The Most Inspiring Stories of 2017 You Need to Know About

  • 6. Holocaust Survivor Makes Peace with his Nazi Descendant Roommate History has made amends in an apartment in Berkeley, California. 95-year-old Ben Stern is a Holocaust survivor. Little did he know that when he was in need of a roommate, 31-year-old and Nazi descendent Lea Heitfeld would apply for the adjacent room. Despite the animosities one would expect to find in a survivor, Stern opened his door and his heart and forgave Lea for the actions of her relatives. In an interview, he says of his welcoming attitude, "It was the right thing to do. I'm doing the opposite of what [the Nazis] did." Open-mindedness is a mutual quality: Heitfeld is currently receiving her Master's degree in Jewish studies. Her history, as well as her mission to repent for her ancestor's sins, has inspired her to educate others on the necessity for religious tolerance. The unlikely roommates have developed a friendly and valuable friendship. Stern and Heitfeld reportedly spend time watching TV, preparing and eating dinner together, and sharing stories and memories. The German student provides a critical comfort for Stern, as his wife recently was put into nursing home care for dementia.
  • 7. Woman Transforms Her Skin Condition Into Instagram Body Art Social media in 2017 has become a platform for women to embrace and encourage self-love, no matter how unique your body may be. One example is Ash Soto, an Instagrammer who has been affected by the skin disorder vitiligo since she was twelve years old. Vitiligo is marked by significant areas of skin where pigment is lost, resulting in whitish patches. Soto remarks that she was teased horribly as a teenager, based on her skin's appearance. "I tried to be happy and smile, but over time I was filled with so much self-hatred for myself that I stopped doing the things I loved. It was so bad, I couldn’t even look at people in the eye anymore and I just wanted to be inside all the time. I developed anxiety and depression." Unable to find positive vitiligo models online, Soto decided to lead the way. Not only does she pose for selfies in arm and midriff exposing tank tops, she has begun to use her own body as a canvas. She traces the contours of her vitiligo in a dark marker—almost Roy Lichtenstein-esque—to reveal not a disorder, but a beautiful body. Soto says of her ongoing project, "I hope to continue doing what I’m doing now which is inspiring others to accept themselves for who they are." Find Ash Soto on Instagram at @radiantbambi.  
  • 8. Installation of 2,000 Illuminated Daffodils Honors the Work of Nurses Londoners know spring has arrived when daffodils begin to bloom. This year, the city blossomed with not only flowers, but an art installation sprouting with charity and kindness. Entitled "Garden of Light," the interactive public art project located in Paternoster Square, included about 2,100 fabricated flowers handmade by the artists' collective, Greyworld. Each flower in the makeshift meadow honors a nurse at Marie Curie, a UK-based charity which provides support for the terminally ill. As visitors wander through the pathways, they are invited to hear recordings of nurses reading letters they've received from families of their patients. The most magical time to visit was, naturally, at night, due to the spotlights shining their light onto the petals below. The symbolism was not a coincidence; in fact, the installation's design intended to express the ability of a nurse to "bring light in the darkest hours." [embed][/embed]