Single Mom wins state’s largest ever lotto prize and starts a charitable organization

Single Mom wins state’s largest ever lotto prize and starts a charitable organization

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.”

Unexpected Pair became Friends and Touched Thousands of Hearts

Unexpected Pair became Friends and Touched Thousands of Hearts

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.”

 

 

Texas seeks ban on fetal dismemberment

Texas seeks ban on fetal dismemberment

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will consider Texas’ ban on fetal dismemberment, reports the Texas Tribune.

In 2017, Texas legislators passed Senate Bill 8, which prohibited doctors from performing abortions via “dilation and evacuation”–grasping and extracting fetal tissue with surgical instruments. After a federal judge blocked the measure, Texas sought to reinstate the bill before the Fifth Circuit Court.

Justices on the court heard arguments from Texas attorneys and litigators from pro-abortion groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood. Texas assistant solicitor general Heather Gebelin Hacker deemed dilation and evacuation a “barbaric” procedure. “It’s illegal to kill an animal that way in Texas, we wouldn’t execute a murderer that way, and notably the abortion providers don’t tell women that that’s what the procedure entails,” Hacker stated.

Hacker noted that less harmful abortion methods, such as potassium chloride injections, have a proven safety record and are currently available at abortion clinics. Thus, Texas’ ban on fetal dismemberment would not affect abortion access in the state.

Center for Reproductive Rights counsel Janet Crepps, meanwhile, responded that the ban was “invasive” and “medically unnecessary,” and that potassium chloride injections increase patients’ risk for complications. “Just the idea the state thinks that’s what’s within its power is contrary to the whole idea that women have a right to autonomy, dignity,” Crepps added.

Judges on the Fifth Circuit Court asked litigators to interpret Alabama’s dilation and evacuation ban, which was struck down by the Eleventh circuit Court of Appeals. The justices also sought clarification on potassium chloride injections.

Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller told reporters after the hearing that alternative abortion methods, such as injections, are “absolutely not the standard of care.” Referring to Alabama’s failed dilation and evacuation law, Miller stated, “I really lean on the fact that a [dilation and evacuation] ban hasn’t withstood these kind of proceedings to date.”

Emily Horne, a senior legislative associate for Texas Right to Life, expressed a different view. “It comes down to we’re really talking about a modest restriction on a very brutal abortion procedure while the child is alive,” she said.

Observers expect the court to issue its ruling in the next few months.

 

 

A Human Chain of Volunteers Offer to Move Thousands of Books

A Human Chain of Volunteers Offer to Move Thousands of Books

“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.




Beaverton Student Invents Contraption for Poor Air Quality

Beaverton Student Invents Contraption for Poor Air Quality

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.

She screams, they scream for Pay it Forward Ice Cream

She screams, they scream for Pay it Forward Ice Cream

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.