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Losing 8 friends is hard. Fighting back is harder. Caleb Holloway did both.

A poignant reminder about the hard work skilled workers do.

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Deepwater Horizon

Caleb Holloway didn’t plan on becoming a rig operator. He just wanted a good paycheck and a steady job.

After a string of odd jobs — working at a feed store, in hospital maintenance, and installing concrete — 22-year-old Caleb and his best friend applied on a whim for a job working on small offshore oil rigs. They were hired two weeks later and stationed on a little shallow-water rig called a "jack-up." It was hard work, but it paid well and Caleb excelled at it. Within two years, he'd switched companies and started working at Transocean on its flagship offshore rig, the Deepwater Horizon.

On this massive rig, Caleb found community with his fellow workers. Stationed together for 21 days at a time, they became a second family to each other.


Offshore drilling rigs similar to the Deepwater Horizon sit in the Gulf of Mexico. Image via Sara Francis/U.S. Coast Guard/Wikimedia Commons.

During his three years on the Deepwater Horizon, Caleb worked his way up from an entry-level job as a roustabout, to a member of the drilling crew. It was tough, challenging, skilled work.

Working as anything above an entry-level steward on an oil rig usually requires a diploma in welding, basic mechanics, or heavy equipment operations, plus specialized courses in marine firefighting and emergency response. Workers must be physically strong, highly-skilled natural problem-solvers — able to do their tough, essential jobs perfectly on a moving, floating deep-sea drilling platform in all kinds of bad weather and treacherous conditions.

"It’s a very dangerous job," Caleb said. "Everything on the rig is heavy; you’ve got multiple machines running and going in different directions. It’s a long job, and it can get to you sometimes. But I always think back to our crew and how we took care of each other. There wasn't a moment where I didn't trust them with my life."

Most of the time, there are extensive safety protocols in place to keep workers out of harm's way. Coupled with strong leaders empowering workers to speak up about problems, sometimes they make a big difference. Other times, they fail horribly.

On the morning of April 20, 2010, 10 members of the Deepwater Horizon’s drilling crew went to work. By midafternoon, only two of them were still alive. Caleb was one of them.

The Deepwater Horizon burns on August 20, 2010. Image via U.S. Coast Guard/Wikimedia Commons.

That day, the Deepwater Horizon was finishing up work on the deepest oil well ever drilled on our planet. The project was behind schedule and over budget. A chain of decisions, spurred largely by off-site executives wanting to save further money and time, led to a catastrophic explosion, a massive fire, and the largest oil spill in American history. Caleb and his colleague, Dan Barron, crawled through pitch darkness and aerosolized gas and fire to reach safety. On their way, they helped many others reach safety.

126 people were on board Deepwater Horizon before it sank. 115 were rescued.  Of the 11 crew members who were not, eight were members of Caleb Holloway's drilling crew. It was only after he was safely back on shore that he began to understand that many of his close friends and coworkers weren't with him.

For six months afterward, Caleb could barely function.  

Medications and counseling helped, but only bit by bit. Unable to eat or sleep, he lost 40 pounds off his already slim frame. He couldn't stop replaying the day over and over again in his head, imagining what he could have done differently and the additional lives he might have saved.

Until one day, he just couldn’t do that anymore.

Through the support of his family, his friends, and his bible study group, Caleb found the motivation to begin living again. Just over a year after the disaster, he signed up for firefighter training.

"Losing my friends on Deepwater Horizon felt like someone tore out my heart and ripped it into 11 pieces," he says, his voice catching. "There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think of them. I wanted to go back to a rig because I loved that work, but I knew that mentally and emotionally I couldn’t do it."

For the last four years, Caleb's worked as a firefighter on the crew in Nacogdoches, Texas — just 20 minutes from where he grew up and minutes from his parent's house.

His shifts, like the ones he worked on the Deepwater Horizon, are long and tough: 24 hours on with 48 hours off. Caleb couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

He spends a full third of his life now in this fire hall, surrounded by men and women who, like his crew members back on the Deepwater Horizon, have become another second family. "We do something different every day, we impact lives every day," he says. "It’s something I’m proud of."

The Holloway family at home. Image via Participant/Deepwater Horizon.

For Caleb, being a firefighter bridges the gap with the work he did on the rigs, in a way, and the close relationships he had with his fellow workers, while allowing him to stay close to his growing family. That's something his wife Kristin and sons, Chase, age 4, and Hayden, 20 months, really appreciate. "They're the best thing that’s ever happened to me," Caleb says proudly. "They’re my heartbeats; they keep me going every day."

Caleb's experience is unique, heartbreaking, and life-affirming. But people like him put their lives on the line for their job every single day.

Image via Participant/Deepwater Horizon.

Mundane moments in our lives that we take for granted — that light comes on when we flick switches, that roads are safe to drive on, that toilets flush away dirty water and taps supply clean — occur because of skilled workers, some of whom risk their lives in potentially deadly situations just to make it happen. They're working quietly, doing the essential work that keeps our country running every day. While their work is often taken for granted, it's actually pretty incredible, too.

Watch a video of Caleb's story here:

This is Caleb Holloway. He survived the Deepwater Horizon and is now a firefighter in Texas. #workhard Participant Media

Posted by Mark Wahlberg on Friday, October 7, 2016

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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