MIRACLE MONDAY–A New Weekly Column: Homeless Uncle Inspired Him to Reunite the Unhoused with Families Before it's Too Late

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Kevin Adler with his Dad at Mark’s grave
Written by Kevin F. Adler, Founder and CEO of Miracle Messages

Every person experiencing homelessness is someone’s child, or someone’s parent. And Mark was my uncle.

He was the most family-oriented member of my extended family. He was the guest of honor at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He remembered every birthday—like the year before he died at age 50, when he gave me an eagle bandana as a gift.

Mark also suffered from schizophrenia, and lived on-and-off the streets for 30 years.

In November 2013, for the first time since he died, I visited his gravesite in Santa Cruz, California. My dad and other uncle had chipped in for a plot of ground to call his own, refusing to have Mark’s memory forgotten.

This was poignant for me, and I wondered if there was anything I could do for the people still living on the streets whose lives are being forgotten.

Like Uncle Mark, many of them are suffering from mental illness. Some are drug addicted, some have disabilities, and many have problems, just like the rest of us. They’re down on their luck, just divorced, unemployed, in debt, or stricken with health issues.

What Mark inspired me to realize is that many people have families and people who miss them and love them.

I decided to do something about it.

Mark Adler

In December 2014, I started Miracle Messages, a nonprofit organization that helps people experiencing homelessness to rebuild their support systems, primarily through reunifying families who have lost touch—and the results have been, well, miraculous.

We also set up a phone-buddy program to pair up caring strangers who are willing to offer support by phone. Almost ten years later, we have thousands of volunteers.

We believe that an absence of relationships is an overlooked form of poverty that can often be deadly. As one of my unhoused friends put it 10 years ago, “I never realized I was homeless when I lost my housing—only when I lost my family and friends.”

LOOK: Father’s Day Miracle – Random Meeting With a Child Reunites Woman With Dad Who Abandoned Her

We are on a mission to ensure that no one goes through homelessness alone, and that no one in the general public (you or me) feels helpless to do something about the heartbreaking issue.

Ray with his Miracle Friend Jen – Miracle Messages

Each week, as part of a new column we are calling “Miracle Monday,” GNN will share a story about one of our homeless neighbors who was offered a heartwarming reunion or a loving connection, thanks to Miracle Messages.

You will hear about the incredible friendship between a young man on the streets in Los Angeles who was paired with a technology worker in the Middle East, through the Miracle Friends buddy program for weekly calls and text messages.

You will see powerful photos of a homeless middle-aged busker near San Francisco as he reunites for the first time with his mom after 67 years apart.

MIRACLE NEWS: Unique Nonprofit to Provide ‘Basic Income’ to California Homeless in 12-Month Study Funded by Google

And you will discover how a Black public school teacher and community advocate ended up at a shelter after facing a major health issue, but was able to get into stable housing through our basic income program.

Most of these remarkable stories are made possible by the good-hearted people who volunteer to help locate a long-lost loved one—or commit 20-30 minutes a week to have phone calls and text exchanges with an unhoused friend—helping to make miracles happen.

The issue of homelessness may seem intractable, so we’re excited to bring you weekly good news of healing and hope beginning next Monday. Stay tuned!

Miracle Messages is an award-winning 501(c)3 nonprofit that helps people experiencing homelessness rebuild their social support systems and financial security, primarily through family reunifications, a phone buddy program, and basic income pilots.

'Hero' 13-Year-old Grabs Steering Wheel and Stops School Bus After Driver Passes Out

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Warren Consolidated School District – released

A 7th grader in Warren, Michigan is being hailed as a hero after his quick thinking averted a disaster aboard a school bus.

Lois E. Carter Middle Schooler Dillon Reeves hurried to grab the steering wheel and slam on the brakes as the bus was veering towards oncoming traffic, moments after the bus driver began feeling light-headed and lost consciousness.

Bus-mounted camera footage revealed the driver losing control, and Reeves jumping into action from a full five rows back, before shouting to his classmates to call 911 immediately.

Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois explained the situation in a news conference and said “I could not be prouder of his efforts.”

“He had the wherewithal to push it [the brake] slowly, likely in anticipation that the bus was full of passengers,” added Livernois, saying that it was “an extraordinary act of courage and maturity.”

After feeling lightheaded, the driver said on the intercom she was going to pull over for a moment, but never arrived at the pull-off area, and instead began to drift into the oncoming lane.

MORE HEROIC CHILDREN: Teen Hailed as Hero for Saving 3 Girls And an Officer After Vehicle Sinks in River

Dillon’s mother Ireta Reeves was understandably beaming with pride while her son was honored at the news conference.

“To do something like this, fills my heart, makes my heart skip a beat, to even watch that video again, I’m just… I can’t even express the proudness. I’m extremely proud of him.”

WATCH the story below… 

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Instead of Demolishing its Tallest Building, Australia Saved Tons of CO2 With ‘Upcycle a Skyscraper’ Contest

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The Quay Quarter Tower – released by 3XN

In 2014, the Australian firm AMP Capital launched a bold and bizarre call to action to the architectural community of Sydney—replace their skyscraper headquarters without demolishing it.

They wanted their AMP Center, the once-tallest building in Sydney, to become the world’s first “upcycled skyscraper,” and the results were truly inspirational.

By grating a second tower onto the existing core of the AMP Center and not demolishing it, 12,000 tons of CO2 were saved which would have otherwise been created through the use of heavy machinery and the loss of carbon captured in the cement. 12,000 tons is equal to 3 years of the 49-story tower’s maximum energy consumption.

Built in the 1970s, the AMP Center wasn’t necessarily on its last legs, but wasn’t viable for the company any longer. But the firm was unwilling to commit to the massive costs of carbon and money when another option was available.

First though, sufficiently bold architects were needed for the project. Three firms teamed up, led by Danish architects 3XN, an Engineering company called Arup, and the Australian architects BVN.

“The tower was coming to the end of the end of its life, in terms of viability… but the structure and the ‘bones’ can actually last a lot longer,” said Fred Holt from 3XN in a video interview. “You can’t always retain everything. But if you can retain the structure—and that’s where the majority of your embodied carbon is—then you’re lowering your footprint.”

MORE ARCHITECTURE NEWS: When Architect Asks AI to Design Futuristic Skyscrapers It Proposed a Vertical Forest

At first it was unclear how much of the original structure would be saved. Beginning on the project, the team realized the original tower was actually about 4 meters shorter than the original drawings suggested.

Towers, it turns out, shrink—a result of the concrete spreading and settling. And it was only when construction began in 2018 that the architects could really get a sense of whether the concrete was as strong as their initial estimates, as well as where—and how much—extra weight could be placed.

The Quay Quarter Tower with a view over the harbor – released by 3XN

They installed hundreds of sensors to track the tiniest of movements to ensure that by aligning their new construction with the old one, there wouldn’t be any surprises waiting for them at key moments.

In short, the build was a huge success, and the architects boast that walking from the new construction into the old tower is an unnoticeable transition.

MORE SUSTAINABLE TOWERS: The New Green Building Revolution Uses Timber to Build ‘Plyscrapers’ That Save Tons of CO2

Five stacked units with sharp points twist up toward the sky, while an envelope covers both the new extension and the old tower such that no one could tell the difference. Office space was expanded from 4,500 to 9,000 personnel, and the lack of demolition saved AMP around AUD$150 million.

The Quay Quarter Tower, as it’s called, won World Building of the Year upon its opening late in 2022. 3XN hopes it serves as a case study for the future potential in upcycling towers.

WATCH the transformation below… 

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Good News on this day in history – May 1

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270 years ago today, publication of the Species Plantarum marked the formal beginning of the plant taxonomy, which would later be adopted by the International Code of Plant Nomenclature. The tome was published by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who has been called the “Pliny of the North,” as well as “Princeps botanicorum,” and who famous Swedish author August Strindberg called “a poet who happened to become an ecologist.” Such is the admiration for Linnaeus’ pioneering work that the abbreviation L. is used in scholarship to denote that the authority for a plant comes from him. READ about the Species Plantarum… (1753)

Species Plantarum – pub domain

Species Plantarum was the first botanical work to consistently apply the binomial nomenclature system of naming to any large group of organisms. Prior to this work, a plant species would be known by a long polynomial, such as Plantago foliis ovato-lanceolatis pubescentibus, spica cylindrica, scapo tereti (meaning “plantain with pubescent ovate-lanceolate leaves, a cylindrical spike and a terete scape”) or Nepeta floribus interrupte spicatis pedunculatis (meaning “Nepeta with flowers in a stalked, interrupted spike.”)

In Species Plantarum, these cumbersome names were replaced with two-part names, consisting of a single-word genus name, and a single-word specific epithet or “trivial name”; the two examples above became Plantago media and Nepeta cataria, respectively. On a side note, in his tenth edition of Systema Naturae, Linnaeus applied the same binomial system to animals for the first time.

Species Plantarum contained descriptions of the thousands of plant species known to Linnaeus at the time. In the first edition, there were 5,940 names.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • Samuel Morse sent the first message by telegraph (1844)
  • Reconstruction began in The South, opening voter registration to African-Americans (1867)
  • Aspirin was introduced in Germany by Bayer (1889)
  • On the third day of Los Angeles riots in response to a verdict in the Rodney King beating trial, King appealed for calm: “People, I just want to say, can we all just get along?” (1992)
  • The Europe Union welcomed as members Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic –back from Communist rule – and Cyprus and Malta (2004)
  • Today is the 18th annual Global Love Day, with governors and mayors joining people in 145 countries to celebrate humanity and calling for unconditional love throughout the entire day (2004)
  • Sweden legalized same-sex marriage (2009)

71 years ago today, Hasbro debuted Mr. Potato Head in America. It may seem, without the influence of the Toy Story movies, a trivial invention, but the kits which allowed kids to interchange different facial features onto an actual potato, sold more than a million copies in the first year. 

Some speculate that Brooklyn-born toy inventor George Lerner got the idea from his wife’s nephew Aaron Bradley, who was seen placing sticks inside of potatoes in the family garden. Lerner would often take potatoes from his mother’s garden and, using various other fruits and vegetables as facial features, he would make dolls with which his younger sisters could play.

The original design of an actual potato, with the facial features being made by other vegetables, was controversial, but not for the reason you might imagine. With World War II and food rationing a recent memory for most Americans, the use of fruits and vegetables to make toys was considered irresponsible and wasteful, and many toy companies rejected the idea.

The rights were eventually picked up by the Hassenfeld Brothers (Hasbro) for $5,000. Lerner was offered an advance of $500 and a 5% royalty on every kit sold. The toy was named Mr. Potato Head and went into production on May 1, 1952.

In 1953, a Mrs. Potato Head variant was added, and soon after, Brother Spud and Sister Yam completed the family, followed by accessories reflecting the affluence of the 1950s: a car, boat trailer, kitchen set, stroller, and pets marketed as Spud-ettes. (1952)

237 years ago today, Mozart’s first opera, The Marriage of Figaro, premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Its momentous music beneath lighthearted comedy didn’t connect with audiences, and it closed after only nine performances. Yet, in theaters today, it is one of the most frequently performed operas of all time.

Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Italian script (libretto) written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, the 4-act opera recounts the story of how the servants Figaro and Susanna succeed in getting married, foiling the efforts of their philandering employer to seduce Susanna, while teaching him a lesson in fidelity.

WATCH the inspiring scene from Shawshank Redemption when a prisoner plays the longingly beautiful duet Sull’aria… (1786)

And, 137 years ago today, the first “May Day” was organized for labor unions around the world to demand better working conditions and world peace.

Made in America factory workers ABCNews report

Also known as International Workers’ Day, it celebrates the achievements of the international labor movement. An eight-hour workday was demanded by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in the U.S. and elsewhere. Beginning May 1, it staged a general strike. Riots broke out, but they did eventually achieve the official sanction of the eight-hour day. (1886)

73 years ago today, writer Gwendolyn Brooks became the first black person (her preferred term) to win a Pulitzer prize.The quintessential Chicago poet published her first poem at the age of 13—by age 16 she’d published 75.

Kingkongphoto & www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel Maryland, USA / CC BY-SA

Her second book of poems, the Pulitzer-winning Annie Allen, focused on the life of an inner city girl in the neighborhood where Brooks grew up. She said, “I lived in a small second-floor apartment at the corner, and I could look first on one side and then the other. There was my material.” (1950)

Naomi Uemura (Fair use, Wikipedia)

And, 45 years ago today, a Japanese adventurer did alone what had previously been achieved only with large teams—Naomi Uemura became the first man ever to reach the North Pole solo. He almost gave up twice. On the fourth day of his trek, a polar bear invaded his camp, ate his supplies, and poked his nose against the sleeping bag where Uemura lay tense and motionless.

Mr. Uemura, who was also the first man ever to raft the Amazon alone, said of his 57-day Arctic push, “What drove me to continue was the thought of countless people who had helped and supported me.” He also wrote adventure books for Japanese children and was known as a modest, gentle, self-effacing man who cared about others. He was also the first man ever to climb Denali solo, but disappeared, at age 43, on another attempt to climb that mountain in the winter. (1978)

2018 Photo by Diana Ringo, CC license

Happy Birthday to the uniquely whimsical film director and writer Wes Anderson, who celebrates 54 years today. Born in Houston, he befriended actor Owen Wilson while studying at the University of Texas, and Wilson went on to star in 8 of Wes’s motion pictures, while earning an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay—for co-writing The Royal Tenenbaums with Wes, who was known for his witty dialogue. The Grand Budapest Hotel received nine Academy Award nominations in 2014 and won five—thanks to the invariably gorgeous production design, costumes, and original score.

He cast Jason Schwartzman as the lead in Rushmore when he was an unknown actor—and later in 6 more films, including The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. Bill Murray has also appeared in each of these films—a total of 9, to date. Anderson has been nominated for 7 major Oscars himself, including Best Director and Best Picture for Budapest Hotel, and Best Animated Feature for Fantastic Mr. Fox—with George Clooney voicing the wily fox—and Isle of Dogs in 2018. WATCH the Top 5 Signs You’re Watching a Wes Anderson Movie… (1969)

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Revolutionary Music Therapy Helps Paralyzed Man Walk and Talk Again – It ‘Unlocked the Brain’

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A patient who was left almost completely paralyzed from a rare disease is now walking and talking again, after a music therapist prescribed mindful listening to his favorite song every night—in this case, a tune by The Carpenters.

71 year-old Ian Palmer was struck down with Guillain-Barré syndrome last June, forcing him to spend seven months in a hospital where he was unable to walk or speak properly. The rare condition happens when a person’s own immune system attacks their body’s motor nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

“It selectively targets the motor nerve cells and you have to wait for them to regenerate—which in your 70s is quite worrying!”

“I was in intensive care, being suctioned 24 hours a day, as I couldn’t swallow, and this was leading to choking problems, and I had a nasogastric tube fitted for over four months.”

Ian’s speech was affected by the syndrome because it caused damage to his larynx, the tunnel in the back of the throat where air passes through to create sounds.

But when Ian was transferred to Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre, a state-of-the-art care unit in Lancashire, England, clinicians used music therapy techniques to overcome ‘near total paralysis of his body’.

His specialist, Clare, taught him mindfulness techniques using his favorite records—and he began listening to The Carpenters each night.

Ian Palmer with his music therapist, Clare – SWNS

Ian was admittedly skeptical, but he can now walk 2 miles a day (3k) and have conversations with his family after the exercises “opened up” his brain.

He’s never been very musical, so when Sue Ryder first suggested music therapy he said, ‘What good is that going to do?’

“I’m a typical Northern man, and I thought, ‘What’s a girl with a guitar going to do for me—get me to the gym.’”

“But it really worked. Clare sat me down and explained the process. I learned that music is very unlike other therapies, as it opens up all of the brain.”

She taught Ian to sing a long note using his diaphragm to assist.

“I told her, ‘I don’t even know where that is!’ But, she explained that by calling on the diaphragm, you’re training the brain so that it can use other muscles too.

“It learns the pathways and reopens them.”

CHECK OUT: The Lullaby Project Connects Mothers Behind Bars with Their Babies, Helping Them Write Original Lullabies

Clare also got Ian to practice mindfulness techniques, with some assistance from his favorite records.

“She wanted something I could relax to, and being of a certain age, The Carpenters was my choice. She asked me to do it before bed, and now I put The Carpenters on every night.

“She told me to push away the thoughts, and just focus on the music.

FUN: Older Gentleman Steals Dance Floor With Flawless Michael Jackson Moves: Age is Just a Number (WATCH)

Ian, who has since been discharged from the clinic, which also has locations around England and Scotland, said he was amazed at the difference music therapy had made to his experience.

“One of my goals was to walk through my front door. Now I can take my headphones and go for a walk doing my vocal exercises. There’s been such a positive impact.”

Using his diaphragm, he also learned how to breathe more effectively.

“My mum couldn’t understand me when she first came to visit. But now I’m confident that the music therapy I’ve received has more than dealt with it, and my voice has been able to join the rest of my body in recovering.”

POPULAR: Singing Bus Driver Becomes a Star After Making Music Video to Show Family in India What He Did for Work (WATCH)

And there might not have been a better a song choice than We’ve Only Just Begun

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Woman Saved After Her Dog Found a Kidney Donor at the Beach: One-in-22 Million Odds

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credit – Cenydd Owen

In an absolutely jaw-dropping change of fortune, a Welshwoman with late-stage renal failure met a kidney donor on the beach who happened to be a perfect match.

44-year-old Lucy Humphrey from Caerphilly has lived her whole adult life with lupus, but it was in 2017 that she heard from her doctors that if she couldn’t find a new kidney in 5-year’s time, there was a chance she would die.

Requiring kidney dialysis, Humphrey and her partner Cenydd Owen had to cancel their campervan holiday, and so decided to drive it instead to the beach to have a barbeque.

While they were there, one of their two Dobermans, a big lug called Indie, kept running over to another camper to pester her while she was crocheting. By the third time, Owen went over to apologize.

There were no hard feelings between the camper, 40-year-old Katie James, and Indie, and in fact she was soon over at the barbeque chatting with Humphrey.

It was there James learned that Humphrey needed a kidney. She spoke up to mention that she had just joined the kidney donation register and offered to swap phone numbers.

“And to be honest I didn’t think anything else would come of it,” Humphrey remarked to the Daily Record.

MORE INSPIRING STORIES: Inspired By Daughter’s Life-Saving Kidney Donor, Father Returns the Favor and Becomes a Donor

However, blood tests later revealed the two campers were a perfect match, something which Humphrey described as a 1-in-22 million chance. The transplant took place in October of 2022, after which Humphrey needed 4 weeks to be discharged from the hospital due to James’ donated kidney not “waking up” fast enough.

After that, she could finally go on that campervan holiday, have a drink with dinner, and do many more activities besides.

MORE WELSH NEWS: Wales is Building a National Forest That Will Span the Length and Breadth of the Country

“I’m so grateful for her… I told my partner in 2019 if I didn’t find a transplant within five years it was possible something would happen and I would die,” said Humphrey. “I want this to be a message to other people not to give up hope.”

“The Kidney Gang” credit – Cenydd Owen

James said when she first signed up she was told she wouldn’t receive any information on what her donated kidney would accomplish—whether it saved a life or not, or even who it went to.

Like this, she not only knows for sure it saved a woman’s life, but it created a lasting friendship—proof of which lies in the smartphones of James, Humphrey, and Owen, where WhatsApp messages bear the address “The Kidney Gang” from the group chat they created.

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