The Daily Saint

"By saints I meant people who behaved decently in a strikingly indecent society. Perhaps some of you are or will become saints for her child to meet." --Kurt Vonnegut

Peggy Cooper Cafritz

On Wednesday evening, Peggy Cooper Cafritz was watching D.C.’s WUSA9’s news, when they were discussing a boy named Zach Wood, who is a high school senior lives in one of D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods. He recently got accepted into several ivy league summer programs, but he didn’t have the $10,000 that he needed to attend. He had turned to the crowdfunding page gofundme.org to try and raise money to go. As of the news program, Zach had raised about half the money he needed.

After seeing the segment, Cafritz called the station and said she wanted to foot the rest of the bill. Cafritz told reporters that she was touched by the story and was frustrated that it was simply money, not drive or ambition, that would hinder Zach from taking advantage of the opportunity.  

Cafritz told Wood that the only condition is that she wants Zach to keep in touch long after the summer program ends.

Besides being a renowned art patron in D.C., Cafritz has been involved in education in the District of Columbia for decades, including having held a a term as the president of the D.C. Board of Education. She also co-founded the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Northwest D.C.

(Photo/Story via WUSA9)

This Dad

This dad designed a special pair of shoes so that he can fit his own feet inside and hook them together with his daughter’s feet. His daughter is paralyzed, and he wanted to give her the sensation of walking.

(Photo via Twitter)

These Somali Refugees

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Young Somali refugees living in the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya recently sent letters of encouragement to Syrian refugee children who also had to flee their homes.

Care International, the aid agency that provides many basic services at the camp, organized the pen-pal exchange and delivered the handwritten letters to Syrian children at the Refugee Assistance Centre in Amman, Jordan.

The letters, often included with hopeful drawings, offer messages of solidarity, encouragement to continue learning and advice to their “dear brothers and sisters.” 

"Don’t be hopeless. We are with you, and if there is war in your country, tolerance is necessary,"  Zahra Dahir Ali wrote.

"We will get peace,” Zakariye Mohamed wrote.

The Syrian refugee children received each of their letters with a photo of the writer. The letters were well received by the young Syrians, Care International reported, and they are now writing responses to be delivered back to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

Read the entire story and view the beautiful photos here.

(Photo/Story via BBC)

Carlos Arredondo

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Carlos Arredondo became the poster child for heroism during last year’s Boston Marathon bombings when he was photographed rushing Jeff Bauman to safety.

Arredondo was no stranger to tragedy. In 2004, he received word that his son was killed in a firefight in Iraq. Another one of his sons committed suicide at age 24. He is now a peace activist who travels the country to talk about his experiences, and Arredondo was attending the marathon to cheer on a runner who was honoring his son when the bomb exploded right in front of where he sat. Arredondo immediately ran toward the blast, helping National Guard troops, police and firefighters break down metal barriers to get to those who were injured. He ran to Haner, who was laying nearly lifeless, legless and in shock.

Arredondo is the man pictured in the cowboy hat — one of the many daily saints who helped save many lives last year on Marathon Monday.

"I just concentrated on that young man and tied him up, his legs, and talked to him," Arredondo said in an eyewitness report posted on YouTube.

The Heroes of Boston

One year ago today, I watched as people who had just run 26 miles keep running to the hospital to donate blood, as marathon spectators became heroes in saving hundreds of lives, as local residents opened their homes to strangers to help them rest and find their friends and family, as firemen brought groceries to people who were asked to stay in their homes, as police and FBI worked tirelessly over several days to find the two thugs that tried to terrorize Boston.

Undeniably, the event became more known for the acts of love and kindness that spread throughout that city than the acts of hate. 

One year ago, I was given countless reasons to pursue a rudimentary concept and try to make it into a daily routine. It’s still a work in progress, but there is no stopping now. Once you open your eyes up to all the Daily Saints throughout the world, it’s difficult to deny their existence. Thanks, Daily Saint readers, for supporting this endeavor and helping me spread the message, “See the good.”

Grace Chon

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You guys, I just can’t handle the cuteness. Any mom who is this awesome and dresses up her ridiculously cute child and rescue dog like so, and can cause so much joy from something so simple, is a Daily Saint in my book.

Check out her website (and more pics of the cuteness overload of Zoey and Jasper in hats) here.

(a Grace Chon photo)

Ron Perlman

Actor Ron Perlman once underwent four-hour “Hellboy” makeup to visit a 6-year-old leukemia patient who dreamt of meeting the superhero.

These City Officials

Local city officials in the Netherlands created this ecoduct bridge so that wildlife can cross the highway safely.

The People Behind Songs of Love

There is an organization called “Songs of Love,” created by five middle-aged musicians who volunteer to write songs for very sick children in Des Moines, Iowa.

The musicians, who once played together as a college band, say the songs serve as medicine for the children but also for the aging men who create the songs. The songs, written to make the kids feel “important”, incorporate special characteristics they have revealed about their favorite hobbies, people or places.

Megan Ford, who receives treatment every Friday for leukemia, jumped at the chance to have a song made especially for her.

"Megan, Megan, there’s no mistakin’/The kitchen smells good when you’ve been bakin’./No one in Iowa is more adored/Than the one and only Megan Ford," the song goes.

"I’ve had that chorus stuck in my head all day," Megan told the Des Moines Register. "It’s cool, fun and upbeat."

(Photo via Des Moines Register)

Tony Barbero

The moment he spotted a flash of red T-shirt and a boy floundering in the icy waves of Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Tony Barbero knew the child was in big trouble.

"He was in tears, struggling, screaming, shouting for help," Barbero told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Barbero, a 17-year-old high school student, powered through the waves, grabbed the boy and pulled him up onto his surfboard.

"I tried to comfort him as best I could," Barbero said. "I gave him a hug. I told him I know what it is like."

The water at Ocean Beach is known to be frigid with a remorseless churn, and the waves have taken lives in just minutes.

There are signs around the area that warn people of the dangers of the waters. “People swimming and wading have drowned here,” one sign reads. Still, there are often tourists or day-trippers who jump in.

Once Barbero saved the struggling child, the teen then turned to see the kid’s uncle bobbing face down in the waves. He left his board, dove back into the sea and swam out to pull in the uncle, unconscious and struggling for life.

"I wasn’t going to let that happen," said Barbero, son of San Francisco fire Capt. Joe Barbero. "Not on my watch."

(Photo via San Francisco Chronicle)

Whoever Is Behind Cheer Up Chelsea

"These flowers were placed all across Chelsea yesterday on the first nice day of the year. There were hundreds of them on stoops and cars all around the neighborhood — nobody seems to know who, but the why is in the note."

Jadav “Molai” Payeng

More than 30 years ago, a teenager named Jadav “Molai” Payeng began planting seeds along a barren sandbar near his home in northern India’s Assam region to grow a refuge for wildlife. Not long after, he decided to dedicate his life to the endeavor. He moved to the site in order to work full-time to create a lush new forest ecosystem. Today the area hosts 1,360 acres of jungle that Payeng single-handedly planted.

It all started way back in 1979, when floods washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar. One day, after the waters had receded, Payeng, only 16 then, found the place dotted with the dead reptiles. That was the turning point of his life.
"The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested," Payeng, now 47, told Mother Nature Network.
So he did it on his own.
Demonstrating a keen understanding of ecological balance, Payeng even transplanted ants to his burgeoning ecosystem to bolster its natural harmony. Soon the shadeless sandbar was transformed into a self-functioning environment where a menagerie of creatures could dwell. The forest, called the Molai woods, now serves as a safe haven for numerous birds, deer, rhinos, tigers and elephants — species increasingly at risk from habitat loss.
(Photo/Story via Mother Nature Network)

Photographer Robert X. Fogarty

Photographer Robert X. Fogarty of Dear World decided to reflect and remember the day of the Boston Marathon Bombings, which were nearly one year ago, by creating a series showing images of survivors. 

Fogarty reportedly came up with the idea to photograph Boston Marathon survivors last summer after he had a chance meeting with runner Dave Fortier. At the time, Fogarty noticed that Fortier had written “healing” across the side of his head. Admiring the sentiment, Fogarty decided to reach out to other survivors to see if they would be willing to share their own messages on their skin at the finish line.

Many declined Fogarty’s offer, but a handful of survivors, runners and bystanders decided to participate. For each portrait, which Fogarty shot in late February and early March, he asked his subject to choose something they’d like to say to the world.

Celeste Corcoran of Lowell, Mass., chose to write “Still Standing” on her legs, which were amputated at the knee after the blast.

"This is the first time that I was back at the finish line," Corcoran said in a statement released by Dear World. "I had never been back and for me this was about reclaiming it. That finish line has been a negative space since the marathon. I chose to be there. I took back control."

Check out all the photos here.

(Photo via Dear World)