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Little Rock Offers Homeless a Job Cleaning the City

Shannon Jackson

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Many people have realized that homelessness is a serious problem across the entire country. For years, lawmakers have been struggling to find a way to deal with this issue. Now, Arkansas might have found a way to do exactly that. In April of this year, Little Rock decided to launch a pilot program that would help the homeless go back to work while also cleaning up the city. The program is called Bridge to Work and the individuals who participated in the program earn $9.25 per hour. This is more than $2 more than the current federal minimum wage. It turned out that the program was so successful, in multiple ways, the program was then extended for another year. Now, it will run through September of 2020.

The program is run by a local religious organization called Canvas Community Church. The program employs eight people every day for pick up trash. In addition to this, they also perform cleaning tasks and clear weeds. During the time that they participate in the program, the employees are paid (as above) and are also fed a meal. Overall, the reviews of this program have been overwhelmingly positive. The program has received an extensive amount of news coverage and the local population is extremely excited about how the program is going.

In addition to a solid paycheck, the program also provides homeless individuals with access to a variety of other services. Some of these include mental health counseling, regular medical care, job interviews, and even temporary housing. The goal of this program is to help homeless individuals build on this first step and become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. The program recognizes that there are a lot of barriers that might prevent someone who is homeless from getting out of the endless cycle. Without a doubt, there are a lot of steps that need to be completed; however, this program believes that these individuals deserve assistance. That is why it has been established to both better the city of Little Rock while helping individuals who are homeless improve their lives. 

In September of 2019, close to 400 people had joined the work crews, working hard to pick up trash, remove weeds, and clean the city. In total, the group worked close to 2,000 hours at more than 130 locations around the city. In total, in the first six months alone, the group collected more than 2,000 bags of trash. This is an impressive haul for a relatively small crew; however, the group knows they are working for something more than just a paycheck. They are working hard to improve their current living situation. Many of the individuals interviewed have stated exactly this. They know that they have had a rough life for a long time; however, they want to be models for everyone else around the country who is struggling with homelessness. With access to the right people and the right assistance, they can get their lives back on track.

Many of the individuals who are participating in this program also have kids that they want to help. They want to set an example for the future generation that with hard work, anything is possible. Many of the local citizens are impressed with how hard these individuals are working. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding homelessness that can be difficult to shake. This program is the first step in showing that individuals who are homeless can still be productive members of society. In a way, this program shows that they only need to be given an opportunity.

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Culture

Take a Look at This Touching Hallmark Display Created By Mr. Rogers!

Kevin Wells

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In the era of online trolling, it can be hard to find consistently positive news stories. The world seems rife with strife and there is always some negative headline or another trending around the world. In order to buck the trend of cynicism that seems to have become so popular, we are going to highlight a sugar-sweet story about one of the most beloved figures in entertainment history, Mr. Fred Rogers.

With the recent release of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the world seems to have gone slightly Mr. Rogers crazy. The majority of people reading this right now probably grew up watching Mr. Rogers on television. From how he took off his sweater to the way he laced his shoes before bringing us to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, we were all captivated and enthralled. As it turns out, Mr. Rogers wasn’t just a sweetheart on television, he also stood by his lifestyle when the cameras quit rolling. What do we mean by that? Well, that’s a great question!

According to a recent Washington Post story, Mr. Fred Rogers had been asked to help decorate one of Hallmark’s flagship locations in Manhattan for the Holidays. With Mr. Rogers an absolute sensation among children and families at the time, the collaboration made a ton of sense. After visiting the store, Mr. Rogers saw that the Hallmark shop had been decked out with ornate, elaborate, and luxurious decorations. This was never Mr. Roger’s style, so he decided to do something different. The Mister Roger’s Neighborhood star would decide to flip the fashion trend on its head by introducing his own unique display. What did the humble Mr. Rogers decide on for his decoration? Imagine standing before a small glass case that is completely clear and see-through. Within the tree, you can see a single growing Norfolk Island pine with roots and all bared for the world. At the bottom of the display was a small plaque that read, “I like you just the way you are.” Pretty on-brand for Mr. Rogers, right?

In recent years, Fred Rogers has reached an almost mythological level in the world of pop-culture. With a squeaky clean history and an understanding of children that has never been matched by kid’s television, Fred Rogers was a special and unique individual. Through his program, he taught children about community, being a good neighbor, treating others with kindness, and most importantly, treating yourself with kindness and compassion. Thanks to his gentle nature and depth of compassion, Fred Rogers was an instrumental figure in the lives of millions of boys and girls all around the world. Even 16 years after his passing, Mister Rogers Neighborhood continues to inform, guide, and educate children and adults alike.

To hear more about Mister Roger’s incredible story, fans of the man can see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks.  While not an exhaustive biopic, the Tom Hanks-led vehicle was released to rave reviews and adoration from his fans and family.

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Culture

The World Needs More Social Impact Heroes

Kevin Wells

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A person who is a real success is one who makes a positive difference in someone else’s life. Many people believe that they can’t make a difference, or they just don’t know how to make a difference. But in fact anyone can make a difference, and make the world a better place. That is why it is so important to know the stories of these women who have made such a difference in their communities.

L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth is a program that recognizes women who have made a difference in their communities. Anyone can be nominated, as long as they live in the U.S., are at least 18 years of age, and consent to the nomination. The focus is on women who have volunteered in their own communities, and the volunteer work should be ongoing for at least 6 months before the nomination.

Here are just a few of the women who have been nominated for the program:

Shandra Woworuntu is a 2017 honoree who received a $25,000 grant for her chosen organization, Mentari. A survivor herself, Shandra formed the nonprofit organization to help other survivors of human trafficking at no cost, providing much-needed support to an often overlooked group.

Cassandra Lin was only 19 years old when she started Project Turn Grease Into Fuel (TGIF). TGIF is still run by students and allows businesses and individuals to recycle their cooking oil and turn it into biodiesel so that it can be used to heat the homes of people in need. Not only does the project recycle materials that would not otherwise be used, it brings awareness to issues of global warming and sustainability.

Valerie Weisler started The Validation Project after she experienced bullying herself. The Validation Project is currently working with 6,000 students in over 100 countries to give them support after they have experienced bullying. Not only that, the project helps its members engage in social justice projects so they can learn the power they have to help.

Deborah Jiang-Stein started the unPrison Project to help women who have been incarcerated so they can be successful after release. Too often, women are set up to fail, and the relationships with their children are destroyed. 2.7 million children under the age of 18 have a parent in prison, so it is important for them to find support before they end up in a vicious cycle.

More recently, Brittany Schiavone was honored for starting Brittany’s Baskets of Hope. She has Down’s Syndrome herself, and her organization helps provide much-needed support and resources for other parents who are welcoming a Down’s child into their families.

Judy Winter started Ricstar’s Camp because she noticed how much music helped her son with cerebral palsy. She helped her son deal with many challenges, and he got to attend music therapy classes before passing away at the tender age of 12. Ricstar’s Camp provides life-changing opportunities for people with disabilities to focus instead on their abilities.

Social activism is empowering women and giving them their own place in the community. Instead of living up to societal expectations, women are now finding their own passions and dealing with issues like homelessness, social injustice, and poverty on their own time. They are an inspiration for others now and for generations to come.

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IMPROVING YOUR SELF WORTH THROUGH COMPASSION

Kelly Taylor

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We are born in a competitive world. Long before we can take our first steps, we are encouraged to challenge our limits by comparing ourselves with others in order to perform better. While this may prove to be excellent in the short term, this may weigh heavily on our ideals as there will always be people better than us and whom we may never outdo.

Being healthy should be the primary focus of every individual. Though this may be the case, we live in a society that is constantly focused on body shaming based on standards that are not achievable for all. However, it is possible to achieve a healthy body image by changing our mindset towards those we feel are better than us. Researchers at the University of Waterloo found that women who showed compassion rather than comparison were able to achieve a better body image and had less disordered eating habits! By showing empathy, we appreciate the fact that those we deem perfect have their own challenges and that we, too, need compassion for our own problems.

Women who deliberately exercise compassion towards females they compare themselves to, were more satisfied and had a lower tendency to diet others. This is according to release, which was published in the journal body image, which further found that, by showing compassion, comparison focused women had a reduced tendency to compare themselves with those around them. Comparing yourself to others is an indication of low self-esteem and should assess how they feel about themselves and how much self-confidence they have.

In a study of 120 females of diverse ethnicities, three strategies were used to determine the best self-help strategy that would boost their self-esteem. These had a competitive mindset, caregiving, and distraction mindset omen who showed compassion to the women who they perceived to be better than them, achieved a significant reduction in their unfavorable body comparisons. It was, therefore, concluded that by trying to cultivate compassion for others and wishing them to be happy and free from suffering, has a positive effect on one’s body image and eating habits.

Comparing ourselves to others has a negative impact on our wellbeing as it allows others to drive our behaviors. This is by allowing them to set standards as to what should be ideal while ignoring the fact that none of us is indeed perfect! Comparison is mainly done against the best features of our opponents as compared to our average ones. This becomes illogical as it would be comparing the left hand and the right hand, both have their unique capabilities. Our unconscious realization that we cannot be better than everyone often becomes destructive. At worst, when we compare ourselves to others, we focus our energy on bringing them down rather than raising ourselves. Our primary goal should be better people than we were yesterday.

The essential things in life are measured internally. By focusing on showing compassion, we improve the inner scorecard that allows us to be happier in our relationships and live a more fulfilled life.

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Culture

The World’s First Female African American Airline Pilots Make History

Kevin Wells

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The friendly skies just got friendlier as the world’s first black female pilot team took a plane full of passengers from San Francisco, California to Portland, Oregon on a history making a flight that had all of the passengers cheering.

On setting the plane down in Portland, the two tweeted out the following message which went viral.

“History has been made for Alaska Airlines this morning! First Officer Mallory Cave and I serve became the first 100% female African-American crew on Alaska Flt #362, San Francisco to Portland, OR.”

Everything seemed to be run of the mill and ordinary that morning when the 32 passengers boarded their seemingly routine flight. The pilots didn’t want to announce their history making trip until the wheels came down safely in Oregon. It wasn’t that they were unsure about their ability to fly the plane safely. After all, they had each logged several hundred hours in simulators and in practical training.

But when the plane came to a stop, the two emerged from the pilot’s cabin to announce to the passengers that they had just participated in the world’s first flight conducted by an all-woman, African American crew. Then, Captain Tara Dillon made the following announcement.

“Finally, we’re pleased to announce that you’re sharing a pretty interesting piece of Alaska Airlines history this morning. You have been piloted by two female African-American pilots for the first time in history.”

At this, the passengers unanimously exploded into uproarious applause and cheers. The First Officer made a video of the event which went super-viral on Twitter and YouTube, taking in several thousand views in the first hour.

The event proved that not only are black women able to complete a task that has long been the sole purview of white men, and proved that they too had the ability to perform a highly technical, and inherently risky endeavor- taking several dozen human beings through the air on a high-powered multi-million dollar aircraft.

Today, white male airline pilots still make up very nearly 98% of this professional demographic.

It’s worth pointing out that no one doubted the ability of the two to complete their first unsupervised flight. After all, their teachers and trainers had invested hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars training them. The scholarship they were able to obtain to earn their pilots’ licenses stand as evidence that an entire institution had every confidence in their ability to fulfill the role of major commercial airline pilot.

But, it’s still nice to see that at the end of the day, no one stood in the way of these two in their successful efforts to realize their dream of becoming full-fledged airline pilots.

Finally, earning the privilege of flying a large passenger plane is nothing to be sneezed at. It is among the most prestigious of all the accomplishments of licensed pilots. This is because managing the controls of such a large and powerful aircraft is widely recognized as a significant technical achievement.

So, this truly is a moment worth celebrating both for its historical significance, and in order to congratulate these two young pilots on their first major commercial flight. May their careers be long and distinguished.

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Why women make capable firefighters

Renee Yates

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It’s unfortunate that the idea persists in society that women are not capable of working as firefighters. As women have become increasingly prominent in other industries that have been traditionally dominated by males such as construction and logging, their numbers on the ranks of firefighting squads continue to remain low. 

Take the Fire Department of New York as an example. In 2018, five women succeeded in graduating from New York City’s Fire Academy. While some progress has been made for women in the FDNY since the fire department lost a gender discrimination lawsuit back in 1982, there are still fewer than one percent of firefighters for the department who are female. While fire departments in cities such as Seattle, Minneapolis, and Miami have more women, the average for fire departments across the nation is only about five percent female. 

Historically, women have long been successfully putting out fires in this country. Back in 1815, Molly Williams volunteered to serve at the firehouse fo New York City’s Oceanus Engine Company No. 11. Williams was a female slave working with a company that was not only all male, but all white as well. Williams was offered a job after she single-handedly handled a call when every man in the company was unable to handle the call because of being infected by the flu. 

Another early female firefighter in the US was Emma Vernell. She was 50 years old when she became the first woman to work as a firefighter in the state of New Jersey. 

Some people continue to wonder if women are really capable of working as firefighters. One needs only look at statistics to find an answer to this quandary. Consider statistics from the national Candidate Physical Abilities Test that firefighters need to pass. In 2008, 70 percent of all women who took the exam passed. This figure is not significantly far behind the percentage of men who passed the exam. In the same year, 75 percent of men passed. This shows that women are not statistically far behind men in taking the exam and passing or failing is more a matter of individual capabilities than a question of gender. 

It’s likely that women remain underrepresented in the firefighting profession because of traditionally perceived gender roles. Fire departments all over the country have been found to have testing and qualification procedures that not only discriminate against women, but also against minorities as well. Available equipment is often designed to fit men rather than women. Also, harassment toward women is rampant in some departments. 

Nevertheless, women succeed in careers as firefighters. In fact, hundreds of women have attained the rank of captain or lieutenant in their careers as firefighters. In fact, the city of San Francisco fire department was led by a woman, Chief JoAnne Hayes-White, as of 2004. 

It’s important that people realize that females are perfectly capable of serving as firefighters because, as a female Wisconsin firefighter once remarked, “No one cares if you’re a woman when their house is on fire”. 

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