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Mike and Mary McConnell have been inviting strangers into their Boston home for nearly 30 years.

First, they hosted a man and his son who had traveled to Boston from the mountains of Ecuador in hopes of getting medical care at some of the top hospitals in the country.

"It was Christmas time. They helped us decorate our Christmas tree," Mary remembers.


Later, a Hungarian family came through Boston and stayed with the McConnells, sharing Thanksgiving dinner and their home.

"That was fun because they didn't speak any English, and of course we didn't speak any Hungarian," Mike said. He and the father both knew a little bit of Russian, so that was the only way they could communicate with the people living in their guest room.

Mike and Mary McConnell. Photo used with permission.

Since 1989, the McConnells have participated in a Boston-based program that matches families traveling for medical care with hosts nearby who can offer a free place to stay.

The nonprofit, Hospitality Homes, was founded by a group of medical professionals who were deeply moved after seeing so many people forced to sleep in hospital waiting rooms or in their cars while waiting to get care (or shelling out huge sums of money for hotels).

No one should have to spend more than a night sprawled out on one of these. Photo via iStock.

The medical professionals started opening up their own homes to families in need. And soon, others followed.

"Families come to us and volunteer out of the kindness of their own hearts," says Shanon Heckethorn, the organization's vice president of development and communications. She compares it to a free Airbnb. Guests stay with the host families for up to three months, free of charge.

She says it won't make everything easier for families going through a difficult time, but it is one less thing — and one less cost — to worry about.

Visitors often try to find housing at more well-known organizations like the Ronald McDonald House first.

But frequently, and especially in cities like Boston, they find that everyone is full or that they don't meet certain requirements (lots of places specialize in pediatric or cancer patients, for example).

Hospitality Homes serves all area hospitals, people of all diagnoses, and all ages. While the organization only operates in the greater Boston area at the moment, they plan to take their project nationwide soon.

Having a cozy place to go after a long day of appointments, medical tests, or surgeries means a lot to the guest families.

Check out this note to Mike and Mary from one of their recent visitors:

A thank-you letter to the McConnells from some recent guests. Photo used with permission.


Most of the folks who volunteer know what a little extra support can mean during a time of crisis. Often they are cancer survivors or medical professionals who have seen the struggle up close and just want to find a way to give back.

The hosts "get back more than they give," Heckethorn says, noting that a lot of families keep in touch for years after the experience with text messages, photos, and emails.

"A human connection doesn't happen every single time. But when it does, it's magic."

The McConnells say hosting isn't always easy, but it's usually well worth it.

With some guests, Mike and his wife simply offer a place to stay and a few pleasantries when they cross paths in the evenings. With others, though, the relationship evolves over the course of the stay.

The couple who stayed with the McConnells most recently, for example, watched "Game of Thrones" with their son and his wife (who also live in the home) every Sunday night over their three-month stay.

Still, Mary says opening your home means "you have to be willing to share your privacy. We've encouraged a lot of our friends to try [hosting]. Not everyone can do that.""

"It's just something we can do," Mike adds. "We have this big house and most of our family has left. We've found it to be immensely rewarding."

It's amazing to see such a powerful, intimate example of people helping other people in their greatest time of need.

As some of the McConnells recent guests wrote in their thank-you card: "You have all showed us that even in bad situations there is always someone willing to give love and friendship. We can never repay you for your kindness and only hope to one day be able to pay it forward to others."

Joy

Delivery driver's reaction to snacks left for him shows how a little kindness goes a long way

'Seeing a grown man get so excited about Capri Sun is extra wholesome.'

"Dee" the delivery guy stoked to get some Doritos.

Sometimes the smallest gesture can change someone’s day for the better, especially when that act of kindness lets them know their work is appreciated. Over the last few years, delivery drivers have done a fantastic job keeping people healthy during the pandemic, so Toni Hillison Barnett told News 11 that she and her husband started a tradition of leaving snacks for their drivers on the front porch.

The Barnetts, who live in Louisville, Kentucky, can see the drivers' reactions by recording them on their doorbell cameras. “I live for reactions like this to our snack cart! Thx to all of the delivery drivers out there! We appreciate you!” Toni wrote on an Instagram post.

Recently, one of the Barnetts’ delivery guys, a joyous fellow that we believe is known as Dee, went viral on TikTok because of his positive reaction to receiving some snacks during his deliveries. The snacks are tasty, no doubt. But it’s also wonderful to feel appreciated. After Toni posted the video, it received more than 100,000 views.

“Oh my God, you guys are the best, I gotta take a snapshot of this,” Dee can be heard saying in the video. “Oh, Capri Suns are my favorite, Yes!”

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Mom perfectly explains how emotional it is to accept kids letting go of 'childhood magic'

'But I know that this year is probably the last year we'll have our Elf on the Shelf, Peppermint.'

Photo by Misty Ladd on Unsplash

Mom explains the emotional process of kids letting go of childhood magic.

One of the best things about having children is being able to pass along your family traditions or starting new traditions. Many families let their kids experience the magic of fictional characters like the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. But eventually they get older and they slowly start to realize the truth.

For parents, this can be an emotional process because it signals that their kids are growing up and moving into the next stage of life—adolescence. Soogia, a mom on TikTok, perfectly explains her youngest child's gradual realization that things in her childhood have been "pretend."

Through tears, Soogia talks about the Elf on the Shelf she has for her daughters, saying, "But I know that this year is probably the last year we'll have our Elf on the Shelf, Peppermint." She described how her daughter has started to ask questions about the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and now Elf on the Shelf.

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Cat hilariously rats out owner in front of the landlord.

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Some people, on the other hand, get creative. I once came across a post on social media where someone claimed their pit bull puppy was actually a silver Labrador. But one woman on TikTok was harboring a secret cat in her rental that had a no pets policy, and either her cat was unaware or he was aware and was simply being a jerk.

My money is on the latter since cats are known to be jerks for no reason. I mean, have you ever left something on the counter for a few minutes? They make it their mission to knock it on the floor. So I fully believe this fluffy little meow box wanted to make his presence known in an effort to rat out his owner.

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Baby, it's Keke Palmer.

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But for those living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hoping to one day announce their own pregnancy, it became a much more meaningful conversation.

Joking that she would ”set the record straight,” the 29-year-old “Nope” star revealed a pregnant belly hidden underneath her trench coat, adding that it has been “the biggest blessing.” As fans were quick to note—this news is especially positive since Palmer has been open about her own struggles with PCOS.

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