I write a lot about the hate and divisiveness in this country, in the world. Wednesday mornings, however, are my chance to step back from that part of the world and instead to shine a light on people who are countering the hate with love, with acts of kindness, of giving, of caring and compassion. Today, I bring you several of those ‘good people’ …
Teens are good people too …
So often we hear people judge an entire group by the actions of a few. This is often the case when it comes to that strange breed known as ‘teenagers’, or ‘teens’ for short. They are at a crossroads between childhood and adulthood, and to add insult to injury, there are those pesky hormones. But, despite the common rhetoric about teens, I shall prove to you that teens are good people too.
In the town of Parsippany, New Jersey, there lives a woman named Natalie Blair. Natalie requires regular dialysis treatments in order to stay alive. Last week, after a major snowfall, her neighbor Brian Lanigan shoveled Natalie’s driveway so she could get out for her treatment, but then another 8 inches of snow was predicted to fall overnight, which would completely block her drive once again. Brian, an EMT, had to get to work, so he called on his younger brother, Patrick … one of those ‘teenagers’, and asked him to do what he could to help Ms. Blair.
Patrick, a senior at Parsippany High School, started calling his friends, asking for help. Four of these teens answered the call and came to spend the night at Patrick’s house so they could start shoveling early. Early indeed … at 4:30 they were working on Ms. Blair’s driveway with a vengeance, attacking that snow! Patrick’s father, Peter, thought the boys deserved kudos, and tweeted the above. I agree … hats off to these young boys. Sadly, the snow didn’t cause school to be canceled, so after a short rest, the boys all headed out for their morning classes.
A new set of wheels
Tanner Wilson and Brandon Qualls of Norman, Arkansas, have been friends since they were little kids. Brandon Qualls needs a wheelchair to get around, and his old one, a manual chair, has become difficult for him to use, as his arms tire more easily than they used to.
Both boys are seniors at Caddo Hills High School, and Tanner works after school and on weekends at a local mechanic’s shop. One day in February, Tanner Wilson brought something unique to school … something he had been saving for two years to buy. Can you guess? Yep! A motorized wheelchair for his friend Brandon!Tanner brought the wheelchair into class to surprise Brandon, who burst into tears …
“They came in and my face just blew up. I was just crying everywhere. I was like, ‘Wow I can’t believe he did that for me.’ It’s been my dream to just have one of these, and my dream came true.”
The only problem with Brandon’s new wheelchair is that it doesn’t fit into his family’s car, so Tanner is pondering ways to help the family buy a new car next! Tanner Wilson … an extraordinary example of a teen … a good person!
Next time you hear somebody put down teens, remember Patrick Lanigan & friends, and Tanner Wilson … there are many more like them.
Belinda George is the principal of Homer Drive Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas. The school district is poor, with over 90% of the children coming from families whose incomes are below the poverty level. On Tuesdays, Ms. George’s workday does not end at 4:00 or even 5:00, for at 8:00, she is still doing something for her students – reading them a bedtime story!Every Tuesday evening, Ms. George dons her pajamas, grabs a children’s book, and reads aloud to her students from her home using Facebook Live. Though she originally started the weekly video segment in order to connect with her own students, she has quickly gained followers from youngsters across the country.
Called ‘Tucked-In Tuesdays’, the goal is to pique the kids’ interest in reading. She makes it fun and personal for the kids. One night, she wore a Cookie Monster onesie. Another, she wore one covered with pink hearts. She gives shout-outs to each child as they log-in to watch.
“They’ll ask questions while I’m reading. They’re responsive. They’ll type in questions or put sad or happy faces. Being familiar with their reading can make a connection. I try to cover different interests. If kids can’t relate, they don’t read. They watch me read with emotion and make the book come alive. That’s my thing. Making them feel whatever the book is trying to make you feel. And the pajamas don’t hurt. It’s a matter of just relating to the kids. It’s just a conversation piece. ‘I like your pajamas,’ the kids say. They want to tune in to see what I’m wearing.”
I remember being in elementary school, even high school, and the only times I ever saw the principal was when I was sent to his office. Actually, come to think of it, I knew the principal fairly well … first name basis, in fact. Sigh.
Anyway, two thumbs-up to Principal Belinda George for going well above and beyond the call of duty, for giving of herself, giving something extra to help her students!
And that wraps up our good people post for today, but there will be more of them next week … I promise!