Man's anonymous open letter to the woman he followed to her car will give you chills.
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The feeling of being followed is scary for everyone, but when you're a woman, it's a special sort of nightmare.

We're told constantly we should spend money on cabs instead of public transportation after dark, we should always walk with a friend at night or jog with a friend in the morning, and we should turn our keys into weapons by white-knuckling them in our fists.

Out of all of the men I know, there isn't a single one who carries pepper spray, a whistle, or any other kind of protective device on their person at all times. That's why, when a man on Reddit posted a sort of "Missed Connections"-style letter about a woman he followed, people were quick to brace themselves.


The man, "u/Karlosmdq" posted the following:

We were walking in oposite directions near the new studient accomodations, you briefly looked at me and kept walking and a couple of seconds later I turned around and started following you, I notice the moment you realised that I was following you by how your pace changed, your shoulders squared and you grabbed your phone. That didn't stopped me, you just kept walking and I maintained the distance (some 50 feet behind you) pretending to talk on my phone, I thought a couple of times on closing the distance and introduce myself, talk to you, but I didn't, so you kept walking, throuwing glances to check where I was. I could also tell you that once you turned around the corner to the dead end street next to the motorway (the only one near the city centre were parking is not measured) were your car (and mine) was parked that if you had being wearing tennis shoes you would probably have started to run, but wisely you kept you pace in your high heel boots. I stopped by my car, yours was further down the street, and used my phone again, and I saw you taking a picture or video of my when you passed by my side in your car.

What you probably never noticed was the other two guys, the ones in the other sidewalk, the ones that pointed at you and started to follow you before we crossed the first time, you didn't notice how they looked at you or the fact that they seemed to be on drugs, or a bit drunk, or maybe both. You also didn't notice when you passed me in your car that they were in the corner of the dead end street, looking at you in your car passing by and then at me. You also missed the next ten minutes while I waited in my car for the police to arrive (that I called while you were getting into your car), the 15 minutes of questions that followed and me showing them the picture of the two guys that I took while I was following you.

I really sorry that I scared you, but to be completely honest, I was really scared myself, I'm no hero by any means and my instinct was telling me to get the f*** out of there, but you could have been my wife (she parks in the same street) or my daughter and I wouldn't fogived myself I something happened and I did nothing to stopped it.

(Belfast, 14 Nov 18, 4pm)

He later edited the post for clarity:

1. I shared this because the situation scared me, and if a similar situation happened somewhere else I wish that the situation is not ignored or shrugged off. Do I have any advice? Dunno, probably just this: if you think that you are being followed or that something is wrong, don’t wait to see what happen, call the police, call a friend, a family member, knock on a door or get into a shop, worst case scenario you’ll look a bit paranoid.

2. She was carrying some sort of briefcase alongside her purse and was well dressed, I think that the briefcase was what called those guys attention .

3. They seemed to be waiting for an opportunity, that was the main reason why I didn’t approached, I was afraid that I would sort of trigger them and offer a second target (still, probably wrong on my side, but in the moment that's what I thought).

4. I called the police because if those guys were trying to assault her, more than likely it wasn’t the first time and / or they would go for another victim, if it was a mistake worst case scenario they spent 10 mins talking to the police (no idea if they caught them).

5. I parked my car in the dead end street and was walking towards the city centre, she was coming from the city centre, obviously I didn’t know where she was heading, if instead of turning to the dead end street she had continued walking I would had probably approach her, or she would had reach another street that has more traffic and there are more people walking around.

Many people were moved by the story:

"lsweetie7" wrote:

My daughter is attending school in Belfast. She is an international student, out of her element, homesick, and going through some stuff, so being completely aware of her surroundings is probably not her strong suit right now. Hopefully not, but this could have been her. Thank you, even if she doesn't know.

"bluebayou19" wrote:

That's a good deed, friend. I'm a woman with two daughters. I hope someone would do the same for them, or me. Wouldn't it be nice if we all looked out for one another like this? Well done.

"Toasted_ravioli" wrote:

That was NOT an ending that I expected. You are an amazing person, thank you for keeping an eye on that woman. You probably saved her life.

However, some people questioned his method, as "TemporaryBoyfriend," asked:

Ladies, is there a way to do this without freaking the shit out of you? I like the idea of offering help, I dislike the idea of causing distress and becoming the creep.

"Jenthing" offered this approach:

I would personally be okay with being approached gently, with non-threatening posture (hands at sides, not in pockets, arms and face relaxed, normal eye contact) and having a man tell me what's going on. In this case a greeting wouldn't be necessary, just something like, "Excuse me. I noticed those men start following you, and I got concerned. Would it be alright if I walked with you?" And take her answer as is. If she says no, tell her to be careful and alert her that you're going to call the police (if the situation warrants it), and then stop following her/walking with her.

Regardless of his method, we're all glad she got home safely

Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
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It can be expensive to have a pet. It's possible to spend between $250 to $700 a year on food for a dog and around $120-$500 on food for a cat. But of course, most of us don't think twice about the expense: having a pet is worth it because of the company animals provide.

But for some, this expense is hard to keep up, no matter how much you adore your fur baby. And that's why Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves decided to help.

Kenneth had seen a man scraping together change in a store to buy pet food, so he offered to buy the man some extra pet food. Still, later that night he couldn't stop thinking about the experience — he worried the man wasn't just struggling to pay for pet food, but food for himself, too.

So he went home and told his wife — and immediately, they both knew they needed to do something. So, in December 2020, they converted a farm stand into a take-what-you-need, leave-what-you-can Pet Food pantry.

"A lot of people would have watched that man count out change to buy pet food. Some may have helped him out like my husband did," Jill says. "A few may have thought about it afterward. But, only someone like Kenny would turn that experience into what we have today."

"If it weren't for his generous spirit and his penchant for a plan, the pantry would never have been born," she adds.

A man with sunglasses hands a box of cat food to a woman smiling Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

At first, the couple started the pet food pantry with a couple hundred dollars of pet food they bought themselves. And to make sure people knew about the pantry, they set up a Facebook page for the pantry, then went to other Facebook groups, such as a "Buy Nothing group," and shared what they were doing.

"When we started, we weren't even sure people would use us," Jill says. "At best, we were hoping to be able to provide enough to help people get through the holidays."

But, thanks to their page and word of mouth, news spread about what they were doing, and the donations of more pet food started flooding in, too. Before long, they were coming home to stacks of food — and within a couple of months, the pantry was full.

Yellow post-it note with handwritten note that reads: "Hi, I read your story on Facebook. Here is a small donation to help. I have a 3-year-old yellow lab who I adore. I hope this helps someone in need. Merry Christmas. Meredith" Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"The pounds of food we have gone through is well, well, well into the thousands," Jill says. "The orders from our Amazon Wish List alone include several hundred pounds of dry food, a couple of hundred cases of canned food, and thousands of treats and toys. But, that does not even take into account the hundreds of drop-offs, online orders, and monetary donations we have received."

They also got many 'Thank you notes' from the people they helped.

"I would like to thank you for helping us feed our fur babies," one note read. "My husband and I recently lost our jobs, and my husband [will] hopefully [find] a new one. We are just waiting for a call."

Another read: "I just need to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I haven't worked in over a month with a two-year-old at home. Dad brings in about $300/week. From the pandemic to Christmas, it has been tough. But with the help of beautiful people like you, my fur baby can now eat a little bit longer, and my heart is happy."

Jill says that she thinks the fact that the pet pantry is a farm stand helps people feel better.

A woman holding a small black dog and looking at the camera is greeted by Jill Gonsalves Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"When we first started this, someone who visited us mentioned how it made them feel good to be able to browse without feeling like they were being watched," she says. "So, it's been important to us to maintain that integrity."

Jill and Kenneth aren't sure how many people they've helped so far, but they know that their pet food pantry is doing what they hoped it would. "The pet owners who visit us, much like donations, come in ebbs and flows," Jill says. "We have some regulars who have been with us since the beginning. We also have some people that come a few times, and we never see again."

"Our hope is that they used us while they were in a tough spot, but they don't need us anymore. In a funny way, the greatest thing would be if no one needed us anymore."


Today, the Acushnet Pet Pantry is still going strong, but its stock is running low. If you want to help out, visit their Facebook page for updates and to find ways to donate.
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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!