What happens after you lose a child? For this woman, her pain became her purpose.
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Old Navy Cozy Socks

When Athena White lost her only child, the grief nearly consumed her.

The void left after her son’s passing was, at first, one filled with anger. "He was 25," she explains. "My son was my life. I was a lost soul."

Athena might have felt lost, but she also soon found kindness where she least expected it: at work. Her coworkers at Old Navy, recognizing her pain, quickly stepped in to support her.


"They could’ve easily said, 'I’m sorry you’re having a hard time, here’s some flowers,'" she says. Instead of empty condolences, they showed up in a big way. "They said, 'How much time do you need? What can we do?'"

And it wasn’t just the compassion of those around her that made an impact. It was their belief in Athena herself — in particular, their belief that she had a story worth telling.

Athena White in an Old Navy store. All images provided by Gap Inc.

It was that belief that led Athena’s district manager to offer her an opportunity that would change her life.

He saw her not as a lost soul, but as someone with real potential for leadership. That’s when he connected Athena to This Way Ahead, Old Navy's internship program that would allow her to transform her pain into purpose.

"I didn’t know at the time, but it’s definitely turned my life around, being part of [This Way Ahead]."

This Way Ahead is a paid internship program for young adults that offers career and skills training programs by partnering with nonprofits and connecting young adults with mentors like Athena. After 10 weeks, interns walk away with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace and, most importantly, the connection and care to realize their own self-worth.

It’s that connection that Athena says helped her cope with her grief.

"They’re looking for someone to listen to them; they’re looking for direction, someone that’s just there," she explains. "I lost my son, but I gained so many young adults in my life ... it makes me feel whole. It fills a void."

It’s a tradition of giving back, Athena says, that began with her mother and her son. "My mom was the biggest cheerleader I ever had," she says. And her son, too, had the biggest heart of anyone she knew.

"It’s grown into something bigger than myself," she explains. Mentoring youth helps her carry on the loving legacy left behind by her mother and son and, in turn, allows every youth she inspires to go on and make an impact too.

Athena White with former This Way Ahead intern, and now Old Navy Associate, Yazmeen Owens.

"My mission, in turn, is how do I pay it forward? How do I give back?"

For Athena, giving back isn’t just about giving these youth an internship. It’s about creating a connection that allows them to thrive.

"We’ve all made mistakes," she shares. She sees her role as one where she not only offers skills in the workplace, but gives the genuine support and care that many of the youth lack.

"Sometimes, these young kids, they don’t have the support. [They need] to know that there’s somebody that truly cares."

One intern that Athena remembers started out in the program as shy and withdrawn. At first, Athena wondered if she even wanted to be there.

"She wasn’t open to trusting," Athena explains. "I kept insisting, in my mind, there was something more to this young lady. My mission was to open her eyes and open her heart."

And with time, the two formed a special bond.

"She just started to warm up," Athena recalls. "Every time she’d see me, her eyes would just light up." And not only did she complete the program — she now works with Athena at Old Navy and is returning to school. "She’s a whole different person now," Athena raves.

And stories like hers aren’t uncommon — 74% of graduates from the This Way Ahead program receive job offers upon completion, with a retention rate twice that of their peers.

Yazmeen Owens and Athena White.

For youth in the program, particularly those from disadvantaged communities, This Way Ahead offers one opportunity that can transform the rest of their lives.

It’s an opportunity that Athena is honored to be a part of. "They were [all] seeking something more than a job," she explains.

For some, what they seek is real support and connection. For others, like one memorable alumni from Oakland, they’re looking for a shot at a brighter, better future.

"He had never been outside of Oakland," Athena shares. "Now he’s in college in Indiana. Whatever it takes, he’s going to be a doctor. He [just needed] to get out of the neighborhood."

And that's why, Athena says, programming like this needs direct support. "We have to keep the program alive," she explains.

And with the right support, not only will the program survive — it can thrive. Old Navy is in the process of expanding the program through a donation campaign on Black Friday 2017; for every $1 cozy sock purchased, Old Navy will match it with a donation to Boys & Girls Clubs, up to $1 million. These donations will expand their offerings to create more career opportunities for youth.

For a customer, it might seem like a small gesture. But it adds up. And for Athena and the youth she mentors, those small gestures mean a continued impact well into the future.

Thanks to the support she received in her darkest hour, Athena is now an unstoppable force for good in the lives of countless youth.

"Every year, I want more kids," she laughs.

When asked what she’s learned from her experiences as a mentor, she recalls the impact that one person can have on others. "Take a moment, give somebody your time, listen to somebody," she shares.

"You never know what you’re offering; you never know what someone is going to take from that conversation. Be mindful that people are listening, they are watching. You can change somebody’s life."

And for the kids mentored by Athena, with futures now brimming with possibility, there’s no greater lesson than that.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Social media spats usually end in ugly words or blocking people—unless you're Patton Oswalt.

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt has made a name for himself off screen as a blunt yet caring, compassionate human. His raw openness after his wife's unexpected passing and his willingness to engage in conversations about depression and dadhood after her death has touched people's hearts and opened people's minds.

And once again on Twitter, Oswalt has proven that he is unquestionably one of the most kind-hearted dudes in Hollywood.

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via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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