He was used to finding stuff in carts that customers had somehow forgotten — keys, credit cards, wallets. And he turned them in to customer service. But this particular item stood out. It was a white envelope with a clear window in the middle, bulging with what was inside, a lot of cash. Around $20,000, it turned out. Because of what he did that afternoon, Mensah now is in possession of a plaque that names him the winner of the retail giant’s national 2013 “Integrity in Action Award.”
Mensah is 32 and he remembers the exact date — Feb. 8, 2012 — on which he arrived in the U. S. of A., at JFK International Airport, from Ghana. He has a photo of that occasion: standing in an airport parking lot, wearing a cap and scarf in the Ghanaian national colors of red, gold and green, an optimistic smile on his face. He has dreams; you know, the perennial ones that immigrants through generations, and from countries all over the world, have told and still tell. They don’t mind sounding naive about America being the land of opportunity. For Mensah that meant get a job, go to college, study business administration, eventually return to Ghana to expand the five little shops that his mom, Irene, had started from her work as a seamstress.
Source: Seattle Times
CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. Jan 24 2013 – The man who was driving the bus that crashed on Interstate 95 in Caroline County killing four people will serve six years in prison.
When handing down the sentence, the judge told former Sky Express Inc. bus driver Kin Yiu Cheung he had wiped from the planet “four good souls.”
Cheung was driving a bus from North Carolina to New York City in May 2011, when he ran off the road.
Last month all charges were dropped against the Sky Express Inc. bus dispatcher accused of forcing Cheung to continue on his route despite complaining of fatigue.
CINCINNATI OH Dec 26 2012 An anonymous onor atoning for shoplifting three decades ago has made Christmas a little merrier for a handful of southwestern Ohio residents.
Workers at a Kmart in Lockland, north of Cincinnati, say that the donor sent $1,000 to the store to pay off items on layaway.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/UYaFHw ) that the donor had been caught shoplifting $270 worth of clothing at a now-closed Kmart in Sharonville 30 years ago and was trying to make up for it.
Kmart workers called people who had items on layaway Friday to tell them the good news, garnering reactions that ranged from crying to praying.
Patricia Ralls of Lockland says the donation helped her pay off about $60 on a coat and pajamas, money that she’ll now use for other Christmas presents.
Source:The Cincinnati Enquirer
BEND, Ore. Dec 24 2012 — A thank-you note to a Central Oregon locksmith was addressed to “the most honest man in Bend” after he returned $50,000 he found in a safe’s secret compartment.
Bryan Donnell retrieved a customer’s 1,000-pound safe last week. He’s used to finding jewels and some cash, but nothing like the stacks of $100 bills wrapped in rubber bands.
The safe’s former owner, 57-year-old Dale Parkinson, tells The Bulletin of Bend, Ore., that he and his wife pulled the money from their life savings in 2007, fearing a potential financial collapse.
They also bought a safe, and snuck $50,000 into a secret compartment.
Then, apparently, they forgot about it.
Parkinson decided to put the money back in the bank this year and sold the safe to Donnell.
Donnell refused a cash reward, but accepted a bottle of Scotch.
Lynchburg VA Dec 22 2012 Sirens echoed across the campus of Liberty University Thursday as more than 100 police vehicles, blue lights ablaze, teemed to campus to bring hope and Christmas cheer to an ailing child.
Nathan Norman, 5, of Rustburg, Va., is suffering from brain and spinal cord cancer. He told his parents (both Liberty alumni) in September that Christmastime made him feel better, so they brought out the Christmas tree and decked the halls. Soon, neighbors joined in and put up their decorations. As the community rallied in support of Nathan, the story garnered national attention. Nathan received Christmas cards from across the country and even lit the tree atop Liberty Mountain in late October.
The news of Nathan’s touching story spread, and when police officers in Burlington, Mass., heard Nathan wanted cards from his heroes — police and firefighters — from all across the country, they decided to take it a step further and hand deliver their cards, letting their blue flashers serve as a special sort of Christmas lights.
As the convoy was organized, more and more departments from all across the Northeast wanted to join in and the event grew too large for them to do it in front of Nathan’s home, so organizers reached out to Liberty, which could provide the space because winter break had already started.
The line of police cruisers stretched three miles and represented several states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. There was even an officer from the Los Angeles Police Department who rode along. Liberty University Police Department managed the traffic for the event.
A hulking Lynchburg Fire engine awaited Nathan in the parking lot behind the LaHaye Ice Center as he arrived on campus with his family to watch the procession. Police car after police car drove by them, blaring the occasional siren and each was met with a heartwarming smile from the child.
After all the cars had passed and parked in the lot, more than 250 police officers, suited up in their dress uniforms, lined up in formation. Nathan, assisted by his siblings, called them to attention and, in unison, the officers saluted him. At his command, the officers danced on one foot before Nathan ordered them at ease.
Robert Norman, Nathan’s father, led the crowd in prayer. The officers then met in the Tilley Student Center for a private meet and greet with the family. There, the officers presented him with Christmas cards and gifts, including police coins and patches.
The Normans are very appreciative of all the support and gifts Nathan has received and see this as an opportunity to share their faith in Jesus with others. The family has utilized monetary donations they have received to deliver care packages to other sick children.
Source: Liberty University News Service
Fairfax VA July 6 2012 Toy guns, especially those made to resemble their more dangerous counterparts, can cause just as much fear and danger as the real thing.
But terrorizing their neighborhood and being confronted by a police officer is often the last thing a child thinks about when he’s running about with what he considers a toy.
Fairfax High School freshman Jordan Tomagko, 14, plays with his replica M-14 with his neighborhood buddies, and thanks to the City of Fairfax Police Department and its School Resource Officers, Tomagko is familiar with the fear a toy gun can cause and takes appropriate precautions.
“It’s a serious thing, a dangerous thing,” he said. “It can scare people.”
Police chiefs, school officials and Fairfax families came together Friday morning in Fairfax City to warn about the dangers of replica guns.
“Replicas are manufactured plastic or synthetic projectiles. Some can fire pellets by compressed air and can inflict serious injury and damage to property,” said Fairfax City Police Chief Rick Rappoport. “But the greatest danger is when others perceive replicas as weapons and as threats.”
Northern Virginia chiefs and sheriffs, including Herndon’s Police Chief Maggie DeBoard, placed about a dozen real and replica weapons on a table to show how difficult it can be to distinguish between the toy and the real thing. Though some replicas feature a tell-tale orange cap at the end of the barrel, that’s not always the case.
Because the real and fake weapons appear so similar, criminals have used replicas in their crimes. Replicas allow criminals to escape the additional prison time tacked onto crimes when committed with the use of firearm. Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott and Fairfax County Police Chief Dave Rohrer said robbers in particular will modify replica weapons to remove the bright orange tell-tale tips or paint them black. They then threaten store owners with the fake guns, achieving the same fear they’d get if using a real weapon.
Children who carry replica weapons can cause the same kind of fear. And Replica guns, known in Virginia code as pneumatic guns, don’t carry the same restrictions as real firearms.
Leesburg Police Chief Joe Price referenced a January Texas incident in which a middle school student armed with a BB gun that resembled a Glock semiautomatic handgun. The student was fatally shot by police when he refused to put down the weapon.
“Officers are trained to look at movements, not objects,” Price said. He added that a trained officer’s reaction time is so fast that there’s little chance to notice the replica.
And any hesitation can mean the end of a police officer’s life.
In 2011, for the first time in 15 years, more officers were killed by firearms than in traffic accidents, Rappoport said. Since these replicas look like real guns, officers are trained to treat them as such.
Tomagko and his friends use caution when playing with replicas, he said. They stay in the backyard, wear safety goggles to protect their eyes and aim low, to lessen the likelihood of firing a pellet at a vehicle or home, or into someone’s face.
Lanier Middle School Principal Scott Poole emphasized the need for schools and police departments to work together in educating children about the dangers of replica weapons.
SRO Mike Murphy said he teaches children to use their replicas while under supervision at safe, designated environments like shooting ranges and paintball play areas. He stressed that if approached by a police officer, they should follow all directions and put their replicas down.
The Town of Herndon is currently working to pass a new ordinance regulating pneumatic guns within the town limits so the town’s ordinance matches legislation regarding pneumatic guns that was passed in 2011.
IRMO, SC May 15 2012 – As co-owner of Anytime Fitness in Irmo, Radley West makes it her job to help clients look and feel better. But this week, she’s taking that idea to a whole new level.
Radley is giving a kidney to one of her customers.
“I have two,” Radley said. “It’s not vital. I have a spare. Just giving one of my spare parts.”
The man lucky enough to have met Radley West is 33-year-old Ryan Brooke. West and her husband and business partner Andrew got to know Brooke late last year. They knew he was on dialysis and could see he was struggling.
“Sooner or later you’re not going to have a way to stick, so you can do dialysis and eventually the person will die if their kidneys don’t work,” Andrew said.
“I guess my thought process was, if I have to go through a little discomfort in the procedure and recovery in order to improve his quality of life in the long term, that is what’s important,” Radley said.
Both of the Wests began exploring the concept of living organ donation. It turned out only Radley would be a match for Brooke.
“I’ve always said through this whole process and pretty much my entire life that you can’t go through life with what-if’s. I mean you just do what you do. And this entire process I put in God’s hands,” Radley said. “From the beginning to every step I took.
Brooke is already in Augusta preparing for the surgery. Radley will travel there Tuesday with the operation scheduled for Wednesday.
Friends and other customers have offered to help run the fitness franchise while the Wests are gone. And the rest is all a matter of faith.
“Again, it’s all in God’s hands,” Andrew said. If she is to pass away under the knife and Ryan is still able to have a kidney, great.”
“At’s just putting yourself out there and helping somebody else out with something that you don’t really need,” Radley said. “I don’t need that extra kidney.”
COLUMBIA, SC MRCH 30 2012 - When it comes to making the best of a bad situation, it’s tough to find a better team than Sgt. Lewis Marshall and his K-9 partner Lucky.
Only Lucky isn’t what you think of when you think of a deputy dog.
He’s a standard poodle.
“I said, ‘Tell you what, there’ll be no pink bows in his head, and his toenails won’t have to be painted. He’ll have to go like he is,’” Marshall said.
That’s good enough for the kids he sees on a weekly basis at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. Some are at the hospital for a few hours and others are there for weeks.
“When you first meet someone with him, his size does intimidate,” said Marshall.
But therapy training and tricks go a long way for a very large dog.
“By the time we leave, they’ve forgotten all about the pain,” Marshall said.
Marshall has combined a career in law enforcement with a lifelong passion for dogs. When you throw in his sense of humor, it’s easy to see why the staff also look forward to his visits.
But as much fun as he has, the job, inherently, can be rough.
“You go see these people, they become personal friends, and then some of them don’t make it,” Marshall said. “The kids, that tears me up when I get there and so-and-so’s gone.”
Moments of grief are easily outweighed by tender moments when the pain pauses.
“When he comes in, it’s out of this world to watch them,” Marshall said. “It really is.”
Schweitzer’s love of singing and a desire to help fellow police officer Chad Peery recently led him to write and record a song in Peery’s honor.
The Yukon resident said the song “Selfless” was written with Peery in mind and focuses on Peery’s selfless actions one February night.
Peery, 34, suffered a broken neck when he was beaten Feb. 15 after trying to force three customers to leave Dan O’Brien’s Public House in Oklahoma City. He was off-duty, unarmed and visiting the bar with his father. Bartenders asked for his help getting some men to leave after they got into arguments with bar regulars.
Schweitzer, 31, said he wanted to pay tribute to Peery and help him in some way.
With that idea in mind, Schweitzer recorded his song and “Selfless” CD singles will be available for purchase soon at metro 7-Eleven stores.
He said proceeds from the CD sales will benefit Peery.
“When it first happened, I learned that we were of a similar age and we both have four kids,” Schweitzer said. “I was a hospital guard one night when he was hospitalized. From that night on, I knew I had to do something to help.”
Schweitzer said he talked with his wife, Rebekah, and came up with several other fundraising ideas but the song won out. He said he has always loved to sing and sang in high school choral groups. Smiling, Schweitzer said he sings “on the back pew” at Covenant Community Church where he attends worship services, but had never written a song before. Schweitzer said he worried that he wasn’t good enough to record the song but he squelched those feelings and moved forward with the project.
“I think God can use normal people or broken people,” he said.
Schweitzer said he visited Peery and made sure the project was OK with the injured officer.
“I wanted his blessing on it,” he said.
Schweitzer said Peery told him that people have said he is an inspiration to them but the overwhelming community support that he has received has provided inspiration to him.
Schweitzer said one of the people inspired by Peery was Schweitzer’s daughter Emma who is 7. Schweitzer said she came to him one day carrying her piggy bank with $84 inside. He said the little girl told him she wanted to offer it to Peery as soon as she had saved $100.
Schweitzer said he initially wanted to discourage her but realized that her donation of embodied the kind of selflessness that Peery had shown.
“I realized that it was the very thing that I was singing about. It’s something I should foster in my kid.”
Little Emma is featured on the cover of the “Selfless” CD presenting her piggy bank to a uniformed police officer, presumably her dad.
Schweitzer debuted “Selfless” during a special worship service on Sept. 11 at Southern Hills Baptist Church, 8601 S Pennsylvania.
He said some of his fellow police officers have teased him a little, but all have been supportive of the project.
“For the most part, the officers think it’s a neat thing, what I’m doing.”
Naples Fla Nov 17 2011 When Deputy Craig Demange isn’t transporting criminals to jail, he is delivering organic produce to customers.
Demange, a 35-year-old Collier County deputy, founded his organic produce company, Organics of Naples, in 2010.
“I’m a middle-class person, too,” Demange said.
“It makes me feel good to be able to save families some money.”
He began serving 20 customers in his first year of service with the intentions of providing customers an inexpensive option to buy healthy produce.
Since the company’s inception, Organics of Naples has gained 400 customers.
Demange has Groupon, a free website which provides daily deals with substantial savings on products, to thank for his clientele boost. He says the online service brought him approximately 200 customers in June, 100 of which have become regulars.
Organics of Naples offers three options on its website for customers to choose from. They recommend the value box for a customer’s first purchase.
For $34.99 the value box contains 13 to 15 items and is best suited for a two to four person family.
Customers can also order the small box for $24.99. The small box contains 10 or 11 items and is best suited for one or two people.
For $44.99, customers can order the extra-value box, which contains 13 to 15 items. This box contains more of each item than the value box contains. This option is best suited for a family of four to six people.
Each box will contain a mix of fruits and vegetables, which Demange says he selects on a weekly basis. He bases his choices off of what he feels adds the best diversity and value to the box.
“Every box will contain one or two expensive items each week,” Demange said.
Demange allows customers to substitute unwanted items for an item of their choice for a $1-per-item fee. He says if customers want to avoid the fee, they can choose to substitute an unwanted item for surplus items.
The advantages of his service are noticeable.
Demange said his produce costs 30 percent less than supermarket prices. If this wasn’t enough to entice customers to try his product, Demange offers free delivery for all customers in Naples.
Demange said there is a $1 delivery fee for Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Estero residents. Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral resident will be charged a $2 delivery fee.
Organics of Naples currently delivers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Demange said he hopes to start delivering on Thursdays in the near future.
There is a $20 sign-up fee for new customers. Demange says he will waive this fee for college students.
Even though this service requires a membership, customers are not required to order produce each week. Customers are able to order boxes weekly, bi-weekly or periodically.
Why should consumers eat organic?
Demange doesn’t want to consume non-organic produce due to the pesticides which are sprayed on them.
“Chemicals which are sprayed on foods can’t be good for you,” says Demange.
“If you’re concerned about residues,” said Dr. Tim Durham, a university colloquium professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, “I would encourage you to wash (your produce) multiple times.”
Durham has a doctorial degree in plant medicine, which covers plant nutrition and food safety. He spends his time off during the summer working at his family’s farm in Long Island.
Foods have to follow strict guidelines to be labeled organic, said Durham. He says there are specific pesticides and fertilizers, which must be approved by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The resources used in these organic pesticides and fertilizers usually have to originate from plants or something sourced in nature, said Durham.
There are three classes of organic foods: 100 percent organic, 95 percent organic, and 70 percent organic, said Durham. If a product is labeled 70 percent organic, Durham says it may only hold the USDA label “made with organic ingredients.”
Durham doesn’t usually eat organic produce. He says he sticks to whatever produce is the most affordable.
“One of the aspects of organics I do like is the fact that it attempts to reconnect people to where their food comes from,” said Durham. “There has been this long-term disconnect that has been brewing for decades.”
Durham also says the localization that comes with organic farming is beneficial.
“My goal for Organics of Naples is to get it out there in Collier and Lee county and to move it up the west coast,” said Demange.
For customers looking for a healthy Thanksgiving feast, Organics of Naples will be offering the Thanksgiving box. This will include an all-natural turkey with assorted fruits and vegetables to complement it.
Readers interested in more information about the Thanksgiving Box or other information about Organics of Naples can view its website at http://www.organicsofnaples.com.
Durham recommends sourcing food locally for those who strive to eat healthier.
The organic versus non-organic debate may go on, but Deputy Demange will do his best to cuff you to the best produce in Southwest Florida.
Harrison County IN Oct 13 2011 Rodney Bruce’s gift to his heroes is out Harrison County, Ind., roads that get more rural, more winding, hilly and tree-lined. Getaways are supposed to be away, of course.
Bruce counts on soldiers, police officers and firefighters finding it. They are the ones welcomed, encouraged to check their cares at Bruce’s gate and enjoy his 240 rustic acres. They may hunt, fish, hike, ride horses or do absolutely nothing. Their cost? They’ve always paid it by serving.
“We basically hope we never have to turn anybody away,” Bruce said. “It’s hard to know how big it will get.”
Bruce just turned his for-profit hunting preserve into the nonprofit Hero Reward. Bruce and the organization he formed seek to raise at least $600,000 annually to afford the R & R that Bruce invites.
“It shows his character,” said Robert Schickel, a local businessman and Farm Bureau leader. “He has empathy.”
Bruce, 42, otherwise crafts and sells lodge-like furniture from cedar. His wife teaches high school in Corydon. They and their young son live on the property they look forward to sharing year round.
Bruce bought it in the 1990s, land fondly familiar because it was in the family previously. Bruce’s memories of it mostly involved hunting, for him a devoted hobby and family tradition.
Bruce has hunted in Russia, Canada and throughout the United States.
Bruce made his property his business in 2002. Some 600 hunters took up Bruce on the opportunity, staying in a cabin he built and largely furnished by hand. Bruce said gears switch now not because interest has waned or because fenced havens for hunting attract determined foes.
Bruce said his priorities changed when he became a father. Plus he had treated several veterans for visits and was moved by their appreciation. “I see a huge need,” Bruce said.
Chris Byrd, a lawyer in Corydon, has joined Bruce on the Hero Reward board and embraces the mission. “It’s a great opportunity to give people a chance to forget their worries,” he said. Byrd said he hears nothing but cheers.
Schickel agrees. “This thing is class act.”
Bruce asks for applicants, their credentials to be verified. They and their families may come when it suits them. “It’s all about them when they come in,” Bruce said.
And Bruce hammers how his guests will set their agenda. They may just want to see the region’s sights, perhaps check out the local casino.
“Hunting is not the most politically correct thing,” Bruce said. “We don’t try to smear it in anyone’s face. It’s just part of what we do.”
Bruce realizes the challenge for which he has volunteered. At least overhead is at a minimum. Bruce spearheads fundraising with a broad scope. “I’m trying to make this a community deal, a local thing, ” he said.
Hospitals-churches working together to lower health care costs by adding services www.privateofficer.com
Memphis TN Oct 5 2011 Two mainstays of the Memphis community — the Methodist Le Bonheur hospital system and nearly 400 local churches — have teamed up for an innovative program that keeps church members healthy while reducing health-care costs. If not actually made in heaven, it’s a match that has significantly benefited all parties. Other health-care systems are taking note.
Methodist says 70 percent of its patients belong to churches. To help people get the care they need when they need it, the system assigns hospital staff, appropriately called “navigators,’’ to work with volunteer liaisons at area churches that have joined the health system’s Congregational Health Network. When a member of one of these congregations is admitted to the hospital, the navigator notifies the liaison. The liaison then plans a visit, if the member wishes, “so they have a support structure, not just the nurse and doctor,” says Valerie Murphy, the liaison for her small church of six families in Millington, a rural area north of Memphis.
When it comes time to discharge the patient, the liaison works with the navigator to make sure that the transition happens smoothly, connecting the patient with community services such as meals-on-wheels and transportation.
“It’s the social connections, the nitty-gritty practical stuff that makes a huge difference,” says Gary Gunderson, senior vice president for the health system. “Whether people understand how to take their medications, whether there’s food in the house.”
The health system compared the experiences and costs of 473 patients in the program with those of similar non-participating patients who received standard care from 2007 to 2009: The mortality rate for those in the network was 50 percent lower than for non-participating patients; their hospital readmission rates were 20 percent lower.
In the future, Methodist expects to reap savings by reducing the need for high-end specialized care and avoiding penalties for hospital readmission, says Teresa Cutts, Methodist’s director of research for innovation at its Center for Excellence for Faith and Health.
Patient education is another key to the program’s long-term success. In addition to helping hospital patients, the liaisons work to educate members of their congregations about healthful living and disease prevention. Murphy, for example, regularly posts information about risk factors for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease in the church bulletin and on the church bulletin board, and she brings in experts to discuss chronic conditions.
Tyrone Griggs credits a sharp-eyed liaison at his church with his diabetes diagnosis nine months ago. The liaison noticed he was having trouble reading his Bible, he says, and talked with his wife about getting him tested. Griggs, 48, drives a truck and doesn’t have health insurance. But the liaison referred him to a nonprofit clinic that serves the uninsured.
“They monitor me and taught me how to take care of myself,” he says. “I’ve been going there ever since.”
Methodist may have one of the most extensive programs, but it’s by no means the only health system partnering with churches to improve congregation members’ health. At Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California, medical staff from the Seventh-day Adventist health system provide free health screening and education to members of area churches, says Dora Barilla, the medical center’s director of community health development.
Recently, for example, a neurologist with the Loma Linda physicians group spoke at a Temecula church with a large Hispanic population about the signs of stroke and early dementia, and about available services. “Our research showed that Spanish-speaking populations weren’t necessarily accessing dementia services,” says Barilla.
Although many health systems that are working with churches to develop their “health ministries” are faith-based, not all are. For more than a decade, the Inova Health System in Northern Virginia has been working with religious communities on health promotion and prevention through its Congregational Health Partnership. To better serve the area’s wide variety of faiths and languages, Inova employs different program managers to work with Hispanic, Muslim, Korean, Vietnamese and African American groups, says Maria Schaart, a physician who works with Hispanic churches.
If all this volunteer work sounds like a very good deal for financially strapped health-care systems, it is. “We’re saving a lot of money,” says Gunderson. “We’re mobilizing and aligning hundreds of people that we couldn’t pay,” he says, referring to the roughly 500 volunteer church liaisons.
Churches welcome the opportunity to work with health systems to help their members. “The church community wants to provide those hours,” says Mara Vanderslice Kelly, acting director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Last month, HHS invited Methodist to describe its programs at an event that brought representatives of 18 health systems together to discuss innovative faith- and community-based programs.
Unlike so many innovations in health reform these days, hospital-church partnerships probably don’t need a financial leg up from the federal government. “Our belief is that the hospitals have the funds to do these partnerships if they want to,” says Kelly.
This column is produced through a collaboration between The Post and Kaiser Health News. KHN, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy organization that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Charlotte NC Aug 27 2011 Caitlin Boyle was struggling with a chemistry class and feeling down one evening two summers ago when she decided to turn her mood around.
“You are beautiful!” she scribbled on a piece of notebook paper, which she stuck on a community college bathroom mirror for a stranger to find.
She posted what she’d done on her food-and-fitness blog, healthytipping point.com , and asked her readers to do the same. They did. And a movement, of sorts, was born.
“I remember thinking, ‘I wonder who will find this note, and how it will make them feel?’ ” says Boyle, 27, who moved to Charlotte from Orlando, Fla., last year. “I was just having a really bad day and I wanted to do something nice for somebody else.”
Within three days, 75 of Boyle’s blog readers told her about anonymous notes they’d left.
Within weeks, Boyle started http://www.operationbeautiful .com . There, Boyle posts photos of the self-affirming anonymous messages others leave or find, along with the stories behind them.
Within months, Boyle had a book deal with a major publisher, Gotham Books. “Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time” came out last summer, and two more books are in the works.
She’s captured big media attention, including the Oprah Winfrey Network and NBC’s “Today Show.”
She speaks about Operation Beautiful at colleges nationwide and updates the site almost daily with correspondence she gets from people who have both left and received the anonymous notes. They have spanned the globe, reaching as far as Australia and the South Pole.
Boyle says her goal is loftier than simply brightening strangers’ moods. She says she’s trying to banish “fat-talk,” or the negative thoughts people have about themselves, and replace them with affirming messages.
It’s good for both the receiver and the sender, she believes.
“The sneaky thing about Operation Beautiful is that when you write down these messages for other people, you’re really saying them to yourself,” Boyle says.
A positive impact
Psychologists say that while finding an affirming post-it note probably won’t change how a woman feels about herself, it can have a positive – if unmeasurable – impact.
Melinda Harper, an associate professor of psychology at Queens University of Charlotte and a licensed clinical psychologist who works with adolescents and young adults, says she asks patients to place affirming notes for themselves on mirrors or in calendars where they can see them every day.
It’s part of what psychologists call Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which challenges people to identify positive things about themselves so that, over time, they will reframe how they see themselves.
Finding an anonymous post-it left by a stranger may make more of an impact, Harper says, because people often dismiss compliments from friends or family members.
“What I like is the anonymous piece of it,” Harper says. “Here’s someone anonymously putting that out there and encouraging you to believe that about yourself.”
And research shows, Harper says, that “kindness, altruism, taking a moment to give something back to someone else or to extend a compliment can generate a boost in one’s mood or self-esteem.”
Boyle says she’s received emails from readers who say Operation Beautiful has changed their lives.
The most haunting, she says, came from a Canadian teenager who was frail from a deadly eating disorder. She went into a bathroom stall to throw up a sandwich after a therapy session and found a post-it: “You’re good enough the way you are. You’re beautiful. Operationbeautiful.com”
She wrote Boyle, saying that the note was the inspiration she needed to get healthy. Within months, she’d gained 30 pounds.
World of a blogger
Boyle says she’s not getting rich from her life as a blogger; when asked where she and her husband live, she’s quick to point out that their home in Myers Park is a rental.
She says it was her first book deal that gave her the financial push she needed to quit her job as an urban planner for a small consulting firm and focus on her blogs and book writing full-time. She says she’d considered becoming a physical therapist for a while – hence the chemistry class where Operation Beautiful was born – but decided to follow the path to full-time blogging and book writing.
And write she does. Three times a day, Boyle updates her healthytippingpoint.com blog, often posting photos of what she ate that day, healthy food recipes, notes about an upcoming race, or books she’s reading.
She says part of what she believes has made her blog so successful is that she’s willing to blog about almost everything that is going on in her life, with the exceptions of details about her marriage or “secrets that are not my secrets to tell.”
Learning through life
Now that Operation Beautiful has caught flight, Boyle says she’d like to develop a curriculum for girls or young women who are already starting Operation Beautiful clubs in their middle schools, high schools and colleges.
“You look at media today and it is hyper-sexualized,” Boyle says. Society tells little girls “that how good they are with the opposite sex is more important, as opposed to how smart they are or how funny they are.”
Boyle acknowledges that she has no psychology training, but she says her own life experiences and hearing about others’ struggles through online communities have given her the background she needs to write about issues like raising confident children, handling bullying, choosing friends and dealing with toxic family members.
Her blog carries a disclaimer stating that she’s not a medical expert and that the advice she gives is based only on her life experience.
“So much of Operation Beautiful is hearing other people’s stories and … validating those stories and giving them a voice.”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.Aug 18 2011 (AP) — The timing was just right for saving the life of a 6-year-old girl and for turning a 24-year-old mechanic and father of two young daughters into a hero.
It was coincidence that Antonio Diaz Chacon had come home from work early to spend time with his family Monday afternoon. It was also a coincidence that the family’s washing machine had just gone out, forcing them to do laundry a block down the road at a relative’s home.
Had it not been for that, Diaz Chacon wouldn’t have been there to see the girl thrown into a van as another neighbor yelled for the would-be kidnapper to let the child go.
Diaz Chacon is credited with saving the girl after chasing the van through a maze of neighborhoods to the edge of where Albuquerque’s sprawling housing developments meet the desert. It was there where the van crashed into a pole, the suspect fled and Diaz Chacon was able to rescue the girl and take her home.
He didn’t think twice about his actions.
“The way he grabbed her and threw her into the van, I knew it wasn’t right,” he said, as a swarm of media stood outside his home Tuesday night to hear his story. The events were interpreted and relayed from Spanish to English by his wife.
“I knew I had to catch him. I had to get the girl back from him and take her home, back where she belongs,” he said.
It all happened so fast on a sidewalk in the normally quiet mobile home park, where even on the evening after the abduction kids played freely in the streets on their bikes and push scooters as food vendors sold roasted corn and other snacks.
A pair of 911 calls came in quick succession.
On one, a frantic 12-year-old says her little sister is missing. On the other is Diaz Chacon’s wife, Martha.
“We are outside of my mom’s house here,” she told the dispatcher. “We heard a man going, ‘Hey, hey let her go. Let her go.’ So we turn around …
“The man came running to us and said, ‘They stole a little girl.’”
Phillip Garcia, 29, had snatched the girl moments earlier, taking her away in a blue van, police said.
Diaz Chacon jumped in his black pickup and gave chase.
It wasn’t until the van crashed and the driver got out that any sense of fear set in for Diaz Chacon.
“When he got down I was thinking, what if he has a gun,” he said.
Garcia fled on foot, and Diaz Chacon reached the girl and told her he would take her home. Garcia then returned to his wrecked van and took off but was later captured by police, authorities said.
Hidden under a rock just 25 feet from the van was packing tape and a tie-down strap, police said.
Inside the impounded van were tostadas, a glove, a Leatherman tool, a black satchel, orange strapping similar to the strap found hidden under the rock, police said.
“This little girl was very lucky,” police Sgt. Tricia Hoffman said. “We can only guess what would have happened to this child.”
“Throughout the county we see situations like this and they do not end typically well,” she said.
Police were among those who called Diaz Chacon a hero.
One of his daughters even shared the news about her dad’s heroic actions with friends at school on Tuesday.
Diaz Chacon said he was proud to help. While he was chasing the van, he said, he thought of his own two girls — one 7 years old, the other 5 months — and how he would want someone to do the same for him.
“I told him ‘I don’t know how you could do it, just go after him, not knowing where he’s going, what he’s going to do?” his wife said. “But he saved a life.” Garcia was charged with kidnapping, child abuse and tampering with evidence. Hoffman said Garcia is from Albuquerque and had a revoked license but she was unsure if he had a criminal record.
Garcia immediately “lawyered up,” declining to give any statement to authorities, Hoffman said. Garcia remained jailed and no lawyer had yet been listed as taking the case, according to court officials.
There have not been any other recent child abductions or attempted abductions in the city, Hoffman said.
The girl told police she had gone to a neighbor’s to pick up some tostadas and was walking home when the van stopped and the man grabbed her.
“She went to go to the neighbor’s and on her way back we don’t know what happened to her. … When she was coming back or on her way, she just like disappeared,” her sister said in the 911 call.
The girl was grabbed with such force, police said, that bruising had already begun to appear on her chest and back Monday evening. The girl told police the man put his hand over her mouth and she bit him.
She said the man shoved her on the floorboard to keep her head under the window view, according to the police report. She told police there were no backseats in the van and described other details consistent with the impounded van, police said.
She also described rolling in the van when it crashed, and breaking a fingernail. Police said they found what appeared to be a piece of fingernail in the van.
During her interview, police said the girl was concerned that she was unable to bring the tostadas home because she had left them in the van.
The Diazes said the girl’s family had thanked them on Monday, saying they would always be grateful for what the young father had done.
Martha Diaz said she was grateful what could have been a parent’s worst nightmare was not realized that day.
“Everything just worked out,” she said, referring to the perfect timing of that afternoon.
“Even now we say, ‘What if, what if we hadn’t seen him? What if he would have been two minutes earlier.’”
Atlanta GA Aug 4 2011 An unidentified Good Samaritan is credited with saving a man who passed out from the heat and fell onto tracks at the Dunwoody MARTA station.
Thomas Holihan said he was disoriented and panic-stricken Tuesday as he tried to get off the tracks with a train only minutes away. He said a man jumped down and after two or three tries was able to lift him up.
Holihan said the man stuck around only long enough to make sure he was OK. He said he didn’t get his rescuer’s name, and wasn’t able to pass along the gratitude he wants to extend.
“God, bless you. I owe my life to you,” Holihan said.
Police said the officer stepped out of her vehicle after a man began beating on it, then she was attacked and pushed to the ground
Wednesday morning in downtown Atlanta.
Authorities say the officer was being punched repeatedly when
the bystander, Michael Reed, jumped out of his truck, tackled the
suspect and held him down until more officers arrived.
Reed told WSB-TV that he tackled the man “like I was playing
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the officer, whose
name was not released, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for
Police said she was bruised, but expected to be OK
Lawrencevile, GA Aug 1 2010 — Morgan Walters, 15, admits she was scared when she saved her friend’s father from drowning off the coast of Florida on July 15th.
“He came back up and looked at me and said, ‘Help me!’” said Morgan Walters of Winder. “I thought he was kidding at first.”
Walters was a guest of Lindsey Adams on her family’s vacation to St. Augustine. Lindsey’s father Duane Adams went under water after a huge wave tossed him head-first into the sand below.
“When I came up, I was in severe pain,” Duane Adams said. “I couldn’t move my arms. I couldn’t move my legs. I popped up, saw Morgan and yelled at her to grab me. I couldn’t move anything. I thought I was paralyzed.”
Adams and Walters recounted their story together for the first time on Saturday morning to 11Alive News.
“I saw blood on his face, and I grabbed him and held him up as best I could,” Walters said.
She held him above water until two family members arrived and pulled him to shore where he was taken away by ambulance to spend two days in a hospital intensive care unit.
Adams suffered a bruised spinal cord and swelling but is expected to make a full recovery.
“Morgan is my hero because had she not been there, I would have drowned,” Adams said. “I’m pretty sure of that.”
Adams knows what it is to be a hero. He’s worked as a Gwinnett County firefighter for 28 years.
“There’s no doubt, she’s a hero. She needs to enjoy that. She did what she had to do,” he said.
“I just see myself as being there and helping but not as a hero,” Walters said.
Adams is on leave now, but he’s expected to return to the Gwinnett County Fire Department soon.
He’ll start with light duty for the first month or two.