It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: January 23, 2020

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Catherine Garcia
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1.

Woman reunites with long-lost father after he's a suggested Facebook friend

When Karen Harris turned 18, she learned her biological father's name, profession, and hometown, but it took a few decades — and the help of social media — to finally track him down. Harris, 56, was adopted as an infant. While she is "grateful" to her adoptive family, Harris told The Scotsman she never felt a total "sense of belonging." Now that she's discovered her father, she's "found connection and completion and I'm cherishing it." Harris lives in England, and as soon as she was an adult, she asked a social worker for information on her biological parents. She found her mother 10 years later, but her dad's whereabouts remained a mystery until recently, when a man with his name, Trevor Sinden, appeared on Harris' Facebook page as a person she might know. She reached out, and it was a match. Last week, they finally met, and Harris feels "incredibly blessed to find him now." [The Scotsman]

2.

San Francisco Giants' Alyssa Nakken becomes MLB's 1st female coach

Alyssa Nakken is making history as the first woman to become a full-time coach in Major League Baseball. Last week, it was announced that Nakken had been hired as an assistant under San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler. Not only will she coach, but Nakken will also "focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team," Kapler said in a statement. Nakken was a softball star at Sacramento State, playing first base. By the time she graduated in 2012, she was in the top 10 for most home runs and runs scored in team history. Nakken joined the Giants in 2014 as an intern in baseball operations, and worked her way up; recently, she spearheaded health and wellness initiatives and worked to promote diversity within the organization. [ABC 10]

3.

13-year-old founder of Books N Bros aims to inspire kids to read

When kids teased Sidney Keys III about his stutter, he would pick up a book and got lost in its pages. "Reading was kind of my escape from my stutter because in my head, I was able to visualize things and play out all the events clearly," Keys told Good Morning America. He wanted to encourage other boys to read, and at age 10, Keys and his mom, Winnie Caldwell, launched Books N Bros. This book club focuses on African-American culture and literature, and now has more than 250 members, ages 7 to 13, in the United States and Canada. Keys, 13, lives in St. Louis, and loves finding interesting books and then sharing them with club members. "There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into Books N Bros," he said. "It just benefits so many people that it keeps me going." [Good Morning America]

4.

With her proud students watching, Florida teacher becomes a U.S. citizen

After spending 18 years teaching students about democracy, Annmarie Small decided it was time to become a United States citizen. Last Thursday, the Tallahassee, Florida, teacher went to the city's federal courthouse for her naturalization ceremony. She wasn't alone — Small was joined by her fourth grade students. "It has been an amazing experience and it's an honor," she told WTXL. "It's not just for myself, but it's for my students as well and for my community." Small and her son moved to the United States from Jamaica nearly two decades ago, and she said she has always felt supported by her students, their families, and her colleagues. A party was held for Small after the naturalization ceremony, and the guests included her current students as well as several former ones. "It doesn't matter if you're from a different country," she said. "Everybody is the same." [WTXL]

5.

Massachusetts 6-year-old makes clay koalas to raise funds for Australian animals

Owen Colley believes that "helping animals is better than watching TV," and that's why he launched a fundraiser creating small clay koalas in exchange for donations to an Australian wildlife rescue. Owen, 6, lives in Hingham, Massachusetts. His father is from Australia, and when Owen learned about the devastating bushfires there, he came up with a way to help from afar: He started a fundraiser for Australian animals, and everyone who gave at least $50 received a clay koala, handmade by the young artist. The donations are going to Wildlife Rescue South Coast, which is building enclosures for displaced animals and helping Australians set up feeding stations at their homes. Owen's original goal was to reach $1,000 in donations, and he's already surpassed that; his fundraiser has brought in $270,000, and is so popular he can no longer offer koalas to new donors. "I'm so proud of him," his mother Caitlin Colley told CBS Boston. "He's doing a great job." [Boston 25 News, CBS Boston]