Good People Doing Good Things — Seniors

golfBack in May, my ‘good people’ post featured kids doing good things.  This week, I decided it might be fun to go to the other end of the spectrum and look at seniors doing good things!   Some people retire and just enjoy life, travel, visit the grandkids, play that silly game with the tiny white ball.  But others almost start their lives over again when they retire, returning to school, starting an encore career, volunteering …

Today I am sharing just short pieces about several seniors who are making a difference, some small, others big, but they are giving of themselves.  They are indeed, good people doing good things …


I Like Being 98 …

old ladyEvelyn (no last name given) was 97 when her driver’s license was taken away from her for no other reason than her age. So, at age 98, she decided to get it back in order to fulfill a promise to a neighbor to get her to the grocery store once a week after their retirement community’s bus service was discontinued. “When you make a promise, it’s important for me to keep that promise if it’s possible. I’m on the earth, I’m here. If I can contribute, I should. Shouldn’t we all? And not just think of ourselves? I don’t have money to give, but I can give myself.”


The Sandwich Man …

Allan LawFormer middle school teacher Allan Law decided to turn his attention in retirement to helping the homeless population. He first came across hunger and homelessness as a middle school teacher in the inner city schools of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In his retirement, Law has spent every day of the last 12 years on the streets of Minneapolis. His small condominium is filled with freezers, and every night he leaves home at 8pm and returns around noon the next day after distributing some 600 – 700 sandwiches to homeless people, along with other essentials. He sleeps for 2 hours in his delivery vehicle while fielding emergency calls from people who need his help. Last year, he delivered 520,000 sandwiches. When asked why he does this, Law answers: “It just spreads; it’s like a good virus. If I was homeless and hungry and someone brought me a sandwich, I’d say ‘Thank you.’”


Sharing the nest egg …

Jeane Goforth poured her entire retirement savings into Scrollworks, an organization giving kids from all different socioeconomic levels and neighborhoods free music lessons and an opportunity to play together in an orchestra. She says, “I wanted to have a positive impact on the world. I don’t care about being famous. When I go, I don’t even care if people remember me, but I want to know that I did something to lift humanity up somehow.”


Estella’s Brilliant Bus …

Estella Pyfrom.jpgRetired teacher Estella Pyfrom knew she wasn’t ready to go on the back porch and rock in her retirement. She realized that some families were choosing between putting food on the table and computers/access to the internet. She knew that the computer access was key to the children’s ability to move up in life, so she and her husband sunk their life savings into Estella’s Brilliant Bus, a fully-equipped mobile tech center that brings computers to the kids eager to learn. Asked if she will ever stop, Estella laughs and says, “Heck to the no.”

Watch the first minute or so of this video … I promise you will fall in love with Estella!


And Then Came Shai …

Shai Rashef.jpgWith decades of employment under their belts, the senior population is uniquely qualified to start businesses in their areas of expertise. For educational entrepreneur Shai Reshef, that meant taking on the daunting task of educating the world– creating the world’s first tuition-free online, accredited university. Today, his online university enrolls students from 160 countries, bringing learning to some of the most remote and impoverished areas of the globe. Says Reshef, “People are willing to take from themselves and give to the world, give to students, give to us. I knew that there were good people out there–I just didn’t know how many.”

You can read more about Reshef and his University of the People (UoPeople) here.  There is also a Ted Talk given by Mr. Reshef 


Africa Bridge …

Barry ChildsBarry Childs left Tanzania, his childhood home, as a college-bound teenager, eager to prepare for a comfortable corporate career. When he returned 35 years later, the African country was vastly different. It was 1998. AIDS had orphaned an overwhelming number of children. Villagers were desperately poor. And for many, prospects for a better life were virtually nonexistent. During that visit, Childs decided he would leave his corporate career to help. In 2000, he created Africa Bridge. “The poverty in Tanzania is of an entirely different scale from what we know here. Someone in the U.S. earning the minimum wage makes roughly $70 a day, but the average income in rural Tanzania is 70 cents a day. There are well over 2 million orphaned children in a country of just 40 million people.”

Childs’ nonprofit has set up 28 income-generating farming cooperatives for caregivers in 16 villages and built classrooms and clinics for thousands of children. In 2009 alone, Africa Bridge implemented comprehensive care plans—covering housing, clothing and food, social and legal support and schooling—for 3,557 children.


Stop Blowing Up Your Backyard …

Bo WebbBo Webb retired to his ancestral home in the West Virginia mountains for the area’s stunning beauty. But he found that the majestic landscape was being blown to bits. Using government and industry statistics, Webb estimates that 3.5 million pounds of explosives are detonated daily in West Virginia for coal. Across Appalachia, he says, mountaintop removal—blasting mountaintops to expose coal—has destroyed at least 500 mountains and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams.

The state’s economic dependency on coal is not lost on Webb, 61, but he says the people are paying dearly for it, sacrificing their air and water quality. So in 2004, Webb co-founded Mountain Justice, which uses grassroots organizing, public education, and nonviolent civil disobedience to abolish surface mining. As Webb puts it: “People need to realize there are other ways to make a living than blowing up your backyard.” Webb has drawn such notables as actress Daryl Hannah and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to protests. He has brokered meetings between West Virginia’s governor and coalfield residents. He was instrumental in a successful effort to move an elementary school away from a coal processing plant. Without a background in community organizing, he has helped build a movement.


Aren’t all these people simply amazing?  Quite frankly, this is only about a fourth of the ones I found just in a few hours of searching and reading.  No rocking chairs and knitting needles for these folks!  A round of applause for all those good people over a certain age who are giving of themselves, and giving us hope and inspiration.

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27 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things — Seniors

  1. I left this post as my last to read tonight. I knew that your day of ‘Good People Doing Good Things,’ would make my heart feel lighter, and you did not disappoint Jill. I think this Wednesday, I needed to see those wonderful people more than ever. Humanity is not bad, just misguided by those that would thwart us. Real people with no desire to be greedy or rich, have the best reward of all…The love of those that they help.💕💕💕 Thanks for putting good things in my heart tonight…it is just what I needed.💖💖

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    • Thank you so much, Colette! Your kind words brought an unexpected tear to my eyes. When I read a comment like yours, it makes it all worthwhile. I am glad you enjoyed it and glad you went to bed with a happy thought. 🙂

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  2. Yes, they are amazing. I do wish Estella’s bus had some tutors to help the kids learn rather than computers. I have serious doubts about the benefits of putting computers in the hands of young children. The evidence suggests it thwarts brain development. Moreover, you cannot improve upon the one-on-one contact between two human minds. But her heart’s in the right place and all of thee people deserve the kudos you have sent their way. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked these people! Yes, on one level I agree with you, would love to see them reading literature together, learning a bit of history, art, music. But on the other hand, whether you and I like it or not, computer skills are required in today’s world, and it is something that many families simply cannot afford to provide. But I think Miss Estella is giving them something more than computer skills … I think she is giving them some love, and probably instilling some values such as humanity, compassion, that will last them a lifetime. At least, that is what I hope. I particularly liked the sandwich man and kind of wanted a hug from him! 🙂

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    • Thank you! Yes, those who truly do good in this world tend to go about their business quietly, which is why we sometimes think the evil is overtaking the good, for the evil have very loud, obnoxious voices.

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  3. Pingback: Seniors – The Militant Negro™

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