It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: June 14, 2018

Catherine Garcia
The MPR raccoon.
Evan Frost/MPR News/via REUTERS
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99-year-old woman sews dozens of dresses for orphans in Puerto Rico

Martha Heft lives in Clearwater, Florida, but her handmade dresses, blankets, and quilts are keeping orphans warm in Puerto Rico and Haiti. Heft, 99, first learned how to sew when she was just five years old. After seeing the destruction that Hurricane Maria caused in Puerto Rico, Heft and some other members of her church got to work, creating 60 dresses for the Regraso de Paz orphanage in Aguadilla. Attached to the dresses, which were delivered by Heft's granddaughter and grandson-in-law, were notes with inspiring messages, including, "Smile because we love you." Heft told The Miami Herald her sewing spree isn't over yet. "As long as God grants me life and health, I'm happy to do this," she said. "I just wish I had a little bit more speed." [The Miami Herald]


Retired special education teacher donates $1 million for scholarships

Genevieve Via Cava grew up during the Depression, and learned the importance of saving — in fact, she stashed away so much money over the course of her life that she was able to leave $1 million to the Dumont Public Schools. Via Cava spent 45 years with the New Jersey school district teaching special education students. She retired in 1990, but kept in touch with her former colleagues, reminiscing about her years teaching. She died in 2011 with a sizable fortune, and after her estate was settled, a check was sent this April to Dumont Public Schools for $1 million. It was "a blessing," Superintendent Emanuele Triggiano told CNN. Starting next spring, the money will fund scholarships for special education students who want to go to college, up to $25,000 per pupil. Via Cava also left $100,000 each to five other organizations, including the Ramapo Animal Refuge. [CNN]


Dog alerts family to fire, attempts to drag baby to safety

She's only 8 months old, but Sasha the pit bull is already a hero. Nana Chaichanhdra says that last week, she left Sasha outside overnight, which she rarely does. She heard Sasha throwing her body against the back door, and when she got up to see what was going on, discovered that the Stockton, California, fourplex where she lived was on fire. Chaichanhdra ran inside to grab her 7-month-old daughter, but Sasha already had the baby by the diaper and was dragging her to safety. Chaichanhdra scooped up her daughter and Sasha, and they were able to get out of the house unscathed. She told FOX 40 she hopes this shows that pit bulls can be family dogs. "I owe her everything," Chaichanhdra said. "If it wasn't for her, I would have still been in bed and things could have taken a worse turn." [FOX 40]


New Jersey trooper pulls over retired cop who helped with his own birth

When New Jersey Trooper Michael Patterson pulled Matthew Bailly over for a tinted window violation, it wasn't the first time the two had met. Bailly mentioned to Patterson that he was a retired cop, having worked in Piscataway. Patterson said that was his hometown, and Bailly asked where he grew up. It was a street that Bailly remembered well, and he shared that 27 years ago, he helped a woman there deliver her baby. "My name is Michael Patterson, sir," the trooper responded. "Thank you for delivering me." On Oct. 5, 1991, Patterson's mother came home from shopping and realized she was in labor. Her husband called the doctor and police, and after Bailly arrived, Patterson's doctor coached him through how to deliver the baby over the phone. Patterson and Bailly's reunion didn't end with a ticket — later, Patterson and his mom enjoyed a visit with Bailly and his wife. [NJ.com]


Raccoon escapes sure death after scaling office building

A daredevil raccoon became an internet sensation this week after it found itself stuck more than 20 stories above the ground. The animal, nicknamed the MPR raccoon, "apparently got itself stranded on a ledge of the Town Square office building in downtown St. Paul," Minnesota Public Radio's Tim Nelson reported. It was stuck there for two whole days, without anything to eat or drink. But an attempt to rescue the raccoon led to it fleeing even farther up the building. Onlookers were in a panic. "I don't know if I can watch this much longer," Nelson said, as the animal clung desperately to the building's bleak facade. Finally, the raccoon reached the roof of the tower, and MPR reported it has since been "safely trapped." Phew. [KATU News, Minnesota Public Radio]