ACROSS AMERICA — Grateful doesn’t begin to describe the sentiments Joanne Goerler shared with Beatriz Salles Rodrigues when the two women met for the first time a few days before Thanksgiving.
Their journey actually began 22 years ago when Rodrigues, of Framingham, Massachusetts, decided to become a stem cell donor.
Goerler, who lives on New York’s North Fork peninsula, learned her blood platelet count was low when she had some routine bloodwork done in 2018. From there, every treatment she had led her to the moment she met Rodrigues, whose stem cell donations had saved her life.
“What an amazing journey,” Goerler said when the two women met. By Lisa Finn for North Fork Patch
Below are 14 more stories that will lift your spirits from Patch editors across the country.
Kindness Is Easy, Even In Pandemic
It doesn't take much to be kind. But it takes a lot to spearhead an entire city being kind, and that's what some Melrose, Massachusetts, residents did. Random Acts of Kindness Day was Nov. 20. Like almost everything else this year, the observance that has been celebrated for the past five years in Melrose looked different. There was no random hugging, but Maribeth Darwin, Stephanie Nelson and their cadre of "kindness warriors" didn't let the pandemic stop them from sharing the love. By Mike Carraggi for Melrose Patch
To Preserve It, Own It First
Give Siree Morris a vacant lot, and there's a good chance the Newark, New Jersey, native who is proud of his hometown will spin it into gold. Having recently built a thriving drive-in moving theater, the real estate entrepreneur has set his sights on a new challenge: helping Newark create more affordable housing so more people can realize the American dream. “The only way to preserve our community is to own it,” Morris said. “I want us to act on the endless opportunities and influence that real estate affords.” By Eric Kiefer for Newark Patch
Glass Shards On NHL Ice
Metaphorically, 28-year-old Palos Heights, Illinois, native Kendall Coyne Schofield left shards of glass on the Chicago Blackhawks ice when she became the first woman ever to serve as the club’s player development coach and youth hockey growth specialist. She knows she’ll need to earn the respect and trust of players, just as any coach would. “There’s a work ethic I will show them that’s how I made it as a player and how I plan to make it as a coach,” she said at a news conference. “I might be the first female coach a lot of these players have worked with. I don’t see it being an issue.” By Lorraine Swanson for Palos Patch
A Worthy Woman
Through her Red Tent Women’s Initiative, Barbara Rhode helps women serving time at Florida’s Pinellas County Jail turn negative coping skills — such as relying on drugs and alcohol to numb lingering pain caused by sexual assault or other trauma — into positive behavior. “Most of them never connected the dots about the trauma and how to cope,” said Rhode, whose work made her a national finalist for a L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award. “They want to learn how to process these traumas and develop healthy responses.” By Skyla Luckey for St. Pete Patch
Is This A Mistake?
Preparing to voluntarily shutter his business as the coronavirus resurges, Brendan Ring, the owner of an iconic jazz club in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, chased a customer outside over a tip that was far out of line for what the guy had ordered: a single Stella Artois beer that cost $7.50. Ring was sure the tip — for $3,000! — was a mistake. No mistake, the guy assured, adding he’d see Ring when the club reopens. By Chris Mosby for Cleveland Heights
Countering “Everything Negative”
Fort Worth, Texas, fifth-grader Orion Jean added a Thanksgiving twist to his “Race to Kindness” initiative. In that effort, he gathered 600 toys and donated them to a children’s hospital to counter “everything negative,” he said, telling CNN, “I knew that helping people could have an impact — it was what we needed right now.” In his latest effort, the 10-year-old made it his mission to donate 100,000 meals to people in need across the Lone Star State. By Tim Moran for Dallas Patch
Sewing In Service To Veterans
LouAnna Kelly has a soft spot for veterans. The Braintree, Massachusetts, 13-year-old’s name is a combination of great-grandparents’ first names — Louis and Anna — and both were World War II veterans. She wanted to be of service to others during the pandemic. “There's not a lot a 13-year-old can do during a deadly pandemic,” her mother said. “You can only do what you got the power to do, and she said, 'I can make masks.’ ” She has now turned out hundreds of them and recently received a special citation from the Braintree mayor, who called her “an exceptional young lady.” By Jimmy Bentley for Braintree Patch
Takeover At A Grocery Store
The takeover of the cash registers at a grocery store in Decatur, Georgia, lasted about two hours. Armed with kindness and goodwill, five entrepreneurs on whom fortune has shined checked out customer after customer and paid for their groceries. By the time register tapes were tallied, they’d spent $40,000. “I’m still floating on cloud nine after seeing those faces and getting all those hugs from the grannies and wiping those tears,” one of the men told local news station WWL. “It was just a good feeling. A lot of us come from those situations and that type of background. So we understand the true meaning of giving back and pouring back into our community.” By Tim Moran for Decatur Patch
Thanksgiving On The Go
It’s been the long-standing tradition of several restaurants in Hudson County, New Jersey, to open their doors on Thanksgiving and serve a free dinner to people who are alone, in need or homeless, or just doesn’t know how to or want to cook a turkey. Determined this year, of all years, the tradition would continue, they cooked the kind of Thanksgiving meal guests have become accustomed to over 20 years and handed out to-go packages to accommodate pandemic social distancing measures. By Caren Lissner for Hoboken Patch
Da Bears! Now That’s Loyalty.
The day Paul Videtich retired from his job as a computer tomography technologist at a New Lenox, Illinois, hospital was another terrible one. The state reported 126 people had died of COVID-19. It was the third straight day the pandemic death toll had surpassed 100 in Illinois. Videtich’s co-workers found a way to sprinkle some joy into the grief they’ve all been feeling over the past months: a knock at his door by former Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie and Staley Da Bear, the NFL team’s official mascot. Videtich has been a season ticket holder since 1992 and hasn’t missed a single game in 28 years. By Nikki Gaskins for Shorewood Patch
Tyler Perry’s Grand Gesture
Atlanta movie mogul Tyler Perry’s charitable act through his Perry Foundation are well known around Atlanta. Moved by news footage of thousands of Americans lined up at food banks, Perry donated 5,000 Thanksgiving meals to folks around Atlanta, handing out food boxes and gift cards during an event at his movie studio. By Tim Moran for Atlanta Patch
The Beauty Of Social Distancing
Her normal activities limited by the coronavirus crisis, Kingstowne, Virginia, resident Jessica Bowser decided to complete the Virginia State Parks Trail Quest Challenge and visit all 39 state parks. She has some tips for others who may be interested: First, it’s doable, though it may require a strategy. Some are easier to reach than others. She started by knocking out those near metropolitan areas, then planned far in advance so she could capture the full experience of those in the southwest part of the state. “They are incredibly diverse, especially when it comes to the ecosystems,” she said. “There is everything from swamps to rolling hills to canyons, and they're just incredible.” By Emily Leayman for Kingstowne-Rose Hill Patch
Update: Rocky — the name given the tiny, hardy owl who made a strange journey to Midtown Manhattan in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree — is soaring again. The Northern saw-whet owl spent some time at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York, and then was released back into the wild. “She is a tough little bird, and we're happy to see her back in her natural habitat,” the center wrote. “We are sure that Rocky will feel your love and support through her journey south.” By Nick Garber for Midtown-Hell’s Kitchen Patch
Patch Editors Help With Hunger
Several Patch editors pooled their money and donated a carload of groceries (lead photo) to a food bank in Orange County, California, where hunger has tripled since March. The California editors made their donation to support Patch’s “Hunger In America” social good project connecting readers with Feeding America food banks and local food pantries and kitchens. LaShanda Maze, who works at the Community Action Partners OC Food Bank, says the need for food could become more urgent at year’s end, when pandemic unemployment insurance is set to expire. By Ashley Ludwig for Orange County Patch
You Can Help
Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness on behalf of the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that in 2020, more than 50 million Americans will not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch social good project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. Find out how you can donate in your community or find a food pantry near you.