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This mayor saw a homeless man with a 'Will work' sign. It gave him a great idea.

The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, used to ticket people for panhandling. Now they're trying something new — something that's got a lot of locals excited.

Participants in Albuquerque's "There's a Better Way" initiative working on a city beautification project. All photos provided by the city of Albuquerque, used with permission.


Two days a week, an employee of a local homeless services organization drives a van around the city and asks homeless people if they want to work for the day.

"If they say yes, they hop in the van. We've already got a lunch for them, ready to go," Will Cole, the van driver, told Upworthy.

The idea was hatched by Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, who saw it as a way to help, not punish, people in need.

"I was driving one day ... and I see a gentleman standing there with a sign that says: 'Will work,'" Berry told Upworthy. "So we decided to take the program to the next level."

The program, called "There's a Better Way," was started by Berry's administration to connect homeless people with employment, substance abuse, mental health, and housing services, and it recently expanded to include a program to connect homeless residents with jobs for the day.

"As a mayor, you want to be effective, and you want to do it in a way that's compassionate. And you also want to do it in a way that really maybe helps people get out of the circumstances that they're in," Berry said.

Those who say "yes" to the job offer work five-and-a-half hour shifts for $9/hour.

"We want to give the dignity of work for a day," Berry said. "The dignity of a day's work for a day's pay is a very good thing. It helps people stabilize, it helps them with their self-confidence, and it helps them get back on their feet."

The work often includes pulling weeds, picking up trash, or engaging in other beautification projects around the city. According to Mayor Berry, out of every 12-14 people Cole asks, 10 say yes to the gig.

At the end of their day, Cole's van drops the workers off at St. Martin's Hospitality Center where they have access to food, shelter, and other services if they choose.

"This could be anyone of us," Vicky Palmer, Associate Executive Director of St. Martin's, told Upworthy. "There are so many people who are a paycheck away, and to stigmatize somebody because they're homeless without even knowing the reason why, that's why we're in the business we're in."

Since the program began last year, it has been so successful that Berry just announced it is expanding.

It will increase operations from two days a week to four, with an additional $181,000 in its budget.

Berry credits the community for supporting "There's a Better Way," not only through donations but through taking initiative and reaching out. Since the city linked its homeless services to its 311 help line, over 7,200 people have called 311 offering help or asking to be helped. The equivalent of 128 city blocks have been cleaned of nearly 50,000 pounds of weeds and trash.

The city's new 311 sign, urging homeless residents to seek help and community members to reach out.

According to Palmer, one of the biggest successes of the program has been humanizing a group of people who often don't get a fair shake.

"It's frustrating when you're sitting in your car and somebody's trying to get money from you, but they're human beings," Palmer said. "It's really hard for us to take that stance because that could be my mother. It could be my brother."

"I think we have to have that compassion and approach so that we can end homelessness."

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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