The Friday 5: Your Uplifting Stories of the Week

Sometimes the news can be, well, not so inspiring. When headlines get you down, it’s important to remember that positive things are still happening all around us. Here are five hopeful and encouraging stories to pay attention to this week:

An Artist’s Flowers for the Front Line

Among the more extravagant displays of appreciation for our heroic healthcare workers through the COVID-19 pandemic is one artist’s 1,800-painting flower gallery. Early into the pandemic, 32-year-old Michael Gittes from Los Angeles decided to take on the massive project of gifting individual flower paintings to each and every worker at a hospital disproportionately affected by the COVID crisis. From doctors to nurses to janitors, no employee at Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center was forgotten. Gittes got to work painting about 100 flowers a day for three months and shipped each framed piece across the country to let these hospital workers know just how appreciated they are. Read more.

Growing Change: Flipping Abandoned Prisons for Hope

An organization known as Growing Change recently flipped an abandoned North Carolina prison into a well of hope and new promise for those very much in need of it. Started in 2011 by Norton Sanford, Growing Change turns prisons into education centers and farming facilities, allowing young men on the edge of the criminal justice system and unemployed veterans the chance to turn their lives around and undertake meaningful work to help surrounding communities. Community kitchens, hydroponic fields, and sports and recreation areas are just a few amenities Growing Change has helped build for needy communities with the help of its dedicated volunteers. Read more.

Changing the Narrative Through Photography

In a world increasingly polarized by racial divisions and stereotypes, one young photographer decided to challenge the narrative against black fathers through her photography. Inspired by the worldwide movement for racial equality, Naisha Bailey-Johnson began contributing her photography skills to change how the world views black fathers by capturing beautiful images of them spending time with their children. Charging $8.46 for each photo session in honor of George Floyd, who was killed when a police officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds this past May, Naisha’s “Black Fatherhood Project” is her unique way of “protesting the narrative with [her] artwork.” Read more.

FETCH me a drink, please.

Introducing the Brew Dogs: golden retrievers Buddy and Barley. Their parents, Mark and Karen Heuwetter are co-founders of a brewing company in Long Island, New York. Due to the pandemic, the company started home-delivering beers. To cheer up customers, they decided to bring their dogs along and thus, the Brew Dogs began. The Heuwetters even invented a collar the dogs can wear and carry empty beer cans as walking advertisements. The Brew Dogs have racked up over 500 followers on Instagram and are bringing smiles to everyone’s faces, one beer at a time. Read more.

The Birthday Voyage of a Lifetime

One of the many complications of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the stark drop in travel opportunities. However, one sailor refused to let the pandemic – or the Atlantic Ocean – keep him from celebrating his father’s 90th birthday with him in person. Forty-seven-year-old Juan Manuel Ballestero found himself stuck in Portugal, quite far from his parents living in Argentina, after international flights had been canceled, but was determined to reunite with his family. Ballestero stocked his ship with necessities and set sail across the ocean, eventually finding himself low on supplies, completely out of fuel, and performing underwater maintenance on his boat. Read more.

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