Every Wednesday morning, I go in search of those people who are selflessly giving of themselves, whether it be in the form of money or time, to make the world just a little bit better place by doing good things for others. This is one of my ways of stepping back for just a brief time from the dark place that seems to define not only the U.S., but much of the world in this, the 21st century. I find that I never have trouble finding those good people … they are everywhere, though they go largely unnoticed, for the sad reality is that bad news sells much better than good. Shining the light on these people should give us all a reminder that there is yet hope for the cause of humanity in the world. So sit back, if you will, and take just a few minutes to hear about these good people doing good things.
Sewickley, Pennsylvania, is a suburb 12 miles to the northwest of Pittsburgh. The borough’s population is under 4,000, with only about 950 families. Until his recent death, Sewickley was home to Raymond Suckling. Raymond was just an average guy. He never married nor had children, but he had a lifelong companion, Betty Hallett, who died in 2002. Raymond had worked hard all his life, a WWII veteran and a mechanical engineer at Koppers Company in Pittsburgh. Raymond lived in a modest home, drove a Subaru and liked White Castle hamburgers. An average Joe, right? But when Raymond died, he made the second largest donation ever to the Pittsburgh Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing a wide variety of issues in the community. How much, you ask, did he donate? $37.1 million!
This man, who had lived simply and frugally all his life, mowed his own lawn, always gave to various charities throughout the year, had wealth that nobody, not even those close to him, knew a thing about.
The money will be divided among Sewickley Public Library, the Heritage Valley Health System in Sewickley, and nonprofits and programs in the Sewickley region that help low-income youth and families.
Thom Hallett, one of Betty’s sons, said, “I recall him saying — and I think he meant this as a teaching moment for us — that having wealth also means having the responsibility to do good works.” This was a man who lived up to his words.
In 2015, Paula Garcia of Vancouver, Canada, and a group of friends decided to do something about the plight of the homeless in downtown eastside of Vancouver. They formed a small non-profit called Small Steps and every Tuesday evening, they prepare sandwiches and load up with other essentials and hand deliver them to those in need. The organization is small, its scope limited, but these are people volunteering their time and resources to help people. Just think what the world would be like if every one of us dedicated just one evening a week to helping people.
FROGS Dinner Club has, to date, prepared over 175,000 meals for hungry children through Tarrant Area Food Bank, packaged 50,000 backpacks for the Backpacks for Kids Program and helped serve 10,000 families through Mobile Food Pantry.
Pretty nice, yes? But … wait for it … the founder of FROGS is none other than 12 year old Will Lourcey whose motto is “See a need, make a plan, gather friends, and change the world”. I think we could all stand to take some of Will’s advice … I know I sure could.
FROGS, short for Friends Reaching Our Goals, is a community outreach program that gets young children together to plan fun events that raise money, awareness and help feed hungry children. If you have two minutes to spare, please watch Will tell you in his own words about FROGS … I guarantee you will fall in love with this young man … I did!
One of my pet peeves is food waste. Just ask Miss Goose about my fussing and grousing when I clean out the fridge and have to toss some moldy cheese, or a container of something unidentifiable, but growing a layer of fuzz on top. Grocery stores throw out thousands, if not millions of dollars worth of food every week that could have fed hundreds of families. My next good person is doing something to combat food waste and help feed those who might otherwise go hungry.
Lourdes Juan, of Alberta, Canada, says, “My cousin and I saw how much food was going to go to waste if we weren’t there to rescue it.” Juan founded the non-profit group Leftovers Foundation, which rescues perishable food from stores and restaurants — things food banks often can’t handle.
Every week in Alberta, 1,814 kilograms (4,000 lbs) of produce, day-old bread, pastries and prepared meals is saved.
“Food that is a bit spotted, is close to expiry, but not yet expired — so food that is destined for the landfill, we come in and rescue that,” Juan said.
Two-hundred volunteers in Calgary and Edmonton pick up food from about 55 businesses, seven days a week. The volunteers use their own vehicles and pay for their own gas. The rescued food is then distributed to a number of agencies throughout Alberta. One of those agencies is Home Mission, where spokesperson Robin Padanyi said, “To be able to have — not just food, but healthy food that’s going to be able to replenish some of the nutrients that our guests really need is important to us.”
All of these people … Raymond, Paula, Will and Lourdes … have given of themselves to help those in need. Isn’t it wonderful to see that there are people like this in the world? These people are not so self-focused that they cannot see the plight of others, and they are willing to give of themselves, their time, money and energy, to help others. My hat is off to each and every one of these good people doing good things.