Good People Doing Good Things — In The Wake Of A Storm

On Sunday, exactly sixteen years after the infamous Hurricane Katrina swept up through the Gulf of Mexico along almost the same path, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana.  At least seven are dead and more than one million without electricity.  Sounds like a perfect place for a few good people to step in, doesn’t it?

Back in February when an unexpected snowstorm hit Texas I wrote about Jim McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, Texas, who opened the doors of his showroom to anyone in need of warmth and shelter.  McIngvale’s generosity and kindness dates back 16 years to the time of Hurricane Katrina when he opened his doors to those in need of shelter.  And today, in the wake of Hurricane Ida, McIngvale, age 70, is once again heeding the call of those in need.

But this time, McIngvale is sending dozens of trucks loaded to the brim with the most essential things.  Says McIngvale …

“Our hearts go out for the residents of Louisiana, especially in New Orleans residents are getting hit by this terrible hurricane.  So on Monday at Gallery Furniture from eight to five in the afternoon, we’re gonna have a giant drive. Looking for people to bring non-perishable foods, diapers, all the normal things for hurricanes and we’re gonna get about 30 trucks and take them to Louisiana to help the people out and be doing that as long as the need’s there. And we’re also having Louisiana residents that evacuated to Houston sleep here free.”

And as Hurricane Ida swept through New Orleans causing massive evacuations, the nursing staff at the NICU at Ochsner Health Hospital in New Orleans volunteered to stay through the night with the babies who desperately needed them.  Says Nurse Paula Jean Simon …

“I am so proud. My team pulls together, doesn’t matter what’s happening, they’re going to make sure the babies are taken care of.”

And lastly, wherever there is a disaster, you won’t likely have to look far to find Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen staff setting up shop and providing food and more to the people in need.  This week is no exception … Andrés came to New Orleans straight from Haiti where they have been providing food and assistance to the people displaced by first by an earthquake that killed over 2,000, followed by Hurricane Grace.

Andrés tweeted on August 29th

Hello friends of @WCKitchen! I’m on the ground in New Orleans with @natemook & WCK’s Relief team…Winds are getting bad as Hurricane #Ida makes landfall…We have 3 kitchens ready with supplies already for 100,000+ meals! Now we will shelter until Ida passes…

My apologies for both the lateness and the brevity of this good people post, but I hope to get back up to speed soon!

Good People Doing Good Things — Humanitarians

I have just a few good ‘people’ today, not because I couldn’t find more, but because I ran out of energy … again.  But, I think you’ll enjoy these … gives us hope that humanity does still exist.

One heck of a tip!

The staff at Wahoo Seafood Grill in Gainesville, Florida, got a rather pleasant surprise last Tuesday.  A party of three came in, had what must have been a pretty nice meal, for the tab came to over $144 after a $63 discount!  But the kicker was the gratuity or tip.  Take a look at the receipt …

After the group finished their meal, the man asked the entire restaurant staff to come to the dining area.  He thanked all 10 of them for showing up and working hard. Then something incredible happened. He told them he was giving them $1,000 each!

Said the restaurant’s owner, Sean Shepherd …

“I’m not usually an emotional guy, but this really got me. I’m blown away. We’re ALL blown away by his generosity.  Watching these guys get their check was almost as good as Christmas morning.  The last year and a half hasn’t been easy on this industry. We’re hurting and we’re exhausted, but this incredible act of kindness has restored our faith in humanity. Our whole staff would like to thank this generous customer from the bottom of our hearts. We are all going to pay it forward in our own ways. Even the smallest acts of kindness can have a giant ripple effect.”

A double good people

Polish Olympian Maria Andrejczyk earned the silver medal in the javelin throw at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in July/August 2021). On August 11, she announced the auctioning of her prized medal to help save a young boy’s life.

She chose to raise funds for Miłoszek Małysa, an 8-month-old boy who needs to travel from Poland to Stanford University in California to have life-saving heart surgery. She does not know Małysa, but wrote that she knew his cause was the right choice after reading online pleas for help from his parents.

Andrejczyk wrote that Małysa needed 1.5 million Polish zlotys — about $385,000 — to cover the costs of his transportation and treatment.

“The true value of a medal always remains in the heart. A medal is only an object, but it can be of great value to others. This silver can save lives, instead of collecting dust in a closet. That is why I decided to auction it to help sick children.”

But the story gets even better.

Zabka, a Polish convenience store chain, made the winning bid.  Zabka confirmed the good news on Facebook. The store also gracefully declined to accept her silver medal.

“We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian. We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will stay with Ms. Maria.”

Tissues anyone?

Good people don’t have to be people, y’know

An unnamed 83-year-old Cornwall woman is alive today … thanks to her best friend, Piran.  She was out walking one day last week and slipped down into a deep ravine.  It was several hours before her neighbors noticed her absence and began searching for her.

They might still be searching today but for the woman’s friend, Piran, who, knowing where she was but unable to affect a rescue, waited patiently for the searchers to come close enough to hear his cries.  Oh … did I mention that Piran is a cat?

Ultimately the searchers came upon Piran, just as he’d known they would, and immediately called for professional help to rescue the woman lying in a stream at the bottom of the ravine.

Said her neighbor, Tamir Longmuir …

“The cat is very attached to her, and he was going back and forth in the gateway and meowing, so I decided to go and search the maize field.”

Piran gets a thumbs up 👍 for his dedication and efforts on behalf of his housemate!

That’s all I’ve got for today, folks, but remember … you, too, can be a good people.  Just offer a helping hand when you see somebody struggling … little things mean a lot.

Good People Doing Good Things — A Kit and Kaboodle!

Humble and heartfelt apologies, but I am falling back on a good people post from 2018 tonight, but it is a good one that many of you haven’t seen before.  Next week I’ll do better … I promise!

It’s that time again, time for a look at some of the good people who are out there doing good things for our world.  I think you will enjoy today’s selections … and here … you’re going to need theseKleenex tissues.png

Trenton Lewis is only 21-years-old, but this young man has one of the strongest work ethics I have ever seen.  Trenton is the father of an adorable 14-month-old daughter, Karmen, who serves as a powerful motivator.


Karmen Lewis

“My pride is strong. Whatever she needs, I’m the person who is supposed to provide it for her.”

Seven months ago, Trenton was offered a job at the local UPS center, 11 miles from his home.  Only one small problem … Trenton did not own a car, nor have access to one.  But do you think that stopped this young man?  Nope … he took that job, and has never missed a shift nor been late a single time for his 4:00 a.m. shift.  How?  He leaves at midnight to walk the 11 miles, that’s how!  For seven months, braving rain, wind and traffic, he has walked to work and never said a word to anyone, never once complained.

In my book, Trenton himself is a ‘good people’, but there’s more!  One of his co-workers, Patricia “Mama Pat” Bryant, found out that Trenton was walking to work every day.  She and her husband have both worked at the UPS center for nearly 40 years, and they are good people.

“For a young person to decide in their mind ‘if I don’t have a ride, if I can’t get a ride then I’ll walk.’ If a guy can do that, we can pitch in to help.”

The Bryants quietly spread the word, and every single employee they asked chipped in until soon they had collected enough money, $2,000, to buy Trenton a car!  Not a new car, mind you, but a 2006 Saturn Ion in good condition that will get him to work and back home to his baby girl. Kenneth Bryant said when he told the car’s seller what he was doing, he even dropped the price of the car.

They surprised Trenton a few days ago when they asked him to come to a union meeting out in the parking lot, and then after a few brief words by Bryant, they handed the keys to Trenton … his first car!  Trenton, needless to say, was overwhelmed and profoundly grateful!

“I wanted to be with my daughter, to be able to support her. I wanted to be a father. I’m never going to forget this ever.”

Trenton LewisA whole lot of good people came together to help another good person … how much better can it get?


John Lee Cronin has Down’s Syndrome.  John Lee Cronin loves socks. John Lee Cronin is 21 years old and owns his own business … selling socks!

John CroninWhen John graduated from high school, he had already decided he wanted to start a business with his dad, and he loved socks, so what better venture than selling socks?  Not just socks, mind you … not plain ol’ white crew socks or black dress socks, but fun socks, funky socks!  In December 2016, John and his dad, launched an on line store named John’s Crazy Socks.

A visit to their website says it all!  Here are a few samples …

From top left:  Abraham Lincoln socks, Banana Split Troll socks, Banned Book socks, Donald Trump Hair socks, Lobster socks, Pizza and Beer socks, and Sunflower socks.

Now, typically on Wednesday’s ‘good people’ post, I shine a light on people who are feeding the homeless, helping people rebuild after a disaster, adopting or helping children survive and thrive, and it is true that John is doing none of these things.  But I happen to think that he still earned a spot in this post, for what he is doing is motivating and inspiring.  He is showing other disabled people that they can do anything they set their minds to.  And he is, I think, an inspiration to the rest of us as well, for I found myself in awe of this young man’s stamina and determination.

socks logoIn under two years, John’s Crazy Socks has topped $2 million in sales revenue.  It’s easy to see why … they have some awesome socks.  My girls love funky and fuzzy socks, and I know where I will be shopping come birthday and holiday season!

From the website …

John’s Crazy Socks is a father-son venture inspired by John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, and his love of colorful and fun socks, or what he calls his “crazy socks.” Our is a business built on love. We’re on a mission to spread happiness through socks.

We have built our business on four pillars:

  • Socks: We offer over 1,200 socks so that you can find the perfect socks for you or to give as a gift. Our customers love our socks.

  • Fast and Personal Shipping: We ship same day so most customers get their orders within two days and we make it personal. Every package contains a thank you note from John and candy. Free shipping in the US at $40.

  • Giving Back: We donate 5 percent of our earnings to the Special Olympics and we’ve created a series of Awareness and Charity socks and donate money form each pair of socks to causes like Down syndrome and Autism awareness, the Special Olympics and breast cancer research.

  • Proving What’s Possible: We’re a business started by a man with Down syndrome. We hire people with disabilities. We do all we can for our customers. We believe that doing the right thing is the best business.

John Cronin 2All the more reason these are good people helping in their community, through donations and through hiring people with disabilities.  Please, if you have a few minutes, take time to check out their website and read their story   and check out the really crazy but cool socks! Heck, maybe you’ll even want to buy a pair or two!

seperatorLarry “Smiley” Kleiman served two tours of duty in Vietnam as a younger man. Today he spends his time doing all manners of good things, from being a volunteer firefighter and EMT, to helping out at the local K-9 unit.  Larry Kleiman is one of the good people in this story, but there is also another.  You see, Larry, nicknamed ‘Smiley’, hasn’t smiled in years, for he has no teeth.  A calcium deficiency that started while he was in Vietnam cost him his teeth over the course of the years.  Recently, though, Larry decided to go to Dr. Michael Tischler, founder of Teeth Tomorrow, for a consultation, just to see if perhaps he could get his smile back, but he left discouraged.

Smiley.png“I wasn’t really going to do it because it was a lot of money and on a fixed income, a retirement, there was no way feasible of me doing it.”

But he was surprised a few days later when he received a call from Dr. Tischler asking him to come back in to the office.  Dr. Tischler had been so moved by Larry’s story and what he had given – was still giving – to the world, that he decided to give Larry a full set of dental implants, valued at $60,000, for free!


Dr. Michael Tischler

“He smiled, he had no teeth. His name was Smiley, he was a fireman. He worked with dogs in Vietnam. And everything about him was just the kind of person that you want to help. They’re giving up their lives for our freedom. And to have a gentleman like this that had two tours in Vietnam, which was a horrible war… We felt good helping him.”

And there, folks, is the second ‘good person’ in this piece.  Larry has his new implants and is smiling once again, and Dr. Tischler is, in my book, a hero.

seperatorAnd that is a wrap for this week’s Good People Doing Good Things!  Isn’t it wonderful to realize that these people are only a small sampling of all the good people out there … people going quietly about the business of trying to help each other in whatever way they can, whether it be financial,  practical, or just giving a bit of time to someone who is lonely.  I am inspired and motivated to find a way to do something for somebody this week … how about you?

Good People Doing Good Things — Super Kids!

Just two ‘good people’ today, but they are small fry with huge hearts!

Let’s start today’s good people with a small, very cool young person. His name is Rowyn Montgomery, he is all of seven years old, and lives in Tiverton, Rhode Island.  Young Rowyn … this kid is gonna knock your socks off … he’s smart, he’s compassionate, he’s got more sense than a great number of adults I know.  And he’s even got his own YouTube channel, “Rollin’ with Rowyn“.

Rowyn first came up with the idea of making inspirational videos after being bullied himself.  Says Rowyn …

“When I make videos, it makes me feel happy that other people can watch them and feel happy. If they’re getting picked on or if they’re shy or something, they can watch the videos.”

Take a look at this one …

Rowyn’s mother, Michelle, helps him post videos to his YouTube channel …

“He’s so funny. He’s an old soul. You can talk to him about such deep things.”

Just watching his videos, I have no trouble believing that!  This kid is going places, and he’s going to do it with kindness and by helping others.  Check out just one more short one …

I laughed at the part where he threw his hands up and said, “God knows how many grades there’s gonna be …”

Rowyn will start second grade this fall, and hopes to follow in his mom’s footsteps when he grows up. She currently works in the behavioral health field as a case manager and helps people with mental illness.

Orion Jean is just ten years old, lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and last year, when he was a fifth-grader, he was the winner of the National Kindness Speech Contest.  Orion wrote, practiced, and gave this 90-second speech all within 24 hours, for that was all the notice he had.  Take a look at his 90-second speech …

Orion received over 2,800 votes in the contest, and the prize was $500 … a lot of money for a then-nine-year-old kid!  But, Orion didn’t buy himself a new bicycle or anything else with his prize money.  Instead, he put his money where his mouth was, for Orion didn’t just write and speak about kindness, he IS a kind young man who wanted to do something for others.

He decided to start by donating toys to sick kids at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. “These kids are my age, and they’re just kids like me,” he recalls thinking before he launched a drive for five hundred toys in August 2020. Jean’s parents had helped him set up social media pages, and he filmed videos about the toy drive for them to post on his behalf. Donations began streaming in, and he collected and donated 619 toys to the hospital in only a month.

An avid reader, Jean says he saw a statistic stating that two out of three kids living in poverty have no books of their own. He decided to collect 500,000 books for disadvantaged children. So far, he has gathered some 120,000 books and hopes to have the rest by the end of August.

“Kindness is a virtue we can all possess. If we are willing to. So why not start today. Because right now, it’s what we need more than ever.”

Ain’t it the truth!

Orion Jean has done even more, and you can read more about him and learn how you can help, in an article from last month in Texas Monthly.

These two young men are inspiring to all, I think.  If these guys are our future, then perhaps there is hope for humanity after all!

Good People Doing Good Things — Inspiring Youths

First, I must apologize for reprising a ‘good people’ post from 2018.  I try not to do this with the good people posts, and typically I have no need to, for there are so many good people out there doing their part to make this world a little bit better.  But tonight, I got a late start, and then found some problems with the subject I had earlier chosen to write about, so it was back to the drawing board.  But … I am out of energy tonight and cannot manage much more, so I hope these young people will warm your heart enough that you can forgive my laziness!

Campbell Remess

Meet Campbell Remess, age 13. Campbell, nicknamed Bumble by his little sister, lives with his family in Hobart, Tasmania.  (Tasmania, for those who might have thought it was only the fictional home of the Tasmanian Devil, is an island state off the southern coast of Australia.)  So what, you ask, does Campbell do?  He makes teddy bears!  Yes, you heard me right … he sews teddy bears in, according to his mum, almost all of his spare time.

Campbell RemessIt all started when Campbell was nine years old and asked his parents if he could buy Christmas gifts for sick children, for he wanted to do something to brighten their spirits. His parents had to turn down his request, for Campbell is one of nine children and … well, money, y’know?  Still, Campbell was a determined young lad, and so he found a pattern for a teddy bear online and with a bit of help from his mom, managed to craft what would become the first of more than a thousand such bears.

So, what does Campbell do with the bears?  Well, every week he hand delivers some to sick children at the Royal Hobart Hospital near his home.  He also sends his bears to sick children all over the world, and has a special bear he makes, the Winning Bear, for cancer patients to hold onto during treatments and at those down times.  He has even sent bears to victims of terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris. But it doesn’t end there …

campbell remess 2.jpgMore recently, Campbell started auctioning some of his bears on eBay, and donates all proceeds to charity.

“I put them online for auction for people to buy and all money goes to charity. My top bear sold for $5,000. On eBay they sell for about $1,000 to $2,000.”

Campbell says he lost count of how many bears he has made, but estimates it is somewhere between 1,200 – 1.400.  His goal is to make a bear a day, or 365 per year.  What I liked most about this young man is his attitude, his heart, when he said …

“Everyone can do something like this, it isn’t too hard to do it. I think the world would be a lot happier if everyone was kind and helpful and not mean, and if everyone had a teddy bear.”

Ryan Hickman

We are often amazed when young people start their own business, perhaps fresh out of college, or shortly thereafter.  But I believe Ryan Hickman may qualify as the youngest person ever to start his own business.  Ryan Hickman started his business at the ripe young age of 3½, and now, at age 7, is the CEO, manager, and sole employee of Ryan’s Recycling Company in Orange County, California.

Ryan HickmanWhen he was 3½ years old, Ryan Hickman visited the rePlanet recycling center in California, and found his life’s mission. The next day, standing in the family’s driveway with his dad, he pointed down the street and made an announcement: “My new business! I’m going to pick up all the cans and bottles from everyone in the neighborhood.” And that is just what he did!

To date, according to Ryan’s website, he has collected over 290,000 cans and bottles for recycling, and from his profits has donated nearly $6,000 to Pacific Marine Mammal Center.  He has also managed to save some $11,000 from his profits, which his dad, Damion Hickman, says will go toward college.  Ryan, however, has other ideas:  he wants to buy a full-size trash truck and eventually become a garbage man.  Any bets who wins that argument?

Ryan Hickman 2Last year, Ryan was invited to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and Ellen then surprised him with a mini golf cart to help him with his recycling business, and also gave him a check for $10,000! When Ellen asked him why he likes recycling so much, he replied, “It’s because bottles get to the ocean and then animals get sick and die.”

He’s only seven years old, so it’s hard to predict what path this young man’s life will take, but one thing is for sure … he is doing good things and his heart is in the right place.

Haile Thomas

How many kids eat mostly healthy food?  Probably not a lot, but 16-year-old Haile Thomas of Tucson, Arizona, is on a mission to change that.  Haile’s mother began teaching Haile how to cook when she was only five years old.  At age ten, after completing a Girls Making Media workshop, Haile was greatly inspired to share her cooking adventures with other kids and thus was launched her online cooking show, Kids Can Cook.

Haile Thomas Al RokerHaile Thomas does not just cook, but she COOKS!  She puts me to shame, and I am fairly adept in the kitchen.  In 2013 she appeared on the Today show and cooked black bean and corn quinoa salad with garlic shrimp and avocado, a dish she had previously cooked up for first lady Michelle Obama as part of the first Kids’ State Dinner.

“I started asking questions about where my food comes from and what I was eating.”

She signed up for the youth advisory board of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which aims to combat childhood obesity, and from there started working with local chefs doing cooking demonstrations.

“The alliance and the chefs really inspired me and got me to where I am now.”

Her show, Kids Can Cook, teaches kids how to prepare nourishing meals for themselves, with recipes that call for simple ingredients.

Haile Thomas.jpgAnd if that’s not enough, Haile travels around the nation talking about her mission and has been awarded several grants for her service programs, HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle) and the Healthy Girl Club. She is the founder and director of the Tucson-based HAPPY Organization, Inc., which serves to improve the health and wellness of Arizona youth and families.

“I hope to make a difference by inspiring other kids to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and become educated about how good and bad food affects their bodies, overall health and quality of life.”

And she’s only 16.  She has most of the adults I know beat for understanding, practicing and teaching good nutritional values.  Imagine what a difference this young woman will make.  Move over Emeril!


I have two others, but I have already surpassed my self-imposed word limit, so I shall save them for another day.  Friends … we see so much pure evil every day in the news, and I spend the bulk of my time writing about that evil.  Every now and then, it does us all good to pull ourselves up out of the dark places and look around us, for when we do, we see that there are many, many people out there countering the evil, doing good things for others.  These three young people serve as an inspiration, give us hope that perhaps all is not lost, and that there is still conscience and integrity in the world.  My hat is off to these three and all the others out there doing good things.  Until next Wednesday … SMILE!

Good People Doing Good Things — David & Linda Brown

It was a tough choice for this week’s good people, for I had two major candidates, and several small ones and only so much time, space, & energy.  So, I have bookmarked the ones I didn’t choose for another Wednesday!  Meanwhile, I’d like to introduce you to David and Linda Brown of Springfield, Missouri.

Back in November 2010, the couple saw a need for a drop-in center for the homeless in downtown Springfield during the early evening hours. Together with some friends, they opened one evening a week at The Front Porch, a venue in the heart of downtown. The purpose was two-fold. First, was to provide a safe place for homeless persons to get off the streets for a few hours. Second, was to build relationships and gain a firsthand understanding of homelessness.

A couple of years later, they expanded their operation, formed The Gathering Tree, and moved to a different location to better meet the needs of more homeless people.  The Gathering Tree obtained a two-year lease for their own facility and were able to expand the hours to five evenings a week with the help of many individuals and several organizations. Meals were provided along with essential items such as clothing, personal care items and survival gear. As many as 150+ individuals were served during these evenings.

Through the years, they expanded their operation such that people coming in off the street were able to rest, play card games, use computers, sing karaoke, partake in a bingo evening, take a shower and continue to get essentials they needed to survive on the street.  But they knew this wasn’t enough … these people needed a place to live, a home!  In 2017 Linda, who is a real estate agent, learned of a listing for an abandoned 4.2-acre mobile park on Springfield’s east side. The property wouldn’t need to be rezoned for tiny-home trailers, and the infrastructure and utilities were already in place.

So, they transformed an abandoned mobile home property into a village of tiny homes that provides permanent housing to the chronically homeless. They raised $4.75 million and opened Eden Village in 2018, erecting 31 tiny homes that are now occupied by people like Jonathan Fisher. He was battling substance abuse and had lived on the streets for two years when he met Linda Brown, who changed his life.  Says Mr. Fisher …

“In the worst moments of my life, Linda gave me guidance, care, and made me feel like I was still worth something. She helped me to build a better life. Even when I was struggling with homelessness and sobriety, she showed me I was valuable and that my potential shouldn’t be wasted. She made me feel like I belonged somewhere.”

He says that Brown took the time to learn about how he became homeless, and then encouraged him as he rebuilt his life. She even offered him a job. Now sober, Fisher works full-time for Brown, doing construction and maintenance on the 31 homes, and helping others who are experiencing struggles similar to what he went through.  David & Linda believe that the root causes of a person’s homelessness cannot be thoroughly addressed until his or her immediate housing needs are met.

The tiny homes are rolled in on wheels attached to their steel frames, qualifying them as recreational vehicles. The 400-square-foot individual homes are fully furnished, including dishes and bedding.  They can remain in their home as long as they wish, provided they remain a good neighbor in the community.  The village includes a 4,000-square-foot community center where residents can hold cookouts, do laundry, and access a medical office staffed with student nurse volunteers and mental health professionals. Eden Village was even the site of a marriage ceremony for two residents.

Plans for additional villages are already underway on donated land. Eden Village 2 will house 24 residents in tiny homes and is close to opening. Then, work will begin on Eden Village 3, which could house up to 80 residents in duplexes. Over the next six years, Brown, who is a realtor for Amax Real Estate, plans to have five villages across Springfield, housing an estimated 200 homeless people.

This is a movement whose time has come, for numerous other cities are seeking to replicate Eden Village. One project is underway in Wilmington, N.C., and 34 other communities are making plans to replicate Eden Village.  Two thumbs up to this couple who cared enough to do something about the homeless people in their city!  👍👍

Good People Doing Good Things — Giving

If it’s Wednesday … wait … it is Wednesday, right?  Then it must be time for us to switch gears and focus on good people instead of the other kind I usually report on!  And, as luck would have it, I found some without having to turn over too many rocks!  Some times it isn’t about giving money or ‘things’, but about giving the most precious thing you have … yourself, your time.

One cool restauranteur

Josh Elchert is the owner/operator of Heavenly Pizza in Findlay, Ohio.  On July 5th, the crew at Heavenly Pizza filled 220 orders, nearly double its usual for a Monday, but at the end of the day, the restaurant had zero take.  Why?  Because Josh Elchert declared it to be Employee Appreciation Day and he divvied the entire take, every last penny, to his staff!  All $6,300, plus $1,200 in tips, went directly to employees.  Damn … I just want to hug this man!

He says people tend to think of pizza for the sauce, crust or cheese. But the most important ingredient is sometimes lost on people.

“You can have the best pizza in the world, if you have no one here to make it, it doesn’t matter.”

Elchert posted his plan on Facebook in hopes that his customers would get the message and come out to “show the love” … and they did!  Says one assistant manager …

“No, nope, nah, I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s a big gift. That kind of giving nature is why this place runs so well, works so well.”

My hat is off to Josh Elchert and since Findlay is only about a 2 hour drive from where I live, I might just venture up that way and visit Heavenly Pizza some Saturday and see if I can give Mr. Elchert that big hug!

And yet another restauranteur …

Eliot Middleton owns a restaurant in McClellanville, South Carolina – Village BBQ – an outdoor dining restaurant he started in response to the pandemic.  Now, Eliot is always looking around his community for ways to help others. He donated meals to essential workers and those affected by natural disasters, fed students and teachers for free, and handed out Thanksgiving groceries to the hungry.

“It’s all about sharing what you have. That’s what the world should be about. Helping people, that’s just what I like doing.”

But even that isn’t what earned him a spot here on this week’s good people post.  Eliot goes even further in his altruism.  After work and on his days off, Eliot repairs old cars … but not to drive or to sell … he repairs them to give away to struggling families in his community!

He learned how to fix cars as a teenager when his dad gave him two that needed major repairs as soon as he got his driver’s license. He was tasked with taking the good parts from both vehicles and creating one safe, reliable ride. He did it, and the project left him with a lifelong appreciation for auto repair. Eliot studied and worked as an auto mechanic for years after high school and knows his way around under the hood (bonnet).

He has collected about 90 donated cars, which he keeps at his home and at friends’ properties nearby. He has already refurbished 28 of them.  Eliot saw results from his labor of love right away. He donated the first car he fixed up to the mother of a child with a disability, as she needed a vehicle to go to the hospital regularly. The freedom that comes with transportation enabled her to finally get a job and make positive changes in her family’s life!

Since then, Eliot has started a nonprofit called Middleton’s Village To Village. Its mission is simple: “We repair donated cars to donate to families in need!”

A GoFundMe established to help him with the costs of the program has collected over $112,000 so far, and the initiative continues to gain momentum.

And then there’s Olga Murray …

More than thirty years ago, after retiring from her 37-year career as a lawyer with the California State Supreme Court, Olga Murray treated herself to a trip to Nepal in South Asia.  Little did she know that this would be a lifelong journey.

“The minute I landed I fell in love with the country. The children, they held my hand, they laughed. They were just so delightful, and they wanted to go to school. Most kids didn’t go to school then.”

While in Nepal, Murray realized that she needed to be there, with the children who touched her heart. She made a plan to help educate the children of Nepal, losing sight of her retirement.

She started the Nepal Youth Foundation, a nonprofit that combats poverty, builds schools, and rescues young girls who were forced into servitude.

“We were going to not be the great white saviors coming in and saving them from this destructive practice. But we would train them to save their sisters, to liberate their sisters.”

The Nepal Youth Foundation has built 72 hospitals. Over the past 30 years, 50,000 children have been a part of the service.  Today, Olga Murray is 96 years old and hasn’t slowed down one bit … nor does she intend to!

“I don’t think about stopping and, you know, as long as I have my marbles and I’m healthy, I’ll just continue to do that.”

And finally, I came across a couple of things last week over at Phil’s Phun that I thought would make a nice addition to our ‘good people’ …

Good People Doing Good Things — Young & Old, Human and Canine

I have a few stories of good people today, and I think by the time you finish reading this, you will once again begin to believe in the goodness of human (and canine) nature.  Oh, and you might need your tissues on this one …

Groceries and much, much more

Iqbal Alimohd is a 69-year-old cab driver in Calgary, Canada.  Fifteen years ago he noticed a few elderly people along his path who, as he says …

“With time going by, I see they’re not doing good. And then I told them, ‘From now on, I buy your groceries, because you don’t have much energy left’.”

And thus began Mr. Alimohd’s trip into the land of ‘good people’.  One thing led to another, his efforts grew, and today he and his family spend every Saturday serving their community in a variety of ways.  Every Saturday, he arrives at Real Canadian Superstore before it opens, ready to buy and deliver groceries for dozens of seniors.

His wife Mumtaz takes phone orders during the week and tracks them in a spreadsheet. Their sons, Faisal and Yasin, started helping with grocery runs during the pandemic. The day isn’t done until 7 p.m. most weeks, but the time is something they give for free.  Says his son, Faisal, of the time commitment …

“It was such a big commitment that whenever we would want to travel or go anywhere, he would be like, ‘Well, what are my seniors going to do on Saturday?'”

But it’s more than just groceries.  Iqbal spends hours socializing with the seniors, driving them to appointments and doing anything else he can to help. It’s always been something he kept quiet, and his son Faisal said they didn’t realize how much was involved beyond buying and delivering groceries until they would hear from seniors or their children or get thank-you notes.  Sometimes, he says, there are children of seniors who tell him, “Your dad’s been there when we haven’t been able to be there.”

Such a simple thing, yes?  And yet … how much it means to those on the receiving end of Mr. Alimohd’s compassionate giving of self and time.

Young hearts of gold

This year’s graduating class at Islesboro Central High School in Islesboro, Maine, is a big one – 13 students!  And every single one of those 13 gets a thumbs up 👍 from Filosofa for being a good people.

It is tradition for graduating classes to raise money through a variety of activities for a senior trip at the end of the year, and this year’s class at Islesboro was no different … they raised $8,000 and were debating a trip to Greece, or perhaps South Korea.  But somewhere along the line, their plans derailed, and in the nicest sort of way.

Instead of using the money they’ve earned for a trip, these thirteen young people donated $5,000 to help out their neighbors struggling in the wake of the pandemic.  Said one of the students, Olivia Britton …

“It felt sort of obvious that it needed to go back to the island community.”

$5,000 went to the Island Community Fund to help people who were out of work and needed money for food or rent. The students are still deciding where to donate the remaining money.  Another student, Liefe Temple, said …

“We could really see how the whole world and the island, too, was struggling. So it felt really good to do that with our money, to give it back to the people who gave it to us.”

Some parents on Islesboro have done a great job … thumbs up to the students and their parents!  👍👍

A lot of locks!

Meet Kieran Moïse – he’s the young one on the right.

As you can see, Kieran has quite a head of hair, which he says he has spent six years growing with the goal of donating it to charity.  After graduating from high school and getting accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy, the time had come for Kieran to cut his 19-inch afro.  Says Kieran …

“Now that it is time to shave it, I would like to raise $1,000 per inch for St. Jude’s Hospital. My hair is 19 inches long and that $19,000 will do so much good to help families dealing with cancer. One of my good friends in middle school died from cancer and I know St. Jude’s really helped his family. This is just one way that I feel like I can give back. It will also help make some really good wigs for kids!”

{Tissue please} 

Kieran’s mother says her son “was born with a beautiful headful of hair, and for his entire life, that’s the first thing everyone noticed about him… everywhere he went, he was the guy with the big hair. There was no way not to notice it.”

She also said that “Every Sunday night, I’d help him condition it one section at a time while he sat through two movies. That hair was a huge part of his personality.”

Thus far, Kieran has raised more than twice his initial goal!

Pooches can be ‘good people’ too!

This one was sent to me by my friend Herb last week and I thought this pooch deserved a spot in today’s good people post, for his efforts to save this kitten are nothing short of heroic!  The doggie’s mom noticed what was happening and grabbed her phone to film the whole thing …

Good People Doing Good Things — Team Rubicon Again!

In October 2017 in another ‘good people post I wrote about Team Rubicon, a group of veterans started by Jake Wood, in 2010, initially in response to the devastating earthquake that had hit Haiti, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and at least that many more homeless.    Wood convinced a former classmate and a few other former Marines to join him and starting off with a group of 8, they headed to Haiti with medical supplies and equipment.  But, the story didn’t end there.  After Haiti, Wood and his friend William McNulty did some brainstorming, realized that their group was pretty effective, and veterans had the skills and know-how to do such things.  In the years since, the group expanded to around 120,000 volunteers, 70% of them veterans, and have been all over the world providing assistance to people in the wake of natural disasters and regional conflicts.  In all, they have responded to more than 500 humanitarian crises in the past decade.

This week, Team Rubicon crossed my radar once again when CNN reported on them for their response to the pandemic for the past year.  When the pandemic first hit, Wood knew there would be a need for their services …

“We immediately pivoted to get our volunteers doing work like supporting food banks, delivering groceries directly to people’s doorsteps, setting up Covid testing sites. I’m really proud of the contribution we’ve made.”

The group established a nationwide campaign, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, to help the most vulnerable members of society in a way that keeps at-risk populations safe and contains the spread of the virus.  This campaign offered volunteers many ways to get involved. While most Team Rubicon operations are highly organized, Wood encouraged volunteers to do what he calls “individual acts of service” — such as checking on an elderly neighbor or helping someone whose immune system is compromised.

Wood’s group also assisted with a number of large-scale operations across the United States. Veterans helped get food to those in need, often in conjunction with organizations like Feeding America and Meals on Wheels. Additionally, Team Rubicon’s volunteers helped operate critical health care efforts, such as a drive-thru testing site and a 250-bed federal medical station in Santa Clara, California.

For the past six months, the group has also been very involved with vaccination efforts in all 50 states.

“We’ve supported hundreds of sites across the country, doing the simple things like site setup and teardown, patient registration, optimizing patient flow. It’s been a modern-day medical wartime effort to get doses into the arms of Americans. And so, we’re really proud we’ve been able to support nearly two million doses across the country.”

During the pandemic alone, Team Rubicon says its volunteers have so far helped nearly 10 million people around the country.

“This was a whole of America emergency, and it required a whole of America response. This is a moment for all Americans to rise to the occasion by thinking about the greater good.”

CNN recently interviewed Wood regarding Team Rubicon’s efforts during the time of the pandemic.  Here is a brief snippet from that interview …

CNN: Your volunteers pitched in a lot with food distribution. Is that type of work usual for Team Rubicon?

Jake Wood: It’s certainly outside the norm of what we do, but we quickly saw that food banks and food security in general would become really important in this pandemic. Many food banks and pantries rely on volunteers, like we do, but many of those (volunteers) tend to be in the at-risk demographic of over 65. So, those services were grinding to a halt, just as they were becoming more needed. Our volunteers have been helping with the logistics of food sorting and getting meals to people’s doorsteps.

CNN: How has Team Rubicon been helping with the medical needs that have been sparked by this virus?

Wood: We have had volunteers on the front lines of all this — whether they’re running a testing site in North Carolina or a hospital center in California. We’ve also deployed members of our international medical team here domestically to help decompress health care systems that were overwhelmed.

One of my proudest accomplishments over the last year was the work that we did in the Navajo Nation. The people living there had one of the highest case rates and fatality rates of anywhere in America and Team Rubicon stepped in with hundreds of medical providers for nearly 300 days. I have no doubt that we were saving the lives of numerous people while we were there. And that’s now extended into the vaccine work.

We’ve supported over 12,000 vaccinations in the Navajo Nation, which has one of the highest vaccine uptake rates of anywhere across the country, which is a testament to the community-oriented approach that they have. It’s that mentality of, “We’re in this together” — and we need more of that across the country.

CNN: How do you think your group has handled all of the challenges posed by the pandemic?

Wood: Fifteen months ago, we were all faced with a choice: Were we going to retreat into our cave and hope that the pandemic would pass us by or were we going to help as many people as we could? And at Team Rubicon, we didn’t blink. We stretched ourselves into missions that we had never imagined doing before.

Our team was flexible, adaptive, innovative — and they were committed to helping their country during one of the greatest crises it’s ever faced. The one thing that I’d want people to know about Team Rubicon is that when you need us, we will be there.

I give Team Rubicon two thumbs up for their dedication and hard work.  To learn a bit more and see some of the other places they’ve been, people they’ve helped, check out their website!

Good People Doing Good Things — Dr. Ala Stanford

Today I have only one ‘good people’ for you, but she is … WOW!  She is doing far more than her share to keep the Black community in Philly healthy and not for a fee!

Earlier this week, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced that 70% of the city’s adults had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine — reaching President Biden’s goal for the nation ahead of schedule.

Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story. Only one-quarter of those vaccinations have gone to Black residents even though they make up more than 40% of the city’s population.

Throughout the pandemic, people of color have been devastated by Covid-19 in the US — dying at a much greater rate than white Americans. Now, as deaths have fallen with increased vaccinations, those dying are younger and more disproportionately Black.

Enter Dr. Ala Stanford …

Since April 2020, Dr. Ala Stanford has been working to change that. Her group, the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium, has brought testing and vaccines to more than 75,000 residents of Philadelphia’s minority neighborhoods.

“We are intentional about focusing on communities that have the low vaccination rates and the highest positivity rates. Those who are most vulnerable … they need to have the support.”

It’s an unlikely path for Stanford, a pediatric surgeon, but she’s always defied expectations. Born to teen parents in north Philadelphia, her family often struggled to make ends meet. But that didn’t keep Stanford from dreaming big.

“I knew I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was about 8 years old … and I never believed I couldn’t do it. That grit that comes from being a poor kid raised in Philadelphia is what has given me the tenacity to press on, no matter what.”

She became a surgeon and built a successful private practice. But in March 2020, her work slowed dramatically when the country shut down, so she hunkered down at home with her husband and three young sons. Early that April, she was disturbed to hear about the high fatalities of Black residents in Philadelphia. Then a Drexel University researcher reported that people in affluent white areas of the city were being tested six times more frequently than those in poor minority areas. Stanford knew that people of color were more vulnerable to Covid-19 for many reasons, including that they were likely to be essential workers. Knowing they weren’t getting tested deeply upset her.

“This was your working-class community. They were keeping the city and the country running. But wherever Black people were, one thing that was tough to come by was testing.”

So, she gathered up PPE from her office, got testing kits, rented a van and headed out to bring free testing to areas where positivity rates were the highest.

“The first day we did a dozen tests. The second time we went out, we did about 150 tests. And the third time … there were 500 people lined up before we started.”

Throughout 2020, they provided free testing in the parking lots of local churches, mosques, community centers and SEPTA stations, eventually offering antibody testing and flu shots as well as Covid testing. In January, Stanford and her team began offering Covid vaccinations and for the first few months, vaccinated an average of 1,000 people a day. The group also ran a 24-hour “Vax-A-Thon” at which they inoculated more than 4,000 people.

The volunteer effort that Stanford initially funded from her own pocket is now a large operation with 70 employees and more than 200 volunteers. In recent weeks, as the pace of vaccinations has slowed, the group found new ways to reach those in need. Their events now often include music, free refreshments, t-shirt giveaways and other incentives. More than 1,000 people have signed up for their home vaccination program and they’ve targeted teenagers with special events as well as high school visits to answer questions about the vaccine.

The group is currently based in a church in North Philadelphia. In the fall, they plan to open a health equity center there until they ultimately open their own permanent facility.

Stanford’s efforts have brought her such acclaim that she’s now under consideration to be the city’s next health commissioner!

“Just seeing folks come out, day in and day out … their presence says everything. This wasn’t my job, but I could not allow one additional life to be lost when I knew that I could do something about it.”

Dr. Stanford was recently nominated as a CNN Hero and here is a snippet of her interview with CNN’s Kathleen Toner …

CNN: What’s the atmosphere like when you vaccinate people?

Dr. Ala Stanford: Honestly, the atmosphere is joy. It’s new beginnings. It’s exhaling for a lot of people because they’ve finally done it. It’s also emotional — a lot of tears for folks because it takes them back to a person that they lost. We had a woman whose mother had died the night before from Covid. When she came up she was still sobbing and we just built a circle around her, held hands around her and let her cry.

CNN: How have you dealt with people’s fear or hesitation about getting vaccinated?

Stanford: We tried to prepare for it. In the fall, we conducted a survey that gave us some insight into what would make people more comfortable taking the vaccine when it became available. Then in December, I got vaccinated. I’d had Covid, so I’d thought about not getting vaccinated because I knew I had antibodies, but I took on that responsibility because people were following my lead. Then, when we started vaccinating, we had one day where we ran out of vaccine, so I said to the city, “This hesitancy in the Black community, we are not seeing it.” They were lined up.

But there are people who have concerns — understandably — and it’s not my job to persuade. It’s my job to educate and allow you to make an informed decision about your health. So, I listen to what the reason is why they’re not getting vaccinated — sometimes it’s lack of education, sometimes it’s fear, sometimes they can’t even tell you why. Sometimes the questions they have, there are no answers for. So, I just state the facts and I’m honest with them. But you’re more likely statistically to die if you’re African American and you contract coronavirus. That is a fact. Regardless of how much money you make or not, regardless of comorbid conditions or not. I tell them, “You have to weigh the risks and benefits” and I’m available to listen and answer. It’s not a one-time conversation for some people. Some people need to come back and watch a couple of people get it. And then they’re like, “OK, Doc. I’m ready.”

CNN: How did the idea for your new center come about?

Stanford: The pandemic has made it glaringly obvious how we are missing the mark with health equity in the United States, so we’re opening a multi-disciplinary clinic on October 1st where we can do family practice, pediatrics, phlebotomy and flu shots. Who knows — we may need to do booster shoots for coronavirus.

But this is answering the need of the community. People just started showing up to say, “Hey Doc, could you look at my labs?” or “I’ve got this lump on my neck. Is this normal?” So that’s what’s next for us. Our mission has always been about getting Black and brown communities the access and care they deserve.

Dr. Stanford is one in a million, a doctor who is more concerned with people in need and their health than with her fees, and she has done so much to help the Black community in and around Philadelphia.  Every city should have a Dr. Stanford!