The week's good news: April 28, 2022
With his custom bowl, this 12-year-old raised $325,000 for Ukrainian kids
Gabriel Clark found a way to combine his woodworking skills with his sense of philanthropy. The 12-year-old lives in Cumbria, England, and has been making bowls and other objects since he first picked up his grandfather's hammer as a young child. Clark spends hours a day on his creations, which he has been selling to raise money for a mountain bike. After his father tweeted about his talents, Gabriel suddenly had thousands of social media followers and orders, and decided to make a bowl to raffle off, with all donations going to Save the Children to help kids in Ukraine. The bowl has blue and yellow rings, as a nod to the Ukrainian flag. Gabriel's initial goal was to raise £5,000 ($6,378), but he surpassed that number almost immediately, ultimately raising £255,000 ($325,217). The raffle winner was announced last weekend, but donations continued to come in. Gabriel told BBC News he was "blown away" by the response, but his decision to help others came as no surprise to his mom, Teresa McCann Clark, who told People, "The main thing about Gabriel, he's got a really, really big heart."
Farm animals — and people — find healing at this New York sanctuary
Two decades ago, Kathy Stevens followed her heart, leaving behind a career in education to start an animal sanctuary. Since opening in 2001, her 150-acre Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York, has directly rescued over 5,000 farm animals, from goats to pigs to cows. Animals are "in my DNA," Stevens told Hudson Valley 360. "I grew up on a farm and I've known since I came out of the womb practically that there's more to them than most people have the opportunity to understand." While Stevens might not be teaching in a classroom, she is educating people at the sanctuary, whether it's members of the public on weekend tours or kids making virtual visits to the farm. She doesn't work alone; there are volunteers who feed the animals and clean their living spaces. "I feel at peace when I'm around the animals and it's very healing to be at the sanctuary," volunteer Dawn Freedman said in a statement, adding, "Deep in my heart I know that while I'm helping the animals, they are helping me, too."
The world's largest wildlife crossing is now being built in California
Spanning 10 lanes of Highway 101, the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing aims to change the fortunes of mountain lions and other animals living in the Santa Monica Mountains. Last week, crews started breaking ground on the $87 million wildlife crossing in Agoura Hills, California, and once it's completed — the goal is by 2025 — it will be the largest such corridor in the world, CBS Los Angeles reports. The 165-foot-wide crossing will connect the Santa Monica Mountains with the Simi Hills, about 10 feet above the freeway. To make sure animals use the crossing, it will be surrounded by trees, bushes, and sound barriers, so the cars and traffic below don't scare the creatures away. Urban development and freeways have genetically isolated mountain lions in the region, and researchers estimate that the animals will become extinct within 50 years unless there is an influx of genetic diversity. In addition to being a potential lifesaver for mountain lions, the wildlife crossing is an "engineering marvel," the National Wildlife Federation's Beth Pratt told CBS Los Angeles.
Skills are learned and memories made at hair-braiding class for dads
Preconceived notions were shattered during Annis Waugh's hair-braiding class for dads. Waugh owns Braid Maidens in St. Albans, England, and as part of a fundraiser for a local elementary school, she set up workshops for parents. After realizing she never had a man enroll in any of her hair-braiding classes, Waugh designed a course called "Beers and Braids," hoping it would appeal to dads. The class sold out, with dozens of fathers signing up for the waiting list. Waugh taught the dads about hair textures and types, and demonstrated brushing and braiding techniques. The men practiced on plastic heads, and "were super engaged and really enthusiastic learners," Waugh told The Washington Post. John Hardern signed up for the class so he could help his daughters get ready for school, and told the Post learning how to braid hair with other dads boosted his confidence. "It shouldn't just be one gender doing stuff like this," Hardern said. "The more we do and share the load, the better it is for my daughters."
A black cat named Jinx was briefly the mayor of Hell, Michigan
Jinx, a rescue cat from California whose unusually large eyes and feet have garnered her hundreds of thousands of social media followers, made history on Sunday when she became the first cat to serve as the mayor of Hell, Michigan. Located about 20 miles from Ann Arbor, the city has a program where anyone can pay $100 for the honor of presiding over Hell for one day. Jinx's owner, Mia, signed her up, and this trailblazer has now opened doors for other pets who want to rule Hell. Because it's a temporary gig, Jinx wasn't able to outlaw dogs or make hourly treats mandatory. Hell's mayors do, however, receive a proclamation certificate, souvenir mugs and T-shirts, a certificate of impeachment, and even some property: one square inch of Hell. Jinx was sworn in over the phone by Reverend Vonn of Hell, who told MLive.com, "We love our in-person and distant mayors."