A single mom just won the largest lottery prize in her home state and announced she will be sharing the fortune with those who need it most.
Last month, 51-year-old Lerynne West was celebrating the purchase of her first home. After she moved into the house in Nedfield, Iowa, she and her sister stopped at a convenience store for pizza and coffee. While she was there, she picked up a Powerball ticket.
“I got my lottery tickets and we went back out to her trunk,” West told Cnbc. “I kind of just set those down at the foot in my purse — or so I thought — and didn’t think of them again until Sunday morning.”
West played lotto regularly but the most she has ever received was $150. After she checked her Powerball ticket numbers, she realized she won the $343.9 million jackpot — the largest lottery prize ever won in Iowa.
West chose to use the money to make an impact. She set up the Callum foundation, a charitable organization which will offer grants to initiatives that will alleviate poverty and hunger and improve education, animal welfare and veteran affairs.
She grew up in a working class family in Earlham, Iowa a small town of 1,450. Her father was a Vietnam veteran and a welder and her mother was a stay-at-home mom.
When she was 14, she worked on farms to “earn money to buy school clothes and help with the family. At 17, I left high school. At 19, I earned my GED. Soon after that, I started my family. I have three awesome, beautiful daughters.”
Aside from the Callum Foundation, which was named after her late premature grandson, she will give money to friends and family and set aside money for her grandchildren’s college tuition.
“I realize this is a life-changing moment,” West said as she claimed her prize at the Iowa lottery headquarters. “I’m excited to share my winnings with family and friends… I also plan to give to the causes and organizations important to my family through our newly-established Callum Foundation.”
“I want you to know that as I stand here today and I know the responsibility that I have to do good with this money,” she said, fighting back tears. “My life changed forever.”
A single mom just won the largest lottery prize in her home state and announced she will be sharing the fortune with those who need it most.
Sometimes strangers can become friends.
Last week, 28-year-old Eric Haralson went to McDonald’s in Noblesville, Indiana with the sole intention of eating breakfast alone. Little did he know that as soon as he sat down — he would obtain company.
A 70-year-old woman named Jan approached Haralson in the restaurant and asked to join him for breakfast.
Haralson responded with an enthusiastic yes.
“My reply was ‘of course’ because that’s just who I am,” Haralson told Today Food. “So she grabbed her food, I pushed her chair out for her and introduced myself.”
After she sat down, both of them spent the next 45 minutes engaging in conversations about life and appreciating each other’s company.
Haralson spoke of his girlfriend and son and Jan spoke of going to church each Sunday and of her artist days.
After breakfast and conversations, Haralson walked her to her car and exchanged phone numbers with the desire to have breakfast again.
Later, Haralson saw a picture of him and Jan on Facebook. A school teacher named Amanda Marquell Craft snapped a photo of their exchange and published it to social media — praising Haralson for his compassion. The photo has been shared thousands of times.
“Shout out to this guy! This elderly lady (seemed to be a little lonely) came up to him and asked if she could sit with him,” Craft wrote.
“My friends and I watched him introduce himself and shake her hand. They talked and laughed together like they were friends. They didn’t know each other and they couldn’t be more different. But today they shared a meal together and it touched our hearts.”
David Leigh, a friend of Jan’s, commented on Haralson’s FB page also expressing his adoration for Haralson’s kindness.
“I know you made Jan’s day that morning of meeting her and allowing her to sit at your table,” Leigh wrote. “I don’t know if you are religious, but she may have been your guardian angel making a visit with you to see if you loved your fellow man… that was a blessed thing you did and keep doing them. God loves you. You truly are a gentleman. My best to you and your future.”
Haralson was glad to have shared a meal with her and was happy to have inspired many people, but he is most glad to have a new friend.
Jan “just wanted some conversation,” according to Haralson, but now her request has sparked interest in many people to lend a helping hand, be kind people, and share their own stories of sitting down with strangers.
He even expressed his admiration for her and exchanged her words of wisdom with Today Food. “She is a wonderful woman,” Haralson said. “She mentioned many times how we all should love one another. And how we should not judge anyone because you never know how their day is going and what they’ve been through.”
Since last Thursday, Haralson had left Jan a voicemail asking to have breakfast with her again and expressing their newfound fame. He still has yet to reconnect with her.
“I’ll keep trying,” he said. “I know if we had forever, she would have a story for me for everyday.”
“Can you lend a hand?” was a question formulated by October Books, an independent bookstore, located in Southhampton, England.
Volunteers were needed for “heavy manual work.” It was crucial for volunteers to lift and carry boxes and office supplies.
Among the supplies included thousands of books.
This question came from October Books after they struggled to afford the rising rent prices of the store they occupied since 1970.
Aside from the price issue, the bookstore had to figure out how to move their stock without having to pay for expensive moving services.
This was when October Books pleaded for volunteers to form a chain between the old store and the new location.
At first only a few showed up, but to their astonishment — over 200 people lined up on the pavement to pass out 2,000 books.
“It was very moving,” Ms. Hynes, a bookstore employee told The New York Times, adding all employees “got choked up” over the community’s help.
Amy Brown, one of the store’s employees told NPR her stunned reaction to the turnout.
“I was handing books to people without actually seeing the entirety of it,” Brown said. “So it was only after about 20 minutes I actually went out to the road and saw the extent of the people.”
“We wanted something that was accessible for the whole family, for children and people who were older who wouldn’t necessarily be able to paint or move heavy pieces, to help out,” Ms. Hynes said.
Even passing pedestrians would jump in to help. Nearby cafe’s even brought teas and coffees for the volunteers.
“It was really sort of surprising and positive and just a really moving experience to see people chipping in because they wanted to help. And they wanted to be part of something bigger,” Brown told NPR.
Overall, the bookstore has bigger plans as well.
“The shop plans to sell the second floor of the former back building to a charity in Southampton to create supportive housing for homeless people and to create a community hub in the back,” Ms. Hynes said.
Every year, students are chosen from around the United States to compete in the nation’s top tier science and math contest. This year, 30 students were chosen from only 14 states, and Washington County’s own high school student in Beaverton is one of them.
Pratik Vangal is a freshmen at Sunset High, but in the eighth-grade at Stoller Middle School, he invented a solution for poor air quality after observing in Bangalore, India at his grandparent’s home the difficult situations many families undergo due to poor ventilation and fires created from wood and trash.
The ventilation system is made out of solar wafers and small desktop computer fans and costs merely $5 per system. When it is wired to the sides of the home, it can clear the air in as short as a minute. Vangal won first place for his fan at the Intel Northwest Science Expo at Portland State University, and it was at this expo that he learned about the prestigious competition.
The competition runs from last Friday through Tuesday and will take into consideration the students’ projects that they will present as well as various scientific and mathematical challenges to test their reasoning and leadership. Winners will be announced this Wednesday.
Read more about Vangal’s project as well as the competition here.
In 2012, a man approached the bicycle ice cream cart with money and a strange request — give his paid for ice cream to someone else.
Later this became Stacey Achterhoff’s inspiration for starting a pay-it-forward ice cream. After Achterhoff’s great aunt died in 2009, she wanted to give ice cream as a means of bringing joy to people.
“I’m a person of faith, and what do you do when terrible things happen? You have to figure out where the light is,” she said.
In 2012, after Achterhoff traveled to Missouri for the sentencing of the young man on trial for murdering her great aunt, she read the family’s statement just feet away from the man.
“He was a lot of little boys that I’d seen,” she said. “He was sentenced to life in prison; my aunt was dead. What happened to a person to end up on that path? What do you do? You either choose to be ridiculously angry or you choose to say “I wonder what happened to that person.”
She thought about the people and community and changes she could bring.
“I had to do something that slows people down and brings them together,” she said.
After she saw a man cycling and delivering ice cream she knew she wanted to sell and give away ice cream.
Later, she connected with Stephen Gallivar of Leprechan’s Dream Cycle who ended up giving her the 411 on popular ice cream treats as well as the truth about delivering ice cream.
“Without getting too mystical, it looks like it’s about selling ice cream,” Gallivan said in a phone interview to the Duluth News Tribune. “When you’re on the street connecting with your community in the way that we do, it’s a lot more than ice-cream. There is something beautiful and magical about it.”
For three summers now, Achtenhoff has established herself as an ice cream vendor in Duluth, Minnesota giving away hundreds of ice cream cones and popsicles bought by community members who have the desire to pay it forward.
She even has a coconut Bliss Bar that is soy, gluten, and dairy-free.
Achterhoff not only sells and gives away ice cream, but she is also a teacher for families in transition for more than 100 kids in kindergarten through fifth grade in Duluth Public schools. She teaches various subjects and even hears stories from children who don’t have happy upbringings.
“The work I do is a gift, a privilege,” she said.
One summer, students were even able to see her transition from teacher to the ice cream saleswoman, wearing the uniform and displaying the bike.
“They stopped calling me ‘Mrs. A’ and started calling me ‘Mrs. Delicious,’” she said.
Meanwhile, Achterhoff will not stop selling and giving away ice cream anytime soon.
The biggest purpose for her, in regards to selling ice cream, is to create interconnectedness and joy in the community.
She refers to her bicycle as her “tenny wennie vehicle for social change.”
“People want to know that goodness is prevailing over evil and they want to be part of that,” Achterhoff told Kare.
“This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy — and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels — and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.”
This excerpt is from the grand jury report for the trial of Gosnell and his constituents, who were found guilty of first-degree murder of newborns as well as two mothers. In what could characterize a serial killer documentary, the report describes how the police walked into a horror site: cat urine, trash scattered everywhere, unsanitized instruments, and most shockingly, newborn feet kept in jars. The trial, in 2011, should have received national coverage, but due to its controversial nature on abortion, it was ignored by many in the press.
Fast foward to October 12, 2018, when the new movie, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, will be released to the public. The movie is based on the research and book of Ann McElhinney, who also drafted the script for the movie along with fellow producer, Phelim McAleer. Both were moved to change their positions on abortion after uncovering the details of Gosnell’s abortion clinic and case. Ann McElhinney states this clearly in her book:
“Reading the testimony and sifting through the evidence in Gosnell’s case, in the research for my book and for writing the script of the movie, has been brutal. I have at times wept at my computer. I have found myself praying the Our Father sitting at my desk when I hadn’t prayed in years. At times when I was confronted with the worst of this story I didn’t know what else to do. I have had a profound sense of the presence of evil in the actions of Gosnell and his staff, and their complete lack of conscience.”
After being released on October 12th, it is receiving widespread attention from conservative and liberal media alike, giving it the attention it deserved seven years ago at the trial. Reviewers are applauding its portrayal of Gosnell’s horror house, describing the movie’s banal depiction of evil as chilling and incredibly moving. One reviewer, Rebecca Hagelin, with the Washington Times stated in her review, “The filmmakers created a brilliant work that shows no graphic details or gore, but simply presents the powerful reality of abortion as described by abortion providers and crime investigators in their actual court testimony.”
Another reviewer, Mike McGranaghan, stated in his review, “On the whole, Gosnell is a well-acted and compelling courtroom drama. Women suffered greatly under Kermit Gosnell’s “care,” as did babies who emerged alive. The story of what he did is, irrespective of the national debate on abortion, important to have told. The film tells that story passionately and with feeling.”
Go see Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer in select theaters October 12th. Check out the official Gosnell movie website for more information.