Good News Friday: Ellen DeGeneres sets a Christian anti-gay pastor straight. A homeless shelter is turned into a 5-star restaurant. And New York City libraries donate Internet to the poor

And a happy Friday to you all; it’s been a bitterly cold week here in NYC, so if you’re reading this somewhere warm, I am glaring at you in anger through the screen (well, maybe not anger. Mild annoyance, maybe.)

First up on Good News Friday today is a really cool story near and dear to my heart. The folks at Break.com teamed up with the Ascencia Homeless Shelter in California to give those less fortunate a five-star restaurant experience, completely blowing their minds, and bringing lots of smiles. (the best part starts around the 2:20 mark).

Small gestures = huge appreciation.

**Next up, Ellen DeGeneres is a trailblazer in many ways, so she still gets her fair share of anti-gay bigots spewing venom her way.

She very rarely responds to them, but the other day on her show she did, and I thought this was fabulous…

**And finally today, the New York City library system is amazing, and I say that from first-hand experience.

But what they’re doing in low-income areas is worthy of high praise. According to this story, the NYPL is launching the nation’s largest Internet lending program, handing out 10,000 free high-speed hot spots to some of the city’s poorest residents.

The program, which offers the devices for up to a year, seeks to bridge a digital divide in the nation’s largest city, where studies have found nearly 3 million of the 8 million people lack broadband access.

“It is simply unfathomable that in the digital world in which we live, one-third of New Yorkers do not have access to broadband Internet at home, putting them at a serious disadvantage at school, in applying for jobs, and so much more,” said Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library.

It’s such a simple thing, but connecting those who don’t have the Web, to it, opens up a whole new world. I see it when I’ve substitute taught the last few years here in the city; schools that have computers for the kids to explore the Internet absolutely perform better than those that don’t.

Good for the NYPL. The Internet should be open to all.

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