I recently came across the saying, “Bad news travels fast. Good news takes the scenic route.” Because it’s so easy to get discouraged when turning on the TV or seeing what’s trending online, the world can feel awash with negativity. But every so often, it’s good to fill our lives with stories that inspire and news that uplifts us. After coming across that quote, I’ve resolved to spend more time taking the scenic route myself by trying to find the good in the world right now. I want to share these positive stories with you as well.
This month’s stories are both on the theme of helping.
I think everyone, at different points in their lives, reflects on all the problems in the world and thinks, “I’m only one person; how can I make a difference?” We all want to help, but sometimes, it’s hard to prevent doubt from getting in the way. Some worry that others won’t accept the help they are giving. Some may hesitate to offer help because of fear of the unknown. Or worse, they do nothing because they doubt their ability to help will be of any benefit.
Alison Smith was not one of those people. One day, she heard her neighbors sounding discouraged. Looking over her garden fence, they shared with her how disheartened they were about their upcoming wedding. Due to the pandemic, it would have to be canceled. Her empathy moved her to take action. But how? She couldn’t exactly stop the pandemic by herself.
So, the first thing that came to her mind was, “I want to do something to cheer them up.”1
Alison has a passion for baking. “My answer to pretty much everything is to bake a cake,” she said in an interview. So, that’s what she did. She made her neighbors a delicious Guinness chocolate cake with whiskey frosting.
That very first cake was the beginning of her journey to becoming the Cake Crusader.
Alison asked each of her friends if they knew anyone who was going through hardship so she could bake them a cake. Her friends not only gave her names, they even donated cake supplies she could use! Since then, she has gotten request after request from people who want to share her talent with their loved ones going through hard times. Each time, Alison was happy to agree. You see, the goal of the Cake Crusader wasn’t just to make a cake; Alison wanted to make a difference in her community, specifically with those who are in need of a little pick-me-up.
Here’s how Alison puts it: “I don’t want it to just be a cake. I want this to be a cake that this person connects with. It’s from one of their loved ones. It’s an expression of love from the person who reached out to me. It’s a hug baked in an oven.”1
In 2020 she was able to bake over 100 cakes!1 Since then, she has continued to bake cakes locally for those in need by connecting with them through her social media accounts.
Here’s another lovely story I recently found.
After her grandfather passed away, a woman named Angela was having a difficult time processing her grief. There were so many things to handle and issues to take care of – including what to do with the calico cat he’d left behind.
The cat was named Mackenzie and was well-known in the family for his aggressive nature. Angela worked to find a home for Mackenzie but was unsuccessful. No one she talked to was willing to care for the irritable cat. After exhausting all her options, she was finally left with only two: either place Mackenzie in a shelter or adopt the cat herself. Since Mackenzie had been in the family for over 15 years, Angela decided on the latter.
After months of getting to know each other, Mackenzie finally began to warm up to Angela. This made her realize her original impression of the cat being aggressive was wrong. The problem was actually fear. So, Angela decided to play and go out on fun adventures together. They did many things as a duo, from kayaking to long walks and even lengthy conversations. Angela would film the things they did and upload these videos onto TikTok. People loved her content, and after a few months, her audience grew to over half a million viewers. Her followers would ask her why she named her cat Mackenzie, and she would always respond with, “I didn’t name her; she’s my grandfather’s cat.” That sparked an idea.
When she shared her story of how she came to adopt and care for Mackenzie, she was flooded with questions and comments. Others were sharing how they, too, were going through the same experience and were concerned about what would happen to their cats when they move into a retirement home. Angela realized there wasn’t a service out there for this particular problem. Most shelters will take in cats, but these senior pets are often overlooked for adoption.
So, Angela resolved to do something about it by starting “My Grandfather’s Cat.” Her charity helps seniors and terminally ill people find second “forever homes” for their pets before they move into assisted living or pass away. With the help of online merchandise sales and donations, Angela is able to fund her non-profit and provide this service for free to those in need. As of 2023, she has helped over 100 pets find new forever homes.2
I enjoyed reading these stories because they show that it only takes one person to make a difference, especially if it’s a cause they are passionate about. I’m glad to know there are others out there working together to make this world a better place. Despite all the bad news we see on TV, there is plenty of good news going around. Sometimes, it just takes the scenic route.
1 Minnesota, C.B.S. (2023) St. Louis Park Woman Baked, gave away 100 cakes in a year, CBS News. CBS Interactive. Available
at: https://www.cbsnews.com/minnesota/video/st-louis-park-woman-baked-gave-away-100-cakes-in-a-year/#x (Accessed: March
2 Our story (no date) My Grandfather's Cat. Available at: https://www.mygrandfatherscat.ca/story (Accessed: February 2023).