A hero-worthy hotline that gets help to the folks who need it most.
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Veterans Crisis Line

If you can imagine believing that your own strength is what keeps others alive, even at the expense of your own well-being, you might be close to imagining what it's like to live inside the mind of a veteran.

But who gives strength to the heroes who support us should they need it? This catch-22 is exactly the conundrum so many veterans face.

What should happen first is this: Someone dials the number 800-273-8255, and presses 1.


GIFs via Veterans Crisis Line.

It's the number for the Veterans Crisis Line. It's so important that places like this exist — so very important that in 2012, President Obama doubled its staff.

The VCL is exactly what it sounds like. Some of its call responders are veterans, and many more are friends or family members of veterans who can understand what they're going through.

These folks stay on the phone. They follow up. They try to ensure that the person calling is able to get help from local services.

People at the Department of Veterans Affairs are committed to preventing veteran suicide. Even one death by suicide is too many.

While the suicide rate nationwide has been climbing, the suicide rate among veterans receiving health care from the VA has dropped.

The VA is committed to preventing veteran suicide at large, in particular through programs like the Veterans Crisis Line.

Some veterans need even more help. That's where the Veterans Crisis Line comes in.

It's hard to reach these heroes. And it's hard to give them the power to realize that there's so much strength in putting yourself first and taking care of yourself.

"You know when you hit a baseball and you ... get that crack? It's like that when you're able to hear a person smile. And make a difference."

Each of us has the power to reach out to a veteran. If a veteran gets help, things can get better.

I'm sharing because I want every veteran to know about this. It might save that person's life.

:)

If you or anyone you know needs support, pick up the phone, dial 800-273-8255, and press 1 — or visit the Veterans Crisis Line website to reach a caring, trained responder for a confidential online chat and to connect with other resources.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.