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It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: July 25, 2019

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Catherine Garcia
A condor.
David McNew/Getty Images
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1.

Iowa carpenter — and secret millionaire — surprises strangers by sending them to college

Unbeknownst to even his closest friends, Dale Schroeder scrimped and saved for so long that by the time he was 86 years old, he had accumulated a fortune worth $3 million. The Iowa carpenter was a hard-working "blue collar, lunch pail kind of guy," friend Steve Nielsen told KCCI. Before he died in 2005, Schroeder told Nielsen about his money, and how to spend it: He grew up poor and never had the chance to go to college, so he wanted to help young people further their education. Since then, Schroeder's fortune has paid for 33 small-town Iowa kids to go to college. They call themselves "Dale's Kids," and have gone on to become teachers, doctors, and therapists. The only stipulation is that they one day help others in a similar fashion. "You can't pay it back, because Dale is gone, but you can remember him and you can emulate him," Nielsen said. [KCCI]

2.

Special program allows veterans to help rehabilitate injured sea lions

The skills he learned as a firefighter emergency medical technician in the U.S. Air Force often come in handy when James Golia volunteers with the Sea Lions for Service Members program. Golia was in the Air Force for 20 years; now retired, Golia was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, and a military friend recommended he volunteer at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. The Laguna Beach, California, facility rescues injured marine mammals, who are then rehabilitated and released back into the ocean. Volunteers do everything from feed the sea lions to clean out their pens, and organizers say the veterans are able to empathize with the injured animals. Golia told NBC Los Angeles he considers the time he spends at the center his therapy, and it has made him a different person. "Sometimes in life, a person should feel compelled to give back, and I'm doing just that," he said. [NBC Los Angeles]

3.

California condor population makes a comeback

Just three decades ago, there were fewer than two dozen California condors in the wild after the birds were driven to the brink of extinction by poaching, habitat destruction, and lead poisoning. Biologists quickly came up with a conservation plan: capture the remaining condors and start breeding them in captivity. Today, there are more than 300 condors in the wild and 500 total in the world, including birds at breeding centers. In March, biologists discovered that a condor released into the wild laid an egg at Utah's Zion National Park, and earlier this month, they determined the baby bird — the 1,000th chick to hatch thanks to the California Condor Recovery Program — is still alive and well. "We're seeing more chicks born in the wild than we ever have before," Tim Hauck, condor program manager at the Peregrine Fund, told NPR. "And that's just a step towards success for the condor and achieving a sustainable population." [NPR]

4.

Australian boy finds 50-year-old message in a bottle

While sailing from England to Australia, 13-year-old Paul Gilmore jotted down a note, placed it inside a bottle, and threw his message out to sea, hoping someone would read his missive and reply back. That was in 1969, and it only took 50 years for a potential pen pal to discover the bottle. Last week, 9-year-old Jyah Elliott discovered it while fishing at Talia Beach in southern Australia. It's likely the bottle was buried in the sand for years, and only recently a storm brought it back up. Australia's ABC News tracked down a few of Gilmore's relatives in England, and his sister shared that her brother was on a cruise in the Baltic Sea. He's since spoken to 7 News, and revealed he was just telling his wife about the message in a bottle. "It is amazing it has turned up," he said. "It was a real surprise 50 years on." [ABC, 7 News]

5.

Sisters read bedtime stories online to kids around the world

Every night at 8 p.m. on the dot, sisters Zaria and Hailey Willard grab a few books, turn on their computer, and settle in for a story time accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Zaria, 13, and Hailey, 8, live in Dover, Delaware, and knowing that not everyone has the luxury of a large library or someone to read to them, the sisters decided they would step in, using Facebook Live to host a bedtime story session every night. "Reading is good for you," Hailey told Good Morning America. On Sundays, they head to the library and check out books for the week, making sure to select stories about "characters who look like us," Zaria said. The girls take turns reading, and their mother monitors everything. Their father is in the Navy, and the sisters are working on their next project: writing and illustrating a series of books about military families. [Good Morning America]