Ice cream shop owner shares passionate note defending teen workers harassed over mask policy

As more and more videos of adults throwing tantrums over being asked to wear masks go viral, one has to feel for the employees on the receiving end of such behavior. It's hard enough to have to work serving the public during a pandemic. Having to politely but firmly deal with irate customers taking their angst out on you, especially when you have no control over policies or legal mandates, must be endlessly frustrating.

One might assume that grown-ups would rise above the urge to harass teenagers who are just trying to do their job serving them in the safest way possible, but that's unfortunately not always the case.

The owner of Mootown Creamery, an ice cream shop in Ohio, called out the folks who have been attacking her young female employees. Angela Brooks wrote on the shop's Facebook page:


I've been trying not to say anything, but it is getting out of control. 🛑 STOP!!! 🛑 Stop yelling at these young girls. Stop slamming doors. Stop swearing at them and making a scene. STOP!!! These girls are wearing masks for YOUR protection. They are required by the state to wear them, and they do so with a smile because they care about you and your safety. In order to protect them and our other guests, I made the decision to require face masks in our store. I made that decision, not them!

Do you know how hard it is to work a summer rush in a face mask? With a line of customers to the door, some waiting outside, online orders dinging on a tablet, the phone ringing off the hook -- and then have a customer throw a temper tantrum in the store calling the girls "paranoid" or "anti-american" or even worse - CUSS AT THEM! (Does it feel good to make a 16 year old girl cry in the bathroom? Or sob on her way home from work? Does that make you feel better about Covid? How would you feel if someone did this to your child?)

Knock it off!!!!!! I get it. This sucks. Covid is one of the most awful things many of us have experienced in our lifetime. Our lives are flipped upside down. Businesses are closing. Some of us are still out of work. We are stressed out, worried, and frustrated. However that is no excuse to take out your frustrations on teenage kids serving ice cream! (Most of which this is their first job!) Are you serious?! What control do they possibly have over the situation?

You are not welcome here if you have that little respect for us. It is not about the sales. Go somewhere else if you want to behave that way. The customers who are respectful, loving, understanding and kind are welcome at Mootown. We serve ice cream and smiles. If going out for ice cream puts you in that much of a bad mood, stay home!! You are not going to ruin the experience for everyone else.

We offer curbside pickup, outdoor ordering, online ordering, delivery to your home, phone orders -- there are a dozen different ways for you to place an order and still maintain your rights to not wear a mask. If you don't have a mask or don't believe in social distancing - we respect that. We'll take your order in any of those several ways, or understand if you don't come back until after Covid. But you don't get to walk in the store and yell at the girls. THAT STOPS NOW!!!

To those of you who haven't been absolute monsters during all of this -- THANK YOU!!!! We love you, appreciate you, and look forward to seeing you soon! 🐮🍦

Brooks set up a "virtual tip jar" for the girls through GoFundMe, which she said would be split evenly between the 16 part-time employees, many of whom are working to pay for college or saving to buy a car. Though the initial goal was $500, people have donated nearly $10,000 in a week.

In addition to the money, people have left supportive messages on the GoFundMe page, which hopefully help balance out the terrible treatment these girls have had to endure.

"Consider us buying virtual ice cream with a smile on our faces. Yum! These are exceptional times and we all have to be more generous and thoughtful and caring with each other to get through them. Thank you all for doing the right thing!"

"These young people deserve it. Bullying a bunch of teenagers just trying to do a job and save money is despicable. I hope this shows them that there are good people out here who recognize the difficulties they face just trying work a job to save money."

"Thank you for standing on the side of sanity and the health of the community!"

"I donated because the owner stood up for her employees. And the owner is a valued member of the Berea, Ohio community. She is providing first jobs to young ladies and these LADIES need to know they are appreciated."

Even in all of the madness and mayhem of the moment, it's heartening to see people rally around those who are following public health recommendations and doing what needs to be done to protect everyone—even those who may not appreciate it.


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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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