Montgomery County Maryland Teenagers Volunteer to Become Vaccine Hunters
Two juniors at Sherwood High School in Montgomery County, Maryland volunteered to help their Spanish teacher, Tanya Aguilar, find COVID-19 vaccination appointments for members of their community who were struggling to get the shot. Many of them are older and do not have access to computers, while others do not speak or read English well enough to schedule an appointment for themselves. Kashmira Heaton- Vakharia, who is sixteen years old, and Fernando Johnson, who is seventeen years old, started volunteering as “vaccine hunters” along with a group of students and teachers in Montgomery County, Maryland community.
The teenage volunteers use their internet skills to navigate through dozens of websites to locate available appointments. Once the appointments are located, they carefully fill in the needed information to secure the appointment. The appointments were made for members of Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist church, which included the pastor, Daniel Xisto. Sixty church members who were identified as at risk of contracting the incredibly contagious virus were able to take advantage of the volunteer’s computer skills to book their COVID-19 vaccines. People are considered at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 for a number of reasons. One of the leading factors that place certain people at greater risk is simply their age. Anyone who is sixty-five years old or older is typically considered at high risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus if they are not vaccinated. Others may be considered at high risk because they have underlying health conditions including, but not limited to, diabetes, asthma, or heart problems. These chronic illnesses could make it difficult for the patient’s body to successfully fight off COVID-19 because the immune system is busy with other pre-existing illnesses. It was important for members of the Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist church to know the risk factors so they could make use of the volunteers and get their vaccinations scheduled.
When asked about the experience, Fernando Johnson replied, “ It is an incredibly liberating feeling every time [ a vaccine is successfully scheduled.]” Johnson and Heaton-Vakharia have been able to utilize their computer skills and their time in order to schedule two hundred and fifteen COVID-19 vaccination appointments for members of their community. The teenage and adult volunteers are careful to fill in all the vaccine registration information correctly. Having the wrong information at the time of the appointment can cause delays and slow the process at the vaccination site.
The work of these teenage vaccine hunters did not go unrecognized. Pater Daniel Xisto made sure to get a picture of himself getting his vaccine. He wanted to show his congregation it was not a difficult thing to do. The pastor also wanted to publicly thank Johnson and Heaton-Vakharia and let them know what a wonderful service they provided to his congregation. He wants to invite them to services when his church is able to reopen. The vaccine hunters replied that it would be cool to sit down and talk to the pastor and congregation.
Pookila Mouse Has Great Success In Captive Breeding Program
The Pookila mouse, also known as the Smoky mouse, is a small, nocturnal rodent found only in the forests of Victoria, Australia. These cute little critters are typically grey or brown with a long, bushy tail and big, round ears. They are highly agile climbers and can jump up to one meter in height. However, despite their impressive physical capabilities, Pookila mice are facing an uncertain future due to habitat loss and predation.
In response to the declining Pookila mouse population, a captive-breeding program was launched 12 months ago in Victoria. The program has already achieved significant success, with over 20 baby Pookila mice born in captivity. The birth of these pups is a cause for celebration as they will help to increase the genetic diversity of the species and may even be released back into the wild.
Dr Parrott, who leads the captive-breeding program, says that “depending on the genetics that we have in the program at the end of the breeding season, we’ll be looking at the best release locations for these animals out to current populations to increase their genetic diversity and their health.” This approach will help to ensure that the released Pookila mice have the best chance of survival in the wild.
The Pookila mouse is an important species for the ecosystem as they play a vital role in spreading seeds and fungal spores. Unfortunately, the species faces a number of threats, including habitat loss, predators like feral cats and foxes, and drought. The loss of genetic diversity also poses a significant risk to the long-term survival of the species.
With the success of the captive-breeding program, there is renewed hope for the Pookila mouse. The breeding program is a crucial step in preserving this unique species and ensuring its survival for generations to come.
Vacant Church Classrooms In Eau Claire To Be Made Into Veteran Housing Units
A nonprofit organization in Eau Claire, Wisconsin is working to convert vacant church classrooms into housing for veterans. Veterans Community Project (VCP) was founded by a group of veterans who wanted to help their fellow veterans who were homeless.
The organization found several unoccupied classrooms in a local church and plans to convert them into housing units for veterans. The church has agreed to lease the space to VCP at a reduced rate, allowing the project to happen.
VCP plans to build small, self-contained living units with private bathrooms and kitchens within the classrooms. The units will be energy-efficient, with solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and other eco-friendly features.
The VCP will also offer counseling, job training, and financial assistance to veterans living in the units. To ensure that veterans have access to the resources they require, the organization will work closely with local veterans’ organizations and government agencies.
According to the organization’s founder, VCP is dedicated to providing veterans with a safe, stable, and affordable place to live. They recognize that many veterans face unique challenges, such as PTSD and physical disabilities, and they want to ensure that the housing units are designed with veterans in mind.
The organization is raising funds for the project through grants and donations from local individuals and businesses. Volunteers are also needed to assist with the construction and operation of the housing units.
The VCP has already received community support, and the local government has provided a grant for the project. The organization hopes to break ground on the project in the coming months and has housing units ready for veterans to move into by the end of next year.
Ukrainian Service Dog Among Scores of war prisoners Released From Russia During Prisoner Exchange￼￼
Dogs are not only a man’s best friend, but are critical aides during armed conflicts. Therefore, when Adik, a Pit Bull Terrier from Ukraine was captured alongside hundreds of other soldiers during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war last year, no stone was left unturned for his safe return.
Indeed he was returned on New Year’s Day along with many soldiers in a prisoner swap which has brought much relief to the Ukraine military, family members, and the country as a whole.
In a prisoner swap over the New Year, a dog that Russian soldiers had taken and delivered to Chechen commander Kadyrov as a “trophy” has finally been released and given back to a Ukrainian servicewoman.
Adik, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was allegedly given as a “trophy” to Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, by a Ukrainian service member in June.
But as part of a prisoner exchange over the New Year that saw 140 Ukrainian troops released from Russian custody, Adik has now been handed back to Ukraine.
Along with his owner who is a Ukrainian service woman and Mariupol’s defenders, Adik, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was captured at Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.
During a prisoner exchange over the New Year that saw 140 Ukrainian troops extricated from the custody of the Russian military, Adik has now been handed back to Ukraine.
He was given to the special services until Kadyrov received it, and has since named the dog Adidas, by volunteer Yuriy Kovanov.
Adik’s picture appeared in a tweet that read, “Ukraine needs everyone! A pit bull terrier was freed from Russian captivity while defending Mariupol with our men!
The prisoner exchange, which occurred at unspecified locations, resulted in the release of 200 plus Ukrainian as well as Russian soldiers.
The joy on the faces of the Ukrainian soldiers as they shared their freedom was captured on camera.
On New Year’s Day, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that more than 80 Russian soldiers had already been freed by Ukraine.
Along with his owner and Mariupol’s defenders, Adik was captured at Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.
Ramzan Kadyrov (left) received Akin as a “prize” from volunteer Yuriy Kovanov after having been given to the secret services.
Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff for the Ukrainian president, reported that 140 Ukrainian service members had been sent to Russia in exchange.
According to the Telegram channel Yermak, some of the released Ukrainian soldiers—132 men and eight women—had fought to protect Snake Island and Mariupol, a Black Sea coastal city. A large number of soldiers suffered wounds during the battle.
Despite a total collapse in larger diplomatic negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv, the two parties have swapped hundreds of seized soldiers in many waves of prisoner exchanges over several months.
At the unknown location on Saturday, a stream of military soldiers from Ukraine emerged from several buses wearing military fatigues.
As they were freed as captives of war recently, the now-free warriors hugged their loved ones.
As they exited the buses and entered freedom, the troops shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” and lifted their fists in the air in jubilation.
They were greeted with smiles by family members and Ukrainian officials, who gave them white tote bags that looked to hold necessary supplies and paperwork.
They then posed for a picture while carrying several Ukrainian flags in a line. Glory to Ukraine! was shouted once more as they clapped and cheered together.
The Comeback of a Brazilian Air-Breathing Fish Monster￼
In the Amazon, one particular fish is king of the waters. It’s giveaway tends to be the amazingly loud racket of splashing the fish creates simply because of size alone. However, unlike the other denizens of Brazilian waters, the Pirarucu is an air-breathing animal, requiring a new batch of air every quarter of an hour. And, it’s that particular vulnerability that has been the Achilles Heel of the fish, being caught easily as it surfaces to breathe.
Some of the Pirarucu are sizeable, but an average adult can easily reach over 10 feet in length and have a 450 pound drag when pulled out of the water. They are ideal for eating and frequently targeted by poachers looking to make some good money off of local fish food markets. No surprise, the Pirarucu have been decimated as a result, with their population numbers shrinking rapidly across the region.
The Brazilian government has, with targeted conservation, been making a significant effort to reverse the damage of over-fishing of the Pirarucu, which has begun producing positive results. It’s a significant challenge considering that the fish is within a 4,300 square mile range of jungle the government is trying to protect.
Now, the Pirarucu are allowed to be fished within a government-approved three-week window, i.e. a limited fishing season. Local villagers take full advantage of the short time, grabbing as many of the Pirarucu as they can during the short harvest season. They generally sit in boats quietly, waiting for the fish to surface to breathe. When it does, the fishermen encircle the location of the fish and drop their nets, basically cutting off escape until the given Pirarucu is caught in a net and pulled up.
That said, the Pirarucu don’t give up easily. With their heavy body size, the fish puts up a hell of a fight trying to get loose. To stop resistance, the fishermen essentially bludgeon the fish with bats and clubs to make it easier to finish the catch. Then the fish, knocked out, is dragged into the boat.
Out of the water, the Pirarucu looks like something out of a sci-fi movie thrown back in time. It’s far more similar to an oversized eel than a typical fish. The long body, red-tinged scales and big mouth make the Pirarucu seem more like a dinosaur-age fish than a modern one. The body tends to be so big and heavy that when the water level is low, the harvest has to be dragged on a stretcher out of the boat so it can still float back to the village.
For a good day in the harvest window, catching eight or more Pirarucu is like winning the lottery for the local villagers. The catch is counted, inventoried and reported to the government to adjust population numbers. Once the harvest window is closed, then local conservation regulators and researchers track the remaining live population to make sure it stays stable and continues to grow. There is also a keen awareness and proactive search for poachers as well.
For all involved, the current program works better and makes more sense. Some of the older villagers remember things being so bad, they would fish for days on end and maybe get lucky if one Pirarucu was caught at the end of a week. The program has clearly become a model of how local fishing and conservation can work together for improvement overall.
Toronto Puts Forward a New Paradigm in Senior Care Homes￼
Looking for a care home is not something seniors look forward to. It’s a bit of acknowledging that the end of one’s life is coming, and you’re on the bus toward eventually being separated from normal life and becoming a cared-for senior waiting for the end, at least that’s how many look at it. However, the simple fact is that many families don’t have the time, training or availability to take care of a senior relative, especially one that needs regular medical attention, and many seniors also can’t take care of themselves anymore either.
Louis Capozzi was now facing the same situation; he was not looking forward to moving into a care home, and he knew he didn’t have a choice in the matter. At the age of 70 and suffering from a form of ALS, personal care was going to be essential for Capozzi just to survive. As it turned out, however, his fears were unfounded. The Lakeshore Lodge at Toronto was going to be an entirely different experience versus what Capozzi had heard about care homes as well as the rumors he himself was germinating after reading too much on the Internet.
Capozzi has now been a resident of Lakeshore Lodge since June 2022, and he hasn’t regretted a day of it. The difference is in how the facility is being run. The goal of the system is very different from the typical managed care approach. Instead, Lakeshore Lodge is “resident-centered,” which means the residents get to make most of the choices of how they are cared for, what they eat, how to stay active, when they wake up and even the decor of the interior design. Capozzi himself is well-involved; his former career was in construction, so he’s regularly involved with building discussion and decisions on changes. Plus, he also gets to work on his hobby, cooking.
Dubbed, “CareTO,” the resident-centered program is an intentional move for a different approach in senior care, especially in a care home setting. Where the traditional model was about treating all the senior patients as cogs, running them through the same course, schedule, food and events for maximum efficiency and cost control, the resident-centered approach focuses on giving seniors their freedom again. Of course, that costs extra, and it’s only possible because Toronto is providing the extra money with $16.1 million via the next five years to support the efficacy of the new treatment model. It doesn’t just go to Lakehouse Lodge; some 272 positions are being supported in 10 different care homes to make this new program work. It’s a split-funded program between the Province and city with two-thirds carried by the Province’s support.
The change is more than appropriate. As the Boomer generation is crashing headlong into their senior years, the demand for senior care and care home beds has increased exponentially. Because the issue is so pressing, Toronto’s government decided 2022 was the year to really push a different paradigm in senior care. CareTO became the answer to that call. The recent COVID pandemic also demanded a different approach. Too many caretakers in the old system had been burned out by the COVID strain, workload and losses. More importantly, the new program is working.
The seniors in the program are doing better, they are happier, healthier and the staff feel they can successfully do their jobs again. Nothing is ever perfect, but the majority, patients and staff agree, the CareTO program is a game-changer.