16 more extraordinary examples of humanity at its best after Harvey and Irma.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have passed, leaving trails of devastation and destruction in their wake. Recovery from both storms will take months, if not years, but around the world, everyday people are stepping up to help out friends, neighbors, and strangers however they can.

After Harvey, we collected a list of 11 examples of hurricane heroism. Now that both storms have run their course, here's a look at 16 more spectacular gestures of kindness. Each one is a testament to the generosity of the human spirit and a reminder that when bad things happen, there will always be ways we can help.


This photo shows people in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

1. A group of Syrian refugees living in Georgia delivered home-cooked meals to Irma evacuees.

They knew what it was like to need the help of others and just wanted to give back.

2. A group of helpful neighbors came to the rescue of one Ormond Beach, Florida, woman, saving her personal belongings from a collapsing house.

3. NBC's Kerry Sanders was reporting from Marco Island when he spotted another man helping two beached baby dolphins.

The dramatic rescue was caught on film.

4. Kimberly Gager of San Antonio put her extreme couponing skills to great use to help people who were hit by Hurricane Harvey.

She began saving coupons she would have ordinarily thrown away, using them to buy diapers, formula, and other baby supplies, which she donated.

5. Florida's Islamorada Beer Company got to work bottling water, raising money, and transporting supplies down to the Florida Keys to help people hit by Irma.

If the beer tastes a little watered down, that's because it is.

6. Mike and Kathy Merrill of Florida Urgent Rescue pulled double duty, helping save dogs displaced by both Harvey and Irma.

7. Blink-182's Mark Hoppus recorded a song called "Not Every Dog Goes to Heaven" for the ASPCA benefit album "Dog Songs."

Profits from the album will help the ASPCA save dogs affected by Hurricane Harvey. Rock on, Mark.

Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Turner Sports.

8. A collection of sailors and cruisers joined up to help islands hit by Irma. They call themselves Sailors Helping.

They're working in conjunction with local government and volunteer groups to facilitate immediate aid. In the long term, they're planning a Rally to Rebuild, in which hundreds of boaters will bring a habitat-for-humanity style armada of boats and volunteers to various islands hit by Hurricane Irma.

Image courtesy of Tory Fine/Sailors Helping.

9. Remember the heartwarming story about a man who gave up the last generator at a Florida store? When one became available later that day, the store's manager gave it to the generous stranger for free.

A good deed is its own reward, but this certainly helps too.

10. As Irma evacuees made their way out of Florida, one Georgia man decided to throw them a cookout.

Chad Harrison of Valdosta, Georgia, was a sight for sore eyes for hungry people fleeing Florida. In total, he was able to help feed around 2,000 evacuees.

11. A billionaire immigrant named Kieu Hoang donated $5 million to Harvey relief efforts, saying, "We are all American."

This might be one of the largest (if not the largest) individual donations anyone's made in response to the recent hurricanes.

12. Millionaire Marc Bell opened up his $30 million, 27,000-square-foot home to 70 foster kids affected by Irma.

Bell says he got a call from SOS Children's Village Florida with a request for help after they'd been kicked out of their shelters. Bell offered up his home.

13. Animal control, along with a few brave neighbors, helped rescue five dogs trapped in fire-ant-infested waters in Lakeland, Florida.

People helping people helping doggos are the best kind of people.

BREAKING UPDATE: Animal Control says they will rescue several dogs left alone during #HurricaneIrma. WFLA Melissa Marino is live with the update. http://bit.ly/2wVBLuA

Posted by WFLA News Channel 8 on Monday, September 11, 2017

14. Royal Caribbean cruise line sent two of its ships to Caribbean islands hit by Irma to help evacuees, and Norwegian Cruise Line sent a ship to St. Thomas packed with supplies.

After canceling numerous cruises due to the storm, the vacation companies had a bit of free time on their hands.

15. When Irma left a group of manatees stranded near Whitfield, Florida, a group of locals helped move the majestic sea cows back into the water.

Right on.

16. After taking home first place at the DreamHack Montreal Street Fighter V tournament, professional gamer Du Dang donated his $10,000 in winnings to Irma relief efforts.

Originally from Tampa, he wanted to give back to his hometown during its time of need.

It's easy to think of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as being disasters that are now behind us, but the truth is that the real work is just beginning.

As the above examples demonstrate, there are a lot of really unique and creative ways to help out in the storms' aftermath. If you're looking for a way to get involved in the relief efforts, here's a great place to get started.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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