- 1. Chef learns sign language in order to communicate with deaf diners
- 2. Friends wanting to 'normalize being kind' surprise Alabama waitress with massive tip
- 3. After 40 years of rejections, Maryland writer sells his 1st screenplay
- 4. Dog's works of art raise $3,000 for rescue organization
- 5. Woman reunites with her nanny after 25 years apart
1. Chef learns sign language in order to communicate with deaf diners
Chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi wants everyone who enters his restaurant to feel welcome, and when he learned that a deaf couple had a reservation for dinner, he decided to learn American Sign Language (ASL) in order to communicate with them. Sekiguchi owns Tatsu Dallas, which offers omakase, or a meal with dishes selected by the chef. In this setting, the chef will go into detail about the food being prepared. Before their dinner at Tatsu Dallas, Melissa Keomoungkhoun and her husband Victor Montiel contacted the restaurant to let them know they are deaf and had questions about how they might communicate with the staff. A tasting menu was sent over ahead of time, and Keomoungkhoun and Montiel were surprised when they walked into the restaurant and Sekiguchi and two others greeted them in ASL. The chef went on to sign the entire tasting menu, with the staff passing them notes explaining what was coming up next. "At Tatsu, we looked silly being in awe with smiles on our faces," Keomoungkhoun told Today. Sekiguchi said it is his belief that "every day and everyone is special. We all are celebrating something every day. If I can help make it more special, I am very grateful."
2. Friends wanting to 'normalize being kind' surprise Alabama waitress with massive tip
Tanya Ragsdale and 11 of her friends walked into the Waffle House in Culman, Alabama, on Nov. 19, knowing they were about to make someone's day. Each person came to the restaurant with a $100 bill, which they planned to use to pay for their food, with the change going toward the tip. They were seated in waitress Julia Ellison's section, and she was stunned when the group left a $1,125.25 tip on a $74.75 bill. Last year, Ragsdale and some of her friends did something similar at a Cracker Barrel, leaving behind a $575.01 tip. "I plan to make this an annual event," Ragsdale told Fox News Digital. "My hope is for it to reach other friend groups and do the same and normalize being kind." Ellison shared with Ragsdale that she intends to use the tip money to buy birthday and Christmas presents for her young child, and a regular customer who saw what happened told the group their random act of kindness couldn't have happened to a nicer person.
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3. After 40 years of rejections, Maryland writer sells his 1st screenplay
Brian Ruberry is finally having his moment. The 66-year-old former public relations agent started writing television scripts 40 years ago, and recently sold his first one. His interest in writing came in college, after a shoulder injury ended his football career. After graduating with a degree in English, Ruberry started writing television scripts, but didn't sell any, and the busier he became raising a family and working, the less time he had to write. In 2019, inspired by an article he read about Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, Ruberry decided to write a script "putting the comedy back into romantic comedy," he told The Washington Post. Ruberry's work resonated with UpTV, which purchased his script The Attraction Test, which led to his second script, Single and Ready to Jingle, being picked up by Lifetime. The movie will premiere on Dec. 11. Being rejected "made me more determined to prove everyone wrong," the Maryland resident told the Post, and while it's "been a long time coming for me ... it was worth the wait."
4. Dog's works of art raise $3,000 for rescue organization
Van Gogh, a 7-year-old pit bull mix with one ear, has found a forever home — and a talent for art. Van Gogh was once used as a bait dog in a North Carolina dogfighting ring, and when Jaclyn Gartner of the Happily Furever After Rescue in Bethel, Connecticut, saw a photo of him at a shelter, she knew he needed her help. "I just had love for this dog," Gartner told Today. "The smile he had was just so big, and he seemed so sweet." Once he was in Connecticut, Gartner wanted to have Van Gogh make a gift for his future family: she placed a canvas and some paint inside a plastic bag, and spread a thin coat of peanut butter on top of the plastic; when Van Gogh licked the peanut butter, it spread the paint on the canvas. He made more paintings and accepted commissions, and so far has raised more than $3,000 for the rescue. "We are a small rescue and we pretty much buy everything out of pocket, so for us, that's amazing," Gartner said. Recently, Van Gogh was officially adopted by one of the volunteers at the rescue, Jessica Starowitz, who hopes their story resonates with others. "Dogs give you unconditional love, so you just return the favor," she told Today.
5. Woman reunites with her nanny after 25 years apart
A Florida woman and her one-time nanny had a surprise reunion inside a grocery store 25 years after they were last together. As a child, Crystal DePoo lived in the Dominican Republic with her family, and Rufina, the nanny that helped take care of her and her sister, was like a second mom. After 10 years, the family returned to the United States, and Rufina told Good Morning America that "I never in my mind thought I would see [Crystal] again." Rufina now works at a grocery store in Key West, and after tracking her down, Crystal came in to surprise her. At first, Rufina did not recognize her and thought it was a random customer who came up to hug her, but as soon as she realized it was Crystal, she began to cry. Rufina told GMA she was thrilled to see Crystal again, and it felt good to know that she wanted to find her so they could stay in touch. "When you give love you receive love, so I tell everybody please make something good for the world and you never know when it'll return to you," Rufina said.
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