A Texas pastor is redefining what it means to love your neighbor
Rudy Rasmus
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Dr. Rudy Rasmus lives an extraordinary life.

After making the unexpected transition from running a no-tell motel to becoming a minister, Rasmus, along with his wife and co-pastor Juanita, managed to grow the membership of St. John United Methodist Church in downtown Houston from nine to over 9,000.

St. John is the church where Beyoncé discovered her phenomenal vocal talent. In 2008, Pastor Rudy—that's what his congregation calls him—proudly officiated her marriage to Jay-Z.

So, yeah. He's not your typical dude.

Although he is friends with some powerful people, Pastor Rudy's heart lies in serving others, rather than being served. You can hear it in his voice, which is so well-suited for public speaking; his mission is clear: attending to "the least, the last and the lost."

This calling is what sparked the idea for his nonprofit, Bread of Life, which began by serving hot meals to homeless men and women almost 30 years ago after his first service at St. John. Today, 30% of his flock is composed of people who used to be homeless, but aren't anymore.

That is the power of doing good.

Since then, Bread of Life's reach in the community has experienced exponential growth. For those who have access to a vehicle and are in need of basic essentials, they offer a weekly drive-thru distribution line. Volunteers hand out boxes of everyday essentials such as Tide, Pampers, Crest, Secret and Gillette, as well as antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer, to people in need.

"On a typical Wednesday, we see about 600 cars in our line," Pastor Rudy told Upworthy. "Since the pandemic, the line of cars gets longer every week. We are starting to see the first wave of the economic impact of COVID-19 on the middle class."

A line of cars spanned six downtown blocks on the day Upworthy spoke with Pastor Rudy, a stunning spectacle complete with law enforcement to direct traffic. Before our interview, he decided to take a walk to see the line for himself. He wanted to see the faces of the people waiting in their cars.

"The level of visual despair was my most stark observation," he said. "It looked like shock. That's what it looked like. Classic, textbook shock."

This overwhelming need in the community is what makes Pastor Rudy most grateful for his relationship with Matthew:25 Ministries. After Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, Pastor Rudy was introduced to Tim Mettey, CEO of Matthew:25, an international humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization helping more than 20 million people in need each year.

"We have been responding to COVID-19 since it began," Mettey told Upworthy. "We have helped over 700 different organizations throughout the United States; we have shipped 1.4 million pounds of product from our warehouses." Mettey's nonprofit has a partnership with Procter & Gamble, so they already had a lot of high-demand items, such as cleaning and hygiene supplies, on hand and ready to send to the people who needed it the most.

Matthew 25: Ministries

Because of the continued partnerships between P&G, Matthew:25 Ministries, and Bread of Life, the organizations have been able to help a LOT more people—support that is especially impactful during a pandemic.

Additionally, Bread of Life partners with the Houston Food Bank to distribute fresh produce, bottled water, and cleaning supplies to the homes of senior citizens or people sick with COVID-19. However, food banks are taking a massive hit.

"Now, the food banks have one-third of the food and a line that is three times as long... Matthew:25 helps to make up the difference between the two. Because of that partnership, we have been able to multiply what our local supporters are able to offer."

Pastor Rudy voiced concern over what is to come, and hopes Americans are preparing for a long road ahead.

"I would really encourage people to find small ways to help," he told Upworthy. "For instance, if a person is capable of buying two bags of red beans, give one away. You don't have to look that far—in this day and time, we all are agencies. Each of us has an equal responsibility to our neighbor. And my neighbor is whomever is standing right in front of me."

Turn your everyday actions into acts of good every day at P&G Good Everyday.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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