#1057 Play Station or smoke detectors? 9-year-old’s choice is inspiring

Hector Montoya

Grand Prairie Fire Department installing smoke detectors with Hector Montoya; photo from CBS video

Hector Montoya was saving his money for a Play Station 4. The 9-year-old video-game fan was edging closer to his goal when news of a deadly house fire broke his heart. Hearing the mother and daughter might have survived had they just had a smoke detector, he decided saving lives was a better use for the money he had saved.

Saying, “It hurts my heart,” Montoya responded to the deaths by contacting the Grand Prairie, Texas fire department and offering to buy smoke detectors with his money. They took him up on his offer and went one better, involving him in installing them in the homes of people most at risk.

The boy’s savings bought the first 100 smoke detectors. An online plea brought in more than $7000 for others. The local Walmart added another 500.

In fact, Walmart made sure Montoya’s original wish was granted. In a special celebration, they gave him not only a PS4 but also a flat-screen TV and some games besides.

They were not the only ones. A pair of siblings bought him a PS4 and drove 45 minutes each way to deliver it. They also gave him $150 to buy more smoke detectors.

Though Hector Montoya was thrilled with the new Play Station and seemed to enjoy the attention, he appeared even happier to be able to provide smoke detectors for elderly people and for families who reminded him of the mother and daughter who lost their lives.

With his values and priorities focused on helping his community, Hector Montoya is already making a difference. He gives me hope.


#1056 Skip the plastic; wrap mine in Abeego, please


Abeego in action; from the company’s Facebook page

A Victoria, British Columbia woman has invented a product with the potential to put an end to those rolls of plastic that offer convenience and pollution all in one rectangular box. Toni Desrosiers came up with the idea of Abeego by looking back in time. She discovered pre-plastic storage options had two characteristics in common. They were natural and breathable.

On her “Our Story” page, Desrosiers describes the ground rules she set for herself in developing her storage wrap:

  • All ingredients used will be completely natural.
  • No chemical alteration will be needed for the material to be effective.
  • Each selected ingredient will have been used for preservation at some stage in human history.
  • All ingredients have natural characteristics suitable for keeping food fresh.
  • All ingredients are already approved by the FDA for food contact.

The sheets and bags she developed are made from hemp and impregnated with beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil. I’m not giving away any trade secrets here. It is all laid out on the Web site.

Those little balls of crinkled-up, indestructible plastic wrap will be around for a long time. Abeego, on the other hand, has a usable life of roughly a year. Wrap your cheese, bread, greens and other food items in it. Expect longer storage than plastic can provide.

Eat the contents. Use a little mild soap and cold water to clean your Abeego. Use again. Gently clean again. Use again. And then pop it into your compost heap and watch it gradually crumble into soil.

A lot of retailers carry Abeego now. Not one of them is in my foodie-paradise of a home town. That has got to change. In the meantime, I can buy them from the Web site.

Congratulations to Abeego for being a finalist in the Business Development Bank of Canada’s 2014 Young Entrepreneur Awards. The 2nd-place spot won the company $25,000 in consulting services.

This is the kind of innovative, creative solution to a practical challenge and an environmental ill that gives me hope.

You can follow Abeego on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

Jenny Lee wrote a good article about Abeego for the Vancouver Sun.


#1053 It’s not over till the old lady dances

Paddy and Nico

Paddy and Nico at Britain’s Got Talent; photo clip from video below

Paddy began dancing when she was two and a half years old. She stopped to rear four children.

Years later she and her husband moved to Spain. He died there 18 months later. She wanted something to do so began taking lessons at Nico’s dance academy.

This was not just a whim. It was a passion. Nico’s lessons took her farther than most 80-year-olds would dare go. They took their act to Britain’s Got Talent and wowed judges and audiences alike.

Paddy’s was a dream deferred. She gives me hope.


#1052 First-time, best-selling author at 65

Laura Ingalls Wilder; photo via Wikimedia Commons

When she began penning the books that would become one of the most successful children’s series of all time, Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65. Her homesteading family had not been particularly extraordinary in the heartland of late-1800s America. What made…


#1050 Her dog went missing so the animal shelter sent her home with a baby sloth

Sloth in the Amazon

Sloth in the Amazon; photo by Carol Schaffer, via Flickr Creative Commons

Monique Pool never intended to found an animal sanctuary. It all started with her lost dog. When she asked the Suriname Animal Protection Society if they had found it, they offered her Loesje, a baby three-toed sloth. That baby’s sweet smile captured her heart and changed her life.

The BBC’s Vibeke Venema wrote a heartwarming story about her. Loesje died after two years, but Pool’s attachment to sloths turned into a full-scale fostering operation. One or two a week were sent to her for temporary care. Then in 2012 forest clearing near Suriname’s capital destroyed a major sloth habitat, and Pool ended up rescuing 200 sloths.

Now the Green Heritage Fund she launched in 2005 works to protect the three-toed sloth as well as others of the Xenarthra species. They also fund a dolphin-conservation project as well as research and education programs.

Fair warning: don’t even think about fostering a sloth unless you have a ready supply of just the right fresh leaves. However, you can adopt one through the Green Heritage Fund Suriname. And you can look at the sweet photos Vibeke Venima posted with her BBC article.

Monique Pool, with her compassion for animals and her commitment to work on their behalf, gives me hope.


#1049 Oregon says YES to marriage equality

Same-sex marriage

In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court made two historic decisions that moved marriage equality forward. Both found aspects of DOMA, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, to be unconstitutional. On May 19, 2014 a federal judge followed suit, overturning Oregon’s…


#1048 Teen writes climate-saving cookbook

Emily Abrams

Emily Abrams; photo clip from video below

Seriously, think back to your teen years. Were you trying to save the world? This young woman is not waiting for anyone else. She is starting now.

High school-senior Emily Abrams understands the dangers of climate change and the link between what we choose to eat and our impact on the planet. So she contacted some of the best chefs in America and asked for their climate-friendly recipes.

The result is a cookbook whose title is a plea, “Don’t Cook the Planet.”

Abrams grew up in an environmentally savvy family. They must be incredibly proud.

Amazon US, Amazon Canada or your public library