Parents will do almost anything for their children. They will take an extra shift or, if they’re tech-savvy, defend their kids on social media. Dad-of-five Fred Vautour set the ultimate standard, working 23 years as a graveyard shift janitor at Boston College to send his kids to school.
“I came from a poor family and kind of a broken home and I was kind of on my own,” Fred Vautour explained. “I did my best to be a father and a family man.”
Boston College, which provides benefits for its staff, granted all five of Vautour’s children a place in the school. While Vautour was able to save $700,000 in tuition, his greatest pride was watching each of them graduate.
“I want to be remembered as the grandkids knowing that their grandfather did a lot for my own,” he said. “And my kids are learning from that and they seem to be doing well with their kids, too, so it’s a trickle-down effect.”
Vautour has expressed his gratitude and still works at the university, however bittersweet. The hardworking dad has proved that status isn’t everything. Sometimes, being a good parent is enough.
Trips to the dentist may not be everyone’s favorite errand — that is, until excruciating cavities become a problem. Admittedly, probes are no fun, and neither is the price tag they come with. But following Dr. Kenny Wilstead’s good deed for a domestic abuse victim, Dr. David Nguyen decided to shoulder a military vet’s $15,000 bill.
“There was infection in his gum tissue, a lot of cracked teeth everywhere, a lot of crowding, a lot of grinding problems,” described Dr. Nguyen, a dentist at URBN Dental River Oaks in Houston.
Former Staff Sergeant David Tyler Harmon didn’t anticipate a simple toothache to reveal years of decay. To cover the costs, Harmon would’ve had to undergo months of paperwork with the Veterans Administration. Much to his delight, Dr. Nguyen decided to simply waive the charges.
“All veterans are heroes,” said Dr. Nguyen. “They give up so much for this country, and whatever I can do just to help him out a little bit, it’s all worth it to me.”
If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, it might be time for a cleaning!
People like Lt. Col Faye Cuevas, a war-veteran-turned-conservationist, are exactly what wildlife warriors need. Africa, teeming with poachers and bearing the brunt of climate change, was especially up for change. To make up for Africa’s lack of resources, a Canadian team put up a brigade in Mali to protect its dwindling elephant population.
The brigade combines rangers and army forces, a necessary pairing for protecting wildlife in this hostile territory, regularly crisscrossed by offshoots of Al Qaeda and bandits.
Since launching the brigade in February, there have been no run-ins with poachers. Mali, normally plagued by other traffickers and petty bandits, has come a long way.
“The work,” Sergeant Sangare [of the brigade] said, “it is love.”
The brigade, led by the Wild Foundation and International Conservation Fund of Canada, is the first foreign helping hand Mali has received in some time. With locals expressing their dire need for basic necessities, the groups have also stepped in as community lifelines. It seems to me this act of selflessness is rarer than any ivory on the market.
I believe it’s in anyone’s nature to be kind — even when it means putting others first. Among our everyday heroes is Clayton Cook, who, on his wedding day, dove into a river to save a drowning boy. (It’s safe to say he was overdressed for the occasion) Alongside him is Kimberly Gager, who gave up her entire coupon collection to donate supplies to hurricane victims. And as if people hadn’t impressed me enough, Cullman resident Eric Gilbreath drove 2 hours out of town to rescue a missing child.
“Your heart just falls out on the floor. My first thought was helping getting out there and looking. I wasn’t going to give up,” Gilbreath explained.
The toddler, 3-year-old Serenity Dawn Sanders, shares a mother with Gilbreath’s son. Despite the presence of a search party, Gilbreath was the first to spot Serenity in the woods of Dekalb County.
“I just walked the ridge top, walked halfway down the ridge and walked the bottom of the ridge and went to the next one,” Gilbreath said.
Serenity was accompanied by her dog. Just as any father would, Gilbreath reminded the unfazed child not to wander without her mother. That’s at least 10 dad points to Gilbreath!
Meaningful gestures are what get people by in difficult times. Domestic abuse victim Kyleigha Scott found solace in her dentist, who repaired a broken tooth for free. For Las Vegas mourners, it was a healing garden that brought people on opposite sides of the spectrum together. For 5-year-old Sophia Chiappalone, it was best friend Hunter who eased the pain of her heart condition. The two “married” before Sophia’s fourth surgery.
“Just seeing Sophia’s smile, he didn’t complain once,” Hunter’s mother said of the photo shoot. “He was genuinely having a fun time. They were laughing together, tickling, swinging and on the slides. I think he really enjoyed it. I think it makes him happy to see her happy.”
Fortunately for Sophia, Hunter’s mother Tracy Laferriere’s own BFF was photographer Marisa Balletti-Lavoie. Wanting in on the charming surprise was Bliss Bridal, who provided a gown and veil. To say the photos are adorable is an understatement. However, reality is also bittersweet.
“I wish that she keeps her fighting spirit. And I hope she never loses her quality of life … no matter what the end result is.” [said Sophia’s mother Kristy.]
All the best, little Sophia!
It isn’t a cop’s only responsibility to keep neighborhoods safe from crime, but to make citizens feel safe. After the El Segundo police force helped a student replace her stolen college fund, I’d say my faith in law enforcement is making a second appearance. Warming my heart even more is Officer Darryl Robinson of Green Bay in Wisconsin. The kindhearted cop helped an 8-year-old celebrate his birthday when no one picked him up from school.
“It seemed like he was in good spirits. He was playing around,” Robinson said at a press conference… “He was excited. It was his birthday.”
The child, whose parent is incarcerated, enjoyed a ride in Robinson’s patrol car. While trying to get in touch with a relative, Robinson treated the boy to a Happy Meal. After nearly an hour, Robinson reunited the child with his grandfather.
“Officers do this every day — not just police, but different public service jobs as well. All of us do this. It’s not rare,” Robinson said. “I think it doesn’t get recognized enough.”
Naturally, I’m curious to keep up with the anonymous child. Thanks to Robinson’s promise to check in occasionally, perhaps I’ll see this kid turn out to be pretty outstanding.
Some veterans dedicate their retirement to other kinds of service — whether it be therapy or fighting for animal rights. Others, like 95-year-old Harvey Djerf, prefer the quiet. Neighbors surprised the World War II vet by placing chairs in their yards as pit stops on his daily walk.
“It’s kind of snowballed now. I’m up to 12 chairs now,” he said. “They must’ve seen that I was pausing and catching my breath and that’s when they probably took pity on me.”
On occasion, Djerf’s thoughtful neighbors also surprise him with lemonade and cookies. A resident of the Plymouth community for 66 years, Djerf seems to have scored gold with its kind inhabitants.
Because the humble hero dedicates most of his time to his wife in an elderly home, returning to the neighborhood brings him comfort. It may not be Beverly Hills, but I’d say Djerf is living the ideal American Dream.
When it comes to running water and clean energy, resources aren’t always available to all. Independent groups have been doing what they can to provide for rural areas, implementing Eco-Boxes and bleach lamps. Though the power grid issue seems to be improving, development is slow and India has had enough. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Saubhagya Scheme, which promises to provide electricity for over 40 million Indian families by December 2018.
Millions of rural Indians still rely on lamps fuelled by kerosene, the use of which the scheme hopes to cut. Kerosene is a huge health and environmental hazard and restricting its use would further India’s ambitious climate goal to cut emissions.
Roughly 300 million Indian citizens have no access to electricity. Along with the scheme, the government plans to keep from charging poorer families. However, as opposed to targeting villages, the scheme will single out individual households.
Remote, and often inaccessible, villages have proved to be a major challenge in the electrification drive. The government has said it will distribute solar packs (comprising LED lights, a fan and a plug) and a battery bank to households in these villages.
The project will also help state-owned power distribution companies with debts. It’s a helping hand I’d have no problem shaking!
While chef José Andrés was serving 8,000 meals a day to victims of Hurricane Maria, a wildfire was devastating California. Not to disappoint the thousands who lost their homes, culinary star Guy Fieri decided to host a massive barbecue.
“This is the least we can do. We’re so happy to do it,” [said] Fieri… “We’re so sorry for friends who have lost homes. There’s a lot of really good people coming together,” he added.
Fieri set up shop in Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building with the help of the Salvation Army. Fieri, too, had to evacuate his home in the early morning but was determined to help.
“So I called the Salvation Army in Santa Rosa and I said, ‘I’m ready, I’ve got an army, I’m ready to help,'” [said] Fieri… “And they said, ‘Bring it.'”
The Food Network VIP cooked up lunch and dinner for evacuees for three straight days. Though package meals from neighboring communities were arriving quickly, nothing seemed to beat a delicious plate of sizzling pork.
In times of emergency, who comes to our rescue is the last thing on our minds. Whether it be a herd of elephants or an 8-year-old kid, safety is all that matters. But sometimes, we are pleasantly surprised. What started out as a nightmare for this Scottish family turned into an adventure on the Hogwarts Express.
The family of six was spending a vacation camping in the Scottish Highlands. But on Friday, Jon Cluett woke up and walked out of his hut on Loch Eilt to find that their 16-foot red canoe had disappeared, probably washed away by the river.
Miles away from their car and with no other option, Cluett phoned the police. What the officer would reply was nothing short of astounding.
“The policeman said, ‘We’ve arranged for the next train passing to stop for you, and you’re not going to believe this but it’s the Hogwarts Express steam train. Your kids are going to love it,’”
Expectedly, the Cluett children did what any Potterhead would — flip out. If the Hogwarts Express is a go-to rescue vehicle along Fort William and Mallaig, GPS may no longer be a priority to casual hikers.