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Gary Sinise Foundation, disable veteran, Christopher Kurtz, mortgage-free home

Disabled veterans get help with housing from actor Gary Sinise's foundation.

I remember watching "Forrest Gump" as a kid and I still quote Lieutenant Dan to this day, but I had no idea that Gary Sinise, the actor who played Dan in the movie, went on to do really cool things for veterans. In the movie, Lt. Dan is a disabled veteran who was once Gump’s platoon leader in the Vietnam War and later becomes his best friend and business partner. In life outside of the movies, it was Sinise's character in "Forrest Gump" that became the catalyst for his work with veterans.

Sinise said in a video, “Shortly after the movie opened, I was contacted by the Disabled American Veterans Organization inviting me to their national convention where they wanted to present me with an award. I met hundreds if not thousands of people who were not playing a part in a movie.” This event was the motivation behind the Gary Sinise Foundation, an organization that provides mortgage-free custom homes for veterans.


On March 24, the Gary Sinse Foundation was fulfilling its mission once again, this time for retired Army Sgt. Christopher Kurtz in Adams, Tennessee. Sgt. Kurtz is a 101st Airborne Division veteran who was injured in combat, requiring him to now need a wheelchair. The foundation presented him with the keys to his custom smart home after being approved two years ago. The CEO of the Gary Sinise Foundation, Mike Thirtle, explained to Clarksville Now that everything is intentional in the home. “We help veterans and first responders through their healing process,” Thirtle said. “When Gary wanted us to execute providing these homes to veterans, he wanted us to make them customizable and tailorable for them and their families.”

The Kurtzes' home has wheelchair accessible countertops and drop-down shelving. The home also comes with a garage filled with machinery for welding and crafting, gifted to Kurtz from friends at his job, PTL Fabricators. Sgt. Kurtz wants to use his shop to help others that may find themselves in his situation. He told Clarksville Now, “I want to develop products and make already-made products possibly better so that I can help others that are in similar situations.” He added, “It’s a bit overwhelming sometimes when you think about how much went into (building the house), how many people put their hands on it, and it’s very humbling. Now, I owe the world.”

The Gary Sinise Foundation has been building mortgage-free homes for veterans for 10 years, giving veterans their independence back. The program is making a real difference in the quality of life for America’s veterans and it seems so fitting that it was started by the man who played Lt. Dan. Sinise makes it a point to appear via video when the veterans receive keys to their new homes.

The Kurtzes will surely remember this day for the rest of their lives, and hopefully their story will spur the creation of new programs to improve the lives of veterans.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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