4 stories to lift your spirits: Long-awaited hugs for seniors, boy’s good deed saves house from fire

National and World

With so much news going on in the world around us, sometimes the small, good stories can fall through the cracks. So here’s a few pieces of good news from NewsNation affiliates across the U.S.:

Long-awaited hugs make all the difference for long-term care residents after a year in lockdown

As recently-vaccinated residents of assisted living facilities across the country are finally reuniting with their families, there’s nothing like the embrace of a warm hug bringing an end to a very long and lonely time for so many.

The wait is over for residents at the Saint Antoine Residence Community in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, who are finally getting a chance to hold their loved ones. Tears of joy and laughter fill the facility this week as family and friends greeted one another with open arms.

In Olaf, Kansas, Megan Miller can finally visit her 73-year-old mother, who moved into a long-term care facility after suffering from a brain aneurysm and stroke.

But Miller said it broke her heart to not be able to visit during the COVID-19 pandemic, because even window visits didn’t work for her mom, who is legally blind and found such visits confusing.

Even though masks and distancing are now required for visits, after months apart, seeing her mom again, face-to-face, means the world.

“I just want to see her. I don’t care what I have to do, even if it’s for 10 minutes. I’m so thankful,” Miller said.

11-year-old’s good deed helps firefighters in time of need

When firefighters arrived on the scene of a house fire in Cortland, New York things were escalating quickly.

“The fire quickly grew and spread due to the high winds that we had that night, it went, and it got up into the attic area, so the fire grew intensely very quickly,” fire department chief Wayne Friedman said.

When firefighters searched the snowbanks along the street for a hydrant so they could get to work, they found they were in luck: one was already dug out of the snow, thanks to 11-year-old Blayke Austen-Hines.

Blayke says he’s been digging out hydrants near his home since he was old enough to carry a shovel. Without his help, Friedman said firefighters would likely have run out of water and been forced to chip a hydrant out of the ice with a shovel, losing valuable time and leading to much bigger problems.

“There’s really nothing else I can do,” Blayke said. “But I figured if I could do it for the firefighters, it will also help them.”

86-year-old celebrates four decades as volunteer at local food pantry

At the youthful age of 86, Dale Gravely still gets around well with her cane. While the need hasn’t changed after four decades of running the Methodist Church’s food pantry in Oak Hill, West Virginia, neither has her giving, helpful spirit.

“Not only is it a good thing to do, I have met so many nice people and have enjoyed working with them,” Gravely said.

As the matriarch of her family, she even requires her kids, grandkids and various relatives to volunteer their time at the pantry and give to their extended West Virginia family.

While her decades of service will soon come to an end when she retires, Gravely simply said all her good work was a team effort.


Teen uses hose to save grandma’s house from grass fire

As an out-of-control grass fire in Butler County, Kansas approached the home of Jacob Garbee’s grandmother, the teen drove over to try and get her to leave – but she refused at first, saying she didn’t think she could get into his pickup.

So he and a neighbor did all they could by grabbing a hose and keeping the fire at bay until the fire department could arrive. The teen kept the fire away as it came within 20 yards of his grandmother’s home.

“I’m proud of him that he did do that. That he came, and he was trying to get grandma out of here, and I don’t think she wanted to leave so he just started helping out however he could,” said Jonna Garbee, Jacob’s mom.

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