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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.
Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“
Image courtesy of Letters of Love
Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”
Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”
When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.
“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.
Image courtesy of Letters of Love
Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.
Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”
Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.
“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”
Image courtesy of Letters of Love
In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.
“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”
Image courtesy of Letters of Love
Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.
Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.
“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.
Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.
Image courtesy of Grace Berbig
“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”
For more information visit Letters of Love.
Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.
If someone were to ask which member of the Beatles was first to chart a No. 1 hit on the charts after the band's break-up, would you guess George Harrison? He was, with his song "My Sweet Lord" from his 1970 album "All Things Must Pass." It would be his biggest hit as a solo artist.
The song is a pop hymn of sorts, with two mantras from different religious traditions—"Hallelujah" from Christianity and "Hare Krishna" from Hinduism—alternating throughout. According to songfacts.com, Harrison wanted to convey that the two phrases were essentially the same, both calling out to God.
As Harrison explained in the documentary "The Material World": "First, it's simple. The thing about a mantra, you see... mantras are, well, they call it a mystical sound vibration encased in a syllable. It has this power within it. It's just hypnotic."
The song is simple, sweet and spiritual, hitting on some of the most fundamental elements of being human, which may explain its popularity. And now, a star-studded music video for the song is prompting reflection about the song's meaning.
Directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Dhani Harrison and David Zonshine, the video stars Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer as agents who have been asked by their superior, played by Mark Hamill, to “search for that which can’t be seen.” Patton Oswalt, Taika Waititi, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Rosanna Arquette, Jon Hamm and others—including Ringo Starr—make cameo appearances in the video.
Harrison’s wife, Olivia, and son, Dhani, also appear in the video, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
People are loving the video, both for the reminder of what a good song it is and for the interpretation of how we can find what we're seeking—God or truth or enlightenment—in the simple things that are right in front of us.
"The search never ends," wrote one commenter. "Sometimes we look but we never see. Sometimes we see but we don't understand. We hear, but do we listen? Life is up for grabs."
"I think the spirit in which the video is made is George's philosphy," wrote another. "People with high tech looking for answers. But they're constantly in the dark. The answer is not in a book. Turn on the light. Stop wandering around the world. The answers are in front of you but you're not paying attention. You just need to tune in the message."
"George has been gone 20 years, this song is 50 years old, and yet here we are watching a new music video for it featuring a ton of people famous actors and musicians," wrote one person. "It just goes to show you the power of George’s music and the depth to which it is a part of us."
Thousands of comments have poured in from people who are moved by "My Sweet Lord" and the message of the video five decades after the song was released, showing the true timelessness of Harrison's mark on the world.
The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.
The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.
Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.
To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.
Meet the first four winners:
1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.
2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.
James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.
Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be
3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.
To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.
4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.
Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.
AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.
Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.
Registered nurse Jennifer Smith, 41, struck up a close friendship with John Burley, 60, at the adult daycare program at the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Rome, New York, before he was moved from the facility.
While he was under Smith’s care for pneumonia and a lung condition, he would often show her photos of his dog, Boomer, which he adopted 12 years ago.
Burley was later transferred to the rehabilitation wing of the hospital, leaving no one to care for Boomer, so he had the dog taken to the pound. Burley had moved to New York from Arkansas, where his family lived, and he had no one to look after Boomer.
Smith heard the news from Burley in an early morning call.
"I came into work the Monday after Thanksgiving to the phone ringing at 7 a.m.," Smith told CNN. "John was calling from his hospital room saying, 'Boomer is in the pound! Boomer is in the pound!' Boomer is John's world."
The problem was that Smith had no idea where Boomer had been taken. She looked up local facilities, made some calls and learned he was taken to the Rome Humane Society.
"I was a little panicked because I didn't know how long he had been in the shelter or if he had already been adopted to another family. It's Christmas time and people get animals," she said.
Smith wasted no time in going to retrieve the dog.
The nurse located Boomer in a large cage at the back of the shelter and asked if she could adopt him right there on the spot. He wasn’t ready to leave the shelter just yet but she got the guarantee she’d be able to adopt him and then called Burley, one of her favorite patients, to tell him the good news.
"She went right to the Rome Humane Society that day and paid the adoption fee, took him to the vet, and went on a shopping spree for food, crate, toys, and doggy clothes. He is very spoiled," Kimberleigh Hare from The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Rome told Newsweek.
Soon after she got Boomer home she began bringing the dog to the facility to see Burley, who now gets to hang out with his beloved pooch a few times a day. "It helps John with the healing process and gives him peace of mind," Smith said.
The other residents at the hospital love to spend time with Boomer, too.
“I can see why John loves his dog so much," Smith told Spectrum News. "Boomer is fantastic. I walk through the halls with him on the wings and all the residents that are in the hallway, they instantly smile. I let each of them pet Boomer.”
Although no one is certain when Burley will make it home, Smith has promised to take care of the dog as long as need be. “I made a promise to John to take care of Boomer. I will take care of him as long as he needs me to. John knows that. Right now the focus is on John getting better and taking it one day at a time,” she told CNN.
Even though Burley has difficulty speaking, he only needs three words to describe how he feels about Smith: "I love Jennifer."
If you grew up in the '90s then you were part of the last generation of kids who lived without being constantly connected to the internet. You lived during that last gasp of the analog era where most of your entertainment came on tape and if you wanted a new pair of Guess jeans or LA Gear shoes, you had to drive to the mall.
Also, if you wore pants that looked like this, people actually thought you were cool.
Families mattered on Friday nights.
People listened to rock 'n' roll because it was important.
Hip-hop was at its peak.
People spent time talking to each other instead of staring at their phones.
Some folks over at Reddit have been sharing funny memes that explain exactly what life was like in the '90s. From the terrible pastel-colored designs that were everywhere to the charming, but antiquated, technology kids today will never understand.
Here are 19 of the best memes from r/90s/.
Sorry, if that made you feel old.
This person is living the Gen X dream.
There was no greater diss in 1991.
Does this picture make you instinctively think "You quiero Taco Bell"?
It's like looking back in time.
Our immune systems were forged through miles of sweaty PVC.
Ingredients: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and 2% or Less of: Concentrated Orange Juice, Concentrated Tangerine Juice, Concentrated Apple Juice, Concentrated Lime Juice, Concentrated Grapefruit Juice, Concentrated Pear Juice, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Natural Flavor, Modified Cornstarch, Canola Oil, Sodium Citrate, Cellulose Gum, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Neotame, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Potassium Sorbate to Protect Flavor, Yellow 5, Yellow 6.
How in the world did they cram 25 different colored pens into one super writing utensil?
This is what happens when you have children.
I can still hear the sound of the rumpling plastic as I flip through the pages.
Of course they have "Jerry Maguire." In fact, they have 500 copies of "Jerry Maguire."
After the iMac dropped, only vertified dorks used an IBM.
This may have hurt your fingers, but was probably safer than licking the battery to see if it still had "juice."
Solitaire wasted more people's time in 1998 than Instagram does in 2022.
Stomach ache? Flu? Munchausen's syndrome? This unique combination would have you back on your feet in no time.
To quote a popular philosopher from the '90s, they went together like "peas and carrots."
If the joint had all-you-can-drink refills, you drank 'em out of this cup. It held tokens, too.
Throw on those shorts, then hop in your Miata and get yourself some action!