The office in charge of Pope Francis’ acts of charity announced the opening of a laundromat for Rome’s poor and homeless. Dubbed the “Lavenderia di Papa Francesco” (“Pope Francis Laundry”) this service was inspired by the pope’s call for “concrete signs of mercy” during the Year of Mercy in 2016.
“Here, then, is…a place and service to give a concrete form of charity and mercy to restore dignity to so many people who are our brothers and sisters,” said the Papal Almoner’s office.
The laundromat will be located in a complex run by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, which provides other services for the poor such as showers, a medical clinic, and a barber shop. Whirlpool Corporation donated the new washers and dryers and Procter & Gamble will donate free supplies of detergent and fabric softener, according to the Papal Almoner.
Last month, KATU news honored 91-year-old Jean Pierce in its “Everyday Heroes” feature for her longtime service to Portland. Pierce has volunteered for Store to Door, a nonprofit which delivers groceries to seniors and individuals with disabilities, for over three decades.
Pierce believes her biweekly shopping trips for Store to Door have enabled her to remain mobile into her ninth decade. “I credit the fact that I’m still moving around on doing this,” she explained.
Store to Door’s 400 volunteers strive to foster relationships with the customers they serve. According to Executive Director Kiersten Ware, these relationships help the organization meet clients’ needs: “We know our clients . . . so they’re more likely to tell us if they have an additional need,” Ware said.
Ware believes Pierce embodies Store to Door’s commitment to the home-bound. “If you were to ask me if there was a hero, someone I would want to follow in their footsteps, I would say it’s Jean [Pierce],” she said.
Store to Door volunteers will continue to have a role model in Pierce–despite her age, she intends to continue serving her community as long she can. “It makes me feel good to be doing something for somebody else,” she told KATU. “That’s it.”
Oregon police officers rescued two ducklings from a Salem storm drain, where they were trapped for several days. “Fish and Wildlife Division Senior Trooper Hunter (Salem Area Command) and Recruit Denny (OSU Patrol Office) were dispatched to a call of several baby ducklings trapped in a storm drain at the corner of Airport Road and Mission Street in Salem, Oregon,” the Oregon State Police Facebook page stated.
According to witnesses, a mother duck attempted to cross a street with her ten ducklings, when two of them fell through a grate and disappeared into the drain.
City workers contributed to the rescue operation, and removed storm grates and a manhole cover so the officers could lift the ducklings to safety in a net. The ducklings rejoined their mother and eight siblings in a nearby canal.
OSP’s Facebook page noted that individuals from several government departments–including Salem’s Public Works Department and ODOT–cooperated with the officers to assist the ducks. The page described the incident with the hashtag, “#Teamwork.”
On Saturday, March 25th, North Carolina native Oscar Davis Jr. finally received the Purple Heart he earned during WWII exactly 72 years, one month and two weeks ago. Davis had been assigned to “Animal” Company of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was wounded while serving as a radiotelephone operator during the Battle of the Bulge.
Pvt. Davis was knocked down by a piece of German shrapnel while his unit was under shellfire. The radio on his back protected him from immediate death. The shells struck a nearby tree, which fell on Davis, causing a spinal injury that paralyzed him from the waist down for three weeks. Once Davis recovered, he rejoined his unit in Germany.
Davis had been told years ago that he would receive the Purple Heart, an award that recognizes troops wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States. Unfortunately, the paperwork for the award was never signed.
The medal ceremony took place in a dining room at Heritage Place in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The 92 year-old veteran was smiling as Lt. Col. Marcus Wright, commander of the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, pinned it to his jacket. “This has been some day,” said Davis. “I couldn’t believe all this was going to happen. I just want to thank the Lord.”
Family and friends of Davis’ attended the ceremony, along with soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and 82nd Airborne Division.
“All I can say about this is ‘Wow’,” Lt. Col. Wright said. “I’m absolutely honored to be here today.” Wright presided over the whole event.
After the medal was awarded, soldiers from A Company presented Davis with a unit coin and a shirt. Dozens of people lined up to shake Davis’ hand. The medal ceremony was the result of almost two years of work undertaken by the Veterans’ Legacy Foundation, a North Carolina-based organization that helps veterans receive the awards that are owed to them. Volunteers searched an entire archive of war reports for proof of Davis’ injuries, said foundation director John Elscamp. In 2015, the Veterans’ Legacy Foundation helped Davis receive the Bronze Star and other awards that he had earned but never collected.
When Kelso, Washington students heard that their teacher needed a new wheelchair, they decided to act. The students organized a GoFundMe campaign to purchase a new electric wheelchair for substitute instructor John Jankins. An overwhelming response from donors enabled them to collect over $32,000 in less than one week.
Jankins, who is affected by cerebral palsy, rides his motorized wheelchair to and from Kelso High School, where he has worked for almost thirty years. Jankins’ students couldn’t imagine Kelso High without him: “Rain or shine Mr. Janke has been a part of Kelso classrooms for years. His presence has touched the lives of countless students/staff and now it’s time to show our appreciation,” the students’ GoFundMe page read.
The students initially aimed to raise $25,000, but an outpouring of support for Jankins prompted the students to increase their fundraising goal to $30,000. Extra funds will cover the cost of future wheelchair repairs.
Multnomah County is searching for homeowners in the Portland area who are willing to donate their backyards so they can build tiny homes to shelter homeless people. Nearly 1,900 people sleep outside each night in Portland, with many more sleeping in shelters. The county would build the home, called an Accessory Dwelling Unit, at no cost to the homeowner. A homeless person or family would live in the ADU for five years and after that time, the homeowner would have unrestricted use of the building.
“Shelter beds are amazingly critical,” said Mary Li, the director of Multnomah Idea Lab. “They save lives but none of us wants to think of anyone, particularly a family of children living in a shelter for any period of time. What this does is offer the ability of the homeowner to utilize underutilized space in their backyard.”
Amy Talbert has been homeless for almost a year and is now pregnant with twins. Talbert and her husband have been looking for stable housing since their home in Baton Rouge was flooded.
“I have PTSD and my husband has PTSD, and in the shelters, you are in such close proximity…you don’t feel safe, you don’t feel secure, there’s no privacy,” said Talbert.
She explained that even married couples often get separated in shelters. She and her husband decided to stay in a tent instead. She likes the idea of a tiny home better.
“I think it would be a complete blessing,” Talbert said. “It wouldn’t be a tent. It would be safe and stable.”
According to Li, these homes aren’t meant to be “forever homes,” but safe places for families to live while they search for a permanent home. The county prefers that the donated backyards come from homes close to services such as public transit, public schools, grocery stores, and daycares. The tenants of the ADU would benefit from social services through A Home For Everyone. A tax abatement program is in the works which would exempt homeowners from paying additional taxes.
Multnomah County officials plan to start with just four housing units but hope to expand the program. The county is currently seeking homeowners interested in helping the homeless in a huge way. Two hundred homeowners have already expressed interest in donating their backyards. To sign up, click here.