The delightful, charitable reason the internet's clamoring to get a date with Idris Elba.

Actor Idris Elba doesn't have a date for Valentine's Day.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Turner.

And to every man, woman, and child on Earth, this should be a travesty.


If Elba isn't a catch, nobody is a catch.

His resume is stacked with interesting, important, boundary-pushing work, like when he shined in HBO's "The Wire," brought tears to eyes in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," or snagged a Golden Globe for his role in the BBC's "Luther."

He's also a writer, musician, possible future James Bond, and just generally really cool dude who's stood up for diversity in the entertainment industry on more than one occasion. (Plus, let's get real — he's not exactly hard on the eyes either.)

He is the catchiest of catches.

This is why Elba needs a valentine this year. And the best part is, that person could be you.

No, this is not a drill.

Let him explain:

Be Idris Elba's Valentine

This year, I want YOU to be my Valentine. We’ll have a romantic candle-lit meal, maybe some champagne, and see where the meal takes us. It’s for a good cause, so will you be mine? If yes, GO: http://bit.ly/BeMine-Valentine

Posted by Idris Elba on Tuesday, January 10, 2017

If you enter and win Elba's new Omaze campaign, you (and a friend) will get flown out to have a delicious dinner with Elba and stay in a four-star hotel.

"That’s right, love," Elba says in the video. "Just you and me. No one else around. Just us."

Elba isn't the only catch involved, by the way — the contest has one too. It's one, however, that'll make your romantic dinner even more worth it.

Every entry to the contest requires a donation toward W.E. Can Lead, an organization helping connect girls in Sierra Leone with educational and leadership opportunities.

The nonprofit has Girls Empowerment Clubs, for instance, that teach young women anything from financial literacy to positive self-esteem practices. W.E. Can Lead's Young Leaders Development Program focuses on making girls' professional goals a reality, connecting them with higher education opportunities or assisting them in starting their own business.  

"I grew up with a sense that anything and everything is possible!" says the group's founder, Isha Sesay. "Quite simply, I believed I could lead. I want to foster that same confidence in other young girls."

Sesay speaks at an event in New York City in 2014. Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The African-American Institute.

These programs can make a world of difference in Sierra Leone, a country with deep-rooted gender inequities where women generally lack access to decision-making power and control over resources, according to USAID.

To call this contest a win-win may just be the understatement of the year.

Even if you (tragically) fail to win Elba for a romantic dinner, your donation will help create a better world for girls and women in one of the countries where it's needed most.

That definitely beats spending your money on a box of chocolates, right?

GIF via Idris Elba/Facebook.

To learn more about the contest and enter to win, visit the campaign on Omaze.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash
smiling woman in gray hoodie beside smiling boy in blue and red jacket

After a year and a half of a global pandemic and domestic upheaval, most of us are feeling some variation of tired, fried, exhausted and generally done with everything. We've been swimming through choppy and uncharted waters, and even strong swimmers need a life jacket under such conditions.

We can all use an extra measure of grace and understanding as we navigate these waters, which is why this email from a professor to her English 101 class is so dang heartwarming. This message went out to students the day after their first essay was due, with the subject line, "You need a break today."

Here's what it said:

"All,

The pandemic is kicking everyone's ass. Can I say that? I don't know, but I did.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!