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Dignity Health old

Jade Jordan wanted to put a smile back on her mom's face.

After 34-year-old Jordan lost her job, she and her mother fell behind on payments. They were both evicted from their Newark, New Jersey, apartment, and had to take refuge in a temporary shelter.

"Day by day, I watched my mom's morale just kind of [fade]," Jordan told me by phone. "Every day she was saying, 'Man, my hair looks a mess, my hair looks terrible.'"


She knew she needed to do something to boost her mom's spirits while she looked for a new job. "I was thinking, you know what? It would be great if there was a program that existed that helps women out that are in shelters ... with beautifying themselves."

She was in luck: a Google search led Jordan to Jody Wood, visual artist and founder of Beauty in Transition.

Jody Wood with volunteer barber Jerry. Photo by Nicola Benizzi.

Wood believes that providing beauty services helps folks with more than just looking pretty.

And she's right. Roughly half a million people across the country are homeless. Without permanent housing, day-to-day life can be a challenge for anyone. Beauty, then, might seem like an afterthought. But appearances can play a critical role. Studies have shown that prospective employers put a lot of weight on personal grooming and attire.

That's why Wood created Beauty in Transition — a traveling salon that provides services like hair washes, cuts, and coloring for those living in homeless shelters.

Beauty in Transition trim. Photo by Nicola Benizzi.

Beauty in Transition got its start in the basement of the Lawrence Community Shelter in Lawrence, Kansas, in 2006. "I refurbished a room inside [the] shelter ... for the residents there," Wood told me in a phone interview. "It became much more than a salon — it was a place to hang out and get away from the rest of the crowd." She spent over six months there, documenting stories, cutting and dyeing hair.

She wanted to change the way homelessness was perceived, all while bringing together people from different backgrounds.

"People who are homeless and people who are hairstylists, they don't necessarily get an opportunity to come together very often," she says.

It might seem like a small thing, to cut or style someone's hair. But it can have a real impact.

In a video detailing the experience, one woman described how a haircut provided a sense of hope during a difficult time:

"It restored my self-esteem. It gave me a little more hope that I could get through this. ... Image is important. Not only my own self-image, but how I present myself to others ... how I want to be seen and how I want to see myself."


A project participant checking out her new 'do with stylist Abbie Klenzman. Photo by Nicola Benizzi.

The best part? Wood has been able to take Beauty in Transition on the road.

In 2013, the RedLine Contemporary Art Center invited Wood to bring the project to Denver. With the help of Aveda volunteer stylists and a truck donated by Denver bARTer collective, her mobile hair salon was born.

Since then, Wood has been on a roll. After her time in Denver, Wood received support from A Blade of Grass and the Brooklyn Arts Council to bring the project to New York.

With funding in place, Jody decided she needed the perfect vehicle.

"I found a guy selling his old Chevrolet Grumman Step Van in Long Island," she said. The 1975 Chevy was far from its final form, but a month of construction help from an old boss and volunteers from the local Home Depot prepared the salon for the streets.

Beauty in Transition mobile salon! Inside of the van before and after renovations. Photo by Nicola Benizzi.

Jody is quick to point out that it's not her role, but rather the interaction between the participants and volunteer stylists that really makes a difference.

One of those people is New York City stylist Jose Montanez.

"It has nothing to do with makeover; it's more about self-esteem, and I think that's the most important part," Montanez explained in a short film about the project. "It's 'yes,' you look at yourself in the mirror, but that's the beginning of it. The rest of it is how you feel all the time, and I think that's what we're really trying to instill in them here."

Volunteer stylist Jose Montanez. Photo by Nicola Benizzi.

Part of the magic, said Wood, is how unexpected the experience is.

"It's almost like a portal," she said. "You walk into the back of a truck and you're in this salon. So I think it's used to transport people outside of their everyday experience. Even though it's happening on ... a very small scale, it means a lot to people who are a part of it."

Beauty in Transition participants post-haircut. Photo by Nicola Benizzi.

It meant a lot to Jade Jordan, who was inspired by Wood's salon.

Jade, who has been corresponding with Wood, is now planning to create a pop-up version of the project at a salon in Newark for people like her mom. As she says, "If you get too serious or get too downtrodden, then it can change your life for the worse. But if you find things to be happy about, to laugh about, to smile about, you can face life and its challenges a little brighter."

Already, Beauty in Transition has helped hundreds of people, and there are plans to take the project to even more locations.

With the help of the New York Council for the Humanities and the Esopus Foundation, Wood will be bringing a salon to an abandoned storefront in Kingston, New York, this January.

Watch a short video about the Beauty in Transition program:

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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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.

Ronny Tertnes' "liquid sculptures" are otherworldly.

Human beings have sculpted artwork out of all kinds of materials throughout history, from clay to concrete to bronze. Some sculpt with water in the form of ice, but what if you could create sculptures with small drops of liquid?

Norwegian artist Ronny Tertnes does just that. His "liquid sculptures" look like something from another planet or another dimension, while at the same time are entirely recognizable as water droplets.

I mean, check this out:


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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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.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel.

A stranger knocked on the door of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday morning shortly before Shabbat service. It was 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, 46, made him a cup of tea. The rabbi and Malik Faisal Akram, 44, a British national, spoke for a few moments and then the rabbi went on to perform his regular 10 a.m. Shabbat prayers for his congregation.

When the rabbi turned his back to face Jerusalem, he heard a click come from the stranger. "And it turned out, that it was his gun," Cytron-Walker told CBS News.

Akram began screaming and a congregant, Jeffrey Cohen, the vice president of the synagogue's board of trustees, quickly pulled out his phone and dialed 911. A livestream broadcasting the prayer ceremony to congregants participating from home caught some of what Akram was shouting. "I'm gunned up. I'm ammo-ed up," he told someone he called nephew. "Guess what, I will die."

The FBI got word of the 911 call and quickly set up a perimeter around the synagogue. Akram took four people hostage, including the rabbi.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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