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Homeless Teen Spends Birthday Helping Puerto Rico Victims



      'Christopher Rodriguez turned 19 on Friday in his native Puerto Rico, and he spent his birthday giving -- giving aid to neighbors still struggling a month to the day after Hurricane Maria blasted the island.

      'His birthday passed with him making care packages for his community in Añasco, Puerto Rico. Saturday, he'll walk those packages across the Hondo River to local residents, as he's been doing for the past few weeks.

      'In the process of his giving, Rodriguez, who is homeless, has given himself something -- a purpose.

      'Rodriguez is estranged from his family and has been sleeping in the alley of the town's plaza since he was 16, he said. He rode out Hurricane Maria in a local taxi terminal. He speaks mostly Spanish, so Aguilar translated for him.

      'Rodriguez told CNN he had never experienced anything like the storm before, but "the scariest part was being alone."

      'He's not alone anymore.

      'Rodriguez reached out to the group so he could help his community. Like many people who find themselves homeless, Rodriguez has been "misunderstood by the community," Davis said. This has been a chance for him contribute, and the giving goes both ways.

      'Thursday night, fellow volunteers took him out for a birthday dinner on Añasco Beach. He had a big platter of fried bananas and seafood.

      'Rodriguez said "he felt like he was spending his birthday with his family," which is something he hasn't done in a long time.

      'Instead of thinking about what he doesn't have, he's helping others who are also now in need.

      'He doesn't like seeing people "sad or struggling," Aguilar said. "He likes to see their eyes light up" when he's delivering supplies.

      '"Ever since he was little, he's liked helping others. That's how he was raised," Aguilar said.'


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      I Am A Proud American Muslim Woman, And Arizona Is Ready To Send Me To ....


          "Because being Muslim in America is about being free.

          "And it is this freedom that America has guaranteed me that makes me want to give back to my country. To ensure that all Americans are treated with dignity and compassion. To fight for universal health care and better education, for our environment and social justice. Here, even as a religious minority, I am free to lead."


          "It is a strange time to be a minority in America. The past decade has seen unprecedented gains for women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and other minority groups. Yet the same 10 years have been pockmarked by unjust police violence, simmering racial tensions and, in recent months, increasingly divisive policies being codified into law. Inspired by how far we have come and motivated by how far we need to go, I decided to run for the U.S. Senate.

          "While perhaps another female candidate would have to endure endless comments about her shrillness or appearance, a Latino candidate might be grilled about his legal status or a black candidate might be bombarded with images of nooses, for me it is always about my religion.

          "I am a proud American-Muslim woman.

          "My religion is not something I can hide, nor is it something I would choose to hide. Much like a Catholic wearing a crucifix, a Jew donning a kippa or a Sikh wearing a turban, I display my religion openly. My scarf does not define me, but it is a part of my story. And that story is a complex one, especially in today’s political climate.

          "I knew when I entered politics many would see me as “The Muslim Candidate” and nothing else. I am not the Muslim candidate. I am an American candidate, a Democratic candidate, a grassroots candidate and, yes, I happen to be Muslim. I also happen to believe in the separation of religion and state and that my religious beliefs must and shall remain entirely separate from any political office I am lucky enough to earn. Many politicians of many faiths would do well to remember this themselves.

          "When I decided to run for U.S Senate, I knew I would face hurdles other candidates do not. Out of fear for my safety, my husband told me it would be okay with him if I removed my scarf. I replied that I didn’t put the scarf on for him, and I didn’t need his permission to take it off.

          "Ultimately, this is what being Muslim in America is about. Being Muslim is about the American story, because being Muslim in America is about being free.

          "Being Muslim in America means having the right to wear the scarf or not wear the scarf, because here, no one can tell us how we must worship or dress."


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          Hurricane Ophelia: How Is It Impacting On Your Area?


              Ireland is getting it's first major storm in over 50 years, Hurricane Ophelia. Although we were told it's not a hurricane anymore they are still calling it one. It's nothing compared to Irma or Maria though.


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              Taking A Break


                  I'm gonna be taking a bit of a break for a while. I am smart enough to be able to recognize the symptoms, so I don't need a doctor to tell me I have PTSD. The Vegas thing was a huge trigger for me. I'm just not in a very OK state of mind.

                  Keep you the fight guys! Be back when I can.

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                  American Solutions


                      There are companies that use those two words in their titles, there is one that has proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt to this little guy, this 99 percenter. My wife works for one of those companies, Zenith American Solutions, and as I am not writing a campaign for them, I could.

                      So with the country on edge and healthcare and health insurance all the rage to banter about and espouse just ignorant ideas about; There is this story. One that is still writing itself, but is as inspired and oddly significant at the same time. I have no idea where it may end up, but I wanted to tell it as a hopeful and happy one anyways no matter what. An answer to a prayer and a faith that may not meet my expectations, but a relief that when I asked in my prayers for guidance, I really got one this time.

                      My wife still does not know and she will not know unless someone here lets on. I am working on a choppy recollection of this as she doesn't like to discuss work at home, kind of like a Doctor - Client confidence she carries into the insurance side of it. She handles the calls from members of her group that need paperwork and insurance assistance and directs them when needed. She has done this kind of work for quite some time now, and was surprised to see people coming in ahead of her in the payscale. When she just simply asked about this it was found that through her four managers she has had in the short time she had been at this company, the process changed. While she was waiting for a raise, she didn't know she had to apply for it because she was told something else and there was nothing in her job's book about that. So in April, being part of the Union they passed a new agreement, and she got a raise and a bonus...sweet! But that still didn't answer her questions about her situation, and the fact she was training people that went on to make more money than her??... Ok, so she talked to her supervisor, her supervisor talker to her supervisors and was told that it would be taken care of and a little retro pay would be in there after they brought her up to the right job title, and that it would be on her next check. Now my wife loves her job, the people and helping others, she is quiet for the most part and organized and is one of those people who always show up for work. A real trooper taking two busses into and out of work everyday from Lynnwood. So she waits, and waits, and waits.

                      I go camping in the First week of August to Lake Cle Elum. It is an annual campout to help newly sober folks get back to doing regular social activities sober. I always go because I am the camp cook, the Non Profit that runs it belongs to a friend of mine and we go up a few day early to kick it too. Well I had pulled out one thousand bucks for rent as soon as I got home. It was in money orders, but I didn't fill them out yet. One of the guys from the Eastside apparently stole a number of things and was caught with them, but they couldn't find the checks, just some cash and some receipts. So I am out a grand and we scamper to pay rent. My wife and I start piling up for September and she asks a friend at work who to talk to in the Union about help? Do they have any fund or anything like that for members? The Union asked her what was up and bam! We were supposed to have all sorts of help and they would get to the bottom of this raise bit. The only thing my wife wanted to know was if they had some funding, something. We are hurting since my forced unpaid retirement, and the hospital bills piling up. I just paid for my meds for the month and even with coverage they are still running 150 plus. I know, that isn't bad but when you spend more than 50% of your take home on rent, whew.

                      So we have been getting by, and helping out our neighbors as some of you know. Our rent is due on the 5th and she get's paid on the 6th and it isn't enough. Our landlord is at the end of his patience with us because it has been hard to put hand to mouth and keep a roof. I won't lie, I have sold almost everything and I am trying my best, but you know the deck is stacked against me for a little while, just a little while longer. Because here is where it starts sounding like one of my pieces, filled with hope and nothing else, no matter what happens.

                      You see, I was sitting behind my computer here last Sunday morning, pretty early because I still get up at 3 or 4 am for some reason. Before I do anything else I say my prayers and do a little meditation, and this Sunday was a little harder. I had found out hours before that one of my sponsees in the program had committed suicide, I had not seen him for months and I am still tossing up emotions about that. I had no food in the house and my cats were looking at me like a snack as well. No money in the bank, and just trying to start my day, I closed my eyes, and said Thank You. Thank You for my wife who is sleeping in the next room, and those four legged cats that are warming my lap now, Thank you for the chance to get up again and breathe the air and get through this latest bout of Diverticulitis and kidney infection. Even with all of the things that I could ask for I was just trying to find gratitude because there seems to be a bit too much bitching going on now anyways and I am tired of that, even in a prayer, especially in a prayer.

                      I was looking around my office looking for anything to sell for a quick buck, change to run up and get something for my wife and cats. With my health this 6'2" frame and it's 150 pounds can wait a while to gain, take care of them first. Out of the blue and I mean in a spooky kind of way I heard my Father way back in my mind, loud and clear, but way back there say "Talk to her boss." I was kind of in shock a bit and couldn't move and like I said I was kind of scared in a way. Then it came again, "Talk to her boss," So when I looked up her company page and saw the people, who was I to talk to? I was supposed to friend her CEO and let him know what was going on...

                      I sent the friend request and shuttered at her finding out, and then I went on to write him a lengthy note on it and apologizing for intruding like that. Now here is the thing that I write to you and so help me God I am being truthful and honest. I just got scared and closed down the browser, I never clicked enter, or send. Sunday went on and I kind of forgot about it, watched the games and did some housework. The next day though....

                      I am sitting down and doing my homework with Facebook up and I get a confirmation. OMG, he accepted, I am definitely going to get in trouble for this. Then the most amazing thing both divine and human happened. He sent me a message... Mine from the morning before had somehow gone through... He said he would look into it in a couple of days, I was so shocked and floored and I just have to say my belief system was

                      rocked and my entire world stood still. I replied TY and his name and of all things in the moment said he was a blessing because I was so mixed up. He is looking into it, that is all I could hope for, and I don't care about the money thing so much. It is the fact that this man could answer back, take his time, and be an empathetic human being is reward enough for me. I am glad my wife works for a company with someone like that at the top, I know how much she cares about her work and the people she works with and take care of. Yes, we will make it through, that is not the point of the piece. It is the gratitude and the hope that comes with just following the next indicated right action. Being grateful for what you do have and not what you don't. I got a new Facebook friend and a reassurance that American Solutions includes all of us.

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