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CNBC's The Profit

On most days, Bada Bing! Pizzeria in Springfield, Ohio, simply cranks out the garlic knots and calzones (to great Yelp reviews). But this Thanksgiving, it's taking on a different role: as a refuge for people in need.

"A lot of people, just like myself, we don't really see what's going on in the community when it comes to homelessness and poverty," Bada Bing! owner Jason Hague told Upworthy. "A lot of us just go to Walmart or the mall to go shopping and we just don't see the plight of others that are in need."

Hague had already planned to host a Thanksgiving dinner in the shop for his friends, family, and members of his staff who didn't have anywhere else to go when he thought:


Why not invite local homeless and hungry people too?

In order to make sure word got around, Hague put this sign in the window:

Photo by Bada Bing! Pizzeria/Facebook, used with permission.

"I wanted to put the sign on the door just to let people know, 'Hey, we're closed, but we're here as well, so if you want to come in, stop in, we got a seat for you," Hague said.

The photo quickly went viral in the community — and around the Internet.

As of the time of publication, the photo of the sign had been shared over 5,000 times on Facebook.

"Come dinnertime last night, we were just so inundated with not just customers, but people just coming in that wanted to help out and donate their time, services, or money to helping out with this cause," Hague said.

According to Hague, one customer — an elementary school-aged kid — has even offered to perform magic tricks at dinner.

Hague's plan to invite the homeless and hungry to Thanksgiving was a big hit with the pizzeria's staff as well.

Photo by Bada Bing! Pizzeria/Facebook, used with permission.

"I think it's absolutely amazing," Michelle Butler, an employee of the pizzeria, told Upworthy. According to Butler, when Hague announced the Thanksgiving plan, many on staff immediately volunteered to pitch in.

"I donated four turkeys. We went from three turkeys to seven turkeys," Butler said. She plans to make them all tonight.

Though Hague is a little nervous about being overwhelmed with people, he's grateful for the amazing support of his staff and customers. Initially, he had enough food for 15 people, but after all the attention the post received, he went back to the grocery store and purchased 100 servings of turkey and all the trimmings.

Bada Bing! is one of a number of restaurants reaching out to those less fortunate.

Hague with a Springfield local outside Bada Bing! Photo by Bada Bing! Pizzeria/Facebook, used with permission.

Restaurants like Rosa's Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia have received a ton of attention and praise for allowing customers to "pay it forward" by purchasing pizza slices for the needy for $1 each. Back in April, the owner of P.B. Jams in Oklahoma City left a note for a person digging through their trash inviting them in for a free meal.

The thing they all have in common? The desire to treat homeless and hungry people not as objects to be afraid of, but as fellow members of the community who might be down on their luck and in need of a hand.

"Even if we're able to feed just one family, I'm OK with that," Hague said.

It's a sentiment that the Bada Bing! staff shares.

"A lot of people don't have families to go to, and there's a lot of homeless here in Springfield," Butler said. "I think it'll bring people together and just be a special time."

For Hague, that's exactly what the holiday is supposed to be.

"Thanksgiving is one of those days that you want to spend time with your family and friends, but it's also a time to give thanks for what you have, and we've been very blessed here," Hague said. "So if we're able to bless someone else by giving them hope, then that makes me feel good."

"That's my holiday."

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

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"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

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