Good People Doing Good Things —

There almost was no ‘good people’ post today, for I am in one of those ‘moods’.  I went in search of, found some, nothing appealed, and I decided to just skip out on doing a post for this morning.  But, as I went about doing other things, it weighed on my mind.  This little invasive creature inside my head … he is my conscience and his name is “Barky” … kept saying, “But … don’t your friends and readers really count on you bringing them good news on Wednesday morn?  Don’t you always say that they need the reminders that all is not lost, that there are good people doing good things?”  I told Barky to shut up a couple of times, but he wouldn’t … that’s how he is, he’s a pain in the royal ass, but I’m so grateful that I have him – my conscience.  And so, at just after midnight, when I had decided to treat myself to a few hours to just read or listen to music, I resumed my search for good people.  Needless to say, I found some, for they are always out there … and here they are!

A meow from within …

Lindsay Russell, a Walmart employee in Morristown, Tennessee, was on her lunch break one day in late July when she heard meowing coming from one of the store’s vending machines.

“I tried all through my lunch and my last break to get her. I tried recruiting co-workers to help me get her, and none of us could do it.”

So, Lindsay called the Morristown Fire Department.  Firefighters responding to the call unplugged the vending machine and removed the back cover, but still could not see the crying kitten. Luckily, the firefighters found another opening where they could see the kitten and coaxed it out. The rescue mission took around 10 minutes.

Lindsay has a big heart, and she gave the kitten a forever home and a new, very apt, name:  Pepsi!  A small thing, I know, but still … how many people would have ignored those plaintive cries and gone on about their day?  Or how many people would have relegated the poor kitty to an animal shelter?  I have a soft spot for anyone who takes extra care of animals … and perhaps tonight more so than usual, for I just learned that my neighbor’s dog died.  His name was Rocky, he was a gigantic mixed breed mutt who loved everyone, and I loved him, so I am saddened to learn of his death.

Sign my yearbook … PLEASE?

You all remember that ‘end of the school year’ ritual where kids go around signing each other’s yearbooks with hand-drawn hearts, silly sayings & remembrances?  A fun time … silly, but fun.  At the end of this school year back in June, 12-year-old Brody Ridder came home with a long face … he had only two signatures, nothing more except one he wrote himself …

Brody’s yearbook — BEFORE

His mother, Cassandra, was heartbroken for her young son.  She said that over the past two years, he has struggled socially and has been repeatedly bullied, and this was just one more instance in the bullying … kids are capable of great cruelty.  Brody told his mum that when he asked his classmates to sign his yearbook …

“They told me no. It made me sad.”

Cassandra shared the above photo of her son’s yearbook note in a private Facebook group for parents at the school. She felt angry and helpless. Her primary objective in posting the photo, Ridder explained, was to encourage parents to talk to their children about bullying. She said she’s aware that some parents prefer to keep such matters private, but she thought that being forthright about it might help prevent her son and others from being targeted further.

Cassandra & Brody

She hoped people would sympathize with her son’s struggle, but she did not anticipate the outpouring of support that swiftly surfaced after her post — particularly from older students at the school. As dozens of compassionate comments poured in, several older students — none of whom previously knew Brody — heard about Ridder’s post from their parents. They stepped up to show their support.

Joanna Cooper, 17, received a text message from her mother with a screenshot of Ridder’s post. Right away, the 11th-grader decided, “I’m going to get people and we’re going to sign his yearbook. No kid deserves to feel like that.”

Cooper remembers being Brody’s age, and the intense pressure she felt to fit in. Having signatures in your yearbook wasn’t only a measure of popularity, she recalled, it also meant simply …

“… knowing that you have friends. Signing someone’s yearbook was all the rage. That people would tell him no and deny him a signature, it just hurt my heart.”

She contacted several friends and they coordinated to visit Brody’s homeroom class together the following day. Little did she know at the time, but many other students were hatching the same plan. When Simone Lightfoot, also an 11th-grader at the school, saw Ridder’s post, her first thought was: “I’ll get some of my friends and we’ll go sign it.” Lightfoot, 17, could relate to Brody’s plight …

“When I was younger, I was bullied a lot like him. If I could do one little thing to help this kid feel a little better, I’d be more than willing to.”

Maya Gregory, an eighth-grader at the school, felt likewise. She, too, was bullied at Brody’s age.

“No one helped me when I was in that situation. So I wanted to be there for him.”

She rounded up her friends, all of whom were eager to give Brody a confidence boost. The impromptu initiative spread throughout the school, and on May 25, the day after the yearbooks were distributed, a swarm of older students filed into Brody’s sixth-grade classroom, ready to sign his yearbook.

Although he felt shy at first, “it made me feel better,” said Brody, adding that he collected more than 100 signatures and messages of support in his yearbook that day. He also got some phone numbers and a gift bag.  Said Joanna Cooper …

“Just seeing him light up, it felt really good. It was a small thing, but it made him so happy.”

Brody’s yearbook – AFTER

Even actor Paul Rudd reached out to Brody after learning the boy was being alienated at his middle school.  Rudd, who plays Ant-Man in the Avengers franchise, turns out to be the young boy’s favorite superhero. When Rudd caught wind of what had happened, the actor reached out to the boy and his family and arranged a FaceTime call, following it up with a handwritten note and a signed Ant-Man helmet.

Sometimes maybe all it takes is for people to know when there’s a problem.  Sometimes maybe people are just waiting to see where they’re needed before they step up to the plate.  Maybe sometimes there’s a little bit of ‘good people’ in all of us.  Maybe.

And one more ‘good people’, or should I say ‘good kitty’ … critters can be ‘good people’ too, y’know?  This is one I saw back in April, bookmarked, and forgot to use, but tonight it seems apt as I have two kitties vying for my lap while I try to balance my computer on one knee!

Tammy York of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was watching movies and had fallen asleep (happens to the best of us, yes?).  Turns out that Tammy had candles burning and the wax had begun to drip on the carpet that started a fire.

“I remember the cat, Mandy, making strange noises and tugging on my nightgown. I never woke up. Then she pounced on my chest and slapped me in the face with her paws. I immediately woke up and began choking due to the heavy smoke in my house! Myself and Mandy were able to escape unharmed.”

On April 15th, the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department in Chattanooga presented a plaque Friday to Mandy the cat, whose bravery saved Tammy York’s life.

30 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things —

    • I know … amazing, isn’t it? Children are born without hatred or prejudice, but within a few short years they learn by watching and listening to their parents. Some learn good lessons, while others learn to be bigots, to be cruel.


  1. Brody’s story touched me deeply. And pets are the best anyway. THAT we established a long time ago. Thanks Jill, we’ll always find a story or three to restore some faith in our world of turmoil and hate. We are such lucky ppl here. Undeservedly, but thankful for the good luck.

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    • Yes, it touched me, too. I think at some point we’ve all been the victim of arrogant bullies, even in our adulthood. You’re right, Kiki … we can always find a story or three to restore some faith in humanity. Sometimes those stories jump into our laps, other times we have to go looking, but they’re out there!

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  2. Jill, I LOVE THE YEARBOOK STORY!!! Kudos to all for signing Brody’s annual. Per a counselor at my kid’s middle school, she said “eighth graders are often not very nice people.” Bullying, ostracizing, denigration et al occurs too frequently. Thanks for those who rallied around Brody and hopefully made an impact on those who said “no” to signing the yearbook. Keith

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    • As did I, my friend! I had a few stories I was considering … a woman who rescues dogs, a man who grows produce for the poor … but when I saw Brody’s story, a lightbulb came on and I knew it was the one I wanted to share. Children are born, I think, without hatred or prejudice, but as they grow, they learn from their parents’ actions and words. In fact, some of those who had refused to sign Brody’s yearbook that first day, eagerly asked to sign it after all the attention he garnered … perhaps they learned something?


  3. Funny you should have started off your post like that Jill.
    I’ve been in one of my ‘Stability Before Liberty’ moods of late (Blame Loud Climate Change Deniers and The US Republican Party) and have been keeping my lurid opinions to myself.
    Here is evidence that ordinary folk can be touched to do great acts of kindness which is encouraging. Kudos to Brody’s older schoolmates.

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    • I fully understand. I alternate between being angry at most of the world and feeling as if I am completely useless in the grand scheme of things. To some extent, the good people posts help to keep my grounded, but in another sense, it is a further reminder that … I’m not doing anything to make the world a better place. I could … I should … but I’m not.

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      • on the contrary, Jill. You remind your readers and friends of HOW THINGS ARE. The only ‘thing’ that hurts me is the fact that you render yourself ill and sick with those worries and the anger you feel about the injustice of the ‘big wigs’ out there. Maybe you can (will?) still learn to ‘only’ change what is in your power to change and to let the other stuff pass you by. It’s my self-defense in life for many years already. I always wanted to please everybody and to be good for all the others. The moment I realised that I can only be as good to others as I’m to myself, this changed and I’m a happier and more content person since.

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        • Awwww … thank you so much, Kiki! I appreciate your kind words and I know you are right, that I need to learn that I cannot fix the problems of the world, that I must learn to narrow my scope … but it is easier said than done! I think it’s always been in my nature to think that I can accomplish more than I can, and then I feel that I’ve let myself and others down when I find that, after all, I am only one flawed human! Thanks again, dear friend!


  4. Slomething made me read tonight’s post. I should have known it was abour cats. I had j7st mentioned my cats in a comment to mistermuse. Cats are definitely good people. Who else in the world can purr you out of the doldrums!

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