The Lists

june sparklers: those who choose to shine

Sparklers is a monthly series that highlights people, groups and institutions who have recently spread light in the world. Every day, people choose to shine in ways large and small. These moments of grace and generosity don’t always get reported on, and unfortunately they can be quickly forgotten. So we’re sharing some of their stories. Because sometimes good news and kindness are the sweetest luxuries of all.

This month we’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of messaging.  A message can be sent literally, or it can be done in more nuanced way, depending on one’s strategy and intended outcome.  So it’s fitting that this month’s Sparklers have each sent a powerful message out into the world.

Here are some of the messages we’re taking to heart this month:

1. June marks the end of the school year for most kids and it’s a good reminder of the kindness and thoughtfulness that teachers provide all year long. When we came across the story of Tammy Waddell, we were overcome with gratitude for educators like her. Tammy had been a teacher in Forsyth County, Georgia and sadly lost her battle with cancer earlier this month. Before she died she told her son that she didn’t want flowers at her funeral.  Instead, she wanted people to bring backpacks full of school supplies for needy students. On the day of her funeral alone, over 130 backpacks filled with supplies were brought in, with more being delivered each day.  Each of the backpacks will be distributed through Project Connect, an initiative of the school district to provide donated school supplies to the students who need them most.  Over her career, Waddell worked as a teacher at Sawnee Elementary, Cumming Elementary and Haw Creek Elementary. She was a national board certified teacher and in 2003, she was recognized as the Forsyth County Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year. A lasting part of her legacy is the lessons in generosity and kindness that she continues to teach us today.

The great teacher Tammy Waddell

2. If you’ve been following us at Dandelion Chandelier for a while, you know that we loved the movie Black Panther. You might also know that we love the actor who plays the film’s hero, Chadwick Boseman.  Last month we featured him as one of our May Sparklers due to his uplifting graduation speech at Howard University, and this month he gets the honor again – along with a friend.  At this month’s MTV Awards, Boseman was awarded a “Moon Man” for Best Hero for his role in Black Panther. But instead of accepting the award for himself, he gave the award to real-life action hero James Shaw Jr., who stopped a mass shooter at a Tennessee Waffle House in April earlier this year, at great personal risk. Boseman said about transferring the award: “It’s even greater to acknowledge the heroes that we have in real life.” Since the event, Shaw Jr. has raised more than $200,000 to support the families of the victims. That’s a dynamic duo for the ages, right there.

Chadwick Boseman and James Shaw Jr.

3. Hurtigruten has become the latest big name in travel to join the crusade against plastic. Starting in July, the world’s largest cruise operator will be banning all unnecessary single-use plastic from its operations. Given that Hurtigruten operates in some of the most vulnerable places on Earth, like the North and South Poles and the island of Svalbard, their practices are particularly important. Everything from plastic straws, drink mixers, plastic glasses, coffee lids and plastic bags will be removed from all Hurtigruten ships, with the goal of becoming the world’s first plastic-free cruise company. The ban will also be imposed on the hotels, restaurants and other establishments of Hurtigruten’s land-based operations on Svalbard. Bravo!

Hurtigruten Cruises

4. At this year’s Pride March, Alexander Wang sent a bold and powerful message about sexual health in the LGBTQ community: the designer partnered with Trojan condoms to create a stylish and pun-filled capsule collection to not only celebrate Pride, but to engage people in supporting public health. The limited edition “Protect Your Wang” capsule collection is available at the brand’s New York flagship, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the LGBT Center of New York to support the organization’s sexual health programs. We love the creativity, and – pardon the pun – the ballsiness of this initiative.

Alexander Wang

5. This next story isn’t strictly speaking about a good deed, but it’s still inspiring. The Glamorous Grandmas of Instagram are a group of social media-savvy women who are embracing their age and their unique styles. Women like Lyn Slater (@accidentalicon age 64), Jenny Kee (@Jennykeeoz age 71) and Emiko Mori (@1000wave age 91) have become ambassadors of spirited aging, proving that being old isn’t what it used to be. These women are mixing, matching and influencing styles by showing off their Margiela dresses with the likes of frayed jeans – some have even being hired to model for campaigns like Marimekko and Mango. Along with icons like Iris Apfel, these women are rejecting the idea that age should dictate the way we live, the way we dress, and how we communicate. Rock on.

Fashion blogger and muse Lyn Slater of Accidental Icon

6. Delilah Cassidy was flying home from a trip overseas and was caught off guard when the airline she was flying required a $50 fee for her carry-on bag. Forced to pay by credit card on the spot or miss her flight, Cassidy attempted to pay but her card was declined. Out of nowhere, in stepped an “angel passenger” who paid the charge with his card, allowing her to board. Unaware of who her lifesaver was, after boarding the plane she tried to pay him or her back through the flight attendants. It wasn’t until they revealed that he didn’t want to be repaid that she discovered that it was Arizona Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham who had helped her. He simply asked her “to pay it forward” and then graciously posed for a photo with her. What a classy and sweet gesture – we say Gresham is definitely an MVP.

Arizona Cardinals Tight End Jermaine Gresham Credit: Photo by Roger Goodgroves/REX/Shutterstock (9159504o)

To wrap up, and to keep our Wakanda high going just a little bit longer, it feels right to end this month’s Sparklers with one of the final lines from the film Black Panther, spoken by Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa about how his nation will conduct itself going forward:

We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth, more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.

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