Fred Rongier(NEW YORK) — A young boy is being credited with saving his friend’s life from across the country with the help of social media.Soon to be 12-year-old Gabe Rongier from Pennsylvania befriended a young girl living in Texas via Snapchat. The girl had become part of a Snapchat group with Gabe and his friends from school.Lori Rongier, Gabe’s mother, was out running errands when she received a panicked text from her son explaining that a friend of his had sent him distressing messages on Snapchat that made him scared and he was worried for her, she told ABC News.Lori was leery, wondering if this person and messages from across the country were real. She and her husband Fred thought someone may be playing a joke. Both parents advised their son not to call authorities.However, Gabe truly felt that he needed to take action, and not knowing exactly who to contact, he called a suicide hotline number.The hotline then connected Gabe with local authorities, and by the time Lori got home, Gabe was already on the phone with the Grand Saline Police Department.Officers were then able to take action. With a little investigation, police were able to track down the girl and get her the help she needed.Lori said she and her husband are so thankful Gabe followed his intuition and heart. “Most parents want their kids to listen to them, we’re grateful he didn’t listen and trusted his instincts,” she told ABC.The Grand Saline Police Department sent Gabe a letter thanking him for what he did for his friend, saying they could not have done their job without his help.“It takes a big man to do what you did,” Grand Saline K9 Officer Chandler wrote to Gabe. The police department included a police patch and ‘challenge coin’ in their appreciation package to Gabe.“It’s reassuring to know there are kids out there like Gabe, that go out of their way to help someone else, and through his actions showed bravery and heroism, and we are all very proud of him at the Grand Police Department,” Jeremy Barker, the department’s public safety director said in an interview with ABC News.Grand Saline police officers said from their understanding, the young girl is doing well.For anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation as Gabe, Barker encouraged people to “do something,” even if you are not sure exactly who to contact.He said there are resources available and authorities that know how to get in touch with the appropriate people.Gabe’s parents are happy and proud of his courageous actions.“Gabe is showing his character, he is very soft spoken, he has shown everyone he can have a big impact, he has a big heart,” Lori said.To other parents with children on social media, Lori said, “Don’t necessarily jump to conclusions, especially if your child feels strongly that it is not a hoax.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Saint Mary’s hosted a panel on Tuesday night titled, “The Battle After the War: Veterans in Their Lives and Struggles,” to discuss veteran’s issues including PTSD, mental health, homelessness, employment, caregivers, services and policies.The event — which was organized by students in the Social Work 236 Human Behavior and Social Environment II class — included panelists such as South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, who took a leave of absence to serve in Afghanistan in 2014; U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski, who is known for her services in the House Armed Series, Veteran’s Affairs and Agriculture Committees and Chairs the Nutrition Subcommittee; and Dr. Kent Laudeman, who served in the U.S. Army since 1968 and is currently as a retired Lieutenant Colonel.Despite the speakers’ variety of perspectives and personal experiences of working with veterans, they all advocated making a difference by working as a community first.“Regard veterans not as liabilities but assets. This will help more veterans to find a place in the community,” said Buttigieg. “We can do right by everybody who serves by welcoming them into the community more than just saying, ‘Thank you for your service.’”Laudeman currently serves as the Director of the Robert L. Miller Sr. Veterans Center, which is connected to the South Bend Center for the Homeless. The temporary housing hosts veterans in need of help for two years without having to pay a cent.“The goal of the facility is to get them back on their feet with shelter, food, a warm shoulder and a warm shower,” Laudeman said.Laudeman said his personal experience from fighting in Vietnam for a year inspired him to begin working with veterans.“There are some experiences that I don’t want to remember, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in my life,” said Laudeman. “I’ve grown.”Walorski went on to discuss the problems that veterans face after coming home from war. Twenty-two American veterans commit suicide per day, she said, and more than half of the suicides are due to sexual assault.“There are tens of thousands of veterans today that have suffered sexual trauma that have never been reported,” said Walorski. “The greatest catastrophe is the issue of suicide.”Laudeman agreed and said that another major issue of homecoming troops is drug and alcohol abuse. Most cases are the result of PTSD, of which one in every five soldiers is a victim because they are trying to numb the pain of their memories, said Laudemand.“There are mountains facing our veterans when they come home,” said Walorski. “I have such a profound respect for the American Reserves.”Buttigieg said although every veteran’s return home is different, they are all difficult. The South Bend mayor said civilians should set aside common assumptions that they have.“You come home, and you come to this radical change,” said Buttigieg. “There’s no question there are heroes — the things they did with no regard for their life or safety. In our rush to be complementary, we’ve created the T-ball effect, where everybody gets hit [with gratitude] — but not everyone comes back feeling like a hero. Not everyone is damaged either; most veterans don’t regard themselves as victims. Everyone has a very different experience.”Walorski said that whatever the condition the soldiers are in when they come home, they need help from civilians to advocate for them so that they can get as little or as much help as they need.“We have a half a million veterans and their families in our state [Indiana],” said Walorski. “It’s the greatest reward I’ve ever had to sit across from a veteran.“We want to do them right for the sake of right.”All three panelists said they were frustrated about what the government is doing to help veterans on a national level.“We are passionate about veterans because we are outraged,” said Walorski. “I think there’s a way that Saint Mary’s can rise up and be a part of a national model in a way that people have never seen.”Walorski said she wants to implement a new national program that more veterans could have advocates to get the help they need.“I think it would be incredible if we could start a national model through Saint Mary’s students,” said Walorski. “We could get social-work students at Saint Mary’s to be an advocate for so many of our veterans across the country.”Freshman Anna Riddle said she found Walorski’s idea appealing and inspiring.“I think it would be a good idea if we get Saint Mary’s involved in the National Program,” Riddle said. “I think it would show that it doesn’t just have to be the government providing aid. People have the power to provide aid.”Sophomore Abbie Spica said she was concerned about peers who were just entering the military.“Personally, I have community members I know enlisting, and they have concerns about problems coming back, I like the idea of first focusing on community involvement,” Spica said.Tags: Dr. Kent Laudeman, Jackie Walorski, Peter Buttigieg, South Bend Mayor, U.S. Representative, Veterans
Lovely lawns, showy coleus and picking trees highlight “Your Southern Garden” with Walter Reeves May 21 at noon and 6:30 p.m. on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Just like your hair, a picture-perfect lawn begins with a good cut. A good cut begins with a sharp mower blade. Show host Reeves gets tips from Jason Kruse, a University of Florida horticulture professor, on how to get a keen edge. Coleus was once relegated solely to shade gardens, but not any more. David Clark, UF professor of floriculture and plant genetics, shows his breeding work that has resulted in dozens of new varieties for both sun and shade. To have good shade, you need good trees. UF horticulture professor Ed Gilman shows how to choose trees in a nursery. And, you don’t want to miss Reeves opening the “Your Southern Garden” mailbag and showing off a slimy creature he found in his garden.”Your Southern Garden,” produced by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UF IFAS Extension, is a one-of-a-kind program specifically for the Southeast. The program is made possible by sponsorship from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Clemson Cooperative Extension.Watch “Your Southern Garden” on select public TV stations in Alabama, South Carolina and Florida. Check local listings for details.