Yo-Yo Ma played a surprise concert during his post-vaccination observation period
via Berkshire Community College / Facebook

Internationally-acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma had 15 minutes to kill last Saturday after getting his COVID-19 vaccination at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, so he treated everyone to an impromptu concert.

Ma is a part-time Berkshires resident and was receiving his second COVID-19 shot at the vaccination site.

Richard Hall of the Berkshire COVID-19 Vaccine Collaborative told local paper the Berkshire Eagle said that Ma brought his cello because he simply wanted "to give back." So he treated healthcare workers and the recently- and soon-to-be vaccinated people to a performance of selections by Bach and Schubert.



Yo-Yo Ma plays for fellow vaccine recipients www.youtube.com


Medical staff says that a hush fell over the clinic as Ma began to play. "It was so weird how peaceful the whole building became, just having a little bit of music in the background," said Leslie Drager, the lead clinical manager for the vaccination site, according to The Washington Post.

The music probably provided some much-needed comfort for those who were nervous to get the vaccine.

Ma was waiting at the vaccination site after getting the jab because most people are asked to sit through a 15-minute observation period in case they experience an allergic reaction. Those who are more prone to allergic reactions are often asked to wait for 30 minutes.

People who experience mild reactions are usually given a dose of Benadryl and then sent on their way.

Yo-Yo Ma at the White House in 1987.via Wikimedia Commons

It must have been an incredible experience for people to be able to hear the well-respected cellist play in such a small, impromptu setting. Ma has recorded more than 90 albums and received 18 Grammy Awards. He has been a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2006 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011

He's famous for being an eclectic musician having played on recordings of classical music, bluegrass, traditional Chinese melodies, the tangos of Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla, and the works of minimalist composer Phillip Glass.

He's also known for his affable, down-to-earth personality.

The mini-concert comes an exact year after he first shared recordings of himself at the beginning of the outbreak under #SongsOfComfort. He shared the recordings to help quell the stress and anxiety caused by the onset of the pandemic.

"In these days of anxiety," he wrote on Twitter on March 13, 2020, "I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort. The first of my #SongsOfComfort: Dvorák – 'Going Home'"

At a time when good memories are hard to create, Ma did a wonderful job at lending his talents to spread a little joy in a stressful time. Let's hope that soon he will be able to return to larger venues and can once again spread that joy to thousands of people a night.





Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."