This couple could have gone on a honeymoon. They transformed their neighborhood instead.

When Maureen and Jim Nelis got married in January 2018, they had to decide what they'd do for a honeymoon.

For the couple from Derry, Ireland, the choice was a little different than for most. Both of them had been married and widowed, so they decided to forego a honeymoon completely and bring the party somewhere closer to home, where it would have a lasting impact.

Maureen and Jim Nelis in front of their flowers. All photos courtesy of Anne McGrotty.


Instead of traveling, the couple covered their street in beautiful flowers. And then the neighbors got involved.

Maureen has lived on Harding Street for more than 30 years, and she's had a long-standing tradition of decorating the Spanish steps that can be found there. When Jim moved in with her, they added his plants to the decoration, livening the street with color.

But they had more plants than space to decorate. So, the BBC reports, they started giving plants away to the people who were most special to them. Then, other neighbors asked if they could be given some plants too. And that's when the Nelises made their decision.

"Instead of going some place to look at something beautiful, and then come home and still not have any flowers here, we forgot about the honeymoon and put the money back into the neighborhood," Maureen told the BBC.

So: no more trip to Florence. The couple started planting instead.

One of the window boxes Maureen and Jim gifted to the community.

Maureen and Jim gifted their entire neighborhood with fresh blooms. And it's changed everything.

Almost as soon as they'd made a decision to give everyone in their vicinity window boxes, hanging flowers, and other decorations, neighbors started congregating to look at each other's flowers and share tips on keeping them thriving with each other.

Anne McGrotty, a resident who lives down the street, told Upworthy that it's really changed the way neighbors connect.

"The flowers [have] brought the neighbors closer together," she writes in an email. "They chat while out watering their flowers and have even got to know each other better. Some didn't know each other before this. It has given a sense of pride to the street."

Neighbors gathered on the Spanish steps on Harding Street.

Maureen said that she never expected that the flowers would make such a difference or receive such attention.

And though she would likely be reluctant to say this is the beginning of a movement — she just wanted to do something nice for her neighborhood! — how great would it be if more and more of us focused outward when it came to considering how to spend our leisure time?

Research shows that creating green spaces in communal spaces improves health, reduces crime, and brings people of all backgrounds together. What more could one hope for from a honeymoon?

Maureen and Jim Nelis — they know how to get things started right.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

Keep Reading Show less