The week's good news: November 9, 2017
It wasn't all bad!
90-year-old joins music fraternity 69 years after taking a stand against discrimination
When Shirley Shapiro was a 21-year-old student at Boston University, she took a stand against discrimination, and now, 69 years later, she is being recognized for following her conscience. Shapiro, 90, told the Concord Journal that when she was a music student at the university, she was invited to join the Mu Phi Epsilon fraternity. She was excited to be part of the organization, until she found out black students were not allowed to join the BU chapter. "Who wants to join a group like that?" she asked. When her nephew Mark Shapiro found out what she did all those years ago, he contacted Rosemary Ames, the international president of Mu Phi Epsilon, and she made Shirley an official member of the fraternity during a ceremony at her Massachusetts home Nov. 2. "We've given her something she's wanted for a long time, and it was a pleasure to do so," Ames said.
Jake the D.A. Dog finds his calling comforting assault victims
It took a couple tries, but Jake, a 4-year-old black Labrador mix, has found his calling. Jake didn't make it in search-and-rescue training because his paws were too tender, and he is such a deep sleeper, he wasn't able to assist people with medical issues. His owner Rhoni Standefer, the domestic violence victim/witness coordinator at the Anderson County district attorney's office in Tennessee, realized when she brought him to work one day that he is the perfect emotional support dog. "This dog can pick up on emotions," she told the Knoxville News Sentinel. "He just loves people, and he wants them to feel good. If he sees someone being upset or irritated, he migrates to them." Since he started in July, Jake — aka "Jake the D.A. Dog" — has offered support to 50 people in the office, and accompanies Standefer to the courthouse in case he's needed during a trial.
California nurse adopts girl she took care of as a baby
Mary Ann Wells and Sophia formed a bond eight years ago, and today, it's stronger than ever. Wells met Sophia when she was just two-and-a-half weeks old, a tiny patient at Loma Linda Children's Hospital in California. Sophia was born with a condition called gastroschisis, with her intestines outside of her abdomen. She needed surgery, and was in the hospital for 11 months, spending much of her time in isolation. "I would sing to her, hold her, cuddle her," Wells told ABC Los Angeles. Sophia's dad was never in her life and her mother was often not around, leading the hospital staff to determine "there was excessive medical noncompliance," Wells said. Wells and her husband jumped at the chance to become Sophia's legal guardians, and on Saturday, she was officially adopted. To mark this milestone, Sophia chose a new middle name: Genesis, because "it's going to be like a new beginning."
Scientists grow genetically modified skin to save dying boy's life
A team of doctors in Germany and scientists in Italy were able to help a boy from Syria with a genetic disorder that left him with untreatable wounds covering 80 percent of his body. He has a disease called junctional epidermolysis bullosa, which makes the skin fragile and quick to blister. His doctors asked the scientists if they could grow replacement skin for the young patient, and they took epidermal cells from an area of his skin that did not have blisters, and genetically modified it in the lab, using a virus to correct a gene defect. Over two months, they grafted the skin to the patient, and the grafts eventually grew together and self-renewed, to the delight of the boy's medical team. Two years after the surgeries, the boy is doing well, does not take any medication, plays sports, and when he has a cut, his skin heals.
Philadelphia man who gives free haircuts to the homeless gets his own barber shop
A Philadelphia man who gives free haircuts to the homeless has received his own gift in return. Brennon Jones, 29, created "Haircuts 4 Homeless" earlier this year to help his community's less fortunate members get back on their feet. When local barbershop owner Sean Johnson heard about Jones' initiative, he decided to donate a newly refurbished second location of his own store to Jones so that the Good Samaritan can continue his mission. "It's a safe haven for me to touch and bless those lives that often we forget about," says Jones, whose shop opens this month.