Not everything is terrible: 7 great things that happened this week.

It's been 21 days.

Twenty. One. Days.

And it would take another 21 days to recap everything horrific, unacceptable, and plainly un-American that has happened since Inauguration Day.


So, instead, consider this a safe space. Give yourself permission to take a break from being angry, and check out these seven pretty awesome news stories you might have missed this week.

I'm betting you could use 'em.

1. "Hidden Figures" became the highest grossing Oscar-nominated film of the year.

The cast of "Hidden Figures." Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

If you thought only chiseled white guys could be Hollywood moneymakers, think again.

"Hidden Figures," the incredible true story of three black women who made landmark contributions to NASA in the 1960s, was released in mid-December. So far, it's grossed over $119 million at the box office, edging out its fellow Best Picture nominees, including "La La Land."

Money talks in Hollywood, and the more proof we get that diversity in film is both the right thing to do and can be good business, the better.

2. People tried to body shame Lady Gaga after her Super Bowl performance, but even more people shut them down.

While Lady Gaga was busy wowing millions of people with her high-wire act, powerhouse vocals, and precision dance moves, a few surly folks were a little overly concerned with how her bare midriff looked.

Obnoxious comments on social media were easy to find. But Gaga fans, and most good humans in general, weren't having it.

Gaga herself, of course, took the high road.

PSA: We can drown out the hate if we all speak up for what's right together.

3. "The Magic School Bus" is coming back.

Admit it, you always wished you could be in Ms. Frizzle's class as they shrunk down to explore the inner workings of the human body or blasted off on a deep space adventure.

Well, you still can't. But soon you can enjoy all new episodes of everyone's favorite after-school show!

And the absolute best part: The brilliant Kate McKinnon, of "Saturday Night Live" fame, will voice Ms. Frizzle in a Netflix reboot set to debut later this year.

Kate McKinnon. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for AT&T.

This is my kind of good news.

4. Facebook just announced big changes to its family leave policy.

Do you live to work, or do you work to live? If you're like most people, there is at least one thing more important than the ol' 9 to 5: family.

So kudos to the people at Facebook who just announced some great, progressive changes to their leave policies. According to COO Sheryl Sandberg, the new policy will give employees dedicated and paid time off for grieving and caring for sick family members on top of the company's already pretty good parental leave.

There have been many times when I've been grateful to work at companies that supported families. When my son was born...

Posted by Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday, February 7, 2017

It's great to see forward-thinking, people-first policies coming from some of our country's most influential companies.

5. A guy created an Amazon Dash button so he could easily donate $5 to the ACLU every time Donald Trump made him mad.

Hey, you know Dash buttons, right? They're the supposed shopping device of the future, making getting laundry detergent delivered to your home as easy as hitting a button above the washing machine. Or you could put a button in the mug cabinet that orders coffee the instant you run out.

Well, designer and programmer Nathan Pryor decided to take this concept to the next level and create a button he could smash every time he read a baffling tweet from President Donald Trump. Each time, it would donate $5 to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Unfortunately, this isn't an "official" thing, so not everyone can get one, but it is a great reminder to try to channel your frustration into something productive.

You can donate to the ACLU online right here, in fact.

6. Oh! And speaking of Trump, even Kanye West is turning on him now.

Kanye West and Donald Trump, former pals. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

There are few things as disgusting as entertainment industry schmoozing that won't quit, and Trump has certainly rubbed elbows with a lot of famous people. Many of his old golf buddies and party pals still refuse to denounce him. (Looking at you, Tom Brady.)

But we can finally scratch Kanye West off that list.

Yep, even Yeezy has had enough of Trump's shit. According to TMZ, Kanye has deleted every mention of Trump from his Twitter timeline and no longer supports the current president.

I know, I know. It's Kanye and who cares, right? But while watching the country slowly become unrecognizable largely in part because none of Trump's friends and allies will stand up to him, it's hard not to be excited about any sign of pushback.

7. A review board told Comcast to stop saying it has the fastest internet: a big win for objective facts.

How is Verizon winning a case against Comcast good news? I'll tell you.

Comcast has been claiming for a while to have the fastest internet in America. Verizon had data that suggested that simply wasn't true. So the National Advertising Review Board ruled Comcast had to stop making the false claim.

Someone lied, and there were actually consequences! In 2017, how is this not good news?

Take that, "alternative facts."

Now, if only the media would start covering terror attacks.

There's bound to be great news next week, too. You just have to look a little harder for it these days. But I promise you, it's worth it!

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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