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Missouri Teacher of the Year Named, Overcomes Shocking Past!

Danielle S

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The next time that you see someone on the street, you might want to think twice before judging them as they appear! Everyone has a history and that includes the people that raise our children. Darrion Cockrell was just a teacher at Crestwood Elementary located in St. Louis in the Lindbergh School District when he got the news. He had been named Missouri’s Teacher of the Year, revered by faculty and students alike. Known as ‘Mr. DC’ around campus, Darrion Cockrell himself could not believe how much his life had changed since his childhood.

Let’s take a moment to get to know Mr. DC, 2021 Teacher of the Year and former Six-deuce-87 Kitchen Crip Gangster.

A glance at Darrion’s backstory would reveal something all too familiar, people getting caught up in the cycle of poverty, addiction, and the violence that it can cause. Darrion said of his childhood that he was born to a ‘drug-addicted mother’ who had two children by the age of 16. Darrion’s father was murdered on the streets when Darrion had only been four. A few years later, Caldwell would find himself beginning a cycle of entering and exiting the foster care system.

Throughout his tough childhood, the young Caldwell had few places to find solace and comfort. One place that DC felt heard and listened to was in school where he was taught by amazing educators. Darrion has since admitted that, without those good teachers in his life, he would “not be here today.”

By the age of ten, Caldwell had already joined his first gang, this one in St. Louis. Caldwell described the act as ‘normal’ and that it had almost been expected of him. Caldwell went on to point out that most of his friends were already ‘dead or in jail’ by that age and that he was destined to end up just like them. It would take two P.E. teachers to help Caldwell change his direction in life. Caldwell pointed to gym class as a place where he felt ‘allowed’ to be a kid.

Other stories from Caldwell’s past had him living at a boy’s home near his school where a kind social worker named Ken helped to look after him, simultaneously teaching him that it was okay to be tough and compassionate. Caldwell has since called Ken ‘a father figure’. The Missouri Teacher of the Year would go on to explain that he didn’t feel like another ‘Michael Oher’ but that he did have dreams and growing up the way he did would help to accommodate and adjust those dreams.

Caldwell, who once dreamed of a career in the NFL, would go on to adopt a child. In doing so Caldwell would say, “I changed the way I looked at things and the things around me started to change.” Now, Caldwell is trying to share those same lessons with the next generation of kids who need help from a teacher that cares.

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Stroke Survivor Launches Pandemic Pet Project, Draws Adorable Portraits For Rescue Groups!

Amanda J

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At the beginning of 2020, we really didn’t know what the world had waiting for us. By the time that March rolled around, the entirety of the planet was consumed by discussions surrounding the coronavirus as well as its impact. Over a full year later, with almost 90 million confirmed infections, the pandemic has become part and parcel of our daily life’s experience. With that being said, one resident from California did his best to make the pandemic as productive and pleasant as possible for rescue animals around California.

Ed Attanasio was the owner and operator of a small advertising agency in San Jose. As a local artist, Ed had seen his work featured at the Kaleid Gallery where he performed as an artist-in-residence. Ed was known at the time for his eclectic drawings and unique caricature work, something that would put him on the radar of a family friend during the quarantine. 

At the time that the pandemic shut everything down, Ed recognized that he was pretty much going to be locked down and furloughed for the remainder of quarantine. After sitting on his hands for a while, Ed would receive a phone call from a friend that changed everything. The family friend had been quarantining with their own family while struggling to keep their kids entertained. Ed offered to send some artwork over and the friend was more than happy to take him up on the offer. 

It didn’t take long for Ed to find his muse at the other end of his pen. Ed began doodling and before he knew it, Ed was drawing unique cartoonish portraits of pets belonging to his friend. Attanasio sent the pictures over whereupon they were received quite well by the family. One of the children said, “This is abstract art. Ed is like Picasso!”

And that was that.

Word quickly began to spread about Ed’s affinity and talent for caricature work. Soon Ed was thinking of using the momentum and attention to help others. Ed said, “I should turn this into a charity model. Why not?” Ed went on to say that he had always believed in supporting children and pets as they are among our most vulnerable. Ed said, “Kids and pets have always been my causes.”

After finding a receptive crowd for his work, Ed would go on to launch the Pandemic Pet Project on Facebook as a charity initiative. Ed would offer to compose Post-it Note Portraits of pets for customers from anywhere in the world. Ed asked for donations in lieu of payments and he has since drawn more than 900 portraits. Through his work, Ed has created llamas, blind raccoons, ferrets, birds, snakes, cats, and dogs. Ed said, “There was supposed to be a two-pet limit but I am a pushover.” 

Of course, Ed has been well rewarded for his efforts. At the time of this writing, Ed has personally helped to raise more than $40k for the Pandemic Pet Project to help shelters and at-risk pets all around the country. His work was well received and warmly embraced by a man from Bend, OR, who was so satisfied with his pet’s portrait that he donated $1,000 to the Pandemic Pet Project. 

As Ed continues to work on amazing portraits for his happy clients, the Pandemic Pet Project is pushing forward and into the future as one of the brightest spots of 2020. Ed says of his portraits, “I am always thinking that I want them to look different. Different color (combinations) shapes, different ears, different noses — It’s original art.”

Ed had previously worked as a journalist and stand-up comedian until he was afflicted by a stroke in 2009 at the age of 50. Ed weighed 350lbs at the time and has since focused on turning his health around, too. Since 2009, Ed has lost more than 120lbs and his new mindset was matching his rejuvenated body.

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Cleaning Out The Attic? Look To See If You Have These Valuable Items

Sarrah M

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Most households in the U.S. have a collection of stuff that’s been bought over the years, whether it’s music, clothing, toys or books and just about everything else. However, something happens after an item reaches 30 years from when it was first sold. A couple of those products actually become extremely valuable. Call it nostalgia or collectability or plain old silliness, Americans have a serious connection to their past with things, and this list of valuable throwaways proves the case. You might even find one or two you had yourself growing up.

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Honest Man Bikes 3 miles to Return Lost Wallet

Sarrah M

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Losing a wallet can be absolutely anxiety-ridden and frustrating. Most people don’t realize their wallet is gone until long after it has been lost, usually hours after the fact. By then, the imagine, every credit card in the wallet has been used and they will be lucky to head off the damage if they can get a hold of their financial accounts services beforehand. However, for one mother in Hawaii, that was not the case. Instead, her wallet was personally returned to her.

Chloe Marino was a having a typical challenging day, trying to manage her 5-month old as well as get groceries in a hurry when she was at her local market in Kahului. The Foodland grocery provides their shoppers grocery carts like most markets, and Chloe had stuffed hers in the cart as she was loading food and goods to purchase and take home. Unfortunately, while she was unloading the cart to her car, she forgot her wallet in the process. However, the sharp eye of the local security guard, Aina Townsend, saved the day.

Townsend happened to see the wallet in the shopping cart left behind before anyone was able grab it. He protected it until his workday was over, and then he got on his bike. The wallet had Chloe’s information and home address, and he knew where the location was based on her data. So, traveling on his personal bike, he covered 3 miles to get to her home. He knew what it was like to lose a wallet himself, so Townsend wanted to make sure this one got back to its owner safe and sound. As he told the news later on, it just felt like the right thing to do.

When Chloe and her husband answered the door and realized what Townsend had done for them, they were floored. The effort in travel and just making sure everything was protected completely surprised them. Chloe still had no idea her wallet had been missing earlier in the day until Townsend showed up and handed it back to her. She had never met him before, had no connection to the security guard, and has noted repeatedly how Townsend went more than the extra mile for a total stranger.

Chloe’s husband, Gray, was so moved by it, he put the story on Facebook, giving full credit to Townsend for his bike ride and how it embodied an Aloha spirit Hawaiians espouse as an ideal. The local community was so amazed and impressed by Townsend’s efforts and behavior, they triggered a GoFundMe account to give the young guard a really big Christmas present, a car of his own. Townsend was completely humbled by the efforts and the fund drive. For him, a car would be like scoring the big winning touchdown at the Super Bowl. Beyond just transportation for himself, a car would mean wheels to help is family out as well. Yet even with all the thanks, Townsend’s humility still comes through. He doesn’t believe he did anything special aside from just doing right by the owner of the wallet getting it back to her safe and sound.

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One Twin Went To Space For a Year, When He Came Back The Changes Were Compelling

Sarrah M

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Science loves twins. The ability to take one twin as a placebo and the other as the change factor works incredibly well since the twins are practically identical physically. No surprise, science goes bananas studying all the differences that can occur. That’s what happened with the Kelly twins, when Scott and Mark both became astronauts. Scientists decided to send one into space to study what physical changes happened — they were not disappointed with their findings…

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Dominique Rousselle: A Guardian Angel for Thai Stray Dogs

Jolie

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Dominique Rousselle, a Canadian tourist, travels to Thailand to help stray dogs. Rousselle rides his green bicycle through Rama IV Road and small alleys to feed stray dogs. He carries two large bags of dog food on his bicycle to feed Thai Strays in the Lumpini Park area. 

People who do not know Rousselle or have not seen him before often see him as a tourist who loves feeding homeless dogs. However, for those who live in the Lumpini Park area and near Rama IV Road think of him as a guardian angel for dogs. Most people also call him the leader of the pack. 

According to Sunee Saetae, a housewife who lives near Rama IV Road said that Rousselle is a compassionate man. His love for homeless dogs is unprecedented – said Saetae.  She has also been taking care of stray dogs for nearly two decades – and had never seen a foreigner so dedicated and devoted to caring for animals. 

Who is Dominque Rousselle? 

Dominque Rousselle was born in 1957 in Paris, France. He moved to Toronto with his mother around in 1995. He is 63 years old retired teacher who travels to Thailand every year for one month to shelter and feed stray dogs. 

Although he is a Canadian citizen, he loves dogs and takes care of them. He has volunteered for the Toronto Human Society in Canada where he provides shelter to sick dogs. In simple words, he helps find dogs a new home. In Thailand, he works as a volunteer to help stray dogs and educate people to take care of homeless dogs. 

Rousselle is caring for Thai dogs for a decade now. He started rescuing dogs in Toronto and provided them with shelter and food. Over time, his love, fondness, and compassion for stray dogs grew, and that’s why he devotes his free time to help abandoned dogs. 

Rousselle Pays from His own Pocket 

For nearly a decade, Dominique Rousselle has been spending money from his own pocket to help poor dogs. He would even pay for the food, medicine, and other essential when he would bring dogs to the organization where he volunteered.

In Thailand, people often see him bringing chicken and cutting it into smaller pieces to feed hungry stray dogs. He takes care of dogs in bad condition, but most often, he realizes that feeding is not enough. That’s why he also buys medicine for dogs to treat their health conditions. Rousselle said that he treats at least 40 dogs daily. 

Dogs are in better health when they receive primary care. Rousselle takes sick dogs to the veterinarian, buys medicine, and other stuff from his own pocket. If a dog needs proper treatment, he takes it to Sukhumvit Veterinarians, a dog clinic located on Sukhumvit SOI 51. 

Moreover, Rousselle pays around $270 that equates 10,000 baht for the stray dogs to travel with him on the plane. Rousselle said that he spends $5,000 on each trip to Thailand to shelter, feed, and neuter, and treat stray dogs. 

Final Words 

Taking care of dogs and other animals is a great act, and everyone needs to learn from Dominique Rousselle who at the age of 63 pays from his own pocket to shelter, feed, and treat stray dogs in Thailand. Rousselle is indeed an inspiration for all those who love animals, but ignore these poor animals when they need them the most. 

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