Jeanette Stanfield’s Stories: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

Nunavut

Inuit students are learning how to monitor climate shifts in their homeland.  They work with researchers over a number of years to see the change in ………. Over a number of years.  They are learning skills they can use in jobs in the future.

Cape Town – a very segregated city

Young people are taking children from a very poor black housing district to the beach and ocean.  They are teaching them to surf and swim.  Most of these students have never been out of their community and have never been by the ocean or downtown Cape Town.  Opens up vision of future possibilities and learn new skllls.

Brazil – Amazon

Young adults becoming caretakers of the UNESCO Reserve (huge area) – They patrol waters and there are special projects by young veterinarians to care for endangered species.

South Africa – remote corners

Wildlife census  with loads of live cameras, citizen scientists around the world – students etc. are analyzing videos to learn about the large animals in particular habitats

This is is one of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday.   They are posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them.  I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.

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Jane Stallman’s Stories: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

A Taste of Ecuador or should I say Ecuadorians

I want to share a bit about my experience in Ecuador, a few things that seem to capture the spirit of the people, the country. There are many more I could easily add.

Acts of Kindness

Yesterday, a bit weakened from a flu bug, I lugged a 50 lb suitcase up the street to a corner where it was easier to get a taxi. My goal was to put a few things in my new apartment that would make it more like a Jane home. Taxis were busy but it taken me too long to flag one down. The taxi driver opens his trunk but was positioned in a way he couldn’t easily get out of the cab to help me. I go to put the behemoth into the trunk when a man appears to help. He was standing by the corner tiende just behind me, someone I had not  noticed. He puts the suitcase in the trunk, smiles at me and goes back to the tienda. No request on my part. No looking totally helpless. Just an observant Ecuadorian aware that I needed help and graciously giving it. 

When I get to my apartment, the taxi stops and the rather old taxi driver gets out and takes my suitcase out before I could do it. As he does, the guard at the gate of the apartment unlocks the gate and comes out and gets the suitcase. He walks me into the apartment to the elevator and makes certain that I know how to get to my apartment, “Seis Say” or 6 C. 

Shortly after I get into the apartment, open the windows and begin to unpack the suitcase, the doorbell rings. Such a thrill to hear my doorbell ring. It was the man mopping the building entrance floor. He is in charge of building maintenance. He introduced himself. I invited him in. He checked to make certain the gas in the stove was working and that I knew how to use the stove (not an easy thing) and then he checked to make certain that I had water in the apartment, particularly hot water. He left letting me know to contact him if I needed him. 

In the midst of the craziness and divisiveness in the US, I was grateful for so many simple acts of kindness I experienced in just one morning in Cuenca, Ecuador. I think I will like my new home. 

This is one of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday.   They are posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them.  I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.

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Jan Sanders’ Stories: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

The Jon S. Randal Peace Page

On July 31, 1968, a young, black man was reading the newspaper when he saw something that he had never seen before. With tears in his eyes, he started running and screaming throughout the house, calling for his mom. He would show his mom, and, she would gasp, seeing something she thought she would never see in her lifetime. Throughout the nation, there were similar reactions.

What they saw was Franklin Armstrong’s first appearance on the iconic comic strip “Peanuts.” Franklin would be 50 years old this year.

Franklin was “born” after a school teacher, Harriet Glickman, had written a letter to creator Charles M. Schulz after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot to death outside his Memphis hotel room.

Glickman, who had kids of her own and having worked with kids, was especially aware of the power of comics among the young. “And my feeling at the time was that I realized that black kids and white kids never saw themselves [depicted] together in the classroom,” she would say.

She would write, “Since the death of Martin Luther King, ‘I’ve been asking myself what I can do to help change those conditions in our society which led to the assassination and which contribute to the vast sea of misunderstanding, hate, fear and violence.’”

Glickman asked Schulz if he could consider adding a black character to his popular comic strip, which she hoped would bring the country together and show people of color that they are not excluded from American society.

She had written to others as well, but the others feared it was too soon, that it may be costly to their careers, that the syndicate would drop them if they dared do something like that.

Charles Schulz did not have to respond to her letter, he could have just completely ignored it, and everyone would have forgotten about it. But, Schulz did take the time to respond, saying he was intrigued with the idea, but wasn’t sure whether it would be right, coming from him, he didn’t want to make matters worse, he felt that it may sound condescending to people of color.

Glickman did not give up, and continued communicating with Schulz, with Schulz surprisingly responding each time. She would even have black friends write to Schulz and explain to him what it would mean to them and gave him some suggestions on how to introduce such a character without offending anyone. This conversation would continue until one day, Schulz would tell Glickman to check her newspaper on July 31, 1968.

On that date, the cartoon, as created by Schulz, shows Charlie Brown meeting a new character, named Franklin. Other than his color, Franklin was just an ordinary kid who befriends and helps Charlie Brown. Franklin also mentions that his father was “over at Vietnam.” At the end of the series, which lasted three strips, Charlie invites Franklin to spend the night one day so they can continue their friendship. [The original comic strip of Charlie Brown meeting Franklin is attached in the initial comments below, the picture attached here is Franklin meeting the rest of the Peanuts, including Linus. I just thought this was a good re-introduction of Franklin to the rest of the world – “I’m very glad to know you.”

There was no big announcement, there was no big deal, it was just a natural conversation between two kids, whose obvious differences did not matter to them. And, the fact that Franklin’s father was fighting for this country was also a very strong statement by Schulz.

Although Schulz never made a big deal over the inclusion of Franklin, there were many fans, especially in the South, who were very upset by it and that made national news. One Southern editor even said, “I don’t mind you having a black character, but please don’t show them in school together.”

It would eventually lead to a conversation between Schulz and the president of the comic’s distribution company, who was concerned about the introduction of Franklin and how it might affect Schulz’ popularity. Many newspapers during that time had threatened to cut the strip.

Schulz’ response: “I remember telling Larry at the time about Franklin — he wanted me to change it, and we talked about it for a long while on the phone, and I finally sighed and said, “Well, Larry, let’s put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How’s that?”

Eventually, Franklin became a regular character in the comic strips, and, despite complaints, Franklin would be shown sitting in front of Peppermint Patty at school and playing center field on her baseball team.

More recently, Franklin is brought up on social media around Thanksgiving time, when the animated 1973 special “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” appears. Some people have blamed Schulz for showing Franklin sitting alone on the Thanksgiving table, while the other characters sit across him. But, Schulz did not have the same control over the animated cartoon on a television network that he did on his own comic strip in the newspapers.

But, he did have control over his own comic strip, and, he courageously decided to make a statement because of one brave school teacher who decided to ask a simple question.

Glickman would explain later that her parents were “concerned about others, and the values that they instilled in us about caring for and appreciating everyone of all colors and backgrounds — this is what we knew when we were growing up, that you cared about other people . . . And so, during the years, we were very aware of the issues of racism and civil rights in this country [when] black people had to sit at the back of the bus, black people couldn’t sit in the same seats in the restaurants that you could sit . . . Every day I would see, or read, about black children trying to get into school and seeing crowds of white people standing around spitting at them or yelling at them . . . and the beatings and the dogs and the hosings and the courage of so many people in that time.”

Because of Glickman, because of Schulz, people around the world were introduced to a little boy named Franklin.

Bill Belcamino

November 22 at 10:05 AM ·

So I have to share this story. As the fire engulfed my hometown of Paradise, this 93 yr old woman lost power and phone and the fire was about to overtake her. Her garbage man, despite being told by his route supervisor to evacuate immediately, decided to drive back into the flames and run his route and see if any of his elderly customers were in trouble. She was pretty immobile, recovering from a broken back and she stood in front of her house, waiting to die. Then she saw, out of the smoke, her garbage truck driver come into view (her words) – “in his giant green monster” racing to check on the people along his normal route. He stopped and knew he would probably lose his job for letting someone ride in his truck as that violated company policy, but despite that he gently helped her climb in. As they raced to safety through the flames (her words) – “It was like we were entering the bowels of Hell.” He found out that she had no family nearby and had nowhere to go. His supervisor heard this story and refused to let her go to a shelter. She now lives with him and his wife and their four kids… and that ain’t changing any time soon.. Her words to him on inside edition “You are the most wonderful creature that God produced” Say what you want, but he is hero. As a friend commented below… “this is the America that I believe in.” Love 1 – Hate 0. Love wins. #paradise

This is one of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday.   They are posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them.  I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.

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Ieva Wool’s Story: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

Ieva Wool’s Story —post  from someone on Facebook

I was checking into my hotel in Surrey this evening and I asked the man at the desk if he knew if there was a restaurant in the hotel. He told me that there wasn’t but there was a lot of restaurants up on 152nd. I made a face and said I didn’t really feel like getting into my truck and heading out to look for a place to eat but I guess I’d have to. We finished up with the check in procedure and when he gave me my key card he said that his wife was bringing him some food for dinner and he could tell her to bring some extra if I wanted to join them. I was taken off guard completely. When was the last time a hotel worker offered to feed you? I felt awkward and stammered a bit and said that I didn’t want to impose. He assured me that there would be plenty of food and I should meet them in the breakfast room at about 6:30 when his dinner break started.

 I went up to my room and got settled in and then I headed down to the breakfast room for dinner. I walked in and the first thing that hit me was the delicious smell. Mohammed introduced me to his wife Aseel and we all sat down to eat. OH. MY. GOD! Falafel, kebabs, fattoush, shawarma and other amazing foods. I was treated and fed like a King. We chatted for a long time and they explained to me that they had fled Syria and came to Canada with the other 60,000 refugees last year.

 They spoke very little about how bad things were in Syria but they couldn’t wait to tell me how happy they were to be living and working  in Canada. Mohammed is a pharmacist and upgrading at University and Aseel is a lawyer who has to pass the bar in Canada before she can work as a lawyer. They were so enthusiastic to be here that I couldn’t help but share their enthusiasm as we spoke. At the end of the meal Aseel wrapped some food in tinfoil for my lunch tomorrow  (Wendy’s laughing I’m sure) and Mohammed said one last thing to me. “Don’t take your country for granted” I of course got a lump in my throat and gave them a hug and thanked them profusely.

While I was walking up to my room it occurred to me that a Syrian Refugee family came all the way to Canada and fed ME! I got off the elevator and walked a little further and corrected myself. A CANADIAN family fed me.

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Helen Wythe’s Story: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

There is a small group of extraordinary folks in a SW Florida community who have and continue to make a difference for both humankind and animals. Feral cats, although not natural to, have become an important element of the Florida ecosystem. In Florida females have 3-4 breeding season. When a feral cat colony is in close proximity to humans the interaction can create several public health concerns. In a community of 1000 homes, 10 people came together creating a feral cat trap, neuter and return (TNR) program to ensure a healthy feral cat community. They fundraise through a variety of small events three thousand dollars a year to pay for the veterinary services associated with the feral cats in their community. These funds also cover the costs of helping injured feral cats, rehoming domesticated cats that need a forever home and adopting out feral kittens. The Committee has been acknowledged by the larger community and highlighted as how to create a local community TNR program. The Community now educates local community residents on the value and need of feral cats and the rehoming of domesticated cats reducing the incidence of many undesirable, inhumane and unacceptable practices.

This is one of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday.   They are posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them.  I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.

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Helen Leask’s Story: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

SHOVELLING AS AN ACT OF LOVE

We’d just had another dump of snow but my heart was colder than my driveway. I waved goodbye, full of fake smiles, to my young children, who were blank-faced in the windows of the receding van. My frozen disbelief was reflected in their expressions, emotion held sub-zero because if it started to thaw it was going to hurt. The first of a thousand such goodbyes; a commonplace Friday-night moment in tens of thousands of divided homes.

The first Weekend At Dad’s.  

I went back inside to the first beer. I imagined the children climbing out of the van, dragging their feet into their Dad’s elevator, entering a new world without their mother.

I heard a scrape, scrape from outside my front door. I groped along the corridor and peeped around the curtain. I saw a tiny figure with a Dollarama snow shovel stoutly working his way along my drive, clearing the snow. He had mismatched gloves and shouldn’t he be wearing a hat? But there he was, intent on his task, Adam, the neglected child from across the street. 

Adam was notorious. All the neighbours would shake their heads over him and mutter darkly, “it sure takes a village…” Adam was placed with a surly nanny at two weeks old and returned her hatred in equal measure; his mother always walked straight past him after she leapt from the taxi, briefcase in hand; he couldn’t share, wasn’t invited anywhere; he expected nothing from adults and even less from children. I had always talked to him – reprimanded him a couple of times, too, for minor infractions – and once showed him how to bake a cake. 

He had never shovelled my snow before – hadn’t shoveled anyone’s snow – but there he was. It was getting dark, cold and late; no-one came out of his house to look for him. I watched him, mesmerized, rather curious about his next move. I assumed he’d seen older boys make a dollar or two and would come knocking on my door once the drive was clear. Instead, he dumped the last spade-load, straining a little under the weight, and idly plodded back to the sidewalk, flicking his shovel at a few untidy ice scraps on the way.

He was gone before I gathered my wits.

Before that sub-zero night, we had never seen Adam do a single selfless act – he had been taught well. Yet there he was, shovelling my snow on the most painful winter weekend of our lives.  Somehow, he knew. In the only way he could, in a peculiarly Canadian way, he wordlessly expressed his sympathy for the sad state of affairs. Shovelling as an act of love.

This is one of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday.   They are posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them.  I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.

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Heidi Wiebe’s Story: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

Here’s a story from my community of Yellowknife. 

On October 2, 2018, Rockhill Apartments, which houses the YWCA offices and 33 units of family transitional housing (run by the YWCA) burned to the ground in the early hours of the morning. The building was completely destroyed. What was so amazing, is that by 1 pm that afternoon, every one of those families was rehoused in new apartments, complete with beds, furniture, clothing, and funds for immediate purchases. Some of the local property managers donated vacant apartments, furniture retailers donated beds, local NGOs and the entire city donated cash, clothes, furnishings, kitchenware, gift cards, etc. Yellowknife is a city of about 22,000 people. It, like many northerners’ communities, never ceases to amaze me at the level and speed of support when some of its own are hurt. The level of communication and coordination from the YWCA and other service providers to channel public donations towards what was needed most, when and where is on par with disaster management anywhere and I think would stand up in the face of any crisis. Over the time since then, there have been additional fundraisers and a search for new office space for the YWCA to continue the efforts to replace the less urgent items and begin the slower process of getting back to normal, or the new normal. 

It was truly a heart-warming story up here. For families whose lives were turned upside down at 5:30 am, to be in new space, safe and warm within 8 hours is truly astounding.

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Erwin Allerdings’ Story: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

I have followed this story for 2-3 years. The SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary is located in the Kodagu district in the Indian state of Karnataka.  

An amazing couple have transformed burned out farmland and a polluted stream into a private wildlife sanctuary.

The husband and wife have spent 25 years buying up wasteland farmers no longer wanted; now elephants, tigers and leopards roam free there.

Sometimes it takes a village, sometimes it just takes a person or two, as in the case of Anil and Pamela Malhotra who together are creating what is likely India’s first private wildlife sanctuary.

Having met and married in the United States in the 1960s, the couple moved to India in 1986 after visiting for the funeral of Anil’s father. While generally it would be the beauty of a place to inspire relocation, for the Malhotras it was the opposite – the terrible state of nature in Haridwar was the attraction. “There was so much deforestation, the timber lobby was in charge, and the river was polluted. And no one seemed to care. That was when we decided to do something to reclaim the forests in India,” Anil tells the India Times.

After looking for land to purchase, in 1991 they settled on a 55-acre plot down south in Brahmagiri, a mountain range in the Western Ghats. The land was a mess, Anil, 75, and Pamela, 64, say that the owner wanted to sell it because he could no longer grow on it.

“For me and Pamela, this was what we were looking for all our life,” says Anil. And thus began the transformation, orchestrated by Mother Nature, of barren farmland into what is now the Save Animals Initiative (SAI) Sanctuary.

Since then, the couple has been purchasing land as it becomes available, most of it agricultural acreage that has been stripped of its fertility.

“Once we bought the land, we allowed the forest to regenerate. We planted native species where necessary and allowed nature to take care of the rest,” says Anil.

As of now, the SAI Sanctuary boasts some 300 acres of beautiful bio-diverse rainforest that elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, snakes, birds and hundreds of other animals all call home. Naturalists and scientists come to do research on animals as well as the hundreds of indigenous trees and plants. And guests are invited to come and stay in the two eco-tourist cottages on the property as a way to help support the continuing efforts of the Malhotras. Efforts that are making waves in both a mountain range in India and all the way across the world as news of this noble endeavor continues to spread.

https://www.treehugger.com/conservation/couple-creates-wildlife-sanctuary-india-letting-barren-farmland-return-nature.html

This is one of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday.   They are posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them.  I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.

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Eileen Howard’s Story: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

THE WIDOW’S MITE By Eileen Howard

The Church for All People includes people like me, with economic means, but also many people who have limited, or even almost no means of income.   Yet, part of our church message is that we are all called to give back to God financially with some sort of tithe, in whatever ways we are able and called. 

Early in the life of our church, my husband George counted the offering after church.  He opened up an offering envelope to find 17 of the most beat-up, dirty, scraped-up pennies you have ever seen.  Blackened, smashed and twisted, they had obviously been collected out of the gutter and off the sidewalk.  Someone in our congregation had gathered this meager collection of cash to be able to put something in the offering plate that morning.  

How much more of a commitment was that thoughtful act than my relatively meaningless $10.00 in the offering plate? 

Jeff is a tall, plump African-American man, with dark rimmed round glasses, who regularly visits the Free Store and attends worship on Sunday mornings.  Jeff has a big heart, and also experiences some mental challenges. 

I happened to be in the Church on a weekday while the Free Store was open, saw Jeff and greeted him.  While I was talking to someone else, Jeff came over and handed me a gift bag. 

It was something he had picked out for himself from the Free Store.  In it were some Avon products – body wash, bubble bath, etc. 

I protested that I didn’t need it and he said “No, please take it.  I really appreciate your music on Sunday morning,” and he moved off before I could say anything else. 

I examined the bag further and found that there was a children’s CD in it as well.  I assumed that he had accidentally put it in there and found him to try to give it back.

 “I don’t have any kids at home” I said, “Why don’t you keep this”. 

“That’s okay”, he replied.  “Just pay it forward”.  And he moved off again. 

Pay it forward.  And, graciously accept gifts given in love.  My lessons from Jeff.

Last but not least, I had two lessons from Mike Dyle.  Mike was a homeless Vet who passed away about a year ago.  When we first met him he had a camp down by the river.  Mike was our part-time custodian for some time.

One Saturday, Mike was running around cleaning and he talked to me non-stop while he rushed here and there.  He said, “Today was my lucky day!  I found a dollar on the street!” 

I congratulated him, assuming he was happy because it gave him some extra spending money. 

Then he went on, “I was so happy because now I have money to put in the offering tomorrow.” 

If I had a windfall, would my first thought be putting it in the offering?

Mike had been accumulating a snazzy wardrobe –a new pair of jeans, a couple of new shirts, and his most prized possessions – two pairs of running shoes, brand new, that came into the Free Store and were exactly his size.  He was wearing one pair and keeping the other, his Air Jordans, for a backup pair.

A homeless man came into the store.  He was down on his luck and the staff was helping him outfit himself with some clothes.  Mike asked him what size shoes he wore.  When he found out the man wore his size, Michael brought out the Air Jordans and gave them to him without hesitation.

I probably have 20 pairs of shoes in my closet.  Would I give them all away if someone needed them?

In the book “When Helping Hurts”, authors Brian Fikkert, Steve Corbett and John Perkins redefine “Poverty” as something that can be either material or spiritual and call us to mutuality in our relationships with those in material poverty.  I find my own poverty of spirit challenged by those we label as “poor”.   I am a helped spiritually because of forming relationships with those I came to “help”.

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Duncan Holmes’ Stories: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

Mobile laundry for the homeless

We have all walked past the homeless many times on our streets. Four years ago, two young Australian men saw a need that wasn’t being filled and were moved to do it despite the obstacles. They outfitted a van with a clothes washer and dryer. They drove it to the places the homeless hang out – the parks, churches, drop-in centers. This was their bid to bring hygiene services to the homeless community on their own turf.

They had numerous obstacles to overcome including widespread skepticism about the plan. They also had to figure out how to power the machines and what to do with the waste water. The service is free, run by volunteers and has no other agenda.

The health benefits include halting the spread of mold, scabies, and bed bugs. The most significant is the mental health boost. People tend to hand around for the hour it takes to wash and dry their clothes. Plus the opportunity to take a shower and not have to worry about privacy and safety is an amazing bonus.

They now have 27 laundry and shower vans operating in Australia. They use generators and solar power to operate the machines. They do 15-20 laundry loads and showers each day. This model is expanding in other countries in Asia, UK and USA.

Cleaning up: mobile laundry for the homeless goes international https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/06/cleaning-up-mobile-laundry-for-the-homeless-goes-international?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX1RoZVVwc2lkZS0xODExMDk%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=TheUpside&CMP=upside_email

Orange Sky vans visit parks and drop-in centres in Australia and New Zealand

A mobile laundry and shower service for the homeless has begun international expansion after being inundated with requests from struggling cities around the globe.

Four years ago two young Australian men saw a gap in the market and fitted out a van with a washer and dryer, driving it to parks, churches and drop-in centres in a bid to bring hygiene services to the homeless community on their own turf.

Lucas Patchett, co-founder of Orange Sky, said washing was initially viewed as a low priority for the community, and there was widespread scepticism about the plan.

“When we dreamed this up it was a world first, and we had a lot of practical issues to overcome. How would we power the machines, where would we dispose of the waste water?” says Patchett.

“But we strongly believed that access to hygiene was a basic human right.”

There are more than 100,000 homeless Australians, and the population has complex needs. Patchett says Orange Sky has been able to forge bonds with the community by bringing the vans to its doorstep, and because it has no agenda besides the straightforward, free services it offers.

Health benefits of the mobile laundry include halting the spread of mould, scabies and bed bugs, but Patchett says it is the mental health boost that is most significant.

“We’re not preaching anything, or teaching anything or pushing anything. But it does take an hour to wash and dry someone’s clothes and during that time people tend to hang around. That’s when the conversations start.

“Ninety-nine percent of the day, these people are walked past and ignored and not even looked at, and that can have a huge impact on psyche and sense of self-worth. So we just say g’day and offer something really practical that makes people immediately feel more confident to engage with the broader society.”

There are now 27 Orange Sky laundry and shower vans operating in Australia, using generators and solar power to run the machines. Operated by volunteers, they do around 15-20 laundry loads and showers each day.

Last month Orange Sky expanded overseas, unveiling a van in Auckland, New Zealand, with plans to venture to the US next.

It costs around NZ$100,000 (£51,235) to kit out a laundry and shower van.

A number of other mobile laundry services have launched around the world, including in several US states, Brighton in the UK and Athens, Greece, where 20,000 people are homeless. Orange Sky has also been asked to provide services to Singapore, Hong Kong and other British cities.

According to Auckland council, at least 1,000 people sleep rough in New Zealand’s biggest city every night, and Orange Sky’s expansion has been welcomed by those caring for the community, saying the service has been embraced.

The New Zealand housing and urban development minister, Phil Twyford, said Orange Sky offered rough sleepers something many New Zealanders took for granted, and was one part of giving them back their dignity and self-respect.

“While superficially the service is about clean clothes and showers, the main benefits are the social interactions,” said Twyford.

Mike, one of the first clients to use the Orange Sky van in Auckland, said it was a relief to be able to wash his clothes and bedding, as well as himself, on a regular basis.

“It is a bit tricky, it’s hard enough to find somewhere to live and something to eat, let alone find a place to wash your clothes and have a wash,” he said.

“I think it’s a good concept … and it has a roll-on effect. Your clothes are clean, you’re clean and you feel good about yourself.”

Patchett says homeless women find the service particularly valuable, as many struggle finding a safe place to shower in privacy.

“There was a woman who came to shower and she said she hadn’t had a safe space to do that for a number of years,” says Patchett.

“And even just being locked in the back of a van with volunteers out the front really gave her some peace of mind.”

Another man who had not showered for more than four months moved his social worker to tears when he climbed into the back of the Orange Sky van for a few minutes of privacy and relaxation.

Cities in New Zealand such as Wellington, Whangarei and Christchurch have been in touch requesting Orange Sky services in their towns, and Patchett says with enough funding and volunteers, the service will soon spread countrywide.

Other stories

Dentists volunteering to give homeless people a set of dentures – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/08/filling-the-gaps-why-homeless-does-not-have-to-mean-toothless?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX1RoZVVwc2lkZS0xODExMDk%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=TheUpside&CMP=upside_email

The world’s swankiest soup kitchen in Rio de Janeiro. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/nov/05/more-than-a-meal-swanky-rio-de-janeiro-restaurant-for-homeless-people-refettorio-gastromotiva?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX1RoZVVwc2lkZS0xODExMDk%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=TheUpside&CMP=upside_email

To what extent does childhood trauma follow the individual through into adult life? And can anything be done about it? Lauren Zanolli found out. https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/nov/07/ace-adverse-childhood-experience trauma?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX1RoZVVwc2lkZS0xODExMDk%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=TheUpside&CMP=upside_email

These are some of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday.   They are posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them.  I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.

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