It wasn't all bad
2:37 p.m.

A new program in California is helping former inmates get back on their feet by pairing them up with people who have rooms to spare, NPR reports.

The Homecoming Project, run by nonprofit organization Impact Justice in Alameda County, California, gives subsidies to those who are willing to rent a room to a recently-released former inmate. The group covers the formerly incarcerated person's rent for six months and goes through a lengthy screening process to find a good home for them. Not only does the organization aim to help former inmates return to a normal life as quickly as possible rather going from prison into restricted communal living, but they also hope to fight misconceptions about ex-convicts in general, they told NPR.

"Project Homecoming says you're a person and we're going to treat you like a person and give you the footholds and the scaffolding to be able to come back home and to be a full member of society just like anybody else," said Alex Busansky, who runs Impact Justice.

Coordinator Terah Lawyer also told NPR that "most of our hosts are familiar with redemption and change and want to be a part of helping be the stepping stone for someone's second chance." There are currently only six former inmates participating in the program, but Impact Justice says it is looking to expand to 25 this year. Brendan Morrow

January 16, 2019

A new study shows that stem cell transplants could stop symptoms in some people with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects 2.3 million patients worldwide.

MS targets the central nervous system, with the immune system attacking the protective sheath covering nerves. During the clinical trial, patients were admitted to the hospital for two weeks, and they had their own stem cells collected and stored. They received high-dose chemotherapy treatments, which wiped out their immune systems. Their stem cells were then infused back into their bodies, giving their immune systems a reboot. Fewer than 10 percent of participants subsequently reported that their condition got worse, versus more than 75 percent of patients whose disease got worse after taking medications for MS over a five-year period.

Dr. Richard Burt, who led the trial at Northwestern School of Medicine, told CBS News: "Transplants ended up being markedly superior in all the perimeters we looked at. You have to select the right group of patients ... there's these really aggressive ones that are very relapsing and inflammatory that it works extremely well in." One of the patients who participated in the trial, Amanda Loy of Alaska, said before the transplant, her arms were numb, she had bladder issues, and her balance was off. Loy has relapsing-remitting MS, and said she can now run, something she couldn't do easily before, and plans on participating in the Chicago Marathon. Catherine Garcia

January 16, 2019

When Michael Nieves found out his favorite coffee shop was closing, he decided then and there that wasn't going to happen, because he was going to buy it and keep the doors open.

Nieves went to Yellow Mug Coffee in Fresno, California, five days a week, always ordering an Americano or espresso. When the owner told him last year that he was drinking his last cup of coffee because they were closing, "I said, 'No, you're not,'" Nieves told The Fresno Bee. The shop felt like home, which is why he was adamant about it staying open.

Three days later, Nieves and his wife, Belinda Bagwell, purchased Yellow Mug Coffee, and they officially took over on Jan. 1. This is new territory for the couple; Nieves is a software developer and Bagwell is a stay-at-home mom to their three teenage sons. Nieves and Bagwell are excited, though, and so are their customers: When they announced on Facebook the business was staying open, the comments ranged from "This really is good news" to "So freaking exciting." While they have the same baristas and aren't changing the coffee formulas, they've already expanded the menu to include additional drinks and snacks and plan on hosting more community events. Catherine Garcia

January 15, 2019

Being left behind in Hawaii wasn't so bad for Sutro, who extended his vacation with a trip to the spa and quality time in a cabana.

Sutro is a teddy bear, and he didn't make it into the luggage as Anna Pickard and her family packed their bags to go home to the Bay Area. As she emptied out the luggage, Pickard realized that her son's beloved bear wasn't anywhere to be found. She quickly called the Grand Hyatt Kauai and asked if anyone had seen Sutro, and she got the good news: He had been found in the laundry.

Before reuniting Sutro with his family, the staff at the Grand Hyatt Kauai decided to have a little fun. They took him all over the hotel property, letting him go down a water slide and get his nails done in the salon, and documented his adventures. Pickard tweeted that her son was "delighted" and "enthralled" by the photos, and even asked how Sutro was able to afford a cabana. All vacations must come to an end, though, and Sutro made it home safely last week. Catherine Garcia

January 15, 2019

Wanting her father to receive more than just bills in the mail, Sue Morse went online and asked friends if they would send him a card or quick note for his birthday.

Duane Sherman, a World War II veteran living in Southern California, turned 96 on Dec. 30, and the well-wishes started flooding in before his birthday, and have yet to let up. He's received more than 50,000 cards and letters, from 10 countries and every U.S. state. The Pittsburgh Steelers sent him a card, as did the Secretary of the Navy, and the band Foreigner mailed him a signed CD. Elementary school students and prison inmates have written Sherman letters thanking him for his service, and several Navy officers came by his house and took him out to lunch. Gift cards tucked inside cards have been donated by Sherman to people affected by the California wildfires.

Sherman told The Orange County Register he's "amazed, shocked, and appreciative. All the good comments people made, it just brightened my day." After Pearl Harbor, Sherman enlisted in the Navy, and he still has shrapnel in his back from an attack against his ship by a kamikaze plane. The Purple Heart recipient is legally blind, so his daughter is reading the cards to him, and she doesn't expect to finish any time soon — there are still bins filled to the brim with cards, waiting for Sherman at the post office. Catherine Garcia

January 14, 2019

AJ Montgomery's life changed in an instant.

While riding his motorcycle in 2015, the 31-year-old dancer was hit by a car. The accident took place just four days after he auditioned for the show Le Reve (The Dream) at the Wynn resort, and landed a spot in the cast. Over the course of nearly three weeks, Montgomery went through three surgeries, as doctors tried to save his left foot and lower leg. When it became apparent that he would have to go through more surgeries and live with daily pain, Montgomery chose to have his leg amputated below the knee.

Le Reve still wanted him to be part of the cast, and that "was a turning point," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "At that point I didn't know what my life would entail. But I had something to work toward." Montgomery now has three prosthesis that he wears during the show in order to do the routines, and is able to "perform just like everybody else," he said. There are still times when Montgomery is on stage and is in awe of what he's accomplished. "It's so ironic that the show is called Le Reve because this is something I still dream of doing, and now I get to do it every day," he said. Catherine Garcia

January 8, 2019

Now that his beloved dog is by his side, Perryn Miller can heal.

Miller, 8, lives in Wilmington, North Carolina. While in Utah for the holidays, Miller started to have bad headaches, and during a trip to the emergency room, doctors discovered he had a brain tumor. Miller underwent surgery, and while he was excited to meet his favorite soccer player, Justen Glad, and spend the day as an honorary cop with the West Valley, Utah, police department, he missed his dog, Frank, back home in North Carolina.

A former truck driver named Bob Reynolds read about Miller's story on social media, and volunteered to drive the 8-month-old German shepherd 2,300 miles to Utah. "I never questioned why I was doing it or anything like that," he told CBS News. "I just knew something had to be done and that I could do it." After a 52-hour journey, Frank made it to Utah. "I felt really excited to see Frank," Miller said. "I just really like Frank and he's a good dog." Reynolds has already said he'll come back and drive Frank home when it's time for the Miller family to leave Utah. Catherine Garcia

January 8, 2019

A 10-year-old from Missouri City, Texas, is using her entrepreneurial skills to help animals in need.

When Hurricane Harvey hit, Frannie Joseph saw on the news rescuers saving pets left behind, and decided to set up a lemonade stand with her friends to raise money for their efforts. They called themselves Harvey's Animal Helpers, and in three days, raised $3,500 for the Humane Society of the United States. To thank Joseph, the Humane Society invited her to visit the Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch, an animal sanctuary in Murchison, Texas.

"I learned that no matter how large or small an animal is, their life has value," she told People. "I saw how they took care of and loved animals that had health problems and learned it is our responsibility to take care of them because they can't do it alone." Joseph brought out her lemonade stand again, raising $1,200 for the sanctuary and holding a supply drive at her school. Joseph said she will always be a voice for animals, and wants people to stop being "afraid to try to make a change, because people will be there to help." Catherine Garcia

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