The week's good news: Sept. 1, 2022
This retiree is cultivating a garden — and community — in Pennsylvania
Jeri "Momma J" Brockington believes in giving to her neighbors, whether it's tomatoes and cucumbers she grows in her backyard or the knowledge she has about gardening. The Ambler, Pennsylvania, resident and Army veteran remembers watching her great-grandmother out in the garden, where she would pick vegetables and give them away. This is where Brockington learned how to build a community, and the retiree told ABC 6 as soon as she bought her home, "I ran straight to this yard and visualized using every area of the space to grow food. I went door to door, introduced myself, and encouraged my neighbors to grow." She started Momma J's Country Gardening as a way to teach her friends and neighbors how to grow vegetables and plants, and it's not just in-person instruction — she records educational videos for her YouTube page, and encourages followers on social media to post pictures of their own crops. Her neighbors know they are always welcome to come over for some fresh produce or to pick up a new gardening tip. "These are times when the only way we're going to get through it is that we work together," Brockington said.
Metal detector detective reunites woman with ring she lost in the ocean
With his metal detector, perseverance, and a little luck, Lou Asci was able to find Francesca Teal's engagement ring after it slipped off her hand and into the water at North Beach in New Hampshire. The ring once belonged to Teal's great-grandmother, and she was desperate to get it back, asking for help on Facebook. Asci saw the message, and knew he could offer some assistance — five years ago, his kids gave him a metal detector, and he's been searching for missing items as a hobby ever since. On Aug. 9, he started looking for the ring at low tide at 4:20 a.m. "We've all lost something that was important to us," he told The Washington Post. "I had to at least put in the effort." And boy did he. When he couldn't find the ring that morning, he came back on the 12th, and when that search failed, he returned to the beach for a third and final time on the 14th. After three hours, right when he was about to head home, Asci's metal detector pinged. He scooped up some sand, and that's when he saw Teal's shiny ring. "I was so overjoyed," he said. So was Teal, who told the Post, "It's amazing that it's his hobby that he can use for such good and give back to someone who is really searching for something."
Denver man builds benches for bus stops without seating
All it took was some scrap wood for James Warren to make a difference in his Denver neighborhood. Earlier this year, Warren noticed a woman at a bus stop sitting in the dirt because there wasn't a bench. "I thought, 'I could do something about that, I can build a bench,'" he told CBS News. His dad builds houses and Warren grew up around tools, so he felt confident he could take scrap wood he collected from neighborhood construction sites and turn it into benches. He built his first bench in just a few hours, and placed it at the bus stop. Since then, he has made eight more benches — "I just kind of let the wood speak to me," he said — with each one displaying the words "Be Kind." Several of his neighbors have said he's inspired them to get involved. "What's been really cool is seeing other people online building their own benches or even just taking chairs they were going to throw out ... and putting them by bus stops instead of letting them go to the landfill," Warren told CBS News.
Custom boots help endangered African penguin get around
With his new padded boots, Lucas, a 4-year-old African penguin at the San Diego Zoo, is back on the move. Over the last few years, Lucas has battled a degenerative foot condition known as bumblefoot. "You would see him listing to the right a bit and you would see him limping on his left foot," Lucas' wildlife care specialist, Debbie Denton, told CBS 8. He received physical therapy, pain medication, and acupuncture treatment, but continued to get sores. That's when the zoo contacted Thera-Paw, a company that makes rehabilitative and assistive products for animals with special needs. After creating a mold of Lucas' foot, Thera-Paw created a custom pair of padded orthopedic boots made of rubber and neoprene. Already, they have made a huge difference in Lucas' life, making him more comfortable on his feet and with the rest of the colony. "There's no limping," Denton said. "There's no favoring his left side." African penguins are endangered, and Denton told CBS 8 she loves seeing Lucas thrive. "As their numbers fall, every individual bird matters," she said. "It's vital that we continue our work to ensure their continued survival for generations to come."
Nebraska man paddles 38 miles in his pumpkin, breaking world record
Duane Hansen hopped inside his giant pumpkin on Saturday, hoping to squash some records — specifically, the Guinness World Record of longest journey by pumpkin boat. The Nebraska man was inspired to try this after meeting a woman at a pumpkin growing seminar who previously held the record. Hansen spent nearly a decade trying to grow a large-enough pumpkin until finally big "Berta" came along. He hollowed out his 846-pound pumpkin, carved out a cupholder on the side, and then went to the Missouri River. Hansen's journey wasn't an easy one — he had "to be on top of it the whole time," he told News Channel Nebraska, as waves threatened to tip his pumpkin over. "You've got to stop everything and just hold on and ride with those waves. That was bad." After paddling for 11 hours in his pumpkin and traveling 38 miles, he broke the previous record held by Rick Swenson, who had floated 25 miles. Hansen is now waiting to be verified by Guinness World Records