What would you do if you had five years to live? One year? A month?

That's the question Houston-based Isha Desselle asked herself in 1986 after returning from a trip to India, where she saw too many homeless people to count.

One of them spent her nights rolled up "in a little bag," and Desselle said she looked like her mother. The thought brought her to tears.

[rebelmouse-image 19476276 dam="1" original_size="750x396" caption="GIF via Muse Storytelling." expand=1]GIF via Muse Storytelling.


"My mother was tough, in a very soft way," Desselle recalls. "She built our house in Trinidad, mixing water, sand, and stone. She taught us everything, especially charity. She's the one who instilled that in our life. On the weekends, we would go to the market, and she would feed the beggars."

When she returned home, she decided to take a hard look at herself and ask "What do I want to do with my life? What do I want to do with me?"

It's a question many of us have asked: You may be thinking it right now as you sit and read this. What do you want to do with your life?

Desselle knew she wanted to help others. The choice she made was extraordinary. After grappling with how she could do the most good, she sold her house and all of her belongings, giving her enough money for a fresh start. But it wasn't for her.

"I sold my home and everything I had," Desselle says, "put a down payment on a rundown apartment complex. It was like this is it. It just felt right."

[rebelmouse-image 19476278 dam="1" original_size="706x373" caption="GIF via Muse Storytelling." expand=1]GIF via Muse Storytelling.

Her goal? To turn the complex into a safe place for elderly people without a home. But though her intentions were good, Desselle says she was stymied at every turn. "I went to United Way," she remembers, "and they told me I wouldn't make it because I didn't have the experience; I didn't have the education."

The rejection didn't make Desselle weaker. It fueled her resolve. No one was going to tell her what she could or couldn't do.

So she moved into the apartment complex herself and began to help those who were already living there. When they didn't have food, Desselle walked to butcher shops and asked for bones. She went to produce markets and asked for vegetables. "We had that every day," she says.

And then the people came. Soon the elderly homeless residents of Desselle's neighborhood started coming for assistance. Sometimes she'd have up to 40 people in her tiny kitchen. "And everyone helped out," she says. Desselle began feeding more than 200 homeless people a day.

She sold everything for those with nothing.

Imagine what the world would be like if we all had this woman's compassion. (via Muse Storytelling)

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, April 5, 2018

America has a homelessness crisis.

According to data collected in 2017, more than 500,000 people are homeless on any given day in the United States. That number includes 58,000 families with kids. As the cost of living gets higher and higher, more and more people can't afford a place to live. Many are spending nights on the street or in transitional housing.

In Houston, specifically, more than 4,000 people are either spending nights on the street or living in temporary shelters while they work to get back on their feet. The good news is that this number is only half of what it was in 2011. And the answer is often more affordable housing.

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That's why Houston's commitment to help people get off the street is so important — and why people like Desselle are so instrumental in the fight to end homelessness. They persevere even in the face of adversity, inspiring all of us to work harder to make a difference.

Desselle's motto is where there's a will, there's a way.

That's what Desselle's mother used to say. She's taken it to heart. "I picked that up because I watched her in action."

Her goal? To change the lives of the elderly people forced to live on the street. Since Desselle first started the Turning Point Center, she's helped more than 37,000 of Houston's homeless population.

"They come in with a frown, the destitution in their face," Desselle says. "And you take them to the clothing room, let them have a shower, change into something new. Their whole outlook changes."

The biggest thing that the center can offer? Hope and respect for the human spirit. The residents who stay on for lengthy periods of time help out others who live there too.

"We see the person inside," she says. "They're not a number. There's someone in there. There's hopes; there's dreams. You give them a chance. You change the outlook of them, and the inside changes too."

[rebelmouse-image 19476280 dam="1" original_size="750x392" caption="GIF via Muse Storytelling." expand=1]GIF via Muse Storytelling.

Desselle's mission should inspire anyone thinking about what to do next. Because our goal should be to bring out the good in this world.

"I don't think money, power, or position could ever buy what I receive in helping people," Desselle says. "I made a home where elderly homeless people can go, and I have lived my dream. I'll probably die with a smile on my face."

You can help, too.

If there's one thing we can learn from this story, it's that all of us have the power to make a difference. No, we're not all going to sell our belongings and devote our lives to helping others (and that's OK!), but we must all make a commitment to help our fellow humans and make the world a kinder, warmer place.

Want to help? You can start by volunteering at a shelter, where help is always needed. You could create care kits — packages full of essentials like socks and toiletries — to hand out, especially during the cold season. You can write to your legislators and urge them to support measures that protect the homeless and push for affordable housing. Start small, and you too could be making a world of difference.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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The man taking the video is a professional animal rehabilitator of some sort and clearly knows what’s up. He’s seen warning passersby to “don’t go near there! There’s a raccoon in there!”

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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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