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It's someone's job to scrub Mount Rushmore, and the pictures are amazing.

These cleaners brave the elements to clean historic monuments.

It's someone's job to scrub Mount Rushmore, and the pictures are amazing.

Cleaning national monuments is not a job many people know about.

But Thorsten Mowes has been doing this job for 24 years — almost his entire career. “It started off as a small project in Germany and as it was a good idea, it has since expanded all over the world,” he told Caters News.

Thorsten Mowes has a more intimate knowledge of the world's most famous monuments than perhaps anyone else on the planet because he's spent his entire career cleaning them. Photo by David Franck/Caters News.


Mowes has dangled from the Space Needle, been face-to-face with Christ the Redeemer in Rio, and stood on George Washington's nose at Mount Rushmore.

In total, Mowes (who works for Karcher, a German company that developed the first hot-water pressure washer) has worked on over 80 monument projects worldwide, and he's made many of the landmarks you know and love sparkle like new.

The projects range in size and complexity. Sometimes they're small projects with a few crew members, and other times they're massive projects that include cleaners, engineers, photographers, and support staff.

Photo by Caters News.

When Mowes worked on the Space Needle, they had to work around the daily operations of the site, which is a tourist destination.

He says they only worked at night, often in high winds, using helmet lamps, harnesses, and electric hot-water pressure washers.

Photo by Caters News.

With a lot of these projects, Mowes and his crew have to be mindful of the conservation of the edifice and of the environmental impact of their cleaning. So, often, like on the Space Needle, they clean using only hot water — heated to 194 degrees fahrenheit.

He also routinely comes across logistical challenges on these projects, like at Mount Rushmore.

When he cleaned Mount Rushmore in 2005, "there was no water supply nearby, no roads to give you access to the top, and the object itself is huge," Mowes told Caters News.

"In the end, we had to fly our equipment to the top in a helicopter, and have the local fire department use their fire engines to help pump the water to us through 2km long pipes. And all this had to happen while tourists still had access to see it too."

Photo by Caters News.

This cleaning is incredibly important because monuments and landmarks are susceptible to damage and corrosion.

Mowes and his crew worked with the National Park Service to remove lichen, algae, moss, and other stains from the faces of the sculpture, and the results are pretty stunning.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Without their heroic efforts, we could potentially lose the monuments altogether.

So cheers to these incredible people who tackle ridiculous obstacles to preserve and restore these monuments. Not all heroes wear capes ... some wear safety harnesses!

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.