The week's good news: June 17, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
High school grad donates $40,000 scholarship to community college students
Verda Tetteh didn't think twice about donating her $40,000 scholarship to community college students. "Someone else needs it more than me, and there was just no excuse why I wouldn't give it up when that was the right thing to do," Tetteh told NBC Boston. Tetteh graduated this month from Fitchburg High School in Massachusetts, and when she was honored with the general excellence award, the Harvard-bound teen thanked donors for the scholarship, but said she's "not the one who needs this the most." She asked that the money instead go to someone attending community college, and received a standing ovation. Tetteh's mom enrolled in community college at 39, and Tetteh said she is "in awe of her," adding, "I think that's something that's very difficult to do. But she knew she wanted to improve her life and improve the lives of her children." Tetteh will use smaller scholarships and financial aid to cover her Harvard tuition.
Colorado woman spends vacation crisscrossing the U.S., picking up trash
When Stefani Shamrowicz decided to go on a "spontaneous road trip" across the United States, it wasn't just so she could visit family and friends — she also wanted to pick up trash along the way. Shamrowicz, 24, lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, and got the idea to go on litter patrol after Earth Day, when she had a month off work. During her journey, Shamrowicz picked up more than 125 bags of trash, containing over 1,600 gallons of garbage. She estimates that 80 percent of the trash she picked up was plastic bottles. Shamrowicz visited New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and met different people during her stops who helped her collect trash. "I'm not going to be able to pick up everything," she told SWNS, "but if everyone starts picking up some on walks or runs, that's where the magic is."
Nonprofit helps people around the world learn the ‘empowering’ skill of sewing
Being able to sew is a valuable skill, one that can give a person the confidence to create their own clothes or even lift them out of poverty. Since 2005, the Sewing Machine Project has made it easier for people to learn this craft, redistributing 3,350 donated machines to organizations and individuals around the world. It was founded by Wisconsin sewing instructor Margaret Jankowski, after she heard about a tailor who lost her sewing machine in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Recently, the project sent sewing machines to Detroit's B.O.O.S.T. training program at Zaman International. There, immigrant and refugee women and children from Yemen and Syria learn how to sew, so they can work from home making clothes and doing alterations. "Sewing is very empowering," program director Gigi Salka told The Christian Science Monitor. "You see it in a population that's lost hope; the ability to create a product is very powerful to them."
Chicago bus driver jumped into Lake Michigan every day for an entire year
Once he got into the habit of jumping into Lake Michigan every day, Dan O'Conor couldn't stop, even breaking through ice in the winter to keep his streak going. O'Conor, a Chicago bus driver and father of three, told The Associated Press he began hopping into the lake as a way to relieve stress amid the pandemic. "It was somewhere where I could come down here and block all that noise out and kind of be totally present with me in the lake, and find some moments of Zen," he said. On Saturday, O'Conor dove into Lake Michigan for the 365th straight day. Dozens of people were on hand to witness the milestone, with some getting into the water with O'Conor. He gained fans by posting videos of his jumps online, and this pushed him to keep going. "I got more wind in my sails there because people started commenting like, 'This makes my day, it's nice to see this,'" O'Conor said.
Ghana fights deforestation by planting 5 million trees in 1 day
Students, community leaders, celebrities, and politicians in Ghana all came together last Friday to revitalize the country's forests. As part of the Green Ghana program, 5 million trees were planted, with the government giving free seedlings to individuals, schools, and organizations. Government statistics show that in 1900, Ghana had 20 million acres of forest cover, and today, that has dropped to about 4 million acres. The forests are being ravaged due to small-scale mining and rampant illegal logging, and now is the "time for action," Ghana's Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Samuel Abu Jinapor told Agence France-Presse. "The aim of Green Ghana is to save us now and our future generations. We can't fail our future leaders." The government, which will sustain this program for the next five years, gave extra seedlings out to students like Rosemond Asante, 12, who told Al Jazeera they were "happy to be part of this beautiful event," adding, "I love trees."