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ranger betty, national parks

Ranger Betty has been a park ranger since she was 85 and is just now retiring at 100.

Many of us hope to make it to our 85th birthday in good enough health to be active. Betty Reid Soskin did far more than that when she became a park ranger for the National Park Service the year she turned 85. And for the past 15 years, she has served as a ranger at Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, sharing forgotten histories of the homefront war effort.

On March 31, the National Park Service announced that Soskin was retiring—at age 100.

Go ahead and say it with me: Wow.


However, Soskin indicated years ago that such longevity shouldn't surprise us. Her mother lived until 101, her great-grandmother lived until 102 and her great-aunt lived to 107—and they all stayed busy until their passing.

In 2020, at age 98, Soskin told KTVU "I can't believe I've reached this age. Inside is 19-year-old Betty." At that point, she had cut back from giving interpretive talks from five days to one day a week after suffering a stroke five months before, but still she kept going in her service as a park ranger. She said there was something she was still meant to do.

"I haven't any idea what it is," she said. "I have no idea, except that it's there. It's something that I am to accomplish and I haven't done it yet."

Soskin has taken her work as a ranger seriously, and countless people have enjoyed hearing her unique perspective. She became a park ranger at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park because she was driven to broaden people's understanding of the context of the war effort, including the backdrop of racism and segregation in the U.S., according to NPR.

Soskin herself was a young woman during World War II and worked as a shipyard clerk for an all-Black auxiliary lodge of the Boilermakers union. (As a Black American, she was not allowed to join as a regular member.) Her great-grandmother had been born into slavery and was still alive at that time.

"Being a primary source in the sharing of that history – my history – and giving shape to a new national park has been exciting and fulfilling,” said Soskin. “It has proven to bring meaning to my final years.”

Soskin has been honored multiple times over the years, earning the title of Woman of the Year in 1995 from the California Legislature and being given the honor of introducing President Obama at a tree-lighting ceremony. She has a California middle school named after her, and she is well aware of the importance of her role in sharing stories that history has too often overlooked.

"What gets remembered is a function of who's in the room doing the remembering," Soskin has said, according to NPR.

Soskin—or "Ranger Betty," as she's been known for the past decade and a half—spent her final day as a ranger providing an interpretive program to the public and visiting with friends. The National Park Service shared a message announcing her retirement and wishing her well.

“The National Park Service is grateful to Ranger Betty for sharing her thoughts and first-person accounts in ways that span across generations,” said Naomi Torres, acting superintendent of Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park. “She has used stories of her life on the Home Front, drawing meaning from those experiences in ways that make that history truly impactful for those of us living today.”

If you want to enjoy one of Soskin's talks, here you go. She is, in a word, riveting. May we all live as long and as well as Ranger Betty.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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