Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tattoo artist covers hate tattoos for free

Dave Cutlip owns and operates Southside Tattoo near Baltimore. He was approached by a man who had 'grown up' and no longer wanted his racist tattoos. Because the series of tattoos were so prominent across his face, Dave was unable to cover them. He referred him to someone who could remove them with laser, an expensive procedure, but he felt bad about not being able to help.

When he told his wife the story, they came up with an idea - the shop would cover up racist, gang-related, or hate tattoos for free. They posted the offer on the tattoo parlor's Facebook page and the requests poured in. Many folks had gotten hate tattoos when they were 'young and stupid,' in order to fit in with a particular group. As adults, they found themselves branded socially and in the workplace. Dave's offer gives them a chance at a fresh start.

On a recent day, a man in his 20's showed Dave his tattoo: a Confederate flag with a noose below and the words 'Southern Pride' scrolled above. With no questions asked and free of charge, Dave covered the image with an eagle.

The idea is not new - the Southern Poverty Law Center has funded tattoo removal in the past. But Southside's offer went viral, and Dave is encouraging other parlors to join in. A GoFundMe site has been set up to offset the costs involved.

Dave and Elizabeth only ask one thing of their customers - pay it forward. They want to cover hate with kindness and love.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

An overwhelming Thank You for a street musician

Kasey McCurdy has passed through the Des Moines skywalk regularly for years. This takes him past a number of street musicians, including one whose booming voice and happy demeanor often caught McCurdy's attention.

One day, he stopped and asked the musician if he could film him with some new camera equipment he'd gotten. The musician, Randy Kong, agreed and McCurdy filmed him for several months. He followed Kong to a home where he'd been serenading a terminally ill person weekly for months. He learned that Kong used to play in shock metal bands and that now, Kong plays for the love of the music, positive uplifting music which reflects his upbeat attitude toward life. He is grateful for every dollar tossed into his open guitar case and interrupts his song to thank the generous passerby.

One day last fall, Kong was gone from his usual skywalk gig. When days passed and Kong did not return, McCurdy became concerned. He did some digging and learned Kong had suffered some serious medical problems and was hospitalized.

Last week, Kong was finally well enough to return to the skywalk he loves. McCurdy had a surprise for him. Via Facebook, he organized a Thank You event to support Kong and his music. Hundreds of people turned out at lunchtime on Friday to listen, applaud, and toss their donations into Kong's guitar case.

An uplifting tribute to someone who lifts the spirits of strangers.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Man uses Tesla to stop car with unconscious driver

Manfred Kick was driving his Tesla Model S on the Autobahn near Munich the other night. He noticed a VW Passat ahead of him swerving on the high-speed highway. Kick pulled up alongside and peered at the driver. The man was limp, slumped over the steering wheel, apparently unconscious.

Kick pulled his Tesla in front of the Passat and gradually braked, slowing the runaway car to a safe stop. The quick-thinking Kick then got out of his car, checked for a pulse, and performed first aid, positioning the man so he could breathe. Other drivers stopped and called for help. The man was transported to the hospital after suffering an apparent stroke. He is reported in stable condition.

Kick's expensive car had suffered over $10,000 worth of damage. Because of the nature of the collision, he wasn't sure if insurance would cover it. He told reporters he was just grateful that he was able to help the man get medical attention and that no one was hurt by the runaway car.

Tesla's Elon Musk heard the story. He has offered to expedite and pay all the repair costs associated with Kick's heroic act.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Substitute bus driver sees a mom struggle, builds her a ramp

Thomas Mitchell works as a bus mechanic for Tennessee's Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. Sometimes he's called upon to be a substitute bus driver, as happened one day last fall.

His route that day included pick-up of 10-year-old Lydia DeSpain, who uses a wheelchair. Mitchell watched Lydia's mom Verna struggle to get Lydia and her wheelchair out to the bus. The home's front steps had a portable ramp which was flimsy and too short - it forced Verna to back the wheelchair down a stair before connecting with the start of the ramp. Verna confessed to Mitchell that she worried about Lydia's safety, and that she herself had been injured more than once maneuvering the wheelchair on the awkward setup. Afterward, the conversation and image of the struggling mother haunted Mitchell. 

He decided to act. He spoke with district officials who supported his efforts. Contact was made with the local Lowe's, who donated materials for a proper ramp. Mitchell called Verna DeSpain with the news - he would build a new, customized ramp for Lydia free of charge.

So late last month, Mitchell and four fellow volunteers built a new ramp for the DeSpain's home. Now Verna and Lydia can both be safe as they enter and exit their home.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

31-year-old man takes in ailing 89-year-old neighbor

A few years back, Chris Salvatore, an LA actor, moved to a new apartment. His neighbor across the hall was Norma Cook, an elderly woman who lived alone. The two waved through the window and exchanged greetings in passing, but Chris decided to knock on Norma's door one day to really get to know his neighbor.

He learned that Norma had no relatives nearby and that she had a long list of health issues. Chris volunteered to help where he could.
He drove Norma to appointments, helped her with groceries and meal prep. In general, Chris became 'the grandson' Norma never had.

Then came some hard news - Norma's health had declined. She needed round-the-clock care.

Chris jumped into action. He set up a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of private care. And then, remarkably, he moved Norma into his apartment. He often works from home, so he provides some of the care she needs. That will help keep the overall cost down.

The companionship is good for both Chris and Norma. They now consider themselves 'best friends.'