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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Refugees arrive without backpacks, so these women found a way to make them — from boats.

The island of Lesbos is a popular landing place for refugees fleeing countries in the Middle East, looking for safety. After arriving, most continue a long trek to other European countries.

Nobody can take away the difficulty and pain — both emotional and physical — that refugees endure, but there sure are a lot of people who are working hard to help.

Take Floor Nagler, a 24-year-old Amsterdam resident who is studying textiles. Radio Free Europe shared an incredible story (and photos) about an idea that struck her when she was in Lesbos in January, helping newly arrived refugees.


And not only did Nagler have an idea, but she saw it through.

Floor Nagler, left. All photos belong to Radio Free Europe and are shared here with permission. You can also check out more incredible photo stories on their Instagram page. Photo by Amos Chapple (RFE/RL).

She could see that the refugees needed backpacks because many of them had lost their bags during their travels.

She also observed that once they arrived in Lesbos on rubber boats, they abandoned the boats they traveled on because they no longer needed them.

They also abandoned their lifejackets.

So Nagler gathered up over 40 pounds of boat materials and returned to Amsterdam,

Then she asked her friend, 27-year-old artist Didi Aaslund, to help her brainstorm a way to turn all that material into useable backpacks.

The pair worked together and designed a simple, effective backpack made from "one folded piece of boat material, held together with rivets and clipped shut with buckles from life vests," Radio Free Europe explained.

The backpacks cost just $3 each and there's no need for electricity to make them.

Calling their project "It Works," Nagler and Aaslund "carried their punch pliers and riveting guns in homemade work belts made of rolled-up boat-rubber pouches strung onto black life-vest belts. They stashed scissors into black PVC lifeline holders, also salvaged from dinghies."

They returned to Lesbos and hosted a bag-making workshop that lasted one week, beginning on Feb. 29.

You can see the process in the following photos:

Pretty cool, right? If you want to watch them in action, Radio Free Europe has a great video about Nagler and Aaslun's work.

What they're doing really brings Mister Rogers' words of wisdom to life: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

There are a lot of really kind helpers in this world.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

A young girl relaxing in an inner tube.


There’s a popular trend where parents often share they are creating “core memories” for their children on social media posts, whether it’s planning an elaborate vacation or creating an extra-special holiday moment.

While it’s important for parents to want their kids to have happy childhoods, sometimes it feels presumptuous when they believe they can manufacture a core memory. Especially when a child’s inner world is so much different than an adult's.

Carol Kim, a mother of 3 and licensed Marriage and family Therapist, known as ParentingResilience on Instagram, recently shared the “5 Things Kids Will Remember from Their Childhood” on her page. The fascinating insight is that none of the entries had to do with extravagant vacations, over-the-top birthday parties, or Christmas gifts that kids could only dream about.


According to Kim, the five things that kids will remember all revolve around their parents' presence and support. "Notice how creating good memories doesn’t require expensive toys or lavish family trips. Your presence is the most valuable present you can give to your child,” Kim wrote in the post’s description.

1. Quality time together

"Taking some time to focus only on your child is very special. Playing games, reading books, or just talking can create strong, happy memories. These moments show your child that you are present with them."

2. Words of encouragement

"Encouraging words can greatly impact your child during both good times and tough times. Kids often seek approval from their parents and your positive words can be a strong motivator and source of comfort.... It can help kids believe in themselves, giving them the confidence to take on new challenges and keep going when things get tough."

parenting, core memories, quality time

A mother and child riding a small bike.

via Gustavo Fring/Pexels

3. Family traditions

“It creates a feeling of stability and togetherness … Family traditions make children feel like they belong and are part of a larger story, deepening their sense of security and understanding of family identity and values.”

4. Acts of kindness

“Seeing and doing kind things leaves a strong impression on children. It shows them the importance of being kind and caring. They remember how good it feels to help others and to see their parents helping too.”

5. Comfort during tough times

"Knowing they can rely on you during tough times makes them feel secure and build trust. … Comforting them when they're struggling shows them they are loved no matter what, helping them feel emotionally secure and strong."

parenting, core memories, quality time

A family making a meal together.

via Elina Fairytale/Pexels

Kim’s strategies are all beautiful ways to be present in our children’s lives and to communicate our support. However, these seemingly simple behaviors can be challenging for some parents who are dealing with issues stemming from their pasts.

“If you find barriers to providing these things, it’s important to reflect on why,” Kim writes in the post. “There could be several reasons, such as parenting in isolation (we’re not meant to parent alone), feeling overstimulated, dealing with past trauma, or struggling with mental health. Recognizing these challenges is the first step to addressing them and finding support.”

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Popular

Woman who gave her baby up for adoption gets a wonderful surprise from the new family

"You know, you can't have too many people loving you, right?”

A journal detailing Steven Schoebinger's young life.

At Upworthy, we love sharing the “best of humanity” with our audience, and this story out of Utah, originally reported by CBS News’ Steve Hartman, shows the power of love to break down barriers.

When Schauna Austin, 48, was 20 years old, she got pregnant and knew she wasn’t ready to raise a child, so she made the difficult decision to give the baby up for adoption. She gave birth to a son she named Riley and only had 3 days to spend with him before surrendering him to his new family.

So, she held him tight for 72 hours straight.

"It was perfect," Austin said about those 3 emotionally-charged days. "I knew I would have him for a short time, so I made every minute count of it. I didn't sleep for three days." It must have been tough for Austin to give up her son because the grieving process can be incredibly difficult.


Riley, renamed Steven, was given to Chris and Jennifer Schoebinger in a closed adoption, where Austin was not to be informed about the adoptive family. In Utah, closed adoptions are a rarity these days, with about 95% allowing some exchange of information between the birth and adoptive parents.

However, about a week later, the Schoebingers had a change of heart.

The Schoebingers decided Austin should be involved in Steven’s life. "It was like, 'OK, this is the way it should be. She was part of our family,'" Jennifer told CBS News. "You know, you can't have too many people loving you, right? Why couldn't he be both of ours?" Chris added.

Every year, the Schoebingers sent Austin pictures and bound journals showing Steven's journey in deep detail. They even had lists of all the new words he learned each year. The books were titled “The Life and Times of ‘Riley,’” paying homage to Steven’s original name.

The hope was that one day when the biological mother and son were ready, they could pick up where they left off. That moment came when Steven was 7 years old and Austin taught him to fish.

The unique arrangement has been fantastic for both Austin and her biological son. "I was blessed beyond words," Austin said. "I kind of got the best of both worlds, for sure," Steven agreed. It may seem like relationships between children and those who gave them up for adoption would be complicated. But studies show that 84% of adoptees reported high levels of satisfaction when maintaining ongoing contact with their birth parents.

Steven is now 27 and in August 2022, he and his wife, Kayla, had their first child, a boy they named Riley—the name Steven was originally given by his biological mother. Austin is now a grandmother.

The remarkable story of Austin and the Schoebinger family proves that when we put walls between ourselves and others, we are often blocking everyone off from more love and support. "I think the lesson we learned is that sometimes we create barriers where barriers don't need to be. And when we pull down those barriers, we really find love on the other side," Chris said.

A semicolon tattoo


Have you seen anyone with a semicolon tattoo like the one above?

If not, you may not be looking close enough. They're popping up...

Semicolon Tattoo

Semicolon Tattoo

Photo by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

...everywhere.

Photo by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

That's right: the semicolon. It's a tattoo that has gained popularity in recent years, but unlike other random or mystifying trends, this one has a serious meaning behind it. (And no, it's not just the mark of a really committed grammar nerd.)

The semicolon tattoo represents mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention.


Photo by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.


Project Semicolon was born from a social media movement in 2013.

They describe themselves as a "movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love, and inspire."

But why a semicolon?

"A semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life."

Originally created as a day where people were encouraged to draw a semicolon on their bodies and photograph it, it quickly grew into something greater and more permanent. Today, people all over the world are tattooing the mark as a reminder of their struggle, victory, and survival.

Photos by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

I spoke with Jenn Brown and Jeremy Jaramillo of The Semicolon Tattoo Project, an organization inspired by the semicolon movement. Along with some friends, Jenn and Jeremy saw an opportunity to both help the community and reduce the stigma around mental illness.

In 2012, over 43 million Americans dealt with a mental illness. Mental illness is not uncommon, yet there is a stigma around it that prevents a lot of people from talking about it — and that's a barrier to getting help.

More conversations that lead to less stigma? Yes please.

"[The tattoo] is a conversation starter," explains Jenn. "People ask what it is and we get to tell them the purpose."

"I think if you see someone's tattoo that you're interested in, that's fair game to start a conversation with someone you don't know," adds Jeremy. "It provides a great opportunity to talk. Tattoos are interesting — marks we put on our bodies that are important to us."

In 2014, The Semicolon Tattoo Project held an event at several tattoo shops where people could get a semicolon tattoo for a flat rate. "That money was a fundraiser for our crisis center," said Jenn. In total, over 400 people received semicolon tattoos in one day. Even better, what began as a local event has spread far and wide, and people all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos.

And it's not just about the conversation — it's about providing tangible support and help too.

Jenn and Jeremy work with the Agora Crisis Center. Founded in 1970, it's one of the oldest crisis centers in the country. Through The Semicolon Tattoo Project, they've been able to connect even more people with the help they need during times of crisis. (If you need someone to talk to, scroll to the end of the article for the center's contact information.)

So next time you see this small punctuation tattoo, remember the words of Upworthy writer Parker Molloy:

"I recently decided to get a semicolon tattoo. Not because it's trendy (though, it certainly seems to be at the moment), but because it's a reminder of the things I've overcome in my life. I've dealt with anxiety, depression, and gender dysphoria for the better part of my life, and at times, that led me down a path that included self-harm and suicide attempts.

But here I am, years later, finally fitting the pieces of my life together in a way I never thought they could before. The semicolon (and the message that goes along with it) is a reminder that I've faced dark times, but I'm still here."

No matter how we get there, the end result is so important: help and support for more people to also be able to say " I'm still here."

If you want to see more incredible semicolon tattoos, check out nine photos and stories that our readers shared with us!


This article was written by Laura Willard and originally appeared on 7.7.15

America's Got Talent/Youtube

You could watch this a million times and it wouldn't get old.

In the latest episode of “America’s Got Talent,” a one-of-a-kind Argentinian dance troupe snagged a Golden Buzzer from Sofia Vergara and stunned audiences with a performance that truly brought the heat.

As the group, named Legión, stepped onto the stage in matching sleek black outfits that look straight out of the film “Desperado,” the crowd could already tell they were about to experience something special.


Just before starting their number, one of the Legión dancers explained that the team all had “regular jobs” and would find time to rehearse around 2am of the night in a family member’s backyard. If they won, they would use the prize money to purchase a studio where they can truly dedicate himself to their craft.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, someone appeared on stage to set their boots on fire.

Legión’s blazing routine was a riveting display of passion and precision, made even more thrilling with the rhythmic beats of drums and whips.

Watch:

The folk duel dance, called malambo, emerged in the late 19th century as a way for gauchos to test their speed, strength and dexterity against one another. As malambo choreographer Gilles Brinas explained to ArtBurst, the fast-paced footwork is inspired by the galloping horses gauchos would ride as they wrangle cattle.

And while malambo dancers might regularly add weapons or drums to their routine, it seems the boots-on-fire aspect was a completely new touch.

Even Vergara, who said I'm South American. I have seen this dance many times” told the troupe "that was spectacular. I thought it was amazing. I have never seen anything like that” just before hitting the Golden Buzzer button.

Cowell, along with Hiedi Klum and Howie Mandell also sang high praises. Klum remarked “I loved it. Many dancers have danced on this stage, but their feet have never been on fire” while Mandell called it “Very unexpected, very surprising.”

“This is something I genuinely can see in Vegas,” Cowell noted.

Over in the Youtube comments, viewers felt the same way.

“I have never seen anything like that in my entire life. That was INCREDIBLE and very worthy of the golden buzzer. I can see them going very far if not winning. Congratulations and great job, guys!!!”

“That was amazing! Well deserved Golden Buzzer! I agree with Simon, VEGAS WORTHY! Viva en fuego muchachos!”

“I literally never seen anything like this before. They’ve added some danger to this act and original moves. Well deserved golden buzzer.”

Congrats to Legión, for delivering a unique, energetic and definitely fiery performance!

Democracy

15 million Americans have medical debt crushing their credit scores but that's about to end

This is great news for the millions of us with outstanding medical bills.

Millions of American families are trying to pay off medical bills that put them into debt.

A new proposed rule from the Biden administration could spell some relief for people with outstanding medical bills.

According to data collected by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 15 million Americans are carrying $49 billion in medical debt that shows up on their credit report, potentially having a negative impact on their credit score. A new rule banning medical debt from credit reports would change that.


In the U.S., people's ability to get approved for a car loan or a mortgage to purchase a house depends heavily on their credit score or FICO score. People with a strong credit history, who make payments on time and don't carry too much debt, will usually have a good credit score and an easier time being approved for loans with the best interest rates. A low credit score makes getting a loan more difficult or more expensive.

Unfortunately, circumstances out of people's control, like medical care that puts them thousands of dollars in debt, can negatively impact their credit score.

"Medical debt makes it more difficult for millions of Americans to be approved for a car loan, a home loan or small business loan, all of which in turn makes it more difficult to just get by, much less get ahead. And that is simply not fair," Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters via teleconference.

CFPB Director Rohit Chopra also shared that having medical debt is not a fair indicator of someone's true credit habits.

"Medical debt on a consumer credit report is a very different type of debt than a mortgage, an auto loan, or a credit card," Chopra explained. "Sometimes, as is the case with a visit to the emergency room, the debt is taken on unexpectedly and in a time of crisis. Medical bills are also frequently subject to coding errors, charity care mistakes, or complexities with insurance. A decade ago, the CFPB found that medical debts were overly penalizing consumer credit scores, and we have consistently found that medical billing data on a credit report is less predictive of future repayment than other debts."

Chopra also called out the predatory practices that have influenced credit reporting systems when it comes to medical debt, providing an unfair disadvantage to consumers.

"Some have seized on medical debts as a major moneymaking enterprise," he said. "These entities purchase medical debt, sometimes for pennies on the dollar, and they can cash out big by getting consumers to pay up on those debts. And one of the easiest ways they can do so is by threatening to park that medical debt on the credit report, where it might impede a consumer’s ability to get approved for a loan. In this way, the credit reporting system more closely resembles a weapon for debt collectors rather than a tool for lenders to assess someone’s likelihood to repay a loan."

Chopra also pointed out that the three big credit reporting agencies——Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—voluntarily removed some medical debt from credit reports, only certain kinds. CFPB research found that although the number of Americans with medical debts on their credit report had decreased, the numbers were still substantial and disproportionately impact low-income Americans. Additionally, the average medical debt on credit reports had increased from $2,000 to over $3,100.

Vice President Harris said that this change would result in millions of Americans seeing a 20-point increase in their credit score on average, allowing for 22,000 more approved mortgages to buy a home. She also called on states, cities and hospitals to join the Biden administration in forgiving medical debt.

According to ABC News, the rule has been in the works since September and could go into effect early next year.