The week's good news: March 15, 2018
It wasn't all bad!
A giant park for pandas is coming to China
A huge national park devoted to pandas will soon be created in China's Sichuan province, the country's forestry ministry announced last week. The Bank of China has pledged to finance the park's construction by 2023, The Guardian reports, with estimates that the completed park will be more than twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. There are only about 1,864 pandas in the wild, mostly in the Sichuan mountains, with some in nearby Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. They are threatened by habitat loss, so this is good news for the pandas, who will have free range of the open space, but it's also expected to be a major boost to the local economy.
Waitress surprised with scholarship after customer captures her act of kindness
After Adrien Charpentier had surgery, his hands were giving him trouble, and the 78-year-old asked his waitress at the La Marque, Texas, Waffle House if she'd help him by cutting his food. Evoni Williams, 18, thought only Charpentier was watching as she assisted him, but diner Laura Wolf had her eyes on the pair, and she took a photo of the act of kindness, posting it on her Facebook page. The photo went viral online, with thousands of people seeing it — including officials at the city of La Marque. They surprised Williams at her work, proclaiming it Evoni Nene Williams Day, and told her she was receiving a $16,000 scholarship to Texas Southern University. Williams works at the Waffle House to pay for college, and said she is grateful to be recognized for doing the right thing. "It's something I'd do any other day," she said.
Abandoned pit bull puppy becomes Washington state's first deaf K-9 officer
Ghost's life could have turned out a lot differently, had a rescue in Florida not taken a chance on the deaf pit bull. He was abandoned as a puppy and nearly euthanized, but the Swamp Haven rescue got in touch with the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society in Port Angeles, Washington, to see if they could help. Ghost had a lot of energy, so the organization called Barbara Davenport, who has trained more than 450 dogs to detect narcotics for the Washington Department of Corrections. After Ghost passed the initial tests, training began, with Davenport and Ghost's handler, Joe Henderson, using hand signals and a vibration collar to teach the dog how to detect drugs. Ghost trained for 240 hours, and is now a narcotic K-9 with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Henderson said training the dog was "an absolute blast."
Dallas resident dedicates his days to keeping the neighborhood park clean
For the past three years, Tim Felix has spent most mornings walking from his Old East Dallas apartment to the J.W. Ray Park down the street, trash bag and picker in hand, so he can clean up litter and make it a safe place for neighborhood kids to play. Felix used to go to the park just to listen to gospel music and walk his dog, but during a visit in 2015, he noticed how much trash was hidden in the grass, he told The Dallas Morning News. He started coming every day — except Sundays, when he goes to church — so he can pick up cans, junk mail, and plastic bags. Felix, 30, has a mental disability, and while sometimes he's teased by people who can't understand him, that doesn't stop him from fulfilling his mission. The locals often thank "Mr. Tim" for the hard work he does.
Scottish surgeon walks 3 hours in the snow to perform much-needed surgery
A heavy snowstorm that brought much of Scotland to a standstill last week couldn't stop one surgeon from doing her job. After waking at her snow-covered Glasgow home, Lindsey Chisholm realized she couldn't drive to her hospital in Paisley 8 miles away, where she was scheduled to operate on a colon cancer patient. So Chisholm put on her winter gear and trudged through the snow for nearly three hours. "I had the right equipment, I knew there was no avalanche risk, I was not going to get lost, there were places I could stop on the way if the weather did become absolutely terrible so I just didn't think anything of it," Chisholm told BBC. When she walked in, her patient, Iain McAndrew, was overjoyed. "My heart took a wee jump," he said. "If there is a real-life superwoman, she is it."