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Under The Blue Door

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City Has No Overnight Shelters, So Cop Raised Funds To Buy Wearable Sleeping Bags For Homeless People

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A police officer has launched a small-scale effort to help provide those in need with warmth.

After coming across a homeless man who was sleeping under a bridge in frigid temperatures, Sgt. Brian Taylor of Provo, Utah, grew concerned for those who were left to brave the cold weather conditions, reported. Since the city has no overnight shelters for homeless people to seek refuge in, Taylor turned to a product that he heard about on the radio — The EMPWR Coat. The garment, created by a not-for-profit organization, The Empowerment Plan, unfolds to become a sleeping bag.

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A few weeks ago, the officer set up a CrowdRise page asking for donations to buy six coats. Donors surpassed the original goal, giving more than $1,000, and allowing Taylor to purchase 10 wearable sleeping bags for the homeless, according to

He said that the effort has gotten the community involved in a project that helps those that need it to most.

“This is not a solution to homelessness,” he told the outlet. “It’s just a way for citizens to help other citizens in need, to help a vulnerable population.”

The coats, which are created by a team of mostly homeless parents, are water-resistant and self-heating, according to the organization’s website. Taylor has begun giving out them out, and so far, they’ve gotten positive reactions.

“When I gave the coat and showed how to open it up and turn it into a sleeping bag, the person that I dealt with was pretty excited,” the office told “He’s a homeless guy in Provo that the police know and deal with on a periodic basis and he was excited to have a warm sleep system that he could carry with him.”

To read the original article from The Huffington Post Good News, click here.

To learn more about The Empowerment Plan or to make a donation, visit their website.

Denver Coffee Shop Hires Homeless Youth, Gives Them Second Chance ‘No One Else Would’

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Most bosses avoid meddling in their employees’ personal lives, but Madison Chandler and Mark Smesrud are different.

They co-founded Purple Door Coffee, a Denver-based nonprofit that employs young people “who have been homeless and want to leave homelessness behind.” The shop provides a 52-week curriculum, teaching employees practical skills — like budgeting and banking — as well as the know-how to improve their physical, emotional and mental health.

“We believe that every human being has incredible value,” Smesrud, the group’s program director, said in a video on the coffee shop’s website, which is also posted above. “It’s not defined by their successes or their failures, but the fact that they’re human.”

Purple Door Coffee, which opened almost two years ago, takes in teens and young adults three at a time and provides them with a job for one year, as NBC 9 News in Denver reported. Smesrud said he and Chandler chose a coffee shop as a catalyst to carry out their idea, as it allows for employees to learn a diversity of skills — like customer service and cleanliness — while providing an open space for the community to gather.


The store’s name has symbolic meaning, too, Chandler explained in the video, as purple has historically represented royalty.

“We want every single person that walks through our door — whether it’s an employee or a customer or a vendor or whoever it is — to be treated like royalty and to be given a fair chance, no matter what they’ve done or haven’t done,” she said.

Purple Door Coffee is aiming to curb a recent surge in homelessness among young people in Denver. Urban Peak, a local nonprofit that helps people aged 15 to 24 years old who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless, recorded a staggering 153 percent spike in clients who had no stable shelter last summer, the group’s CEO told Colorado Public Radio in December.

Salvation Army’s single men’s shelter in Denver told the Associated Press last July that it too had experienced an increase in client numbers.

Purple Door Coffee

But Purple Door’s unique business approach has helped young people like 23-year-old Jenna Williams better her economic prospects. After completing the group’s year-long curriculum, she landed a full-time job at Starbucks.

“The Purple Door coffee family gave me the chance no one else would,” she told NBC 9. “They understood. I’ve never felt so at home. This mission works and I am proud to experience it. This is exactly what us ‘street kids’ needed.”

To visit Purple Door Coffee’s website, click here.

To watch Purple Door Coffee’s video con Vimeo, clik here.

To read the original article from The Huffington Post Good News, click here.

Kind Cop Caught On Camera Giving Homeless Man Shoes Instead Of Ticket

It took a truly generous person to perform this random act of kindness, and another with a large social media presence to give it the attention it deserves.

On Monday, an officer from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department stopped at a red light near an exit off I-65 where a homeless man named Fred can frequently be found panhandling and clearing trash off the highway. The cop didn’t pull over to give him a ticket, reported Fox59. Instead, he grabbed a new pair of boots from his trunk and offered them to Fred. They were far too small for him to wear, but Fred knew another struggling man in Indianapolis who could make good use of them and planned to share his good fortune, according to WTHR.

As if the policeman’s kind actions weren’t enough, Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert was driving past the two men as the work boots exchanged hands, reported 21Alive. He quickly snapped a photo and shared it via Twitter and Instagram with his fans, and the posts have already received tens thousands of likes nationwide.


Despite the mass appreciation for his generosity, the police officer has yet to come forward with his identity, and Fred told WTHR that he doesn’t want to help reveal it for fear of getting him into trouble. Fred has been homeless since 2011, according to RTV6, and is very thankful that the officer offered to help him rather than write him a citation.

Click here to read the original article and watch the video from The Huffington Post

Canadian restaurant with deaf servers encourages diners to use sign language

Toronto eatery ‘Signs’ offers customers a cheat sheet so they can sign their orders and appreciate the challenges the hard-of-hearing face each day.


Diners at a new Canadian restaurant staffed almost entirely with deaf servers are being encouraged to order using sign language.

“Signs,” on Toronto’s Yonge St., gives clients a handy cheat sheet so they can communicate with hard-of-hearing staff.

Bosses hope the eatery, which opened last Tuesday, will teach curious customers about the challenges those without hearing face on a daily basis.

“They will enjoy learning sign language,” owner Anjan Manikumar, who hopes to introduce people to the basics of American Sign Language, told CTV Toronto.


“They’ll make some mistakes, they’ll have fun – so it creates an experience for the guests,” he added.

With 5% of over-15-year-olds in Canada suffering some form of hearing loss, Manikumar said he also hoped his venture would help an underemployed segment of the population.


“I think this is one of the largest breakthroughs we’ve seen in our community in a long time,” he said.

“We probably have 35 staff (members) working in one place, that’s huge for our community,” he added.

Christine Nelson, from the Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf, told CBC News that the project – the first of its kind in Canada – was “super inspiring.”

“On behalf of the whole community we’re thrilled to see something like this take place,” she added.


Click here to read the original article and watch the video from NY Daily News

Here’s Scientific Proof That Life Gets Better As You Get Older

 | by  Carolyn Gregoire

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In the game of life, is it all downhill as young adulthood turns into maturity? Our culture of youth obsession and celebration of the college years and 20s as the golden years of one’s life has led many of us to believe that our happiness declines as we age. Some (rather depressing) research has found that 80 percent of life’s defining moments by the age of 35 — suggesting that there may not be much to look forward to in the second half of life.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The concentration of life’s major events in adolescence and early adulthood may not be anything to feel discouraged about — and it certainly doesn’t mean that happiness and life satisfaction decline as we get older. In fact, a growing body of research has proven that we’re wrong to think that happiness is correlated with youth. A wealth of scientific and anecdotal evidence demonstrates precisely that it’s when people have surpassed many of life’s big landmarks that their overall satisfaction and happiness peaks.

Our culture of YOLO and Botox may valorize youth and instill in us a fear and distaste of aging, but this attitude doesn’t come close to reflecting the reality of getting older — and we’d do well to celebrate the ways that life improves as we age.

Here are six scientifically-proven reasons that happiness and aging go hand in hand.

1. Happiness peaks at 69.

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A highly-publicized recent study suggested that there might be two major peaks of life satisfaction — one in the early 20s and one in old age. Specifically, the ages of 23 and 69 were found to be the happiest years. After the early 20s, happiness was generally found to decline until the mid-50s, after which point it increased again into the 80s.

Other studies (notably, a large 2010 Gallup poll) have corroborated this finding, suggesting that happiness tends to be positively linked with age. Though it may sound counterintuitive, the Gallup poll found that 85-year-olds are generally more satisfied with themselves than 18-year-olds.

“It’s a very encouraging fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s than we were in our 20s,” Andrew J. Oswald, a professor of psychology at Warwick Business School, told the New York Times. “And it’s not being driven predominantly by things that happen in life. It’s something very deep and quite human that seems to be driving this.”

2. Life isn’t a downhill decline — it’s a U-curve.

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As the Gallup poll found, happiness is likely to peak in young adulthood, hit a low point during the late 40s and 50s, and then increase again into later life and old age.

“Mankind is wrong to dread aging,” The Economist wrote, noting that happiness arcs through the average individual’s lifespan. “Life is not a long slow decline from sunlit uplands towards the valley of death. It is, rather, a U-bend.”

Economists mining happiness research and self-reported well-being data discovered a perhaps counterintuitive truth: After roughly the age of 50 — when happiness slumps — the closer we get to old age, the happier we become.

The trajectory looks like this: On average, happiness declines from youth to middle age until you hit the “midlife crisis” point, at which point — as people head towards old age — they experience surging levels of happiness and life satisfaction. The U-curve of happiness has been documented in countries around the world, and applies to both global well-being and emotional wellness, The Economist reported.

There are many possible explanations for this U-curve, but it’s likely that decreased ambition and greater acceptance plays a significant role.

3. We tend to falsely equate youth with happiness.

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Whether you’re old or young, chances are you think of young people as being happier — even though science has proved that this isn’t the case. Duke University economist Peter Ubel conducted a study in which he asked groups of 30-year-olds and 70-year-olds which age group (30 or 70) they thought would be happier. Both groups pointed towards the 30-year-olds, but when they rated their own happiness levels, the 70-year-olds scored higher.

In another study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found that both the young and the old believe that happiness declines with age, but that older adults described themselves as being happier than the younger adults did. These false beliefs about happiness could be damaging to both age groups, the study’s authors noted.

“Beliefs about aging are important,” the researchers write. “If younger adults mispredict old age as miserable, they may make risky decisions, not worrying about preserving themselves for what they predict will be an unhappy future. Conversely, exaggerating the joys of youth may lead to unwarranted nostalgia in older adults, interfering with their appreciation of current joys.”

4. The older we get, the more we appreciate the little things.

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The types of experiences that make us happy tend to shift as we move through life. Research from Brown University, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that while young people tend to seek out and highly prize extraordinary experiences — such as travel, falling in love or thrill-seeking, which can help them to build a greater sense of personal identity — older adults assign higher value to ordinary experiences and everyday pleasures, and derive identity from these types of experiences.

“It’s just what you would expect, this emphasis on savoring what you already have when your time starts to become limited,” Peter Caprariello, assistant professor of marketing at Stony Brook University, told the New York Times.

5. We’re happier when we’ve already accomplished our major goals.

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A 2013 UK survey claimed that the happiest age was 37, which is fairly young in the larger scheme, but suggests that people are happiest once they’ve already accomplished some of their major life goals and are able to let go and enjoy the ride.

37 is the average age that UK adults hope to have checked most of the boxes on their list of priorities, and it’s also the age when they’re happiest, the Telegraph reported. It’s possible that the resulting reduced ambition and lower stress levels contribute to heightened well-being and life satisfaction.

Other research has begun to explore the tension between ambition and happiness — namely, that ambition may make us more successful but not happier. Less ambitious individuals may actually enjoy greater happiness and a longer life, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

“Ambition by definition causes people to raise their goals and aspirations,” Timothy Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, told CNN. “If you have the highest goals in the world you’re always going to perceive yourself as falling short. It’s like Sisyphus rolling the ball up the hill, a thirst that can’t be quenched.”

6. Aging gives us an opportunity for acceptance.

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Although a number of factors may be at play in rising levels of well-being — including biological and environmental considerations — a tendency towards greater acceptance of oneself and one’s life circumstances may play a significant role. As we become older, we may be less likely to struggle to resist or control our circumstance; we may become more likely to realize and live the truth of the Buddha’s words, ““Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

Science has also backed the truth of the Buddha’s wisdom: A 2013 Australian study found that acceptance of what can’t be changed is a significant predictor of satisfaction in later life.

“As we age, we have the opportunity to accept who we are, instead of focusing on who we feel we need to become,” psychoanalyst Ken Eisold writes in Psychology Today. “We relax into being ourselves. Our faces start to look like who we are. And the world settles into more and more familiar patterns. That acceptance brings diminished anxiety and a higher degree of enjoyment.”

Read the original article from The Huffington Post Healthy Living.

Why One Woman Is Spreading Love Through Boston, One Act of Kindness At A Time


For as long as she can remember, Cathy O’Grady has enjoyed bringing a smile to the faces of total strangers. She would treat people in line next to her at a cafe to lunch or coffee, for no reason other than the simple pleasure of making someone’s day. But O’Grady says she was truly inspired her to commit her life to performing random acts of kindness after her mother’s death from breast cancer 15 years ago.

“Although she didn’t have a lot of monetary things to offer, her heart was always out there, and she taught me to love everybody and anybody,” O’Grady told The Huffington Post. “We are all one fire away from being homeless, we are all going through our own struggles. She taught me to split whatever I have in half and give it to someone else.”

For 12 years, O’Grady searched for the perfect way to honor her mother, and she’s convinced the right path found her several years ago. A simple compliment about a friend’s bracelet started a conversation about jewelry making, and before she knew it, the native of Watertown, Mass., had turned a hobby into a charitable enterprise.

Cathy’s Creations started small, with beaded crochet bracelets. O’Grady said she tended to her full-time accounting job by day and her jewelry making by night, selling the pieces through an online store and donating the profits to breast cancer organizations to honor her mother.

As her Facebook network expanded, O’Grady said she noticed her followers often asked if she would make bracelets to help raise awareness for a specific illness, condition or people in need. O’Grady realized that her philanthropic hobby could reach many more people through such focused fundraising, and decided to make “cause” bracelets, with profits from particular designs going to targeted organizations or families.

She expanded her product line to include pendants and key chains at around the time she had another revelation.

“It was Thanksgiving, and I noticed that a lot of people were struggling to put a Thanksgiving dinner on their table,” she said. From the profits on non-dedicated lines of jewelry, O’Grady donated $50 Walmart gift cards to families in the Boston area to help them afford a holiday meal. The success of that experience, she said, inspired her 25 Days of Giving for Christmas and every charitable project she has pursued since.

Last Friday, O’Grady took to the streets of Boston with her friend Colleen Wogernese to perform 318 random acts of kindness. Wogernese’s husband recently died from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare from of cancer, at age 29 — 318 is the number of days her husband lived with the disease.

O’Grady had helped the Wogerneses raise more than $1,000 for a final vacation to Disney World last year, and Colleen decided she wanted to show her appreciation for the nurses who had made her husband as comfortable as possible during his illness. Wogernese and O’Grady, together with a team of volunteers, handed out 250 nurse survival kits, left lottery tickets around the city, and bought coffee for strangers in honor of Wogernese’s late husband.

Boston locals have only recently begun to recognize the random acts of kindness being performed throughout their city as the work of O’Grady and her team. O’Grady said she loves leaving blankets, hats and scarves on park benches and walking away. She said she doesn’t do it for the credit. Instead, she watches from a distance to see the reactions of her recipients.

Her motivation is simple, she says: “I just want people to feel loved.”

O’Grady said that her most extensive project to date also proved to be the most emotional. Shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, O’Grady dedicated a series of 26 random acts of kindness to the memory of the brave students and faculty who lost their lives. O’Grady says she learned about their lives and dreams from their loved ones and tailored each act to reflect their personalities. On Day 27, she made an anonymous donation to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the hope of helping to prevent other tragedies in the future.

O’Grady said she tries to bring her 7-year-old son, Matthew, on as many projects as possible, so that he can learn from his grandmother’s legacy.

“My mom always told me to be careful what type of person you’re going to turn over into the world, so I’m taking that to heart,” said O’Grady. “I want him to be as compassionate and loving as my mom was.”

Read the original article from Huffington Post Good News.

7 Random Acts Of Kindness Inspired By A Drinking Game

When a dangerous online drinking game called “NekNomination” began spreading rapidly on Facebook and Twitter, it looked as though we’d found another reason to curse social media (and young people).

NekNomination involves filming yourself drinking an alcoholic concoction and then nominating a friend to outdo you. The trend began in Australia but has spread across the globe, according to the Telegraph.

But from this drinking game has come a new challenge — one that we’re promoting: RAKNominations.

To counter the debauchery that NekNomination promotes, people have begun filming themselves doing random acts of kindness and nominating their friends to do the same.

Here are just a few of the lovely gestures to pop up in the last week:

1. This young man bought a bouquet of roses and randomly picked a stranger to give them to. His RAK target just happened to be an adorable elderly woman.(click here)

2. This man bought a soup canteen, filled it with homemade soup and gave it to a homeless man, along with a new jacket. (click here)

3. This group spent the day buying strangers coffee, paying for parking passes, and offering up banana bread to anyone they bumped into. (click here).

4. This man went old-school and paid for the meals of people behind him in the KFC drive-thru. (click here).

5. This young woman took the time to write a card for someone she doesn’t know. “Thank you for being you,” it reads. “I know your existence changed somebody’s life.” (click here).

6. This woman decided to walk into a random convenience store and cover one (very appreciative) woman’s bill. (click here).

7. This woman got creative. She walked into a book store, flipped to a random page number of a book, and went about getting that many hugs from strangers. With each embrace comes more smiles. (click here).

Read the article directly from Huffington Post Good News