage. 10 months into their dating relationship, Ian was involved in a tragic accident that caused significant damage to his brain. Larissa has been faithfully by his side the entire way.
Larissa and Ian have overcome unimaginable obstacles in their relationship and continue to face them daily, however they have put Christ in the center and are living out a beautiful love story. Do not miss this incredible story! desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-story-of-ian-larissa
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