The morning after Hurricane Matthew roared through St. Simons Island, Georgia, golfer Davis Love III drove over to his neighbor's house with a chainsaw.

"We’re on the marsh, and he rode [the storm] out and kept an eye on both houses, and I had to take the chainsaw just to get him out of his drive," Love said. "It’s just been nonstop."

Love, a PGA Championship winner and captain of the United States Ryder Cup Team, was one of hundreds of local volunteers and professional emergency service personnel assisting in the clean-up effort on St. Simons. The island was spared the worst of the storm — no injuries or deaths were reported — but the high winds played havoc with the sleepy beach community's trees, uprooting giant oaks and launching limbs onto the canopied streets and into power lines.


Power lines tangled in an uprooted tree on Bartow Street on St. Simons Island. Photo by Jerry Nardell.

"I’ve been here 28 years, and this is the worst [storm] I’ve seen here on St. Simons," Glynn County commissioner Dale Provenzano said. The downed lines resembled a tangle of necklaces in a jewelry box, knocking out the power for the few dozen residents who stayed and forcing emergency crews to work around the clock to repair them.

But in the midst of it all, there was barbecue.

Six years ago, Harrison Sapp stormed into Southern Soul BBQ cursing at his customers, yelling at them to run. No one believed the restaurant was on fire.

"We watched it. We all watched it," Sapp said. "Us, the fire department, and everybody. We just watched it burn to the ground. ‘Cause there was nothing that could be done. We all thought we were done."

The timing could not have been worse — not that there's ever a good time for your restaurant to burn down. Sapp had just filmed an audition for "BBQ Pitmasters." "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" had stopped by a few weeks before. The partners were convinced the restaurant was on the edge of breaking through. The fire, they thought, would put an end to all of that.

Then they checked Facebook.

Griffin Bufkin (left) and Harrison Sapp of Southern Soul BBQ. Photo by Andrew Thoma's Lee/Southern Soul BBQ.

Even before the flames extinguished themselves, the restaurant's wall was full of expressions of disbelief, declarations of sympathy, prayers, proclamations of love, and offers to raise money.

"Somehow, we had just become part of the community, you know, and everybody over here was family," Sapp said.

Southern Soul kept operating — first out of a tent, then a trailer. Local restaurants held fundraisers. A man on a bicycle rode up and wrote them a check for $35,000. "Pay me back when the insurance pays," he told them. Six months later, they were up and running again in a new building.  

"I think ever since then, they’ve felt like they need to give back as much as they can," Love, a part-owner of the restaurant, said.

At 7 a.m. on Oct. 8, 2016, a few hours after Matthew had moved off the coast, Jerry Nardell, a childhood friend of Sapp and Bufkin's who works as a bartender at a nearby restaurant, rode his bicycle down to Southern Soul to charge his phone.

Unbeknownst to him, a Georgia state patrol officer had escorted Sapp back onto the island early that morning with Bufkin half an hour behind him. Their staff had prepped the smoker the night before.

"We just promised that we would basically be back, we would be there to serve first responders," Sapp said. "No matter what happened, we would come back."

Inside the restaurant, mountains of brisket, ribs, and pulled pork sat cooked and ready to heat. The crew set out aluminum trays and lit Sterno candles underneath. Nardell jumped on the buffet line.

He stayed there until 11pm.

"We owe St. Simons everything. I owe them everything. They take care of us like we’re their kids, and we try to take care of everybody around here." — Harrison Sapp

Another friend, Lance Williams, who left Southern Soul to start Mallery Street Cafe in downtown St. Simons, pulled up to offer his help. Within minutes of arriving, he was in the kitchen, cutting and pulling meat.  

"I just showed up and grabbed an apron, you know? I know what to do," Williams said.

Georgia Power workers fill up a plate at Southern Soul. Photo via Southern Soul BBQ/Facebook, used with permission.

Southern Soul put out the call to emergency workers and first responders on the island — first through word of mouth, then on social media — that lunch was available free of charge. They came in groups: local police, firefighters, state police, power company workers, Homeland Security officers. It was organized chaos, but the line kept moving.

"They just kept food rolling out until we pretty much ran out," Nardell said.

Around 7 p.m., the power came back on.

The next day, the crew at Southern Soul expanded the food service to include locals who stayed on the island.

Sapp, who had previously ridden out storms in South Carolina, Hawaii, and Oklahoma, knew how restorative a hot meal could be to those left behind.

"What I learned at all of those places is, people have got to eat," Sapp said. "They’re not going to have anything to eat, there’s not going to be any power, there’s not going to be anything."

Williams recalled running food to an elderly man who no one could reach.

"He’s a 94-year-old man that has dementia and they couldn’t get a hold of him," Williams said.

Emergency workers eat at Southern Soul. Photo via Southern Soul BBQ/Facebook, used with permission.

While emergency crews were untangling power lines and clearing tree limbs off the roads, local volunteers met at Southern Soul in the late morning to coordinate assistance efforts.

"One of the neighbors had gotten in touch with me to ask if I could check on their chickens, so I got into their backyard, climbed their fence, and fed their chickens," said Kirsten Hawkins, Southern Soul's general manager, who made tea and helped serve.

Meanwhile, Love and others drove around checking on the homes of residents who had evacuated and cutting away trees that were blocking driveways.

"We were actually joking that we’d declared martial law, because we could go around the roundabout the wrong way and drive as fast as we wanted," Love said.

Provenzano credits Southern Soul, along with a number of other local restaurants that stayed open, for helping the recovery effort run smoothly and allowing emergency workers to stay on the island through mealtimes, instead of having to travel to a staging area on the mainland.  

A previous storm in 1999, he explained, forced the island to evacuate without a plan, and clean-up efforts chaotic and disorganized. After Matthew, most of the island's roads were clear and lights were back on within 96 hours.

"If you had told me that we wouldn’t even have power crews on the island until mid-day Saturday, and that all the customers would have their power restored by Tuesday night, I’d have said there’s no way," Provenzano said. He praised the power company employees for working non-stop, the police for keeping the proceedings orderly, and the local volunteers for filling in the gaps.

Sapp said he and Bufkin were duty-bound to play a small part.

"We owe St. Simons everything. I owe them everything. They take care of us like we’re their kids, and we try to take care of everybody around here," he said.

Southern Soul resumed regular service on Monday night. On Tuesday, Love and his crew stopped by for dinner.

The golfer was exhausted from clearing when the chef approached his table and asked what he was doing next.

"I said, 'We’re not doing anything, we’re done for the day, I’m gonna go to sleep,' and he said, 'Alright, come on, we’re making rub,'" Love said.

The smoker. Photo via Southern Soul BBQ/Facebook, used with permission.

The chef led him around back to a cement mixer. After a long few days, blending spices was therapy.

"That’s us. We cook barbecue, you know?" Sapp said.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

@elenisabracos on TikTok

Look, it’s a sad situation for anyone to hear that Adele will not be gracing the stage any time soon. The beloved singer woefully announced on Instagram last Friday (Jan 21) that her planned residency in Las Vegas “wasn’t ready” due to coronavirus. Half of her crew had been infected, making it “impossible to finish the show.”

But for one fan in particular, who has tried—and failed miserably—to catch Adele live on three separate occasions, the news hit particularly hard. Luckily, her sense of humor proves that any tragedy can turn into comedy gold.

This story, with all its hilarious twists and turns, is quite the delightful saga. And though it doesn’t erase all the gutting disappointments left from pandemic cancellations, it does serve as wholesome entertainment.

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This article originally appeared on August 14, 2016


Time travel back to 1905.

Back in 1905, a book called "The Apples of New York" was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson's personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg.






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