One man's way of facing homelessness is changing an entire community.
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Rex Hohlbein usually starts his Facebook posts with two words stuck together:

needsBOOTS

sendANGELS


needsTENT

loveWINS

His followers know exactly what he means.

In fact, it prompts them to spring into action.

"heartfeltTHANKS." All images from Facing Homelessness, used with permission.

It's all because Rex realized the power of saying "hello" some six years ago.

It was around that time that he, a successful architect, began actually looking up and talking to the people he saw living on the streets every day. The conversations he was having with the homeless and those in need of community assistance were so deep and meaningful, he realized he couldn't let them continue to be invisible to the everyday passersby.

Everyone deserves to be seen and acknowledged.

Rex started a Facebook page called Facing Homelessness that has turned into a movement to spread kindness far and wide.

He regularly posts photos on it and shares stories of people he encounters in the Seattle area who are homeless or in need of assistance.

It's a place to make requests, to provide encouragement, and to show you care. And it's working: Every single ask of his has been fulfilled, no matter if it's been for a bus ticket, boots, socks, gas money, or even a virtual hug.

For instance, take Steve. Steve became homeless after his divorce in 2010. He was in need of a tent.

"needsTENT"

"[Steve's] hoping to get his CDL truck driver license; living homeless though keeps him busy, for money Steve does temp-labor, when we talked he said he was heading downtown to Trades Labor Corporation. Right now Steve is in need of a 2-3 person tent if anyone can drop OFF or ship TO our office: Facing Homelessness c/o Steve 1415 NE 43rd Street, Seattle WA 98105. THANKS!!!"

Done.

Or take Anthony. He was in need of boots.

"needsBOOTS"

"[Anthony's] been homeless pretty much after getting out of the military, has a team of folks trying to help him with head-issues, lost his DSHS food-stamps five months ago, was told he needs to start the process over, says he just can't do that. Anthony is a gentle soft-spoken man, one that you immediately like and want to get to know more. He's in need of new boots, his are falling apart. I asked him if he has a preference, he said best would be desert summer combat boots, size 13. With tax they are around $150.00. If (15) of us pitch in $10 we can make this happen on Monday for Anthony, here is the PayPal link. THANKS so much."

Mission accomplished.

The requests aren't always for items. Sometimes they're praise to show how proud the community is. Like when Alex got his GED.

"gotGED"

"Just taking a BEAUTIFUL moment to say how unbelievably proud we are of Alex. While living homeless out of his car with Karina, he's been holding down a job and AND studying to get his GED. This last Friday Alex called and said, 'I did it, I passed all of the exams for my GED!' Makes me tear up just writing it here, all the struggles this young man has had to go through to get here, it's a really REALLY beautiful thing he is doing for himself."

The compassion shown by complete strangers online has been incredible.

"I’ve been doing this for six years now and it’s pretty crazy how every single request has been met by our community of more than 34,000 supporters, usually within a few hours," Rex told Upworthy.

A small snapshot of the stories you can read over at Facing Homelessness.

It helps to build an awareness about our relationship to homelessness and the role we play in our own communities.

"As a community of compassion we can face homelessness by choosing to see the beauty of [the] person in front of us rather than the issue that overwhelms us," Rex says on his site. "We can give empathy a voice, trusting in our own creativity and compassion to find the answer that fits each moment of interaction."

The movement isn't trying to fix anyone or tell anyone how to live their life. It's simply about adding love into the equation. Every single person functions better when they feel loved.

"needsTENT"

"turningCORNERS"

"pleaseHELP"

We can all make a difference for others. Start by just saying "hello."

"It'll help get things started, to just move forward genuinely from the heart," Rex says. "From there, who knows, that might be all it becomes, or perhaps you just found your new best friend!"

Give it a shot sometime. You never know the impact you might have.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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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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