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This 83-year-old spent his life helping others. After a stroke, he found himself in need.

Julius Gaines devoted his entire life to helping others. After a stroke, he needed a little help himself. So Meals on Wheels stepped in.

This 83-year-old spent his life helping others. After a stroke, he found himself in need.
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Ad Council + Meals on Wheels

83-year-old Julius Gaines has always thrown himself into everything he's involved with.

A Berkeley graduate, Julius spent most of his career as a psychologist in the Berkeley school district. In 1982, he pioneered the development of a program to help kids develop healthy ways to process their emotions during difficult times (it had the cheerful acronym WINGS — winning, interacting, noting, growing, smiling).


All images via Ad Council/YouTube.

His work to help others didn't stop there. He was also a community organizer in Oakland, forming a committee that encouraged community members to invest in and protect their community.

"I just wanted to be helpful," he humbly told Upworthy. And he definitely was. Under his leadership, the committee lasted for a number of years.

Chatting with Julius now, it's clear his days are still full. He's one of those people who always has a million projects going.

He's on the board of his neighborhood association. He's creative and spends a lot of his time exploring and indulging this creativity. He's written a book of poems to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of his aunt. He's dabbled in photography and recently started using some of his photographs to print cards. And people like his work; he has a number of orders that he's in the process of filling. And more than anything, it's obvious he loves to learn and challenge himself. When he wrote his book, he had no idea about the process.

But he made up his mind to do it and dove in.

"You learn. You just say, 'I'm going to do that.' How are you going to do it? Well, you find out how to do it," he said.

But things aren't as easy as they used to be. A normally independent person, he's found himself in need of assistance after suffering a stroke and battling health issues.

He jokingly said he spends his days at the Kaiser Medical Center. His health is at the forefront of his mind. It's the one thing keeping him from moving at lightning speed at all times. He relies on Meals on Wheels to give him the freedom to continue living his life, his way.

That's the thing about getting older. Your body sometimes tells you no.

And when that happens, organizations like Meals on Wheels step in to ease the burden on someone's plate. And for an independent person who is used to not only taking care of himself, but helping to take care of others, it's an invaluable service.

Watch Julius' story here:

Julius is grateful that Meals on Wheels has freed him up to take care of his health and continue doing the things he wants to do. He can't consistently make his own meals and shop, so he needs to rely on Meals on Wheels for that.

His stroke and health difficulties haven't taken over his life, but they've become a big part of it. It's a reality he deals with head-on, similar to how he approaches his projects. He says:

"You know, you put your toe in the water and you think you're going to freeze because the
water's cold, but the water's not that cold. Then you put your whole foot in. Then finally you put your whole body in. Then you begin to swim."

With all of the projects on his plate filling his busy days and presenting fun and new challenges, Julius is definitely swimming.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has limited group gatherings in many countries, putting a damper on the communal part of Ramadan. But for one community in Barcelona, Spain, a different faith has stepped up to make the after sunset meal, known as Iftar, as safe as possible for the Muslim community.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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