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:

Painting Hope During the Pandemic

The employees of Balance Gym in Washington, D.C. were feeling disheartened after the pandemic did a number on the fitness industry, but one letter from a stranger brought them a much-needed dose of motivation. Tanya Wetenhall wrote to Balance Gym explaining how their daily fitness classes on the roof of their building were a constant source of inspiration to her 90-year-old mother, Tessa Solom Williams, whose eighth-floor apartment window gives her a perfect view of the rooftop sessions. Tessa, who is a former ballet dancer, watches the athletes’ impressive moves each day, starting at 7 a.m. until the last class finishes around 7 p.m., and even tries to copy some of the exercises. The gym staff decided to pay homage to their favorite onlooker by painting an inspirational mural on the side of their building, with the words “Keep Moving” written in bold letters. See photos of Tessa, the Balance Gym Mural, and more here.

Fine-Dining Chipmunks Get Rave Reviews

A Georgia food writer named Angela Hansberger has opened up her own restaurant, and people are buzzing about it. After missing dining out as part of her job, Angela set up her own miniature restaurant outside and had immediate business. The chipmunks of Angela’s backyard have been fine-dining while she catches them on camera noshing on special rodent-friendly dishes. As the pandemic carried on, her Instagram grew in notoriety, and her table service became increasingly elaborate. She’s made everything from tiny “sushi” to al fresco pizza for the little guys in her backyard. The photos are must-see for multiple reasons, beautifully plated food, chipmunks grilling, and the cutest table service ever. Read more.

Zoom, but Make It Halloween

This Halloween is going to look a little different than usual, and one Iowa dad decided to embrace that with a costume for our times. Known for making great costumes for his kids, Greg Dietzenbach decided he would stick to a theme of 2020 for his daughter’s costume. He said since his kids have become masters at Zoom he wanted to make a “monsters on a Zoom call” costume for his daughter. Using an iPad, foam board, and glue, Dietzenbach was able to completely recreate the Zoom interface with his daughter and monsters in a Zoom meeting. Talk about a unique Halloween costume! Check out pictures of the costume and read more here.

Doodles by Dad

Thirty-eight-year-old Phil Heckles drew a goofy rendition of his family’s pet dog one afternoon and jokingly listed the piece online with a price tag of £299. However, within just a few days, the burgeoning artist was shocked to find his inbox completely flooded with requests from friends and strangers for similar doodles of their own furry friends. Seeing the growing popularity of his artwork, Heckles started the Facebook page “Pet Portraits by Hercule” where he displays his gallery online. He enjoys creating the drawings free of charge and asks that those who receive a unique doodle make a donation to the Turning Tides homeless shelter. With over 200 portraits now completed and another thousand or so pending, Heckles has raised a whopping $23,000 to help the homeless. See his work here.

500 Miles for Empathy

Can you imagine working 10-hour shifts and applying for college… all out of your car? This was exactly the predicament Gordon Wayne, who was experiencing homelessness, found himself in when a big dream came to fruition: He was accepted by Boston College via full scholarship. With this amazing opportunity at his feet, Wayne refused to let it go to waste. He decided to walk 500 miles from Caroline County, Virginia, to Boston College in Massachusetts. He made the venture with the goal of raising over $100,000 for his fellow homeless Americans through the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Starting out in August, Wayne began his 16-day-long journey at a rate of some 30-40 miles per day to help others find belonging like he did. Read more.

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