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Joy

Woman who gave $100 to two refugee sisters on a plane is reunited with them 23 years later

Little did she know how life changing that act of kindness would be.

woman finds stranger she gave $100 to 23 years ago
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Who knows where kindness may lead?

Often, we have little awareness of how our actions might affect the lives of others. Our kindness simply goes into the ether, maybe to return as good karma, who knows? And most of the time that’s fine, considering that the act was probably done to help someone else, not for recognition. But still, have you ever done something kind for a stranger, and wondered, whatever happened to that person?

In 1999, two sisters boarded a plane from Amsterdam to the United States, fleeing their home in the former Yugoslavia. The Republic of Yugoslavia had been continuously bombed by NATO for three months during the Kosovo War, in an attempt to thwart widespread ethnic cleansing of Albanian civilians. The sisters didn’t have a penny to their name—they left behind everything they knew. Only one of them could speak English.

A woman sat next to them on the plan, and, reminded of her own daughters, was moved by their frightening plight. She reached into her purse and pulled out an envelope. Inside she placed dangly earrings, a $100 bill and a handwritten note, which read:

“I am so sorry that the bombing of your country has caused your family any problems. I hope your stay in America will be a safe and happy one for you–Welcome to America–please use this to help you here. A friend from the plane–Tracy.”

The word “safe” had been underlined. For the refugee sisters Ayda Zugay and Vanja Contino, that had meant everything.


Zugay recalled to CNN, "It was the first time that I felt, like, relief. This is a safe place, and we can build a future here. We went from this drastic horror into this beautiful act of kindness." Zugay’s CNN interview would later help her and her sister reunite with Tracy 23 years later, and let Tracy know just how life-changing her gift was.

The search for Tracy had been a passion project years in the making.

For Zugay, Tracy’s note became a “diamond in the dark” as she navigated through her new life in America, facing prejudice toward immigrants. The impact it made was so great that every year as Memorial Day and Thanksgiving approached, Zugay would renew her search.

Over the years, Zugay had enlisted the help of airlines, hotels, Reddit and several refugee organizations. In a recent video, Zugay shared what little clues she uncovered:

“Tracy, by this time, would be a middle aged or an older woman who is amazing at tennis and had traveled for it in the past. She would have flown from Paris, where she stayed at a Holiday Inn and where she played tennis, to Amsterdam, where we met on that flight. She would have flown from Amsterdam to Minnesota, and this would have been on May 31, 1999.”

Though people were moved by her story and offered information and encouragement, she mostly met dead ends. That is, until her CNN story began circulating. More than 2 million readers saw it, including one of Tracy’s close contacts.

As Zugay surmised, Tracy (whose last name we now know is Peck), was indeed a tennis enthusiast. In 1999, she got a chance to travel internationally to play and watch the French Open. Her friend Susan Allen, a tennis coach, saw Tracy’s note on social media and recognized the handwriting.

Allen was able to put Peck in touch with Zugay and Contino, who now live in Boston and Connecticut. The three were able to finally share a long awaited emotional reunion over Zoom.

The sisters gave Peck two decades worth of stories: how they were able to survive the entire summer off of that $100 bill by eating pancake mix and Coca-Cola, how Zugay was able to graduate from Boston University and work with a nonprofit and how Contino became happily married with two children, instilled with Peck’s inclination to pay it forward. As they shared the untold chapters of their story, Zugay wore the dangly earrings given by Peck all those years ago.

We might never know where our goods deeds lead. But one thing is for certain: kindness is powerful. That next act of generosity toward a stranger could be the very saving grace they needed to change their life forever.

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

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night.


Van Gogh never got to enjoy his own historic success as an artist (even though we've been able to imagine what that moment might have looked like). But it turns out that those of us who have appreciated his work have been missing out on some critical details for more than 100 years.

I'm not easily impressed, OK?

I know Van Gogh was a genius. If the point of this were "Van Gogh was a mad genius," I would not be sharing this with you.

But I found this and I thought, "Oh, what a vaguely interesting thing." And then I got to the part about the Hubble Space Telescope, and, let me tell you: Mind. Blown.

We've got the set up here, but you have to watch the video for the full effect. It's all the way at the bottom.

Get this: Van Gogh was a pretty cool artist (duh), but as it turns out...

painting, science, psychotic

What’s the truth behind when you take off an ear?

assets.rebelmouse.io

...he was also A SCIENTIST!*

*Pretty much.

Here's the story.

While Van Gogh was in an asylum in France, after he mutilated his ear during a psychotic episode*...

(*Or, and I'd like to thank the entire Internet for pointing this out, there's a theory that his friend Paul Gauguin actually cut off his ear, in a drunken sword fight, in the dark. The more you know!)

science, premonition, predictions

Animated a thinking one-eared Van Gogh.

All Van Gogh GIFs via TED-Ed.

...he was able to capture one of science's most elusive concepts:

~~~TURBULENCE~~~

research, studied, proof, genius

Animated "Starry Night."

assets.rebelmouse.io

turbulence, fluid dynamics, energy cascade

Turbulence expressed through art.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Although it's hard to understand with math (like, REALLY HARD), it turns out that art makes it easy to depict how it LOOKS.

So what is turbulence?

Turbulence, or turbulent flow, is a concept of fluid dynamics where fluid movements are "self-similar" when there's an energy cascade — so basically, big eddies make smaller eddies, and those make even smaller ones ... and so on and so forth.

It looks like this:

figures, explanation, education, community

Pictures explain science.

assets.rebelmouse.io

See? It's easier to look at pictures to understand it.

Thing is, scientists are pretty much *just* starting to figure this stuff out.

reference, research, wisdom

Animation of referencing art to science.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Then you've got Van Gogh, 100 years earlier, in his asylum, with a mutilated ear, who totally nailed it!

illumination, luminance, pulsing

Science studying Van Gogh.

assets.rebelmouse.io

The folks who noticed Van Gogh's ability to capture turbulence checked to see whether other artists did the same. Most impressionists achieved " luminance" with their art (which is the sort-of *pulsing* you see when you look at their paintings that really shows what light looks like).

But did other artists depict turbulence the way Van Gogh did?

NOPE.

The Scream, historical, popular, famous

Animated “The Scream."

assets.rebelmouse.io

Not even "The Scream" could hold a candle to Van Gogh!

technology, star turbulence, sky, astronomy

Capturing concepts of nature.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Even in his darkest time, Van Gogh was able to capture — eerily accurately — one of nature's most complex and confusing concepts ... 100 years before scientists had the technology to observe actual star turbulence and realize its similarity to fluid turbulence mathematics as well as Van Gogh's swirling sky. Cool, huh?

Watch the video below to learn even more:

This article originally appeared on 11.14.14

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.

@abcnews/TikTok

Cats are stars, onstage and off.

Oh, what it must be like to be a cat. To never suffer from imposter syndrome, to take on foes at least twice your size without hesitation, to navigate the world like you’re on every VIP list in existence. What a glorious life, indeed.

Take this concert-crashing kitty, for example. During a live orchestra performance at the 52nd annual Istanbul Music Festival, a curious feline wandered up on stage without a care in the world—and of course it was all anybody could talk about.

In a clip shared to multiple social media platforms by several news outlets, including @abcnews on TikTok, we see the gray and white cat traipse onto the stage, as if drawn in by the whimsical tune being played.

Then, it literally catwalks across the stage, unbothered from beginning to end.

Watch:

@abcnews A curious cat wandered onto stage during a live orchestra performance at the 52nd Istanbul Music Festival. #turkey🇹🇷 #orchestra #catsoftiktok ♬ original sound - ABC News

Of course, as many viewers pointed out, this is an all-too-common sight in Istanbul, which, like many Muslim countries, holds a special place in its heart for felines. According to Catster, cats don’t have owners. Instead, they are taken care of by the entire community all around the city—from tea houses to ferries to public transport and beyond.

Istanbul even funds veterinary care for its stray cats, including spaying and neutering, emergency care, and a mobile Vetbus. It’s pretty much Kitty Heaven over there.

Besides commending Istanbul for its feline-friendly atmosphere, people also shared their delight for the cat who “stole the show.”

“He KNEW this was about him. HIS moment! Lol,” one person wrote.

Another added, “that’s his background music, and he’s off on a big adventure.”

Another tapped into the cat’s POV, writing, “how lovely, the humans are playing me a song.”

Some even offered their best cats puns.

“I think it was trying to find the ‘purr-cussion’ section,”one person quipped.

Another said, “That is an ARISTOCAT.”

Istanbul might go above and beyond for its cats, but the respect we have for feline audacity is strong just about everywhere in the world.

A young girl relaxing in an inner tube.


There’s a popular trend where parents often share they are creating “core memories” for their children on social media posts, whether it’s planning an elaborate vacation or creating an extra-special holiday moment.

While it’s important for parents to want their kids to have happy childhoods, sometimes it feels presumptuous when they believe they can manufacture a core memory. Especially when a child’s inner world is so much different than an adult's.

Carol Kim, a mother of 3 and licensed Marriage and family Therapist, known as ParentingResilience on Instagram, recently shared the “5 Things Kids Will Remember from Their Childhood” on her page. The fascinating insight is that none of the entries had to do with extravagant vacations, over-the-top birthday parties, or Christmas gifts that kids could only dream about.


According to Kim, the five things that kids will remember all revolve around their parents' presence and support. "Notice how creating good memories doesn’t require expensive toys or lavish family trips. Your presence is the most valuable present you can give to your child,” Kim wrote in the post’s description.

1. Quality time together

"Taking some time to focus only on your child is very special. Playing games, reading books, or just talking can create strong, happy memories. These moments show your child that you are present with them."

2. Words of encouragement

"Encouraging words can greatly impact your child during both good times and tough times. Kids often seek approval from their parents and your positive words can be a strong motivator and source of comfort.... It can help kids believe in themselves, giving them the confidence to take on new challenges and keep going when things get tough."

parenting, core memories, quality time

A mother and child riding a small bike.

via Gustavo Fring/Pexels

3. Family traditions

“It creates a feeling of stability and togetherness … Family traditions make children feel like they belong and are part of a larger story, deepening their sense of security and understanding of family identity and values.”

4. Acts of kindness

“Seeing and doing kind things leaves a strong impression on children. It shows them the importance of being kind and caring. They remember how good it feels to help others and to see their parents helping too.”

5. Comfort during tough times

"Knowing they can rely on you during tough times makes them feel secure and build trust. … Comforting them when they're struggling shows them they are loved no matter what, helping them feel emotionally secure and strong."

parenting, core memories, quality time

A family making a meal together.

via Elina Fairytale/Pexels

Kim’s strategies are all beautiful ways to be present in our children’s lives and to communicate our support. However, these seemingly simple behaviors can be challenging for some parents who are dealing with issues stemming from their pasts.

“If you find barriers to providing these things, it’s important to reflect on why,” Kim writes in the post. “There could be several reasons, such as parenting in isolation (we’re not meant to parent alone), feeling overstimulated, dealing with past trauma, or struggling with mental health. Recognizing these challenges is the first step to addressing them and finding support.”

Identity

Comedian Tig Notaro's 7-year-old son had a beautiful reaction to learning his moms are gay

“I was so stunned because we’ve lived together almost eight years, and I’ve been gay the whole time — even prior!”

Comedian Tig Notaro on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, a time for celebration for those in the community and their allies. People celebrate the occasion with pride parades, fly the pride flag, and commemorate special events in the gay rights movement, such as the Stonewall Uprising. But so far this month, for comedian Tig Notaro, things have been “a little weird.”

She explained the funny situation she and her wife, actor Stephanie Allynne, recently dealt with on the June 6 episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

Pride month, I’ll be honest, it’s been a little weird. My wife and I found out recently that our sons didn’t know we were gay. They will be 8 this month,” Notaro told Colbert. "Their school is six minutes away from our house, and at minute three we were in the front seat of the car talking about something about gay. Our son Finn leans forward and says, ‘You’re gay?’”


“I was so stunned because we’ve lived together almost eight years, and I’ve been gay the whole time — even prior!” Notaro joked. “So, I was like, ‘Yes! We are.’ I was so shocked.”

@colbertlateshow

#TigNotaro’s sons didn’t realize their moms were gay, but they jumped on board quickly! #Colbert

The couple felt they had to address the big revelation before the kids got to school, but they didn’t have much time. “We’re like three minutes now from the school, and I start explaining what gay is,” she continued. As she explained what it meant to be gay, she felt a little awkward coming out to her sons.

"And then while I was explaining it, I started getting insecure, thinking, 'What if he doesn’t like this?'” she worried. “So, she asked her sons to share their feelings on the sensitive issue. “What do you think about what I just told you?” Notaro asked them.

Her son Finn gave the most beautiful response.

“Oh, I love my family,” he said.

The couple were shocked that their kids had no idea what gay meant, even though their mothers were lesbians. “We drop them off at school and we’re like, ‘bye!’ and we truly drove off going like half-a-mile-an-hour, like ‘How on earth do our kids not know we’re gay?’ Because, dare I say, we’re also an iconic gay couple,” Notaro joked.

Allynne and Notaro have been married for over eight and a half years, tying the knot on October 24, 2015, in Notaro’s hometown of Pass Christian, Mississippi. It wasn’t long after that they became parents. On June 26, 2016, their sons, Max and Finn, were born by surrogate.

When the couple first met, it was challenging for Allyne, who wasn’t sure how to label her sexuality. "Everything about her felt right," she told People. "I knew I liked her, I knew I cared about her and that sent me into an identity crisis spiral. I felt the need to label myself. Was I gay? Was I bi? Was I still straight? Was I ever straight?"

"It took me six months to realize those labels were ridiculous. Once I was able to own my true feelings it was all easy and beautiful. I now don’t believe in the labels,” she continued.

Now, things have come full circle and the couple are explaining to their kids what it means to be gay. “I realized that even though there’s pictures of our wedding day and they know they have two moms, that doesn’t mean they know what gay is,” Notaro told Colbert.

The male employees of PrimaDonna try on their "breasts."

Let's face it, it's a lot easier to be a man than a woman. Although men die four years earlier than women, they get to live without the extra burdens of menstrual cramps, lower pay, the pain of childbirth, or the feeling of having a bra strap digging into their backs.

But now, the CEO of a bra company is letting men experience what it's like to have large breasts so they can understand what women go through every day.


One day a year, PrimaDonna CEO Ignace Van Doorselaere makes his male employees wear simulated E-cup-sized breasts for an entire work day. "There is only one way for a man to realize what an E-cup feels like, and that is having an E-cup," Van Doorselaere says.

In order to simulate the feeling of carrying around E-cup-sized breasts, the men wear weights hung around their necks. "Let's be honest, an E-Cup can weigh up to 1 or 1.5 kilograms (2.2 to 3.5 lbs) per breast," Van Doorselaere says. "This is a lot. It hurts your neck. It hurts your back. Imagine you are that woman. Carry those breasts for an entire day. That's why you need good support. Good support is important. Everybody at PrimaDonna knows that now."

This article originally appeared on 10.30.17