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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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This Time Person of the Year shares 3 ways the Girl Scouts helped her become a woman.

Katie Meyler had an unusual journey from her childhood in New Jersey to the pages of Time magazine.

All photos provided by Katie Meyler, used with permission.


Meyler moved to Liberia in 2006 to help young girls get the education they need to succeed in life. In doing so, she founded a non-profit organization called More Than Me, and after winning a $1 million award, she opened the More Than Me Academy — the first tuition-free all-girls school in Liberia.

In 2014, she fought Ebola on the front lines by turning her school in Liberia into a safe house to provide food, water, shelter, and emotional support for the people who needed it.


Meyler's work saved many lives, and Time magazine named her a Person of the Year in 2014 because of it.


But if you're looking for some Ivy League education or prestigious internships as the drivers of her success, keep guessing.

Meyler would be the first to tell you that it all started when she was a Girl Scout.

Here are three simple (but important) ways the Girl Scouts prepared Meyler for the life she's living today.

1. Service to others is great.

Parents can do an amazing job of teaching kids to be selfless, but there's something powerful that occurs when you're doing it in the presence of your peers.

Meyler remembers when her troop volunteered at a senior citizens center. They would visit with the residents to play games, sing songs, and provide laughter. That's when it hit her: Giving is actually better than receiving. Even science will tell you that's true.

"What I learned is that serving others ultimately served me," Meyler told Upworthy. "I felt great doing it, and the Girl Scouts is rooted in service to others."

That helped lay the foundation for her to serve others on a larger scale as she currently is in Liberia.

Meyler is a gamechanger for little girls in Liberia.

2. Girls benefit from a safe, girl-specific space.

Meyler didn't grow up wealthy. As a matter of fact, she was always made aware of the fact that she didn't have as much as the other kids in her neighborhood while she grew up. That made her feel left out and isolated, but thankfully something came along to save the day.

"It didn't matter who had what because we shared the common bond of being Girl Scouts," Meyler said. "It was our safe, all-girl space. At that time in my life, I needed that."

Unlike sports, where the talent isn't always evenly divided, Girl Scouts provides an environment where everyone is on an equal playing field, and that meant a lot to her.

Meyler believes that girls need a safe space where they can truly be themselves, and Girl Scouts provides that.

That safe space gave her the confidence to know she could do anything and overcome her fear of failing. For that, she will always be thankful.

3. The impossible is always impossible ... until you try.

As a young Girl Scout, Meyler tried new things that freaked her out — like camping. There were times as a youngster when she thought about quitting, but she pushed forward anyway. That never-say-never mentality stayed with her to adulthood, when she encountered her biggest challenge to date: launching More Than Me.

"That skill set is invaluable," Meyler said. "But as I learned in the Girl Scouts, if I surrounded myself with the right team and tackled projects piece by piece, the impossible would become possible."

The work Meyler is doing in Liberia is a huge undertaking, but the Girl Scouts gave her the skill set to handle it.

Patricia Carroll, CEO of Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, is very proud of Katie Meyler.

"Katie's journey is an example of our core mission," Patricia said. "She's encouraging girls to have the confidence and courage to make an impact in their communities and in the world."

When it comes to empowering young women, the Girl Scouts have proven to do it as well as anyone. Big props to Meyler for recognizing how it all started for her.

But those cookies, though...

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

The generational caption debate is a big deal.


If you’re a Gen Xer or older, one surprising habit the younger generations developed is their love of subtitles or closed-captioning while watching TV. To older generations, closed-captioning was only for grandparents, the hearing impaired, or when watching the news in a restaurant or gym.

But these days, studies show that Millenials and Gen Z are big fans of captions and regularly turn them on when watching their favorite streaming platforms. A recent study found that more than half of Gen Z and Millenials prefer captions on when watching television.

It’s believed that their preference for subtitles stems from the ubiquity of captioning on social media sites such as TikTok or Instagram.


This generational change perplexed TikTokker, teacher and Gen X mother, Kelly Gibson.

Always leaning! #genx #millennial #caption #learning

@gibsonishere

Always leaning! #genx #millennial #caption #learning

"I have three daughters, and they were here. Two of them are young millennials; the other one is an older Gen Z," Gibson explained in a video with over 400,000 views. "All of them were like, 'Why don't you have the captions on?'”

The mother couldn’t believe that her young kids preferred to watch TV like her grandparents. It just did not compute.

"My Gen X butt was shocked to find out that these young people have decided it's absolutely OK to watch movies with the captions going the whole time," she said jokingly.

But like a good mother, Gibson asked her girls why they preferred to watch TV with captioning, and their reason was straightforward. With subtitles, it’s easier not to lose track of the dialog if people in the room start talking.

"They get more out of it," Gibson explained. "If somebody talks to them in the middle of the show, they can still read and get what's going on even if they can't hear clearly. Why are young people so much smarter than us?"

At the end of the video, Gibson asked her followers whether they watch TV with subtitles on or off. "How many of you out there that are Millennials actually do this? And how many of you Gen Xers are so excited that this is potentially an option?" she asked.

Gibson received over 8,400 responses to her question, and people have a lot of different reasons for preferring to watch TV with captions.

“Millennial here. I have ADHD along with the occasional audio processing issues. I love captions. Also, sometimes I like crunchy movie snacks,” Jessileemorgan wrote. “We use the captions because I (GenX) hate the inability of the movie makers to keep sound consistent. Ex: explosions too loud conversation to quiet,” Lara Lytle added.

“My kids do this and since we can’t figure out how to turn it off when they leave, it’s become a staple. GenX here!” Kelly Piller wrote.

The interesting takeaway from the debate is that anti-caption people often believe that having writing on the screen distracts them from the movie. They’re too busy reading the bottom of the screen to feel the film's emotional impact or enjoy the acting and cinematography. However, those who are pro-caption say that it makes the film easier to understand and helps them stay involved with the film when there are distractions.

So who’s right? The person holding the remote.


This article originally appeared on 1.11.24

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

@nostalgicallyrachel/TikTok, @mrvaughntrainor/TikTok

It was a simpler, more life-threatening time.


Parenting has changed. A lot. So many things our parents did that were considered normal in our childhood—that is, for all us millennials and Gen Xers—would simply never fly today.

This is thanks in large part to the digital age, and the countless ways to access information. Radio, magazines, television, books, online blogs, Facebook parent groups, informational podcasts, public studies…thousands of voices helping shape family dynamics and warn of potential dangers.

If there’s ever any doubt into how far we’ve come, let technology once again remind you. A trip down memory lane via TikTok might be, as the kids say, a bit cringe, but boy can it help instill a little gratitude.

On a mission to share her childhood “one home video at a time,” a woman named Rachel has an entire TikTok account dedicated to short glimpses of her younger years.

Her content is an instant nostalgic hit for those of us who grew up in the 80s or 90s. We’re talking Rainbow Brite, roller skates, Sesame Street, backpack purses when they were cool for the first time. All the feel good stuff.

And also—maybe some of the not-so-feel-good stuff. Recently, Rachel shared a video of herself as a newborn with her mom…when viewers noticed something strange in her bottle.

@nostalgicallyrachel Replying to @B Indeed, it is. 💦 #wildtimes #wesurvived #taboo #homemovie #homevideo #nostalgia #nostalgic #80s #90s #1990s #1980s #memories #family #throwback #80sbaby #90sbaby #childhood #childhoodmemories #wholesome #oklahoma #takemeback #vlog #mylife #history #vintage #retro #90skid #80skid #80saesthetic #90saesthetic #vhs #smalltown #aesthetic #growingupinthe90s #millennial #millennialtok #1986 #response #react #water #indeed #newborn #baby #mom #breastfed ♬ Roslyn - Bon Iver & St. Vincent

“I’m sorry — IS THAT WATER,” one concerned viewer asked.

Rachel followed up with , “Indeed, it is”, writing “Sugar Water for Newborns circa 1986” in the video caption.

Once upon a time, sugar water was used as a bit of a cure-all for infants, helping fight off common colds, ease bellyaches, and everything in between.

And while some studies do show that sugar water can help ease pain, and certain hospitals do use it during painful procedures, professionals still suggest against administering it at home.

For one thing, babies don’t need water until they’re six months old. They get all the hydration they need from breastmilk or formula, according to WebMd.

Second, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee says that any foods or beverages with added sugar should be avoided “during the first two years of life,” as it is likely to replace more nourishing foods and cause nutrient deficiency, and is “linked with increased risk of overweight or obesity.”

But for many parents today, this is not new news. Which made Rachel’s video so horrifying.

“As a new mom this genuinely is making me want to cry 😭 There was so much misinformation back then. Those poor babies,” one person wrote.

Of course, it could be worse. As one person shared, “My mom gave me Mountain Dew in my bottle 😳.” Yikes.

In another video, this one captioned “parenting before the internet” and shared by dad and TikTokker Vaughn Trainor, we see another bane of modern parenting—rice cereal.

Specifically, rice cereal being fed to newborns. Experts say that solid foods should not be introduced into a baby’s diet until at least four months old, when they can hold their head and sit upright on their own, start grabbing at things and show interest in food when the parents begin eating.

In this video, however, Trainor is one month old, laid back (also a big no no!) and being spoon fed by his mom, who is heard quoting the parenting magazine that suggested heavier things be eaten this way.

@mrvaughntrainor Parenting before the internet 🤣 i turned out alright 🤣🤣 #parenting #parentinghumor #90sparenting #babiesoftiktok #viral #funnyvideos ♬ original sound - Mrvaughntrainor

Over 5,000 people commented on this one, many of whom noted how this type of diet might influence common digestive issues many adults face.

And while there could be several factors contributing to this that go beyond what we were fed as babies, it is true that millennials seem to suffer the worst when it comes to gut health.

But it’s not just problematic food choices. Rachel shared yet another home video, this one titled “Nursery Tour circa 1986,” that showed her baby self lying in a crib surrounded by pillows, stuffed animals, and, for some reason, a mirror.

@nostalgicallyrachel Nursery Tour circa 1986 👶🏻 #nursery #baby #babytok #nurserytour #home #hometour #homemovie #homevideo #nostalgia #nostalgic #80s #90s #1990s #1980s #memories #family #throwback #80sbaby #90sbaby #childhood #childhoodmemories #wholesome #oklahoma #takemeback #vlog #mylife #history #vintage #retro #90skid #80skid #80saesthetic #90saesthetic #vhs #smalltown #aesthetic #growingupinthe90s #millennial #crib #cribsafety ♬ A Gentle Sunlight - James Quinn

But it’s not just problematic food choices. Rachel shared yet another home video, this one titled “Nursery Tour circa 1986,” that showed her baby self lying in a crib surrounded by pillows, stuffed animals, and, for some reason, a mirror.

…All of which can be life threatening and lead to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), if you ask the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Which is why this comment pretty much sums up everyone’s collective feeling:

“It’s a miracle any of us survived.”

And while we can obviously make the case for “I’m still here, so it couldn't’ have been that bad,” when you look at infant mortality statistics, which is the lowest it’s ever been worldwide, it’s hard to deny that maybe, just maybe, being more savvy about childcare could have something to do with that.

So, yes, many parents today might lean towards being more anxious by comparison. But it’s only because death is literally lurking at every corner! Yay vindication!

And as mortifying as some of these parenting behaviors might seem to us now, what doesn’t seem to change is parents wanting to raise a healthy kid, to the very best of their ability. We might have gentler, more science-backed ways to go about it, but the love remains the same.


This article originally appeared on 9.27.23

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.




Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.


They were also there to shoot scenes for a documentary. And while they were hoping to capture some cool moments on camera, no one expected a huge chunk of a glacier to snap clean off and slide into the ocean right in front of their eyes.


science, calving, glaciers

A glacier falls into the sea.

assets.rebelmouse.io

ocean swells, sea level, erosion, going green

Massive swells created by large chunks of glacier falling away.

assets.rebelmouse.io

It was the largest such event ever filmed.

For nearly an hour and 15 minutes, Balog and his crew stood by and watched as a piece of ice the size of lower Manhattan — but with ice-equivalent buildings that were two to three times taller than that — simply melted away.

geological catastrophe, earth, glacier melt

A representation demonstrating the massive size of ice that broke off into the sea.

assets.rebelmouse.io

As far as anyone knows, this was an unprecedented geological catastrophe and they caught the entire thing on tape. It won't be the last time something like this happens either.

But once upon a time, Balog was openly skeptical about that "global warming" thing.

Balog had a reputation since the early 1980s as a conservationist and environmental photographer. And for nearly 20 years, he'd scoffed at the climate change heralds shouting, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

"I didn't think that humans were capable of changing the basic physics and chemistry of this entire, huge planet. It didn't seem probable, it didn't seem possible," he explained in the 2012 documentary film "Chasing Ice."

There was too much margin of error in the computer simulations, too many other pressing problems to address about our beautiful planet. As far as he was concerned, these melodramatic doomsayers were distracting from the real issues.

That was then.

Greenland, Antarctica, glacier calving

The glacier ice continues to erode away.

assets.rebelmouse.io

In fact, it wasn't until 2005 that Balog became a believer.

He was sent on a photo expedition of the Arctic by National Geographic, and that first northern trip was more than enough to see the damage for himself.

"It was about actual tangible physical evidence that was preserved in the ice cores of Greenland and Antarctica," he said in a 2012 interview with ThinkProgress. "That was really the smoking gun showing how far outside normal, natural variation the world has become. And that's when I started to really get the message that this was something consequential and serious and needed to be dealt with."

Some of that evidence may have been the fact that more Arctic landmass has melted away in the last 20 years than the previous 10,000 years.

Watch the video of the event of the glacier calving below:

This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

Teresa Kaye Newman thinks that Boomer parents were right about a few things.


Teresa Kaye Newman, a teacher about to have a son, knows a lot about how to deal with children. So she created a list of 11 things she agrees with Boomers on when it comes to raising kids.

Newman believes she has credibility on the issue because she has 13 years of experience dealing with “hundreds and hundreds” of other people’s kids and has seen what happens when her so-called “Boomer” parenting principles aren’t implemented.

Of course, Newman is using some broad stereotypes in calling for a return to Boomer parenting ideas when many Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z parents share the same values. But, as someone who deals with children every day, she has the right to point out that today’s kids are entitled and spend too much time staring at screens.


Here are the 11 things that Newman agrees with Boomers on when it comes to raising kids.

11 Things I agree with boomer parents on raising children

@teresakayenewman

11 Things I agree with boomer parents on raising children, as a #teacher and soon to be mom.

1. No iPads

“All I’m going to say is my kid has a whole world to explore and none of that has to do with being stuck in front of a tablet.”

2. No smartphone until high school

“Kids that are younger than that age do not know internet safety to a point where I feel comfortable letting them have free reign of the internet.”

3. Teaching the value of education

“What I’m going to teach them is [education] has nothing to do with how much money you’re making or how successful you’ll be professionally. But you will still value it, nonetheless. You will go with it as far as you possibly can, and then once you’re done with it, you can do whatever you want.”

4. Respect your teachers and treat them well

“This may be biased because I am a teacher, but everyone who has gone through a professional degree program and has put in the time and is there, giving you the quality education, deserves some type of attention and deserves to be treated well.”

5. Be kind to elderly folks

“If they’re on public transportation and they’re sitting down and there’s an old lady standing next to them and there are no other seats available, my child will know to stand up and give that lady his seat.”


6. Yes ma’am

Newman will teach her kid to use the terms sir and ma’am when speaking to adults. “It does not matter your age or status in society, as long as they are respecting their pronouns, that’s how we’re gonna be talking to other people.”

7. Greetings and gratitude

“Simple greetings and simple terms of gratitude are just not being taught like they used to. I think it’s really sad.”

8. Consequences for poor behavior

“If they’re neglecting their schoolwork and not doing what they’re supposed to do, they get their technology taken away. … Simple things like this are pretty common sense and I’m not sure why they’re not being done anymore.”

9. Respect adult conversations and spaces

“They don’t get to interrupt 2 adults speaking to each other. They don’t get to come and butt in at an inappropriate time when 2 people are talking to each other."

10. Clean your mess

“My child is going to put as much work in the house as we are regardless of whether he’s paying rent out of his own pocket or not. That’s because when my son becomes an adult, I want him to be a partner or a spouse or a roommate that someone is proud to have around.”

11. Bedtime

“I don’t care how old my kid is as long as he is living under my roof as a minor; he’s gonna have some sort of bedtime. But this staying up until 3 or 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning or pulling all-nighters like kids are used to … is absolutely not normal. And I’m not going to have a kid that’s staying up that late and then not waking up the next day.”


This article originally appeared on 12.20.23


When people move in and refuse to move out, what do you do?


Squatters' rights laws are some of the most bizarrely misused legal realities we have, and something no one seems to have a good answer for. Most of us have heard stories of someone moving into a vacant home and just living there, without anyone's permission and without paying rent, and somehow this is a legal question mark until the courts sort it out.

According to The National Desk, squatters' rights are a carryover from British property law and were created to ensure that abandoned property could be used and to protect occupants from being kicked out without proper notice. It should go without saying that squatter law isn't meant to allow someone to just take over someone else's property, but sometimes that's exactly what happens.

It's what happend to Flash Shelton's mother when she put her house up for rent after her husband passed away. A woman contacted her with interest in the property, only she wanted to do repairs and look after the home instead of paying rent. Before anyone knew it, she had furniture delivered (which she later said was accidental) and set up camp, despite Shelton's mom not agreeing to the arrangement.


But since the woman had expressed her intention and already moved in, the matter was out of police hands, as Shelton found out when he tried to contact the local sheriff.

“They said, ‘I’m sorry but we can’t enter the house, and it looks like they’re living there, so you need to go through the courts',” he shared in a YouTube video.

Shelton rightfully didn't want the expense of a court battle, so he took matters into his own hands—not with violence, but with logic. He had his mom lease the home to him, and then told the squatter that she had to move everything out because he was moving things in.

“If they can take a house, I can take a house," he said.

He was calm and clear about her having to get everything out within the day or he would have people come and take it, and thankfully, she didn't put up a big fight.

That experience made him realize how squatter law can be abused, but that there's a faster system for removing a squatter than to go through the court system. If a squatter can move in and force a homeowner to take them to court to prove they are living there illegally, then he could simply move in alongside the squatter, putting the squatter in the position of having to take the homeowner to court instead.

"The legal process is so slow, and at some point when they're in there, you're going to feel like they have more rights than you do and that's how you're going to be treated. So even though you it's your house and you're paying the mortgage or whatever, at some point squatters feel like they have more rights than you, so they don't have an incentive to leave until a judge tells them to, until they're actually ordered to, and that could take months."

After successfully removing the squatters in his mother's house, Shelton has been tackling similar squatter situations for other homeowners in California, earning him the nickname "The Squatter Hunter."

"All I'm doing is becoming a squatter and flipping this process on them," Shelton told CBS News. "I figured if they could take a house, I could take a house."

According to CBS, he's successfully removed a dozen squatters in the past year. ""I'm not going in and I'm not hurting anyone," he said. "I'm not kicking them out, I'm not throwing them out." He's literally just moving in himself, setting up cameras, and then creating small annoyances until the squatters get fed up enough to move out.

California isn't the only state that has seen issues with squatters. There are squatter stories from all over the U.S. of people moving into a property and refusing to leave without a court order, tying owners up in lengthy, expensive legal battles.

Shelton even has a Change.org petition to try to get squatter laws changed to "make squatting in residential maintained homes criminal." Making squatting illegal "will shift the burden of proof onto the squatter and make the crime punishable with restitution an option for damages," the the petition states.

Watch Shelton share his personal story:

This article originally appeared on 4.5.24