+

Pauline Nevins considered getting a tattoo of her mother's phone number so the police would be able to identify her body.

It wasn't a normal thought. At least not the normal she desperately wanted to be. But in the throes of addiction, it made perfect sense.


All images via Upworthy/YouTube.

Nevins was addicted to heroin and crack cocaine and had been for over a decade. She'd spent time in jail but couldn't get clean. In November 2014, Nevins was homeless and living on the roof of a building when she was arrested.

Nevins had hit bottom. But a judge offered her a lifesaving opportunity.

He offered her a chance to go to treatment at a rehab facility. Nevins accepted, mostly to get fed and stay warm, but she quickly realized this was her chance to find the fulfillment and consistency she longed for.

Then and there, she made the commitment to save her life.

The judge who helped her get back on track was the Hon. Alex Calabrese, the presiding judge at Red Hook Community Justice Center.

Founded in 2000, the Red Hook Community Justice Center is a community court for civil, family, and criminal cases from Red Hook, a neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn, New York. Cases are heard by a single judge, Calabrese, who operates his courtroom out of an old, remodeled Catholic school.

Calabrese (center) at work in his courtroom.

Red Hook Community Justice Center is different from most courtrooms because jail and prison are no longer the first, last, or only options.

Instead Calabrese works with professionals to offer mental health treatment, drug rehab, community restoration projects (sweeping, painting over graffiti), and even support groups. There are also social workers on staff to help offenders find and access appropriate resources like GED classes and therapy.


This isn't just a job for Calabrese; it's a chance to improve lives and better the community.

"We give people the opportunity to do the work, but they're the ones that have to do the work," Calabrese told Upworthy. "And then I get to see the power of the human spirit in the courtroom because it's amazing how far people can come back and get themselves to a place where they're addressing their needs."

And the center is more than courthouse. It's a hub for community involvement. Residents can access housing resources, take classes and workshops, get information about community service projects, and attend community events.

The Community Justice Center, along with improved transportation and economic and commercial revitalization, have helped Red Hook, a neighborhood once dubbed "the crack capital of America," turn a real corner.

And many former offenders, including Pauline Nevins, have made the most of their second chance.

She completed treatment and became a drug counselor.

And she's stayed close with the judge who got her on the right track.

"Pauline is an amazing person," Calabrese said. "And I've always told her that she's in the best position to tell other people what they need to do, and to understand how difficult it is, because she's been there."

The unlikely friends even took a selfie together.

It sits at her mother's house. The same mother who used to fear every late-night phone call now talks to her daughter all the time — the same mother who beams with pride when she thinks of how far her daughter has come.

Because programs like this don't just save daughters. They save fathers, grandkids, neighbors, friends, families, and entire communities. They give everyone another shot.

See Nevins and Calabrese's story in this inspiring Upworthy Original:

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

Keep ReadingShow less