Friday, October 19, 2018

Prepping The Path Divided

Sometime in the next few weeks, this blog will announce the release of my new title: The Path Divided. As the sequel (read: conclusion) to the story begun in Risking Exposure, I had my fair share of hurdles in the writing process. After all, the story must continue where the other story left off, all those familiar characters and settings, but it also must offer something different. I'm sure readers will tell me if I accomplished that.

My cover is currently under construction by the super-talented graphic artist Michael Rausch. A print proof was delivered today (sans cover) so I could check the physical layout of the pages. (Needs modification.) With any luck, the book will be ready for readers by early November. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Combating loneliness with 'talking tables'

In recent weeks, signs appeared on some cafe tables in a British supermarket chain: "Reserved for customers in the mood for a chat."

Edward Collett works at the welcome desk as a London-area Sainsbury Supermarket. He notes that  customers come to him for company as much as for shopping questions, which has made him a keen observer of human behavior. A number of regular customers will wait on a longer line just to share a few words with a familiar check-out clerk. Some are elderly and living alone, and seem to use these small exchanges as a way of finding companionship. He sees the same trend in young mothers who spend their days caring for children's needs.

Collett is delighted Sainsbury is doing its part to support England's national Loneliness Initiative. He sees supermarkets and their cafes as the modern equivalent of the village green. He hopes customers take advantage of the opportunity to connect with others. After all, 'people fade away without human company.' 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Small pizzeria has given away over 140,000 slices to local homeless

Shortly after Mike and Jenny Stevens opened their Little Caesar's franchise in Fargo, North Dakota, they saw a homeless man sitting at a nearby gas station. Mike thought he looked hungry, so he brought him a pizza. A few days later, Mike saw someone rummaging through the restaurant's dumpster. He posted this sign in the window, and his mission was born. 

Over the next two years, the pizza giveaway grew. Mike started to deliver pizzas to local homeless shelters, three of which have adopted 'pizza night' as a regular part of their routine. When Mike died of leukemia last year, Jenny and her daughters continued his generous practice. 

 Local patrons wanted to help. Since a single slice costs the Stevens' 50 cents to make, Jenny has set up a box to accept 50 cent donations from customers. She also set up a GoFundMe account to offset the cost of continuing the program. 

With the help of volunteers, the Stevens' franchise has given away over $70,000 worth of pizza, 142,000 slices to date!  About the program, Jenny said, “It’s a small thing that we can do to bring a big difference in their day and it’s just kept going. You have to come together to help each other out. We just do it because it seems like the right thing to do.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

He's given away 1,000 motel nights to hurricane evacuees

While Hurricane Florence was bearing down on Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Jaret Huck put his mom's lessons into action. “Love thy neighbor, right? That’s what you’re supposed to do,” Hucks later told reporters. “My mama taught me that a long time ago.”

Hucks put out the word on Facebook: the motel he owns, Midtown Inn and Cottages, was open to hurricane evacuees. For free. Seriously. Not only that, he disregarded his own No Pets policy and allowed families to bring their dogs, cats, turtles, and even a pet squirrel. 

Local businesses and individuals got wind of Hucks' generosity. In the days after the storm, donations of food, ice, diapers, and toiletries rolled in, making Midtown an epicenter for relief efforts. To date, Hucks has given away over 1,000 free nights to the area's poorest and most vulnerable families. The local community has provided them three meals a day, plus shoes, clothes, and more.  

For his generosity, Hucks was given the national Jefferson Award. While honored by this, he insists his best reward is a more humble one: the crayon-scrawled thank you cards and pictures which now decorate his office.   

Friday, October 5, 2018

Customer complains about service given by employee with special needs. Owner says they 'hire ALL God's children'

A customer at the Pizza Inn in Greenville, South Carolina had a complaint - he asked an employee to refill a lettuce bowl and it wasn't done.  

The manager stepped in and privately explained to the customer that over half the kitchen staff have special needs. They are each trained to do a specific task. Refilling the lettuce bowl was not that particular employee's job. Dissatisfied with this explanation, the customer suggested potential diners be made aware of the circumstances

Owner Amanda Cartaigne responded by posting a sign on the door: "We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and hire ALL of God's children." Cartaigne later told reporters her employees "are like my kids. I wanted to do something that was not rude, but got my point across."

The employees and their family members appreciate Cartaigne's support and the opportunity the job provides. One employee's mother said"He loved the fact that he has money in the bank and he can actually go buy his favorite video game." 

About her employees who have special needs, Cartaigne said"If you have the patience to let them take their time and learn at their pace, when the light bulb comes on, they are unstoppable."