The week's good news: November 19, 2020
It wasn't all bad!
Woman reunites with 1st grade teacher who taught her to speak English 40 years ago
Ana Reyes couldn't remember her first grade teacher's name, but she never forgot her kindness. Reyes, 46, immigrated to Louisville, Kentucky, after living in Spain and Uruguay. Her teacher, Pat Harkleroad, noticed Reyes was struggling due to the language barrier, and immediately set up one-on-one English lessons. "I've thought about that countless times over the years," Reyes told People, adding, "I know I was incredibly lucky." Reyes recently asked the Kentucky Department of Education for help tracking down Harkleroad, and on Friday, after both tested negative for COVID-19, they reconnected. "Being able to say thank you to someone who changed my life felt so meaningful and uplifting," Reyes told People. Reyes graduated from Harvard Law and earned a master's in international public policy from Johns Hopkins University. Now an attorney, Reyes told People she was inspired by Harkleroad to help others, and represents refugees, pro bono.
Army dad writes 270 special notes to slip into his daughter's lunch during deployment
Before he deployed to Afghanistan, Army Staff Sgt. Philip Gray sat down and wrote 270 messages for his daughter — one for each day he would be away. His notes for Rosie, 7, encouraged her to do her best at school and excel in her activities and hobbies. "He was very big on feel-good words for her and girl power," his wife, Kristen Gray, told Good Morning America. "He made sure to tell her how smart she was, and run fast in P.E., and things that would really make her happy." Philip Gray left their Fort Drum, New York, home on Oct. 7, 2019, and while he was gone, Kristen put his notes into Rosie's lunchbox. He returned on Aug. 8, three days before Rosie's birthday, and even though he's back, Rosie still wants him to write her special messages — something Gray told GMA he is more than happy to do.
FedEx driver jumps into action to save home from fire
When FedEx driver Jason Sloan saw smoke coming from a backyard along his route in Los Angeles last week, he immediately pulled over, grabbed a hose, and potentially saved several houses from burning down. As he raced to the backyard, Sloan called out, warning neighbors about the fire. He climbed on top of two trash cans, and pointed the hose down at the flames, which were soon extinguished. The home owners, Albert and Celena Rios, were both at work, but Celena told Inside Edition their phones were soon ringing off the hook, with neighbors calling to share what had happened. "Every single [one] was like, 'The FedEx guy is a hero, he really acted out of nowhere," Celena said. Sloan told Inside Edition it felt "good" to have so many people commend him, but "at the same time, I'm just happy that their house didn't burn down."
Pennsylvania bakers deliver 15,000 treats to first responders
A cookie bakeoff between friends has turned into something much bigger, with dozens of local bakers now making treats for essential workers. Scott McKenzie was furloughed from his job in April, and decided to use his free time learning how to make chocolate chip cookies. He posted a photo on Facebook, and friend Jeremy Uhrich joked that he made cookies that day too, and his were better. McKenzie and Uhrich decided to have a bakeoff, and planned on donating the cookies to frontline workers in their community. This quickly morphed into a group called Cookies for Caregivers, which brings goodies to nurses, firefighters, and grocery store employees around Huntington, Pennsylvania. Since April, more than 100 people have joined, and they've delivered more than 15,100 treats across town. McKenzie told People the Cookies for Caregivers bakers have no plans to ever stop, because "kindness doesn't have an expiration date."
12-year-old becomes one of the youngest musicians to compose for the New York Philharmonic
Grace Moore's mother bought her a piano when she was 2, and a decade later, this virtuoso is composing music to be played by the New York Philharmonic. Moore, 12, is a seventh-grader from Brooklyn who describes herself as being shy, but says music "gives me another way to express myself." She recently participated in the Philharmonic's Very Young Composers program, and her piece, "Summer," was inspired by what is happening in the world, from the quarantine to the Black Lives Matter movement. It was chosen to be performed by the Philharmonic, and made its debut last month. Gary Padmore, director of the Very Young Composers program, told PIX 11 that "every child has the ability to be creative and tell their story." Moore is proof of this, and she's ready to shake things up with her compositions. "I feel like music can change how people see the world around them," she said.