FEEL GOOD FRIDAY | Homeless Man’s Unexpected Discovery

Second Chance at a New Beginning. John Helsinki unexpectedly lands on his feet. Image Credit: WFTS

Second Chance at a New Beginning. John Helsinki unexpectedly lands on his feet.
Image Credit: WFTS

Imagine living three years in a cardboard box when you unknowingly could afford shelter and food. A homeless man in Florida didn’t have too.

John Helsinki, 62, of Tampa, Florida, discovered he’s been receiving Social Security Benefits in his forgotten bank account for years. Thanks to the assistance of a local cop and homeless shelter worker.

Helsinki wouldn’t disclose the amount of money in his bank to ABC News, but it’s enough to cover the costs of his own apartment and afford food.

The miracle story unfolded when Helsinki’s advocates/guardian angels (the cop, Daniel McDonald and homeless shelter case worker, Charles Inman) helped him replace his lost ID to get him into a shelter.

Welp, they did more than that. McDonald gave him a ride to get a temporary state ID, followed by a birth certificate. Equipped with those identifiers, they marched into the Social Security Office and explained Helsinki used to have benefits.

Helsinki told ABC News that he thought his benefits were cancelled because his debit card was lost, ergo so was access to his bank account.

Not anymore, Officer McDonald escorted him to his old bank to check the status of his account.Voila! Enough money to get back on his feet.

ABC News reports Helsinki is still at the DACCO Community Housing Solutions Center, but will be moved to permanent housing soon.

The miracle story wouldn’t have been possible with McDonald and Inman’s helpful dedication.

“This situation looked really difficult, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end up,” Inman told ABC News today. “If it failed, it meant we’d put a 62-year-old man on the street, and Officer McDonald and I were not OK with that.”

Kudos to them for helping one of many that are often overlooked everyday.

IfYouBlinked Woman Crush | Malala for Remembering Our Girls

One year, 200 schoolgirls, never forget. Photo Credit: Malala Twitter

One year, 200 schoolgirls, never forget.
Photo Credit: Malala Twitter

To commemorate the one year anniversary of over 200 Nigerian girls being captured, and sold as sex slaves and suicide bombers, Malala penned a powerful letter to friends and family.

She writes their torturous situation is not forgotten. Even though, their viral campaign (#BringBackOurGirls) nearly is. And promises to do everything she can to press the international community to bring them home.

Then goes on to update them on their parents. Malala and her dad visited Nigeria last fall to comfort the families of the missing girls, and urge then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to follow suit. Which he did the following day.

Malala closes the letter by expressing hope they’ll be rescued soon, and joining their escapee classmates in taking advantage of her org’s scholarships to attend school safely.

President-elect Muhammadu Buhari vowed to put an end to terrorist org Boko Haram, but was less than confident on finding the now 2,000 missing schoolgirls.

To hear Malala’s full letter to the Chibok girls, listen below:

To write your own letter to the missing Nigerian girls click here and see how others are raising awareness for the #bringbackourgirls campaign here.

Kevin Hart Offers College Scholarships | NE-YO is Principal for the Day

Photo Credit: Forbes Magazine

Photo Credit: Forbes Magazine

Funnyman Kevin Hart is serious about the higher learning experience. So much so the “Get Hard” actor has teamed up with “your mind is a terrible thing to waste” crew, better known as United Negro College Fund, to reward four students with college scholarships.

The $50,000 scholarship will go to four deserving high school students of Kevin’s choosing. According to Campus Lately, the lucky seniors all happen to be from Philly. It is the city of brotherly love, after all…oh, and it’s also where Kevin hails from. (color that coincidental!)

Kevin said it’s just desserts for the kids hard work, and it’s a much better investment than making it rain over a stripper’s pole.

This is me stepping up to the plate and saying what you’re doing is dope. You’re dope. You’ve got the opportunity to be the dopest of all dopetivity. My money went to a much much more useful cause I guess you would say than what I would have been doing with it at a strip club.

No, in all seriousness, congrats to all the worthy scholars. You can watch them get rewarded on “An Evening of Starts” on BET April 26th.


Who sang it better? NE-Yo or Ang?  Photo Credit: Neyo Instagram

Who sang it better? NE-Yo or Ang?
Photo Credit: Neyo Instagram

NE-YO deserves a pat on the back too. The “Non-Fiction” crooner was brave enough to step into the shoes of a high school principal. (Better him than me.) For one day, NE-YO led the pack at High School of Fashion Industries in New York City.

Lending a hand was The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee, who interviewed the singer in front of an auditorium of teens.

The day kicked off with NE-YO chatting with students in an exclusive meetup. The upstarts–student ambassadors–got access to the platinum singer when they led their school to victory in the Capital One Bank NYC College Challenge. The competition is to get as many teen leaders or ambassadors to motivate their classmates on the path to college. Mission accomplished for High School of Fashion Industries; they got over 1,000 students active on this topic.

Which definitely deserves a NE-YO sing-a-long:

Along with a Q&A session headlined by Angela Yee. NE-YO dropped some knowledge on what it takes to be a success. (Hint: Persistence, Persistence, Persistence)

It took me 12 years to get to the beginning. A lot of people are going to tell you ‘no.’ As opposed to talking to people, you have to show them.

He’s not lying.

Topping off the teens best day ever was a lip sync battle where the kids unleashed their performing talents.

Keep up the good work, kiddos.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY | A Charity Tour

Oyekoya Yemi is wrapping up his 15 day charity tour through West Africa to raise awareness for #BringBackOurGirls Campaign Image Courtesy: Instagram

Oyekoya Yemi is wrapping up his 15 day charity tour through West Africa to raise awareness for #BringBackOurGirls Campaign
Image Courtesy: Instagram

This has been a long week. A sorrowful week. So much so that I considered skipping this week’s Feel Good Friday. But, what changed my mind was Feiden Santana. The young man that was not only brave enough to tape a vicious assassination from someone in authority, but release it to the victims family. To tell the whole cruel story and bring swift justice at the same time.

The other name you might not be familiar with; Oyekoya Yemi. A Nigerian man that is also fighting against an injustice in his backyard. Instead of a camera, he’s using a bicycle. Yemi has challenged himself to make a 500 mile journey from Abidjan, Ivory Coast to Lagos, Nigeria on his two wheeler. All to raise awareness for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Remember that?

In three days it will be one year since 200 Chibok schoolgirls were ripped from their beds at school, and sold as child brides by the Boko Haram. Since that time the brutal terrorist group has merged with equally ferocious ISIS.

I know what you’re thinking. How does this make me feel good?

I’ll tell you how. Because no matter how bad things get or are. There is always someone fighting to make things right. And it’s people like Oyekoya willing to risk his safety and comfort for 15 days (he wraps up his tour next week) to make people remember. Our humanity.

Follow him on Twitter as he chronicles his journey.

Despite all the bad swirling around us these days, there is still good. Good people too. So, let’s be thankful for that this week.

‘Empire’ Creator Lee Daniels Receives Humanitarian Award from NAN

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I’m on top of the world, ma

Brace yourself, Tavis Smiley.

The National Action Network held their ‘Keepers of the Dream Awards’ last night. An annual celebration to commemorate

Dr. King’s death, and support those that keep his principles alive. The honoree this year was Lee Daniels. The writer/director/producer/creator of the biggest show on network TV–Empire, as if you didn’t know– was given the Humanitarian award by Dame Helen Mirren, Martin Luther King III and Rev Al himself.

Don't you wish Cookie could have stepped in for Lee? Her speech knocked it outta the park for Lucious. Next time... Photo Image: Instagram

Don’t you wish Cookie could have stepped in for Lee? Her speech knocked it outta the park for Lucious. Next time…
Photo Image: Instagram

According to the NAN press release, Daniels was honored for bringing the usually taboo topics of mental illness and homophobia within the black community out of the shadows and into the sun.

Yet, it’s no secret that some people feel burned by the show’s impact.This week it’s Tavis Smiley. During an interview with Larry King, he hints at the show re-enforcing negative stereotypes–“crime, drug dealing”… Here we go again. Then goes on to say that he hopes more positive characters will pop up in season two.

In response, Lee told ET that Smiley was entitled to his opinion and thinks he’s very smart. However, he doesn’t think the Lyon family is no different to the Kennedy’s with their ambition.

This is no different than what Joe Kennedy did when he came over here with the Kennedys. And the idea that black people should be any different from white people says that we’re different. We’re the same.

I’m not sure that’s what Dr. King had in mind with his ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ but I commend him for displaying all facets of the Black experience. NEWS FLASH!! Not all of them are in a positive light. Just like The Sopranos doesn’t encompass the full tapestry of Italian Americans. Empire is no different for black people. It’s just a soap people, get over it.

Co-creator and writer Danny Strong received the Cultural Award for the Empire series. Judge Greg Mathis was awarded with the NAN Media Award.

E! News Host Terrence J Brightens Sick Children’s Day

Rollin with the homies...Terrence J and Catt Sadler take advantage of the free radio perks at CHOC yesterday. Image Courtesy: Instagram

Rollin with the homies…Terrence J and Catt Sadler take advantage of the free radio perks at CHOC yesterday.
Image Courtesy: Instagram

Terrence J took a break from being behind the E! news desk to spread some cheer to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County yesterday.

The actor/TV host tagged along with his work buddy Catt Sadler to takeover Seacrest Studios within the hospital. They hung out with some patients, took selfies and had them listen in as the duo took to the airwaves.

Sounds kind of weird that a media room that isn’t made up of a basic TV and radio would be inside a hospital. Well, that’s the point. Media extraordinaire Ryan-when-does-he-sleep-Seacrest used his foundation to launch a radio and TV studio, two years ago, so kids would be motivated to get out of bed.

What better motivation is there then seeing Star-Lord aka Chris Pratt–who visited the hospital in January–roaming the halls. Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and Kylie and Kendall Jenner also made surprise visits earlier this year.

And for the kids unable to join in on the fun can watch via closed-circuit TV in their room, and make song requests from their hospital phone.

Not a bad setup for a hospital…but sadly those privileges are only for the West Coast crew. We’ll have to stick to basic cable (fees are collected daily) on the East side. Ain’t nothing like O.C. living…Callllifffffforrrrnniiiaaaa. Who remembers that theme song? Sadly, I do.

IfYouBlinked’s Woman Crush | 5 Ways Beverly Bond is on Fleek

Beverly Bond giving her best smize while on the red carpet.  Image courtesy: Twitter

Beverly Bond giving her best smize while on the red carpet.
Image courtesy: Twitter

Black Girls Rock isn’t just a saying anymore, it’s a movement. Ushered in by Beverly Bond, a DJ, to not only see the oft invisible black girl, but celebrate what she can do when you’re not watching.

Hence, Jada Pinkett-Smith’s speech at this year’s Black Girls Rock! Award ceremony, “I need you to understand that we are the women who marched from cotton fields into fields of medicine…politics…entertainment. We have found a way to march into the White House.”

Judging by Twitter some people have a problem with that. It’s nothing new. Neither is black girls contributions to excellence–in fashion,entertainment and academia–being ignored, thanks for making it so obvi Cosmo.

All the more reason Black Girls Rock is needed, and to show our appreciation we list 5 ways Beverly Bond rocks.

1. Because … She’s Not Just Making a T-Shirt Slogan
Originally, Beverly Bond wanted to use the slogan to start up a T-shirt, but envisioning the message was so much bigger than that she heigtened the platform. This is what she told NBC News:

I knew this type of message needed to be shared, especially for young girls, who might need to hear this from a unique perspective.

2. Because … She Defends Black Girls Rock Against Reverse Racism
It’s amazing how much people’s panties get in a bunch when black women unite to praise each other. But that it did when #whitegirlsrock and FLOTUS Michelle Obama is racist for declaring black girls rock started popping up on Twitter…again. Beverly Bond had an epic response. Here’s what she wrote on The Root:

When I heard about ‘whitegirlsrock’ hashtag that trended on Twitter, my immediate reaction was,’Well, duh! Of course white girls rock. Are they unaware? White women’s beauty, talent, diversity and wordly contributions are affirmed everywhere: on billboards, on television, in magazines and in textbooks.”

She goes on to say that black women need to be given just as much recognition for their talents. And shining a light on those accomplishments doesn’t draw a curtain on others’ feats.

As a humanist, I believe that we all rock. My issue is that the commentary that followed ‘#whitegirlsrock’ hashtag was not even about affirming dynamic white women. Instead, it was about critiquing or even punishing black women for having the nerve, the audacity and the unmitigated gall to live and affirm ourselves.

3. Because … She’s Mentoring Young Women
Black Girls Rock! isn’t just an annual awards show. It’s also a mentoring program to foster self-worth and community service among young women. Beverly Bond recently launched a three-day leadership conference to chat about college prep, the media and steps to be a success.

4. Because … She Can Reel in FLOTUS 
Beverly Bond doesn’t just sit pretty in the audience while Regina King and TMurda make us laugh. She has her hand in honoree selections–made a year in advance–to stage building. Any and everything to see her “baby” come to life year in and out. And isn’t it nice to know this year she got a nod from the most powerful black girl: FLOTUS Michelle Obama. She endorsed Beverly’s empowering message by giving one of her own at the annual ceremony.

5. Because … She Knew Black Girls Rock Was a Success Before Reaching TV Screens
Before BET came calling–Beverly Bond told NBC she knew they eventually would–the movement was already filling out seats in New York’s Lincoln Center.

It was only a matter of time and I always knew BET was the perfect home for Black Girls Rock so I’m elated it worked out this way.

So are we. Beverly Bond doesn’t just rock. She’s on fleek.

Is This The New Normal?

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“It’s like he was shooting a deer in the woods,” Mr. Scott told the Today show when describing his son’s murder by a police officer Saturday.

Walter Scott was pulled over by Michael Slager for a broken brake light. Somehow a normal traffic stop turned into a scuffle, leading Scott to sprint away. Unfortunately the father of four didn’t get far before Slager blasts eight bullets in his back.

As he lay facedown on the grass, Slager handcuffs him, checks his pulse, but never calls for help. The officer used the I-feared-for-my-life excuse, and claims Scott took his taser.

Lets go to the videotape…

Nope. But cellphone video shows Slager picking up something (taser?) and dropping it by Scott’s lifeless body.

Soon after the South Carolina cop is arrested and charged with murder.

Question: Would the Scott family get this swift justice without the tape?

Hell to the no. It didn’t work for Eric Garner or Ramarley Grant whose shooter (also in blue) is officially scot free.

As depraved as it sounds, maybe it’s like a numbers game, eventually, out of all the frequent encounters of Black lives lost from Ferguson, Missouri to Staten Island, New York, the odds are finally in our favor.

It was bound to happen before the scales of justice tipped too far to the wrong side. However, it feels like, looks like and sounds like the new normal is they shoot, and so do we.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY | From Brooklyn to Harvard

"Harvard is smaller than I thought it would be."  Image Courtesy: Instagram

“Harvard is smaller than I thought it would be.”
Image Courtesy: Instagram

The journey from Brownsville, Brooklyn to Harvard University for 200 Mott Hall Academy students was made complete yesterday.

The tweens stroll down the hallowed halls of Haahhhvaaaddd wouldn’t be possible without everyday people opening their wallets to donate, and in the process broadening a kid’s horizons.

It’s those same people Brandon Stanton chronicles in popular blog “Humans of New York.” He took a liking to 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet when asked who inspired him. Vidal responded with his principal, Nadia Lopez.

“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us,” Chastenet shares. “She calls us to her office and explains to us to how society was built down around us.”

The post went viral instantly. Leading Stanton and Lopez to start an online fundraiser for an Ivy league field trip. The goal was $100,000. They received $1.2 million in donations.

Whatever isn’t spent on the trip will go towards college scholarships and future campus road trips.

On yesterday’s agenda was a series of activities geared towards each of the scholars’ preference, a full tour of the Cambridge, Mass campus, and talks by Harvard’s president, dean of students and admissions officials. They all encouraged the kids to dream big.

Why not? It got them this far.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY | Teacher of the Year

Professor Colon gives the perfect formula for mentoring.

Professor Colon gives the perfect formula for mentoring.

On this Good Friday I want to put the spotlight on mentors. They’re very hard to find and too valuable to lose. You have a better chance of finding that all elusive needle in the haystack than getting someone to take you under their wing. Believe me, I’ve tried.

It doesn’t mean its impossible. Actually, it’s magical when it does happen–I can vouch for that too–and helps evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

For better or worse everyone’s first mentor is a teacher. And if you’re lucky enough to find a good one that is more interested in molding minds, rather than padding their pockets, make sure to hold tight.

Like University of Buffalo students are for professor Luis Colon. The chemistry teacher was awarded an excellence in science mentoring award from President Obama.

Former students of Colon say it’s well deserved for pushing minorities to break into the mostly white field of science and engineering. For 20 years he’s recruited undergrads in his native Puerto Rico to enroll in his research program at UB.

According to UB reporter, Colon has mentored 27 PhD’s, 14 masters students and 35 undergrads. Most of whom have gone on to pursue careers in major pharma companies like Eli Lilly and Company, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Bristol-Meyers Squip.

“He was a great role model for me. He set an example by working hard,and I know that he has worked hard to open the door for young people, especially underrepresented minorities, to go into his lab and get their hands on some fun experiments and learn what it is to be a scientist.”

Even if it meant setting him back some coins. The UB Reporter reports Colon shelling out his own money to cover students travel expenses to research conferences. But, the payback couldn’t be sweeter.

“My students are successful.” Colon told the site.”That to me is very rewarding–that they are successful.”

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