One day, a young woman decided to come out to her parents in the most delicious way possible.
One of the biggest challenges deployed service members face is the feeling of being separated from their families, especially when they have children. It's also very stressful for children to be away from parents who are deployed for long periods of time.
For the past four years, the USO has brought deployed service members and their families closer through a wonderful program that allows them to read together. The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program gives deployed service members the ability to choose a book, read it on camera, then send both the recording and book to their child.
Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program www.youtube.com
The program was created through a partnership between the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation and the USO. Hope was one of the most beloved comedians of his generation, and he traveled the world for over six decades, putting on USO shows to boost the morale of the nation's service members.
In 2019, families shared more than 39,000 stories through the program.
The program has been an incredible way for U.S. Army Captain Justin Meredith to connect with his young son Jayden and express himself creatively. Just before he was set to be deployed to the Middle East, he checked into the local USO center where he was introduced to the program. At first, he felt a little awkward in front of the camera but soon took a real shine to making the videos.
When he arrived, he became a regular at USO Camp Buehring in Kuwait where he'd show up every day to read a new book to his son. He began to really liven things up by adopting funny voices, wearing costumes, and using props.
"The zanier that I am on the camera and the goofier the voices, the characters, the props, the more he just really engages with it," Justin said. "My son is so engaged, and he's so happy and he lights up seeing me."
Justin's nightly readings to Jayden had a profound effect on the family by keeping them close while he was away.
Justin Meredith's son and extended family members ended each day by listening to the latest book recording in their custom-made "Just-In-Time Center" while Justin was on deployment in the Middle East.via Courtesy Photo
"It became a life-changing thing, a better way to stay connected, and it was great because while my wife [was] technically raising him [while I was deployed], I could use the books to help influence and mold and help him out with some of the initial things that he's going through," Justin said.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Ruben Pimentel is a father of three and uses the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program to connect with his family while he's deployed. He loves that the recordings will live on long after he's returned from his service overseas.
"I know I'm not there, but I'm able to connect with my family. Even when I'm 60 years old, I'll be able to look back and see myself reading to my kids. It's a family heirloom," Pimentel said.
Sgt. Nick Masi reads a book to his four children while stationed in Afghanistan.via USO
The program is especially popular during the holidays. In 2019, the USO held a special event where service members read "The Night Before Christmas" in front of a festive, fake fire in a costume of their choice.
Sgt. Nick Masi, a father of four, thought the program helped him feel close to his loved ones during the holidays.
"It felt as though the reading program had transported me to be with my family, even if just for one story," he said.
The USO had to temporarily shut down in-person events in centers last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn't stop service members from keeping the tradition of reading to their families alive. Service members who are USO volunteers at USO Erbil in Iraq outfitted the back of a pickup truck with a trifold to make a "room" for them to read to their families.
A service member reads a book to his child in the back of a pickup truck. via USO Erbil
The USO team decorated their makeshift set, grabbed some books, and set up a chair.
Then, they hit the road, sharing their studio with service members on-base, stopping at popular places as well as remote areas. The USO's goal was to reach as many service members as possible.
Deployment is hard on service members and their families, but they do it so we can all enjoy peace and freedom at home. So, it's our job to keep them as happy and comfortable as possible during their times of sacrifice.
Click here to see how you can contribute to the USO and support services like the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, which has helped over 100,000 service members and their families be together, or share a story, when they're miles apart.
The concept of virginity is a very loaded issue in American culture. If a woman loses hers when she's too young she can be slut-shamed. If a man remains a virgin for too long, he can be bullied for not being manly enough.
There is also a whole slew of religious mind games associated with virginity that can give people some serious psychological problems associated with sex.
Losing one's virginity has also been blown up way beyond proportion. It's often believed that it's a magical experience—it's usually not. Or that after having sex for the first time people can really start to enjoy living life—not the case.
What if we just dropped all of the stigmas surrounding virginity and instead, replaced them with healthy attitudes toward sex and relationships?
Writer Cayce LaCorte is going viral on TikTok for the simple way she's taught her five daughters to think about virginity. They don't have to. LaCorte shared her parenting ideas on TikTok in response to mom-influencer Nevada Shareef's question: "Name something about the way you raised your kids that people think is weird but you think is healthy."
"I'm gonna get a lot of shit for this, but what are you gonna do?" she said in the video. "I'm raising my five daughters to believe that there is no such thing as virginity.
"It is a patriarchal concept used to control women and serves no purpose other than making women feel bad about ourselves," she explained. "Just because some guy randomly sticks his penis in you at some point in your life, it does not change your worth. It does not change who you are. It doesn't do anything other than it happened."
She also responded to those who may criticize her for encouraging promiscuity.
"Sex is important. It's a big deal; it should always be a big deal. It has nothing to do with your first time. It's just ridiculous. The whole concept is ridiculous," the video explained.
She also believes that sex shouldn't be so closely associated with one's moral character.
"I'm raising them to be good people and have solid foundations and make their own choices and make intelligent choices. Not because some book says not to," she concluded the video.
The video made a lot of people realize that virginity is so ingrained in our society that the concept is rarely questioned.
"I never really thought about this to be honest," one commenter wrote. "I will absolutely be adopting this!! Thank you for sharing."
"I have 2 girls, and I think this is how I will teach them when they are older. This would have made me feel more self worth when I was younger," Samantha wrote.
LaCorte's comments about women and virginity need to be heard. But there should also be more discussion around how men also fight the stigma associated with virginity.
There's an unwritten law that says men must lose their virginity by the age of 18 or by at least 21 or that somehow they are less of a man. For men that are virgins into their 20s, "Sex goes from being something to be enjoyed to a giant monolith of titanic proportions that casts a shadow over everything they do and who they are," dating coach Harris O'Malley writes.
Sex is a tricky issue that everyone should be able to approach in their own way, at their own time. It's great that LaCorte's video has gone viral for illustrating the fact that virginity is just another obstacle on the road to sexual maturity that shouldn't factor into whether we decide to have sex or not.
Dan Price is the go-to example for business done right. No doubt you’ve heard of the CEO made famous by going against the corporate grain, giving every employee a base annual salary of $70K, which–despite criticism–lead to soaring profits (six years and counting).
So it’s probably no surprise that on Giving Tuesday, the business owner with a compassionate vision once again chose people over profit. Doesn’t make the idea any less genius though.
The CEO announced on Twitter that every employee receives $500 dollars a year to donate to the nonprofit of their choice. With at least 200 employees, that is no small sum. But then again, Dan Price has made a name for himself pairing ambition with altruism.
We give every employee $500 to donate to a nonprofit of their choice every year.— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) November 30, 2021
Our employees are collectively way smarter than I ever could be as CEO. So instead of making top-down decisions on how to spend our money, we try to make bottom-up decisions.#GivingTuesday
His tweet also read:
“Our employees are collectively way smarter than I ever could be as CEO. So instead of making top-down decisions on how to spend our money, we try to make bottom-up decisions.”
Price came to the base wage of $70K idea after an agitated worker told him that entry-level salary was, to put it bluntly, a rip-off. After realizing that the employee was right, Price was inspired to make a change for good, literally. In order to make this happen, he would have to slash his nearly million dollar annual income by 90%.
The decision was met with heavy criticism, but how can you argue with tripled revenue and a doubled customer base? These were the reported company wide transformations posted to Twitter after only six years.
Even during the pandemic, when revenue dropped by 55%, employees were so loyal to Price that they voluntarily took pay cuts to make it through the tough time. Those employees were then paid back, even receiving raises after the company earned profits again.
Bottom line: Price continues to live by his mission to “invest in people,” and it just works.Since becoming the “CEO just trying to stand up for the underdog,” Price regularly tweets about injustices created by corporations, busting myths and making public call-outs.
For the last two years, stores were closed on Thanksgiving and saw zero impact on their overall sales numbers.— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) November 29, 2021
So for decades they just forced low-wage workers to be away from their families for no reason.
And people wonder why workers are fed up.
One of the biggest myths of capitalism is that the rich are "job creators."— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) November 29, 2021
In the pandemic, billionaire wealth is up $2.1 trillion and the number of jobs is down 4.2 million.
The myth is so dangerous because it leads people to idolize the rich and give them whatever they want.
In regards to Price’s Giving Tuesday tweet, people were generally moved at how this empowered employees. Many people commented, “where can I apply?” Which is funny, yes, but also a testament to how (sadly) radical a move this is.
Business models that actually embody shared values are not only possible, they’re necessary. Though we are far from finishing, society has made major steps reevaluating work-life balance, living pay wages, and fairer working conditions. This is in part because of people like Dan Price, true leaders who understand that power grows when it is shared.
Gravity Payments, Dan’s company, says on it’s website “we’re changing the way the industry operates. The world is taking notice.”
It certainly is. Hopefully the world not only takes notice, but follows the example as well.
Success is measured not by a list of our accomplishments, but by a legacy of people inspired by our passion.
This past Sunday (November 28), Broadway royalty gathered together in Times Square to pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim, the composer and lyricist who created legendary works for six decades, and whose name is practically synonymous with musical theatre. The tribute came after his passing on Friday.
The massive crowd is a sea of recognizable faces, including Sara Bareilles (“Waitress”) and Josh Groban. Perhaps most easily spotted is teary-eyed Lin Manuel Miranda, a modern-day Sondheim in his own right.
Miranda would later be seen reading a passage about “Sunday in the Park with George” from Sondheim’s memoir, which read:
"Once during the writing of each show, I cry at a notion, a word, a chord, a melodic idea, an accompaniment figure... In this show, it was the word ‘forever’ in ‘Sunday.' I was suddenly moved by the contemplation of what these people would have thought if they’d know they were being immortalized, and in a major way, in a great painting.”
Towards the verticals of trees— Howard Sherman (@HESherman) November 28, 2021
Forever . . .
By the blue purple yellow red water
On the green
Orange violet mass
Of the grass
In our perfect park
Made of flecks of light
And parasols . . .
Bumbum bum Bumbumbum
Bumbum bum . . .#Sondheim pic.twitter.com/AG9e5zoAND
In an age where we’re more likely to stay at home and watch Netflix than go to a live concert, let alone go see a musical, there are many who have not experienced that inexplicable, magic quality that live theatre possesses. At its best, it inspires people to use their voice, practice empathy and come together in community with one another. Sondheim was the very best of the best at embodying this quality in his works. And if this video is any indication, he will be sorely missed.
Sondheim too will be immortalized, perhaps in a way he’d never imagined during his lifetime.