The moving story of this young lady's first job and her passion for paying it forward.
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SoCal Honda Dealers

All it took was a commercial break for 12-year-old Nikole Martinez to realize her dream job was helping others.

It all started three years ago. Nikole came home from school one day and started watching her usual TV shows, just like any other day. But this time was different. This time, it was an ad that caught her attention.


"There was this guy. He was in a wheelchair," explains Nikole. "He had gotten in a motorcycle accident and his mother took care of him. But it was hard for her to lift up the wheelchair, so they gave her a van to help her with carrying him around and having him travel."

It was an ad for the SoCal Honda Dealers. And from the moment Nikole saw it, she knew she wanted to be just like the kind strangers in the commercial and become a part of the Helpful Honda team.

It's finally official!

Nikole's mom, Jocelyn Barabino, reached out to the SoCal Honda Dealers to ask if her daughter could join their awesome Helpful crew as her first job.

"They were really surprised that she wasn't asking for anything — that all she wanted to do was, you know, give back," remembers Barabino. "It's really rare that a teenager actually wants to do that."

Nikole and her mom, Jocelyn, share a nice moment together.

The SoCal Honda Dealers, also called "Helpful Honda" are known for doing random acts of helpfulness and making a positive impact with unsuspecting strangers. Little did they know, though, that the positive impact they had on Nikole was getting her to spread the same message.

Nikole spent the day as an honorary Helpful Honda person this past December.

Her mom and dog, Scottie, even joined her for the amazing experience. "I was really excited," adds Nikole. "I couldn't believe it was actually happening."

She started the day by giving away free gas alongside her new co-workers.

Right after, they all went to the Fontana Festival of Winter to hand out treats, pick up trash, and even give people reusable bags.

They ended the day watching baseball games at the park — again, handing out free treats to the crowd.

The experience lit a fire in Nikole. In fact, she's already thinking about how she can continue helping.

Her next step? Volunteering at the local animal shelter. "When we were looking for dogs," says Nikole, "it's just sad to see how many don't have homes, so it's fun to help."

People were loving how helpful Nikole was.

Her mom and the rest of her family are, of course, extremely proud that she wants to make helping others her life's work. "In so many ways, they spoil her even more," says Barabino, "which is the opposite of what she's asking for."

Paying it forward is just what's in Nikole's heart. And no matter what she ends up doing in the future, there's no doubt she'll be spreading tons of smiles.

"I make friends with everybody, so making somebody happy just makes it even better," says Nikole. "When you can give somebody something they don't have and see how happy and grateful they are for it, it just makes you feel better."

That's what the spirit of helping others is all about — being happy making someone else happy.

If that's at the heart of whatever it is you do, everything else will naturally fall into place.

Check out how Nikole's awesome day unfolded right here:

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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!

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

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