Janitor gets the suprise of a lifetime

Janitor gets the suprise of a lifetime

Herman Gordon, a 65-year-old deemed a beloved and hardworking custodian at Bristol University got surprised with a luxury vacation by 230 university students back in June.

Bristol students spoke of their appreciation and love for Gordon on their school Facebook page.

On this page, a student noted that Herman had not been able to see his Jamaican family for four years. As a result, students worked together to raise money for his trip.

University students donated to a JustGiving page and managed to raise over $2,000; enough for a one-week vacation to Jamaica for Herman and his wife Denise.  

Herman broke into tears when students handed him the envelope of cash. Students posted his reaction and it circulated to many social media sites.

The couple finally got to celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary for two nights at the Sandals Resort in Moteye Bay, enjoying a couple’s massage and a candlelight dinner before heading off to see Herman’s family.

After Herman posted photos of his luxurious treatment, he personally thanked the Bristol students: “God Bless you all. Everybody will see this and think that I’m a trillionaire.”

Denise also thanked the students. “I just wanted to say thank you to all the University of Bristol students for this gift that they have given to me and Herman.”

The students spoke of how it was an act that Herman deserved. A student said this about Herman on the school’s social media fundraising page:

“All year round, this man works hours on end to provide us with a clean working space to study. But most importantly, his undying positive energy and chit-chat has managed to turn many students’ dark days into positive ones filled with joy. Whether you’re just generally down and stressed out due to exams, Herman is always there to speak to you.”

Another student also had something else to say about Herman.

“This legend proves that happiness is not about what you own, what job you have or how much money you’ve got, but about appreciating what you currently have in life.”

A North Carolinan church gives 20,000 meals to those affected by flooding

A North Carolinan church gives 20,000 meals to those affected by flooding

A North Carolinan church gives 20,000 meals to those affected by flooding

For seven hours, 125 volunteers aged 60, 70, and 80 works under the scorching sun giving 20,000 hot meals and water to those affected by Hurricane Florence.

They work twice a day, sleeping on the floor in church classrooms and eat the same food they serve. For one instance that meant chicken patties on rolls, with sides of carrots and applesauce.

The volunteers not only hand out food and water, but are also working on rebuilding houses caused by the 2016 Hurricane Matthew.

The volunteers attempted to restore the 200 houses for the Lumberton residents, but did not reach that goal because Hurricane Florence came in and damaged the same area.

According to Duke Energy, floodwaters are supposed to continue for another week and homes will remain inaccessible. Stores do not have electricity and many store doors are shattered.

From NBC News, Carole Allen, a 54-year-old volunteer, said, “South Lumberton and West Lumberton have never recovered from Matthew, it has been a ghost town for the past two years.” Allen is a substitute teacher for Lumberton’s school district, but spends more time volunteering.

“We have so many people who couldn’t evacuate because they couldn’t afford to,” Allen said. “We don’t have family anywhere else, we don’t have money to get gas and get out of here, we can’t leave what we do have here, so the mindset is because of poverty, they can’t get out and put themselves in a better situation.”

Allen’s home had not been affected by the flooding, however; not all volunteers were fortunate. 18-year-old volunteer Bradley Abbot, a student at the University of North Carolina Pembenton had the flooding effect the house he shares with his brother and father.

“Right now we’re at my grandfather’s house,” Abbott said, as he gave out water. “Everyone just keeps working… gonna keep doing that until we find out what to do because the water isn’t even recording yet.”

This is the second time Abbot’s father had to deal with hurricane damage since Hurricane Matthew.

Despite the prediction of more flooding, volunteers will continue to hand out meals and rebuild Lumberton.

“People are hot, they’re tired, they’re sunburned,” said 20-year-old volunteer Steven Loven. “But as long as the Lord’s work’s not done, then ours isn’t either.”


A California nurse learns she saved a doctor’s life 28 years ago

A California nurse learns she saved a doctor’s life 28 years ago

It was a blast from the past when Brandon Seminatore, a doctor, and nurse Vilma Wong reconnected.

Wong, 54, has worked as a neonatal nurse for 32 years at the hospital in Palo Alto, California.

One day, curiousity catapulted at her brain after she saw the name Seminatore on a young doctor’s ID badge.

Approximately, 30 years ago, there was a premature baby with the same last name Wong cared for. The baby weighed 2 pounds and 6 ounces and was born at 29 weeks on April 19, 1990.

After Seminatore settled into his job, Wong had asked Seminatore about his background.

“She asked me if I grew up in this area, he said. “I said, ‘yes I was actually born in this hospital.’”

Wong knew the name sounded familar. “I kept asking where he was from and he told me that he was from San Jose, California, and that, as a matter of fact, he was a premature baby born at our hospital,” Wong said. “I then got very suspicious because I remember being the primary nurse to a baby with the same last name.”

Seminatore’s mother told him about a nurse she and his father bonded with during his time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 40 days.

Another nurse worked with Wong. His mother had urged him to find both nurses when he was on his month-long rotation at the hospital’s NICU. “They were wonderful nurses,” his mom, Laura Seminatore said. “They helped calm a lot of our fears.”

“My mother said, ‘look for Vilma,’ he recalled. “She was our favorite nurse. She took care of you.”

Very soon, Seminatore questioned if he knew this nurse and Wong was still suspicious.

“There was a big silence,” Wong said. “And then he asked if I was Vilma.”

Seminatore immediately texted his parents when he and Wong reunited in the NICU.  

Recently, the nurse and doctor took a photo together in the NICU. Now, Seminatore is a few inches taller and wearing scrubs. Both have elated smiles on their faces.

Wong is not considering retirement any time soon because she loves her job too much.

“As a nurse, it’s kind of like your reward,” she said. Seminatore agrees. “She cares deeply for her patients, to the point that she was able to remember a patient’s name almost three decades later.”

It was such an awe-inspiring event for Seminatore and Wong that both not stop smiling.

“In the end I didn’t have to look for Vilma,” he said. “She found me. We smiled that whole day.”

Divided Opinions over a Swastika on a church bell

Divided Opinions over a Swastika on a church bell

Out of all places in the world, I would not expect nazism to occur in Germany, another country I consider home. Afterall, Germany has outlawed the glorification of nazism.

This leads me to question: is the engraved swastika on a church bell in Herxheim Am berg, Germany a matter of glorification? In other words, should the swastika be taken down? Many native Germans had various positions in regard to my question.

The swastika on the bell was put up in 1934 by a Nazi mayor in Herxheim am Berg, a village composed of 750 people in the wine country. The swastika reads, “everything for the Fatherland- Adolf Hitler.”

Herxheim native and former organ player for the church, Sigrid Peters, refused to continue playing her organ during church services after finding out about the bell.

“People have been getting married under the swastika and they didn’t even know it,” Peters said.

When Peters spoke up, this “Nazi bell” became popular among German news. The local church ordered the ringing to stop, the church body offered to pay for a replacement and Jewish organizations insisted it be taken down.

Despite the Herxheim village deemed a “Nazi village,” mayor Georg Welker will not take down the bell.

“We will not allow the rest of the world to dictate what we do with our bell,” Welker said.

Welker also mentioned the pertience of the bell’s history.

“It’s a monument of history,” he said. “We shouldn’t forget that history or pretend it didn’t happen. That is why the bell should stay.”

Despite the importance of history, Germany, a country I call home and adore; it is scarred. The country was dictated by a man motivated by hate responsible for the mass killing of six million Jews and other groups such as homosexuals, those with mental or physical challenges and other races.

Germany has moved forward as a country and should not allow to have what happened in the past occur again.

Markus Krass, a metal worker and Herxheim native, shares my view agreeing that the bell must go and does more harm than good.

“We’re talking about a bell that was hung during National Socialism and is dedicated to a mass murderer,” he said. “Our whole postwar identity in Germany is built on a break from that history.”

The bell must go, there is no doubt.  Neo Nazis already organized a march in the village since the bell became of popular German news. One native villager noted her experience.

“It was scary. They were very professional,” she said, who saw the march with her 2-year-old son and 90-year-old father.

Moreover, I understand the emotional ties the bell has for some individuals, much like Dora Jetter, who has lived in the village her entire life. She was 12 when she wrote a school essay about the 1934 bell arrival ceremony. She described it as “splendid.”

I also understand this perspective. I understand the nostalgia, but I believe it should be taken down as it spews hate, it is seen as living in the past and it leaves a huge scar from what happened in the past.

Having the swastika remain on the bell will demonstrate a practice of hate to younger generations. What kind of example would that be if their parents and grandparents supported a belief of hate?

The village should not have to worry about marches coming to town. Most importantly, history should not repeat itself.

Although, I do not live in Herexim, the situation still has an affect on me. I was heartbroken to find out this issue still occured today, in my other country.  I do not condone this behavior. Our world has enough suffering and problems, this bell shoudn’t add to the fire.

No one is born with hate, it’s something that evolves overtime. If Germany were to get rid of this bell, it would be a step to assuaging hate. History should not be repeated, especially if it had a terrible outcome.

Portland Syrian Refugee gets a full ride College Scholarship

Portland Syrian Refugee gets a full ride College Scholarship

At 12 years old, Rama Youssef fled her home in Damascus, Syria and faced bullying from American middle schoolers. At 16, she paved her way into De Salle North Catholic High School, in North Portland.

In March 2012, Youssef, recalled an exploding bomb close to where she attended middle school.

“It was then that my mother decided we had to leave,” Youssef said.

Her mother chose to seek asylum in Germany and her father remained in Syria, where he still resides. Youssef joined her older sister in America, who had previously married a Syrian- American man. That summer of 2012, she arrived in San Diego on a tourist visa.

Youssef started seventh grade in San Diego, speaking no English. She was anxious and shy, she revealed. Her classmates targeted her for being a foreginer.

“I was called a terroist by some of them,” she said.

But life got better for her. She made friends and became fluent in English. She felt as if her life got better by her second year of highschool.

Then in 2016, Youseef, her sister, and her sister’s husband all moved to Oregon, after her sister’s husband obtained a job at a furniture store in Portland.

Following the move, it was the summer of 2016 when Youssef worked at the Subway franchise, on North Interstate Avenue, where she became intrigued in the old-fashioned brick De Salle private school, a few blocks away.

Youssef was not sure if she would get admitted, as the school rarely permitted outside transfers.

She sealed her chance, after meeting with the school’s president, Tim Hennessy.

“There was this young girl on my couch, and she started to tell her story, she started to cry,” he recalled, who retired from De Salle last December. “She really touched my heart. Her story touched my heart.”

Youssef began her junior year at the school a few days later.

The school’s untraditional curriculum offers classes only for four days a week and requires students to work one day a week with a Portland-area business. Youssef worked with Williamette Week and became involved with numerous social justice issues. She advocated rights for immigrants and volunteered with Syrian refugees who recently resettled in Oregon.

Although she was experiencing opportunities, her immigration status was another obstacle to endure. Her status allowed her to work and live in America without fear of deportation, but did not allow her to recieve finanical aid.

De Salle president and Stephanie Barnhart, a friend and mentor of Youssef’s, encouraged her to try for finincial aid. Youssef was persistent with applying for schools and scholarships.

“She completely worked her butt off,” said Barnhart, who helped edit more than 24 scholarship applications Youssef submitted.

Her hardwork eventually paid off. California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA, offered her a full scholarship of $40,000 a year. However, she still has to deal with the costs of room and board, which escalated to another $15,000.

With that, Youssef had to work three jobs. She was a cashier at Dick’s Sporting Goods, a tennis instructor for kids, and a receptionist at Williamette Week.

She also started a GoFundMe page to help cover her room and board, which raised more than $10,000.

According to Youssef, the hardest thing she has faced was figuring out how to pay for college. 

“There were moments when I thought it wasn’t possible,” she said.

Overall, she is grateful for this opportunity. She hopes to become a dentist in the future. 

“America’s thrown a lot of opportunities my way,” she said. I’ve taken every single one of them. I want to give back to my country and help those in need with dental care. I want to be part of organizations that go to developing countries, risking their lives to help others. I want to work hard to give my parents better lives and get the chance to see them again.”