A homeless couple only expected to get a marriage certificate, but they got so much more.
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Trying to foot the bill for a wedding can be tough, especially when money is extra tight.

If anyone knows that to be true, it's Jerold and Mani Clay — a couple from Michigan who are battling homelessness. They've been together for more than a decade but just recently saved up enough to get a marriage license.

They never planned on having an extravagant ceremony — they simply wanted the paperwork to make it official.


But when their local homeless shelter discovered Jerold and Mani were getting hitched, they quickly sprung into action that same day to give them an unforgettable experience.

Last month, Mel Trotter Ministries helped make Jerold and Mani's wedding day extra special.

“The couple’s actually been together since 2004," Abbey Sladick, director of community relations at Mel Trotter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told Upworthy, noting they'd been looking forward to their wedding day for quite some time. "It was just really important for them to have that day."

GIFs via Fox 17 News.

Sladick explained that, as a faith-based organization, Mel Trotter makes sure compassion is at the heart of everything they do. So when they learned about the couple's plans, they wanted to do anything they could to "enhance the memory."

Utilizing its own thrift stores, the ministry provided many of the essentials — like Jerold's tux and Mani's dress and accessories — while a local salon did the bride's hair and makeup.

And when Ken Kibby, who runs I Now Pronounce You Wedding Services, found out about the couple's financial circumstances the day of the wedding, he decided to officiate for free.


"He needs [the money] more than I do," Kibby told Fox 17 News. "It’s the right thing to do. These are two people trying to get their lives together, and God has blessed me with a lot. So I feel like it’s my job to return the favor."

Many believe it's important for folks with few resources to have the same opportunity to say, "I do" too.

Just ask Sean Cononie. He runs what's been dubbed America's First Homeless Resort out of what used to be a hotel in Haines City, Florida. The space provides homeless people a cheap (or even free) place to rest their head.

Cononie's facility also doubles as a wedding venue for its guests. With funds raised through the resort, he's officiated more than three dozen weddings, as Fox 13 News in Tampa Bay reported last summer.

"People who have money pay, people who don't have money don't pay," he told The Huffington Post in June 2015 of how his facility operates. The price of a room ranges from $0 to $24 a night.

"It was like a fairy tale," Lynette Hudson said after getting married at the facility. "It was beautiful."

Jerold and Mani, who are both looking for work, won't be forgetting their big day any time soon.

“I didn’t expect this at all,” Mani said. “We just wanted to do it casual with a few friends and family, and [Mel Trotter Ministries] came to me and made this happen — the dress, makeup, hair, and everything — and it meant a lot.”

This kind of compassionate community support can provide a huge source of encouragement for folks who are all too often marginalized. How awesome it is for them to have a moment of empowerment and love — something all people deserve.

Watch Fox 17 News' report from the couple's wedding below:

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.

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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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Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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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.