Monday Meeting — Blind Pooch Gets Help From Seeing Eye Dogs

This dog can count on her furry friends to always have her back.

Kiaya, an Akita from Waterford, Michigan, lost both her eyes by the end of last year due to a battle with glaucoma. But the 10-year-old pooch can still get around fine, all thanks to Cass and Keller — two other dogs who help guide her, functioning much like seeing-eye dogs.

“Her brothers are pretty amazing at the way they help to guide her around,” Gwen Sila, the veterinary ophthalmologist who operated on Kiaya, told ABC News. “Each of them will stand on either side of her so she doesn’t bump into anything and lead her around the yard.”

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The 10-year-old dog began getting assistance from Cass back in 2013 when her left eye was removed, the owner of all three dogs, Jessica VanHusen, said. Cass grew more attached to Kiaya and stayed by her side. After the pooch’s second eye was removed in November of last year, he stepped up his game. He’s become protective of his “sister.”

“Cass always allows Kiaya to get to her food dish first and waits for her to start eating,” VanHusen said, in a press release. “When I take them in the car, he leans against her to keep her steady because she sometimes gets a little off-kilter. He also loves to groom her.”

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VanHusen says that Keller, who’s the youngest of the bunch, took a little longer to react to Kiaya’s condition but has become more and more careful and watchful.

Cass and Keller show incredible compassion, and VanHusen hopes that her dogs’ story will show others that caring for a special needs pet can be a beautiful thing.

“They’re an inspiration to everyone,” VanHusen said. “I hope others will see them and realize that a special needs pet deserves a chance. It takes a little effort, but it’s absolutely worth it.”

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The Huffington Post by Kimberly Yam
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Monday Meeting — Hawaii Homeless Man

For decades, a homeless person affectionately nicknamed the Mango Man has been a fixture in the beachside neighborhood of Kailua, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

With waist-length dreadlocks, Mango Man — whose real name is John Cruz — is reliably seen around town with his walker (he was hit by a car a few years ago) or sleeping under mango trees (hence his nickname). He is said to be in his late 60s and to have served in the Vietnam War.

He doesn’t ask for money or help, but rather sits quietly and watchfully in the neighborhood, sort of like a living landmark.

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According to Daniela Stolfi-Tow, an administrator for the “I Love Kailua” Facebook page, seeing Cruz is an important part of coming to the neighborhood. “You go from the airport, come home, get yourself your favorite plate lunch, and then you go see Mango Man,” she told The Huffington Post. “You’re so relieved to see him.”

But in April, when a group of residents went to surprise Cruz with a new walker, they found him in need of immediate health care.

According to KITV-4, the residents sought help from Chad Koyanagi, a doctor at the Waikiki Health Center, who organized with the Honolulu Police and Fire Departments, as well as EMS and the residents, to retrieve Cruz and take him to a hospital for treatment.

Because of his condition, which residents wouldn’t disclose to protect Cruz’s privacy, Cruz was placed in intensive care and is expected to stay in the hospital for a while.

Stolfi-Tow said his presence is missed. “It feels like the energy was just sucked out of the place,” she said.

A few other community members installed a sign for Cruz near a bus stop. “It’s to say, ‘We’re holding your spot when you’re ready to come back,’” Stolfi-Tow said.

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Why does the community love Cruz so much?

According to stories posted on the “I Love Kailua” community page on Facebook, many people experienced Cruz offering advice to those in need or protecting young people in Kailua.

Former Kailua resident DeeDee Gualdarama-Leong shared this story on the page:

“10th grade. I was talking to a friend and was not looking and [Cruz] grabbed me before a car came and banged the bus stop. Then 11th grade. Some grunts was harassing me, he told them to get the f*** away from his kids. 12th grade I was crying at the bus stop and he told me life is what u make out of it so think about it before u do bad, the Lord would not like that. I stopped crying and hugged him. I still go by that saying to this day.. thank u Lord for putting John in my life. I am truly blessed to call John my angel.”

In addition to a guardian angel, Stolfi-Tow has come to think of Cruz as a centurion for the community because of his military service and his tendency to wear fatigues.

After serving in Vietnam, she told HuffPost, “he took up another post here … He took his post and stood there day in and day out. He watched over everybody in his fatigues all day long. I realized that he was our guard. He watched over us.”

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The Huffington Post by James Cave
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Monday Meeting — 57th Anniversary

The sweet story of an elderly man’s tuxedoed surprise for his wife on their 57th anniversary has spread like wildfire on the Interwebs this week as netizens everywhere celebrated the Georgia couple’s enduring love.

James “Jim” Russell told ABC News that he and his wife Elinor don’t typically celebrate their wedding anniversaries in a big way, but this year, his family encouraged him to do something extra special.

So on May 20, Russell — who says he’s known Elinor “since she was in pigtails” — donned a tuxedo and, bearing an armful of flowers and chocolates, surprised his beloved in her hospital room. Elinor has reportedly been hospitalized for the past month.

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The couple shared a meal in her room, then watched her favorite TV shows. Elinor told ABC News that the duo “had a wonderful time.”

“Being in a hospital bed, you get bored so when they came in, it made me smile like the younger days when we were dancing,” she said.

The couple’s granddaughter, Reid Russell, shared photographs of the special occasion on Twitter this week. Her tweet promptly went viral, racking up more than 25,000 retweets.

On Thursday, Russell wrote that she was “blessed” to have her grandparents in her life.

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The Huffington Post by Dominique Mosbergen
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Monday Meeting — A Great Teacher

This teacher’s mix of spontaneity and compassion deserves an A+.

Tori Nelson, a teacher at Winlock Elementary School in Washington, found Matthew Finney, one of her fourth-grade students, crying outside the classroom this past Monday, Today.com reported. The 9-year-old, who was hiding under a hat, told Nelson that he had been teased.

“I asked him what was wrong, and he said he’d gotten a buzz cut for the summer,” Nelson told Yahoo. “But this morning, a fifth-grader on the bus made fun of him, and he didn’t want to come to class and get teased by other kids.”

The school doesn’t allow hats in the classroom. So the 32-year-old teacher hatched a plan that would make Matthew feel better, take off his hat and come into the room — she decided to allow the 9-year-old to shave her hair off. It was an idea that shocked the student, but Nelson assured him she wasn’t kidding around.

“I said, ‘Yeah, then you can say, “Hey, if you’re making fun of me, then you’re making fun of Miss Nelson too.”‘ So that perked him up and got him through the morning,” she told ABC News.

Later on, Matthew shaved his teacher’s hair off on the playground in front all the students, who cheered him on. The teacher’s confidence-boosting plan seemed to have worked. Matthew cheered up and no one teased him that day, according to Yahoo News.

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“It was a lot of fun for the kids, and it helped Matthew feel better about himself,” Nelson told Yahoo. “You have to do what it takes to reach children. Teaching isn’t just about reading and writing, it’s about self-esteem and accepting differences.”

While the compassionate act was quite bold, Winlock Elementary principal Boyd J. Calder said it’s something he’d expect from Nelson.

“I am not surprised by Miss Nelson’s effort,” Calder told ABC. “She is a fantastic teacher who always has the kids’ best interest at heart. Good teachers teach, great teachers inspire. Miss Nelson is a great teacher.”

As for Matthew, the 9-year-old not only felt more confident, but also learned to stick up for himself.

“Matt came home that day so excited about what had happened — he felt really good,” Breanne Finney, Matthew’s mother, told Yahoo.

Nelson added, “Matthew even told one student, ‘if you make fun of me, you’re making fun of Miss Nelson, so don’t do it.”

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The Huffington Post by Kimberly Yam
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Monday Meeting — A Goal for Cammy

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has made a young superfan very happy.

As part of the team’s #WhatsYourGoal campaign, which encourages people to share personal goals and wishes on social media, Keith took 5-year-old Cammy Babiarz for the first skate of her life. Cammy was born with Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder, and is unable to walk or speak. Her wish was to meet Keith and score a goal on the ice.

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Cammy’s mother, Jackie, hoped to include her daughter in the campaign by submitting a photo of Cammy wearing a leg brace with the Blackhawk’s logo. She read the team’s roster to Cammy and asked her which player she would like to meet. To respond, Cammy looked at her parents for “yes,” and looked away to reply “no.” When Jackie said Keith’s name, “She gave us a resounding smile, her eyes locked on us,” Cammy’s father, Bill Babiarz, told Yahoo Sports’ hockey blog, Puck Daddy.

The Blackhawks contacted the Babiarz family and invited Cammy to come to the team’s practice facility. Cammy knew she was going to a hockey rink, but didn’t know she was meeting Keith. When he walked into the locker room where she was waiting, the 5-year-old burst into a giant smile.

“She loves the Hawks, but we were a little worried she might not recognize him off the ice,” said Bill. “But she was star-struck.”

To communicate, Cammy uses a visual soundboard that she controls with her eyes. Upon meeting Keith, she told him that she lost five teeth, to which he jokingly replied, “Oh, I lost 10 teeth!”

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Cammy wasn’t the only one surprised. Her parents initially thought Keith would just push her wheelchair on the ice, but the Blackhawks encouraged them to bring the harness they use to walk with Cammy. This allowed her to attach to Keith while he moved, and wear her own skates that touched the ice. Together, they scored a goal. At the end of the visit, Cammy received a pair of jerseys, a signed hockey stick and a Blackhawks bag.

Last year, Bill ran 150 miles across the state of Illinois to raise awareness for his daughter’s disorder.

“Research has been accelerated and we do hope, one day, Cammy will run with us,” Jackie said according to the family’s Facebook page.

While Cammy’s goal-scoring visit with Keith was the big win of the day, Bill hopes it will continue to help his family raise awareness for Rett syndrome.

“It’s a day we’ll never forget,” Bill said.

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Huff Post — Good News
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Monday Meeting — 100 Years of Beauty

Would you want to get a sneak preview of what your life partner would look like in 30, 50, and 70 years? Would it change anything for you? The video creator who made this for Field Day took a chance that it wouldn’t.

Marriage isn’t for everyone, but what’s so moving here is seeing something that is really the ideal of what those who choose partnership are looking for. Commitment, joy, friendship — a kind of generosity of spirit and appreciation that can last through decades and shifts in life priorities.

The things that physically attract us to our partners WILL fade with time (and so will the things about us that attracted them!). But if you have a foundation of acceptance and unconditional love underneath it, that’s what will sustain you through the years.

Monday Meeting — A Son’s Heart

A mother had the chance to hear her dead son’s heart beat inside the chest of the woman he saved with a transplant 18 years ago.

Tears were flowing as Vicki Brannon, 56, and Jennifer Lentini, 31, finally met on Valentine’s day at the Tampa International Airport.

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Brannon’s son Matthew McIntyre was accidentally shot in the neck in 1996 when a handgun his friend was loading nearby suddenly went off. The friend had found the gun in an unlocked cabinet at another teen’s home.

Matthew was just 14-years old at the time.

His mother decided to donate his organs, and Lentini, who was then a 13-year-old suffering from heart muscle disease, was waiting for a transplant. Brannon said at the time she had been scared Lentini’s transplant wouldn’t be successful.

‘If it didn’t work, if she passed, I would go through another loss of my son,’ Brannon told the New York Daily News.

It was Lentini who found Brannon on Facebook and set up the reunion. The two had not had any contact since after the operation, when Brannon sent Lentini a letter and a photo of Matthew. Lentini was extremely grateful that she finally had the chance to thank Brannon and she flew down from New York after friends helped fundraise the reunion, which happened on National Donor Day.

Brannon said at the reunion that she felt like she had gained a daughter.

‘I want her in my life and I think she wants the same,’ she said.

At one point during the reunion Brannon held her ear to Lentini’s chest to listen to her son’s heart beat once again.

‘My Matthew is in there,’ she said.

Lentini, who was in the hospital for months while waiting for a donor, promised Brannon she was taking good care of herself to keep Matthew’s heart beating.

She said that, although there had been some lingering health concerns following the operation, she remains happy and healthy and makes sure to exercise and eat right.

Lentini showed Brannon pictures of the time she spent in the hospital waiting for a new heart.

She also gave the mother a necklace inscribed with Matthew’s initials and called him her guardian angel.

Brannon remembered her fun-loving boy, who had dreamed of becoming a police officer but ultimately saved another teenager instead.

‘My son had a good, strong heart,’ she said. ‘And it has kept her alive.’

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Source: Kindness Blog
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Monday Meeting — 92 Year Old Finishes San Diego Marathon

SAN DIEGO – Harriette Thompson became the oldest woman to complete a marathon in today’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, at 92 years, 93 days old.

Thompson, of Charlotte, North Carolina, completed the 26-mile, 385-yard course in seven hours, 24 minutes, 36 seconds.

The previous record was set by Gladys Burill, who was 92 years, 19 days old when she completed the Honolulu Marathon in 2010.

Prior to the race, Thompson said of the attention she has been receiving: “I’m going to be disappointed if it stops. I’m enjoying it! I love being pampered.”

Thompson began running when she was 76. Today’s marathon was her 16th. She is a two-time cancer survivor who entered the race to raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her husband died of cancer in January and her son just began his own round of chemotherapy.

She has raised more than $90,000 for the society, according to race organizers. Donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on behalf of Team Harriette can be made here.

“I’ll be praying for him the whole time,” she said before Sunday’s race.

“Harriette is an inspiration to all of us,” said 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, a San Diego-based runner. “To finish a marathon at 92? Wow, that’s impressive.”

So what’s Thompson’s secret? Apparently, it’s just keeping it simple.

“I put one foot down and then another one. I love to run,” Thompson said.

Thompson finished the full marathon in an unofficial time of 7:24:36, with a pace of just under 17 minutes per mile.

Thompson is a former concert pianist who played at New York’s Carnegie Hall three times.

“I do think the discipline required to play the piano has helped my running,” Thompson said.

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Monday Meeting — “And I Was Hungry…”

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“This sweet little old lady puts out food everyday to feed those that are hungry,” writes Tammy Beasley.
“Things like this show me there are people out there that still have hearts and that, my friends, gives me hope.”

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Source: Kindness Blog
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Monday Meeting — Good-Bye, Solo

A Police K-9 Dog Died Yesterday. This is his Caretaker/Partner/Best Friend Saying Goodbye one Last Time.

A photo of K9 Police Dog ‘Solo’ and his partner, Staff Sgt. Carlos Dipuma.

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The memorial service included a photo montage of Solo and his partner, Staff Sgt. Carlos Dipuma, as well as a moment of silence for the K-9 officer so many had grown to love.

Then many in the multi-purpose building at Farris Park sniffled as Solo’s last radio call went out.

“Attention all units, be advised that Solo does not respond. K-9 Solo is now deceased and will be laid to rest February 2, 2015,” the dispatcher said.

With that last call came a finality for so many Monday morning: the dog they trusted with their lives was gone.

“I’m gonna miss Solo. I’ve cried so many tears these last couple of days,” Dipuma said. “It’s been hard.”

On Friday, Solo was diagnosed with terminal cancer, two tumors pressing on his heart and spleen. On Monday morning, the department had to put him down.

“It’s gonna be hard knowing when I go in that truck again in the morning time and go 10-8, that my partner won’t be in the back,” Dipuma said.

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Please see the text below, by an unknown author, which is inscribed on the Connecticut State Police K9 Memorial.

A fitting tribute for Solo and all the other heroic K9 Dogs…

Trust in me, my friend, for I am your comrade. I will protect you with my last breath. When all others have left you and the loneliness of the night closes in, I will be at your side.

Together we will conquer all obstacles and search out those whom might wish harm to others. All I ask of you is compassion, the caring touch of your hands.

It is for you that I will unselfishly give my life and spend my nights unrested. Although our days together may be marked by the passing of the seasons, know that each day at your side is my reward.

My days are measured by the coming and going of your footsteps. I anticipate them at every opening of the door. You are the voice of caring when I am ill; the voice of authority when I’ve done wrong.

Do not chastise me unduly, for I am your right arm, the sword at your side. I attempt to do only what you bid of me. I seek only to please you and remain in your favor.

Together you and I shall experience a bond only others like us will understand. When outsiders see us together their envy will be measured by their disdain.

I will quietly listen to you and pass no judgment, nor will your spoken words be repeated. I will remain ever silent, ever vigilant, ever loyal.

And when our time together is done and you move on in this world, remember me with kind thoughts and tales, for a time we were unbeatable. Nothing passed among us undetected.

If we should meet again on another street I will gladly take up your fight. I am a Police Working K-9 and together we are guardians of the night.

~ Connecticut State Police K9 Memorial

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We give thanks to Solo (above) and Staff Sgt. Carlos Dipuma for their bravery and dedication in protecting and serving the public.

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Source: Kindness Blog
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