Most nurses throw away caps and stoppers. She didn't. What she did instead is remarkable.

Where other people saw trash, longtime nurse Tilda Shalof saw treasure.

Back in 1987, her  first year as a nurse in the intensive care unit, Shalof noticed the connectors, medicine caps, syringe covers, stoppers, and tops left over from her daily work. They were bright, colorful, come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, and are completely sterile. Instead of just tossing the pieces, Shalof started a collection.

"I thought well, gee, they're so cute, they're pretty," Shalof told the Toronto Star. "They remind me of so much, so many moments I've had with patients. So I started to put them in my pocket rather than throw them out."


For nearly 30 years, Shalof collected the plastic pieces, amassing a treasure trove of whosits and whatsits galore.

When her children were young, she'd use the pieces to help them learn to match and sort things by color and shape. Later, she used them for jewelry and craft projects. Over 28 years, Shalof was able to collect and store thousands of plastic pieces.

And after nearly 30 years, with the help of a friend, she finally figured out how to use them.

Shalof's friend, visual artist Vanessa Herman-Landau, came up with the idea of using the thingamabobs to make a large scale mosaic mural.

The friends set to work in the summer of 2015, lovingly placing the plastic pieces in ornate patterns and designs, then setting the entire piece in resin.

Image via Toronto Star/YouTube.

Take a closer look: You'll see a face, a hand, a bright sunburst, and more all made with upcycled plastic waste.

Image via Toronto Star/YouTube.

The finished work of art measures 4 feet by 9 feet, and is on permanent display at Toronto General.

Image via Toronto Star/YouTube.

For Shalof, completing the mural was also a goodbye and thank-you note to the colleagues and patients that meant so much to her, as she left her role at in the ICU to work as a radiology nurse at another hospital.

Whether it's a lifesaving medication, a simple act of kindness, or a mural composed of more than 100,000 pieces of plastic — small things can make a difference.

Not only did Shalof keep bags and bags of plastic out of the landfill, she created a moving, living tribute that can inspire other health professionals for years to come.

"I hope young nurses and young doctors see this and hopefully it makes them remember that all these little things we do are huge for the patient," Shalof said. "We do it hundreds of times a day and night for all of these years, but each thing that we did with each little piece of plastic meant so much to the patients and that's really what this mural represents."

See Shalof talk about her journey as a nurse and (part-time artist) in this video from the Toronto Star.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."