Good People Doing Good Things — In Times Of Trouble

Wow … I have been writing a lot lately about the dark side of human behaviour in this time of pandemic crisis, but tonight when I pulled up my first resource in search of good people, I realized there is a whole ‘nother side!  Many, many people are doing things to help one another these days.  Some famous people, such as the heads of companies like Lowes and Carnival, and entertainers like Rihanna have done some wonderful things to help others, but for this post I am going only with the everyday people who have stepped up to the plate to help their fellow humans.  I find that I can relate more to the ones who don’t have anything more than you and I, who aren’t billionaires or millionaires, but just people with good hearts.  Now, grab your box of tissues and read on …

Helping seniors ‘stay in touch’ …

Most nursing homes in countries all ‘round the globe have banned visitors, fearing they could bring in the coronavirus and wipe out the entire population of oldsters within a week.  Understandable, but still … imagine you are 80 years old, stuck in a nursing home and nobody comes to visit.  For some, they will not live to see their families ever again. Jill-SarahEnter Jill Ashworth Valadao and Sarah Otis Firth, two young women in Massachusetts who saw a need, rolled up their sleeves and got to work.  Firth was browsing Facebook when she came across a heartbreaking picture of an adult daughter standing outside the window of her mother’s room at a nursing home, holding a white board as her only means of communication.

“I thought these poor people in the nursing homes; they’re so scared and isolated. I wish I could get a bunch of iPads to give to them.”

She talked to her friend Jill about starting a fundraiser together to buy iPads for nursing homes so the residents could use FaceTime to chat with family and friends, and they agreed to see what they could do.  They created the Facebook fundraiser page “FaceTime for Nana” on March 17 with a goal of $300, enough to purchase one iPad.

Four days later, Firth and Valadao had raised nearly $5,000, enough for 16 iPads!  The first three iPads were carefully delivered by Firth and Valadao Friday morning to Autumn Glen’s memory unit in Dartmouth and Alden Court Nursing Care and Royal of Fairhaven Nursing Center in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.Sarah-ipadLater that day Firth got a message from Alden Court activity director Sharon Jensen thanking them on behalf of the residents and staff for the new iPad.

The message read:

“During such a difficult time, these sweet gestures literally make the residents days. Yesterday more than 75 face time calls were made to families at Alden. This process has kept our families connected and reassured that their loved one is safe and content. The residents get a kick out of the technology and share a few laughs/smiles when they see their loved one on the ipad.

Our goal is to find positive things to keep the resident spirits up and this is one of the many good things happening. Today, the residents and the staff will be receiving performances from local young performers donating their time and their talents to present mini concerts for the residents VIA FACE TIME. The Ipad gift was a blessing today. So thank you Sarah for thinking of Alden Court.”

Valadao said she loves to see the positive come out of a negative situation.

“I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Our society needed to slow down and be reminded of what matters. So when you’re feeling angry with the situation stop and look for the good that is coming out of all of this. There’s a lot of good.”

And I think that is a piece of advice that we should all listen to, myself included.

Awesome boss!

Bryan Morin owns a small pizzeria, Federico’s Pizza & Restaurant, in New Jersey.  He does a decent business, but like most small business owners, he isn’t made of money.  When New Jersey governor Phil Murphy ordered that restaurants close their dining rooms, Bryan headed straight to the bank and took out a $50,000 loan.  No, not to tide him over and not to take a vacation …

Bryan wasn’t even thinking of his own lost revenue, but when he returned to the restaurant, Morin announced to his 20 employees that, at least for the next two months, they would receive their regular paychecks.  Morin says he is hoping that by summer, the bans will be lifted and tourists will return to the Jersey shore, but meanwhile, he’s taking care of his employees. Bryan-Morin

“My father told us a long time ago: You’ve got to take care of your employees first, because without those employees, you don’t have a business at all. I definitely owe them a debt — even if it means I might go into debt.”

Awesome landlord!

Nathan Nichols, of South Portland, Maine, owns a couple of rental properties.  Both properties are rented by hourly and service workers who are currently laid off due to the pandemic crisis.  He posted on Facebook about two weeks ago …

“Because I have the good fortune and of being able to afford it and the privilege of being in the owner class, I just let them know I would not be collecting rent in April. I ask any other landlords out there to take a serious look at your own situation and consider giving your tenants some rent relief as well.”

At least one other landlord has committed to doing the same …


However, he made a follow-up post a few days later to clarify …

“Every so often, however, there is a comment from a landlord who would like to help their tenants, but simply can’t, or from a tenant who wishes their landlord would help them, but doubts they will. To these people, I say: I don’t know your situation and I don’t want to imply that a landlord who isn’t forgoing rent is somehow a bad person.”

Little Free Libraries … housing toilet paper???

Do you guys remember in October 2018 when I wrote about the death of Todd Bol, the man who created Little Free Libraries?  Yeah, I know … I can’t remember yesterday, either.  Anyway, Mr. Bol created a system of tiny little wooden structures where people can exchange books.  It caught on, and now there are some 75,000 Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and 88 countries! Todd BolWell, now with many people struggling to pay the rent and buy food, let alone able to find a roll of toilet paper to buy, some of the Little Free Libraries are being partly converted to Little Free Pantries!  Pantries from Vancouver, Canada to Arlington, Massachusetts are now filled with toilet paper, canned goods, books, hand sanitizer, and toiletries.  Said one lady from Minnesota …

“My kids have invested a lot of time into just making sure there’s stuff up there. The experience for them being able to be a part of something that gives back. That’s really cool.”

And lest you are concerned about germs and safety, local pantry caretakers are reminding visitors to wash their hands and sanitize the pantry door handles before handling its contents.


Well, folks, I came across many stories like these.  They balance out the ones we’ve been hearing about hoarders, and people stealing others’ packages off their doorsteps. I was lucky last week when on two occasions an opportunity to be a good people, albeit in a very small way presented itself, and I have to tell you, it felt good, made me want to find another such opportunity.  How ‘bout we all try to find just one such in the coming week … help someone load their groceries, offer to pick up a few things at the store for a neighbor, even just a kind smile and a “how are you?” to people you pass in the grocery store.  “Social distancing” doesn’t mean we can’t help one another in some small ways.

A Rare “G”-Rated Post

I seem to be unable to write anything news-worthy without a rant that includes a large number of four-letter words.  And yet, today is National Let’s Laugh Day, so it hardly seems proper to start the day with my usual grousing fare.  And so instead of an X-rated rant, I’ve decided to eschew the socio-political scene just for this post (don’t get used to it!), and go with a few things that might make you smile in this #$%@-ed up world of today.

Another good people …

Most of my readers on ‘the other side of the pond’ are likely familiar with the name Gary Neville.  Neville, for the rest of us, is an English football coach and former football player.  Now, remember that when the Brits refer to ‘football’, what they mean is what we call soccer, played with a round ball that is black & white, rather than a brown ovoid pigskin.


Anyway, back to Gary Neville … he also happens to be the co-owner of two hotels … hotels that he is closing during the coronavirus pandemic in order to give the rooms to health workers fighting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  In addition, he has promised that the staff will retain their incomes, with no layoffs on the horizon and no one being asked to take unpaid leave.

Another of many good people who care more about humanity than their own profit.  Thumbs up, Mr. Neville!

Tree of the Year!!!

This lonesome little pine tree …lonely-pine… believed by superstitious locals to act as sentinel over a flooded Czech village has been chosen as Europe’s tree of the year, beating stiff competition from a Croatian gingko tree, a Portuguese chestnut and an English oak.

The Guardian of the Flooded Village has grown for 350 years on a rocky height near the village of Chudobin, said locally to play host to a devil that sat under it at night, playing the violin and warding off intruders – though in reality the eerie sounds are more likely to have come from the strong winds blowing over the valley.

Supernatural powers attributed to trees ranked multiple times in this year’s competition: another guardian tree, from Romania, took fifth place and two witch trees – in the Netherlands and Ireland – also scored highly.

The UK’s entry, the Allerton Oak, came in seventh place. Growing in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, the oak tree was where judges would meet to hold trials in medieval times, instead of a courthouse. A large crack in the tree is said to date from 1864 when a ship carrying gunpowder exploded on the Mersey – the explosion was heard 30 miles away and shattered thousands of windows.

Who knew there was even such a thing as a “Tree of the Year” contest?  Rather a cool idea, though … honouring trees instead of chopping them down!

Watch da penguins!

Many entertainment centers and places of business around the globe have closed their doors (temporarily, we hope) in the past month.  Our local Barnes & Noble sent out an email today saying they are, for the time being, still open, but that they have removed all the chairs.  🤷

One such business is the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.  But, not to waste a rare opportunity, they allowed the penguins free run of the place …

And another aquarium, Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa, did the same …

national-laugh-dayAnd in honour of National Let’s Laugh Day, I give you a couple of quotes:

“Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.” — Elsa Maxwell

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy — we’re happy because we laugh.” — William James

Try it and let me know how it feels, okay?

Okay, friends, that’s as much ‘fun’ as I can handle for one day, so I will now return to being my usual snarky, curmudgeonly self.  Until later …

Good People Doing Good Things — Helpers In These Trying Times

We’ve heard a lot in the past few weeks about human swine who are hoarding large amounts of commodities such as toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and even foodstuffs such as chicken, fresh fruits & veggies, etc.  And then there are the scammers … people who are finding unique ways to profit from other people’s troubles.  But today I want to focus on people who are finding ways to be good people in the midst of the pandemic crisis.

A tip that will be remembered …

On Sunday afternoon, the governor of Ohio announced that all restaurants and bars would close at 9:00 p.m. and remain closed indefinitely … another casualty of the pandemic coronavirus.  We were eating at TGI Fridays when the announcement was made, and our server broke into tears.  I was chuffed to see that a few minutes later, the family dining across the aisle from us gave her a $100 tip … she broke into tears again.  We gave her a $50 tip … and she broke into tears yet again!  But none of that compares to what a diner in Columbus, Ohio, did.

An anonymous man dining at The Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus, received his bill shortly after the governor’s announcement … the bill totaled $29.75.  To that check, he added a gratuity of … $2,500!  On the check, he wrote a note requesting that the tip be split equally among the five servers who were working that night. tipNeedless to say, the tears were flowing in The Coaches on Sunday night.  Thumbs up to that anonymous man!

Helping the neighbors …

Becky Hoeffler lives in Durham, North Carolina and works for Duke University.  These days, she’s working from home, and when she spoke by phone with her grandfather in New Jersey, she was concerned when he mentioned that he was going out grocery shopping.  She wished she could do it for him to lessen his risk, but obviously she couldn’t.  However, it gave her the idea to make grocery runs for her senior neighbors, in lieu of helping her grandpa.

She started with her next-door neighbor, an elderly lady who only asked her to pick up paper towels, fresh fruit, and flour.  The neighbor then returned the favour in the form of fresh-baked banana bread!

Next, she walked down to the housing community for senior living at the end of her cul-de-sac. She talked to people on their porches and introduced herself—and the offer of kindness.

“They told me I could post the sign with my information near the mailbox station, so all members of the community would be able to see it!”

Becky-HoefflerBecky has posted on a local Facebook group to try to get the word out and to see if anyone needs help.

“In these situations, when the community steps up, you really lessen the pressure on first responders and medical personnel,” she said in an email. “If you’re able to decrease, even by a little bit, the number of patients that have to seek care because they’ve been exposed to something, it’s good for the community as a whole.”

Thumbs up to Becky Hoeffler for caring about her senior neighbors!

Chef Andrés is at it again …

I have written before about Chef José Andrés before.  He and his charity have been praised time and again for helping feed those in need during hurricanes, fires and other disasters.  This time, he is turning his 5-star restaurants into food kitchens for families who may be having trouble making ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic.

The makeshift soup kitchens will begin serving takeout meals starting today between noon and 5:00 p.m. Furthermore, all of his employees will be getting paid time off for the first two weeks.

chef-andresAndrés’s charity, World Central Kitchen, has also been serving up meals to people affected by the coronavirus, including the quarantined cruise ship passengers and staffers aboard the Grand Princess.  And from Little Rock, Arkansas to San Francisco, the charity has already served up several thousand meals to students and families amidst school closures.

Caremongering in Canada

The first “caremongering” group was set up by Mita Hans with the help of Valentina Harper and others. Valentina explained the meaning behind the name.

“Scaremongering is a big problem. We wanted to switch that around and get people to connect on a positive level, to connect with each other. It’s spread the opposite of panic in people, brought out community and camaraderie, and allowed us to tackle the needs of those who are at-risk all the time – now more than ever.”

Valentina said the rapid growth of the trend was far beyond her expectations, with the Toronto group itself now having more than 9,000 members.

“We thought we’d have a couple dozen people. It’s grown to thousands. But the most positive thing is the local groups that have started, geared to specific neighbourhoods. It’s really shown us the need that people have to have some level of reassurance and hope.  Anxiety, isolation and lack of hope affects you. In providing this virtual community which allows people to help each other, I think it is really showing people there is still hope for humanity. We haven’t lost our hope.”

But they do more than just offer moral support or a kind voice to break up the loneliness.  These include a single mother in Ottawa receiving food for her baby, a group of people in Toronto offering to cook meals for those who are unable, and a community in Prince Edward Island who gave grocery store gift cards to a woman who was laid off because of closures related to coronavirus.

One of the most popular acts is to go to the supermarket for those who are unable – though depending on luck this can prove to be an act of extreme patience as one Hamilton woman discovered when going to a Walmart at 5:30 am on Saturday – the queue was a long one.

These people aren’t rich, don’t have a lot to give, but they are giving of themselves to help others in small ways.  Thumbs up to them all.

In memory of …

The family of 88-year-old Darrell Blakeley, who died at North Manchester General Hospital on Friday after testing positive for coronavirus, have asked people to carry out acts of kindness in his memory.

Darrell-Blakeley“We invite you to forget flowers and cards. Instead we would like you to give acts of kindness. Help someone who is lonely or struggling during this time, who needs shopping, childcare or a chat. Post tiny acts of kindness given and received and share. Build something beautiful in Darrell’s memory.”

These are just a few examples of the many, many people who, instead of seeing this crisis as an opportunity to make a buck at someone’s expense, are seeing it as an opportunity to do something good for others.  I think we can all find some things to do to help people out in these trying times, don’t you?

Good People Doing Good Things — One Update and Couple of New Ones

A follow-up on Dan Price …

From time to time, I get an update on a ‘good people’ I have featured in the past.  Today, I’d like to give you an update on Dan Price, who I featured in a 2017 good people post.  You may remember that Dan is the CEO of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company on the west coast, and that he cut his own salary and raised the salary of every one of his employees to $70,000 per year.Dan-Price-1His detractors and critics, including none other than the ignoble Rush Limbaugh, said he would go bankrupt, said the employees would become lazy and take advantage of him, and some even said he had some ulterior motive.  Well, let’s take a look at Dan, his company and his staff today.

Since 2017 …

  • The headcount has doubled and the value of payments that the company processes has gone from $3.8bn a year to $10.2bn.
  • More than 10% of the company have been able to buy their own home, in one of the US’s most expensive cities for renters. Before the figure was less than 1%.
  • The amount of money that employees are voluntarily putting into their own pension funds has more than doubled and 70% of employees say they’ve paid off debt.
  • Rosita Barlow, director of sales at Gravity, says that since salaries were raised junior colleagues have been pulling more weight. “When money is not at the forefront of your mind when you’re doing your job, it allows you to be more passionate about what motivates you.”

Dan’s only disappointment, he says, is that more companies haven’t jumped on the bandwagon.  He had hoped that Gravity’s example would lead to far-reaching changes in US business …

“Boy, was I wrong. I’ve really failed in that regard. And it’s changed my perspective on things because I really believed that through the actions that I did and that other people could do, that we could turn the tide on runaway income inequality.”

Five years later, Price is still on Gravity’s minimum salary. He says he’s more fulfilled than he ever was when he was earning millions though it’s not all easy.

“I’m the same age as Mark Zuckerberg and I have dark moments where I think, ‘I want to be just as rich as Mark Zuckerberg and I want to compete with him to be on the Forbes list. And I want to be on the cover of Time magazine, making lots of money.’ All these greedy things are tempting. It’s not like it’s easy to just turn down. But my life is so much better.”

I once again tip my hat to Mr. Dan Price who has made a difference in so many people’s lives.

Can I call you dad?

Peter Mutabazi of Charlotte, North Carolina, first became a foster dad in 2015.

“I grew up in Uganda. I grew up the poorest of the poorest. I didn’t have a good childhood. I ran away from home and became a street kid.”

Mutabazi said it wasn’t until someone took him in, someone he didn’t even know, and got him into school, that he realized his calling.

“I understand where [these kids] come from. Someone stepped in to help me. How can I not give back? I have fostered 12 children over the past, almost nearly four years, two children at a time, the most was three. The hardest part was always saying goodbye.”

Enter 13-year-old Tony, who first entered the foster care system at the age of two.  When he was four, Tony was adopted by a couple in Oklahoma. But 2 years ago, Tony’s adopted parents left him at a hospital and never returned.

That weekend, a foster care worker contacted Mr. Mutabazi and asked if he could just take Tony for the weekend.  During that weekend, that he learned Tony’s story — and decided he wanted to be his dad permanently.

“I remember telling him, ‘You can call me Mr. Peter’. And Tony was like, “Can I call you dad?”

Mutabazi-1Last November 12th, the adoption became final and don’t these two look happy?



Just a little thing …

Harold Storelee is 88 years old, but that doesn’t stop him from doing his own yard work.  The last week of February, Harold was mowing his lawn when he fell and broke his hip.  Harold was unable to get up, and was out of the line of sight of most passersby, so he lay on the yard in pain for around four hours before a group of school boys walking home heard his cries and flagged down a car to call 911.

Firefighter EMTs Alexander Trautman, Miranda Panuska and Garrett Bromley transported Mr. Storelee to the hospital, then resumed their other duties of responding to auto accidents and other catastrophes until the end of their shift at 5:00 p.m.  It was then that Trautman looked at the other two and asked whether they would be up for going back to Storelee’s house to finish his lawn.

“There was no hesitation from anybody. We talked to our lieutenant and captain, and they were 100 percent behind it.  We knew he’d be down for a while. We figured the least we could do was go back and help out.”


And that’s your weekly dose of ‘good people’.  Now, let’s see if we can all be a good people this week, shall we?

Good People Doing Good Things — Posthumously

I usually don’t write much about celebrities in this column, though there are certainly many who are indeed ‘good people doing good things’.  But often I think celebrities have plenty and we can’t really relate to them.  As a rule, I find it more inspirational to highlight those average people just like you and me, who are going the extra mile, sharing of either their time or money to help others.  I’m going to make an exception today, though.

Kirk Douglas died not quite a month ago on February 5th.  I’m sure the name rings a bell with everyone reading this, for Mr. Douglas’ career was long and successful, beginning in 1946, and culminating with three Academy Awards, an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Mr. Douglas was 103 at the time of his death and had survived a helicopter crash in 1991 and  a stroke in 1996.  All of which is interesting, and none of which is why Mr. Douglas is on my good people post today.  He is here because when he died, almost every cent of his $61 million estate was gifted to various charities. Kirk-DouglasKirk and his wife Anne are no strangers to philanthropy … they’ve been doing it most of their lives.  They established the Anne Douglas Center for Homeless Women at the Los Angeles Mission, which has helped hundreds of women turn their lives around.  In March 2015, Kirk and his wife donated $2.3 million to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  Since the early 1990s, Kirk and Anne Douglas donated up to $40 million to Harry’s Haven, an Alzheimer’s treatment facility in Woodland Hills.  In addition, they have donated to numerous schools, universities and projects to help the poor and the homeless.

Kirk spent his childhood in poverty, one of seven children born to immigrant parents.  Seems he never forgot his humble beginnings, even when preparing for his own death.  Charitable recipients included St. Lawrence University to help fund the Kirk Douglas Scholarship for underprivileged students, primarily those who grew up in poverty, like Kirk did himself back during the Great Depression of the 1920s and 30s.

Contributions also went to Westwood’s Sinai Temple, Culver City’s Kirk Douglas Theater, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which had also previously received large donations from the Oscar-winning actor including $2.3 million to purchase new equipment for the pediatrics division. All worthy causes that will be able to do just a little bit more, thanks to Mr. Douglas’ generosity.

Sheila Woodcock was not a celebrity, and compared to Kirk Douglas, she was but a young spring chicken when she died in 2018 at the age of 87, but she was a good people nonetheless.  Sheila lived in New South Wales, Australia and enjoyed the finer things in life:  travel, horticulture, chocolate, animal companionship, and acting.  She lived a quiet life, never married, no children, but she had a number of close friends through the years.

When she died, her friends and family were shocked to learn that she had amassed an estate valued at $14 million, and left it all to charity.  Her second cousin Kent Woodcock only learned of the extent of her wealth shortly before her death …

“She did not share her will with anybody—I only found out in the last six months.”

Sheila left $1.375 million to the Helicopter Rescue Service, a gift which they said was “deeply humbling,” and that would be used to fund high-tech training equipment like a high fidelity winch simulator and live hoist training tower to practice retrieving souls from the ground while the helicopter is in flight.  She left another $1.375 million to the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the purchase of a new plane engine and other essential pieces of equipment.Sheila-WoodcockHaving donated $200,000 to the RSPCA New South Wales throughout her lifetime, the animal rescue service found themselves on the receiving end of yet another $1.375 million, which will allow the organization to move their entire veterinary hospital to a brand-new building.  One of the largest education-oriented charities in Australia, the Smith Family’s partnership received a $340,000 bequest in Shelia’s will which they called “transformative”. The money will go towards the Learning for Life program, the ARTcastle program, and to help children access educational opportunities they might not reach on their own by creating the Sheila Woodcock Memorial Scholarship.

Other recipients of the woman’s generosity cover the fields of health, humanity and discovery: The Scots Kirk Presbyterian Church Hamilton, The Salvation Army, Diabetes NSW, The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and Guide Dogs Australia, all received $1.3 million. Smaller sums were also given to Vision Australia, The Heart Foundation, Cancer Council, the Australian Red Cross, World Vision, and Breast Cancer Trials to fund dedicated research and the Sheila Woodcock Travel Grant to help young doctors attend Breast Cancer Trials’ Annual Scientific Meeting.

What a marvelous thing to do, yes?

So, next week I’ll return to the usual fare, ordinary people going above and beyond to help make the world just a little bit better, but for today, thank you Kirk Douglas and Sheila Woodcock, for your generous legacies, for being … good people.

Good People Doing Good Things — Dr. Kwane Stewart

Imagine for a moment if you will that you are homeless … you’ve lost most everything you had in life … except your dog.  The only one who still loves you, who faithfully stays by your side through thick and thin, doesn’t care if you haven’t had a shower in days, or if you’ve got that same ugly grey sweatshirt on for the third day in a row.  He cuddles by your side at night, gives you a g’night lick on the cheek, and his is the first face you see when you wake in your makeshift tent on the sidewalk, or under the overpass.  Your best friend … maybe your only friend.Kwane-Stewart-2Meet Dr. Kwane Stewart, DVM.  Nine years ago, Stewart, wanting to show his young son the importance of giving back, spent an afternoon at a soup kitchen offering medical care to the pets of homeless people in Modesto, California.  During this experience, he learned that these animals provided more than companionship to their owners — they also offered love, hope, and security.

“I knew then and there I was going to keep doing it. There’s so much need out there. About 25% of our homeless population own a pet, and I knew that if I set up a table at a soup kitchen, I could help a small group of animals. So that’s what I did. I called over anyone who was holding their pet and told them I’d take a look and vaccinate or treat their pet if I could. That first experience was one of the most rewarding moments for me. When you give back, there is something you get in return that feels much larger. I knew I wanted to keep doing it.”

After examining more than a dozen animals on that first day, he realized there was a need for this type of medical care in his community. What started as a few hours of volunteer work slowly became part of his regular routine.Kwane-Stewart-6He has helped heal more than 400 homeless pets and hopes to continue spreading empathy and awareness around homelessness through his work on the street. He also hopes his mission will encourage other veterinarians to volunteer their time and expertise to help those in need.

“I don’t ever want to have to turn anybody away. The look on people’s faces when they get their pets back, especially after a surgery or a life-saving procedure — those are moments I’ll remember forever.  Anyone has the power to help. You can volunteer at a rescue shelter. You can donate money or time. As that generosity spreads, it helps fuel the positive energy in the world.”

About 98% of the pets Stewart encounters on the streets are dogs — though there are a surprising number of cats and the occasional bird or reptile. While he’s heard comments that homeless people shouldn’t have pets, Stewart doesn’t share that opinion because he’s seen the benefits both to people and the animals themselves.

“To a pet, their owner is their universe. But we go to work and leave our pet alone sometimes eight, 10, 12 hours a day and they just sit and pine for us. Homeless people are with their animal every minute of every day.”

And pets can provide homeless women with a sense of protection and security, and offer hope to their companions — a reason not to give in to despair or fall deeper into drug or alcohol addiction, he said. One man told him, “My dog is more beneficial to me than any pill or therapy session.”Kwane-Stewart-4

“I’ve seen homeless people feed their pet before they feed themselves. I’ve seen them give their last dollar to care for their pet. They sustain each other and that is the power of pet companionship.”

Stewart hopes to challenge preconceived notions of what homeless people are like through a TV show, in which he stars, called “The Street Vet.” He describes it as a “passion project” that he created with his brother. So far, it’s shown in smaller markets in Eastern Europe, Canada and China. While people sometimes assume Stewart is rich because he’s in a show and has had high-profile jobs, such as chief veterinary officer of the nonprofit American Humane, he’s still paying off his student loans from veterinary school. Below is a short trailer from his show … grab your box of tissues first.

Out on the streets, the most common afflictions Stewart sees are flea infestations, ear infections and mild arthritis, but sometimes a pet needs surgery to remove a tumor or rotting teeth. In the past, he would pay for it out of his own pocket; he is grateful to have found reduced-price care at Beverly Oaks Animal Hospital in Los Angeles. Dr. Laurie Leach, a veterinarian at the practice, has even performed some surgeries pro bono.

Still, costs add up and Stewart doesn’t want to have to turn anyone away, so he started a GoFundMe last fall. Inspired by his efforts, the fundraising site GoFundMe named him the February GoFundMe Hero.Kwane-Stewart-5You may think it’s a small thing … and sure, relative to saving the world it is.  But … to those homeless people whose only friend is their dog or cat … or bird … it means everything.  I give two thumbs up to Dr. Kwane Stewart!  👍 👍

Good People Doing Good Things — We Just Never Know

For some reason, every time I Google “good people doing good”, I’m directed back to Filosofa’s Word.  I realize that’s a good thing … an honour, really, to be among Google’s first picks … but not terribly helpful.  Still, I’ve managed to find some good people.  Today I’m focusing, as I often do, on little things that make a big difference.

Dr-Don-RiceDr. Don Rice is a Urgent Care Medicine Specialist in Lincoln, Nebraska.  On Monday, Dr. Rice decided to do something special for National Random Acts of Kindness Day, so … he helped the 80 patients that came into the clinic that day by paying their co-pay for the visit!  The average co-pay being around $50, Dr. Rice estimates he spent around $4,000 that day.  Says the doc …

“I think that we have a culture that sometimes forgets that we can have a much better world if we start being kinder to each other.”

Rice says the random act was inspired by a kind family friend, who died from cancer.

“Even though she had two types of cancer, was always giving to other people, so we thought it would be fun to do this in her honor.”

A relatively small thing?  Sure … but maybe for some people that extra $50 meant they could have a bit extra with their supper or buy their child a much-needed new pair of shoes.  You just never know, do you?

Thumbs up to Dr. Don Rice!!!

If you lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho, you probably saw a good bit of snow last week.  You might also have looked out your window and seen …shoveling

Yep, those are some of the members of the Idaho Falls fire department out shoveling driveways and sidewalks for the town’s residents.  One resident, Eric Nelson, said …

“I actually thought my wife was the one that did it and she thought I did it. We didn’t realize until I thanked her for it later that night and she said she thought it was me. Totally surprised.”

Again, just a little thing, but … these guys didn’t have to do it … they could have stayed warm and cozy in the firehouse until a call came in, but instead they chose to help people.  And maybe … just maybe, they saved an elderly person from slipping and falling on the ice and breaking a hip.  We’ll never know, will we?

Raj Singh owns his own taxi service in Roseville, California, and one day last week he got a call to pick up an elderly woman – 92 years old, to be exact – for she needed a ride to her bank.  When he started chatting with her, she told him she was about to withdraw $25,000 to settle a debt with the IRS.  Well, as you can imagine, warning bells went off in Raj’s head!

As Singh talked to the woman, trying to find out more, she told him that someone had called her and asked for the money. When he asked if it was a family member, the woman grew silent.  Singh finally got her to agree to let him call the number to the person who was posing as an IRS employee.

“We called this number again and I asked the man, ‘Do you know this lady?’ He said no. I knew something was wrong.”

When Singh pressed the man, saying the woman was 92 years old and she was nervous, the man hung up on him. After repeated calls back, Singh said the number blocked them.  Despite that, Singh said the woman still didn’t believe him, so he came up with another idea.

Raj knew she was being scammed, but … how to convince her?  Finally, he talked her into letting him stop by the police station.  Singh spoke with an officer in the station, who then spoke with the woman, and the officer was finally able to convince her that she was being scammed.

Singh took his passenger home, her bank account saved. A week after the potential scam was thwarted, Singh said he got a call asking him to come back to the station where officers gave Singh a $50 gift card to thank him for what he did.Raj-SinghRoseville police posted on their Facebook page …

“We love this story because several times throughout, Raj could have just taken his customer to her stop and not worried about her wellbeing. He took time from his day and had the great forethought to bring the almost-victim to the police station for an official response.  His quick thinking saved a senior citizen $25,000 and for that, we greatly appreciate his efforts.” 

Another one of those ‘little things’, but this one saved an elderly woman … perhaps her life savings.  We never know, do we?

And lastly, I came across this story on a friend’s blog, Nuggets of Gold and thought it made a great addition to this post.  Thank you, Miss Joy Roses!

Jayme Woolley is 16-years-old and attends Axtell High School, just outside Waco, Texas.  Now, guys buy flowers on Valentine’s Day for their girls, but Jayme … well, he went a step or two further.  Young Jayme bought a flower for every girl in his school between 6th and 12th grade!

Jayme’s mom, Amy Gordon, posted a photo on Facebook showing 170 roses lying across their living room the 14th, Jayme waited by the entrance to Axtell, placed the flowers in silver tins and handed them out to each girl as they walked into school.JaymeNow why did he do that?  Because, he said, he wanted to make every girl at Axtell High School feel special.  Wow, huh?  And maybe, just maybe, one of those girls was very much in need of a bit of love, needed just for a moment to feel special.  We just never know, do we?

Remember, folks, if you see a chance to be a good people, be one!  You just never know what a difference a small act of kindness might make in someone’s life.

Good People Doing Good Things — Kees Veldboer Et Al

Sometimes it’s not easy to turn from the dark world of political angst these days, to thinking and writing about good people.  Last night was such a night … I was struggling as “breaking news” updates kept flashing across my screen.  But, just as I was about to throw in the towel and give up, a man named Kees Veldboer flitted ever so briefly across my radar.  I decided to dig just a little deeper and … I was so glad I did, for suddenly the world of Washington was the furthest thing from my mind, and this man, the wonderful things he and his organization have done, was all that mattered.  A word of caution … make sure you have a box of tissues handy.

Kees-VeldboerKees Veldboer is a retired paramedic in the Netherlands.  In November 2006 he was moving a terminally ill patient, Mario Stefanutto, from one hospital to another. But just after they put him on the stretcher, they were told there would be a delay – the receiving hospital wasn’t ready. Stefanutto had no desire to get back in the bed where he had spent the past three months, so Veldboer asked if there was anywhere he would like to go.

The retired seaman asked if they could take him to the Vlaardingen canal, so he could be by the water and say a final goodbye to Rotterdam harbour. It was a sunny day, and they stayed on the dockside for nearly an hour.

“Tears of joy ran over his face. When I asked him: ‘Would you like to have the opportunity to sail again?’ he said it would be impossible because he lay on a stretcher.”

Veldboer was determined to make this man’s last wish come true. He asked his boss if he could borrow an ambulance on his day off, recruited the help of a colleague and contacted a firm that does boat tours around Rotterdam harbour – they were all happy to help, and the following Friday, to Stefanutto’s astonishment, the ambulance driver turned up at his hospital bedside to take him sailing.harbourThus began Stichting Ambulance Wens (Ambulance Wish Foundation), started a year later by Veldboer and his wife, Ineke, at their kitchen table. Ineke-KeesAnd now, he’s helped more than 10,000 people live out their final wishes – and has taken them everywhere from art exhibitions, to watching their favourite football team one last time, and even took one terminally ill teen from his home in the Netherlands to Switzerland to see mountains, that he had never seen before.  Says Veldboer …

“Every day we help six terminally ill people.  It’s so nice to see them happy. For us it’s something easy to do but for them it’s something so special.  We have driven people for miles, even to other countries, and taken them to some really amazing places. But for me, the most beautiful thing I think we have done for a woman who was in a hospital for months and after being given a terminal diagnosis, she was taken into a hospice. All she wanted was to see her home for one last time. We took her there and she was just standing there for an hour, looking around. Two days later, she died. It was such a beautiful wish, so simple yet so meaningful for her.”

Another quite popular wish is for patients to see their favourite piece of art for one last time and Mr Veldboer delivered. He arranged many trips to the museum, after the opening hours so people could admire the art. One recent one was at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where people were able to see Rembrandt’s exhibition.

museumMr Veldboer also arranged for two football fans to watch a game of their beloved Ajax one more time.

A terminally-ill grandmother was able to meet her newborn grandchild …grandbabyIn another case the Stichting Ambulance Wens took a man to his last car show in Rosmalen, while two immobile ladies visited the Sand Stories in Elburg for the last

“Our youngest patient was 10 months old, a twin. She was in a children’s hospice and had never been home – her parents wanted to sit on the couch with her just one time. And our oldest patient was 101 – she wanted to ride a horse one last time. We lifted her on to the horse with the help of a truck, and later we moved her to a horse-drawn carriage – she was waving at everyone like royalty. That was a good wish.”

horseOne story made headlines in 2014, when one of Stichting Ambulance Wens crews took Mario, a 54-year-old man with learning difficulties, to say a final goodbye to his colleagues at Rotterdam’s Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo, where he had worked for 25 years. At the end of his shift as a maintenance man he used to always visit the animals, and they took him on his rounds one last time. When they reached the giraffe enclosure they were invited in, and it was then that one of the more curious giraffes came over and gave Mario a lick on the face. He was too ill to speak, but his face lit up.giraffe

And one of the most recent ones, the one that caught my eye tonight, was the elderly couple who just wanted to see snow one last time.snow

“There was one lady who wanted to go to her grandson’s wedding. The hospice had told her ‘No’, but she was desperate, so in the end they called us. We took her there and she loved it. On the way home she turned to us and said, ‘You don’t realize how important this was to me.’ She died that same night.”

weddingSays volunteer Mirjam Lok, a 25-year-old nurse …

“It’s intense, but that’s why it’s interesting. You don’t know who you’ll meet when you walk through the door, and at the end of the day you have fulfilled their last wish, you close the door and you think – that was good.  It has taught me that you can find happiness in little things, and that’s what you should aim for – rather than longing for what you don’t have.”

Stichting Ambulance Wens offers something that the patient’s relatives cannot do themselves. In most cases patients are immobile and bound to a stretcher so they wouldn’t be able to move in a car or another vehicle. In addition, terminally-ill patients are in need of 24 hour medical care and that’s why the organization consists of 270 volunteers who are all medically trained, in case of an emergency.

Following the huge success of his venture, Veldboer has helped to set up similar ambulance services abroad, first in Israel – after taking a Jewish woman to Jerusalem, where she wanted to die – then in Belgium, Germany and Sweden.

A practical, no-nonsense man, he admits that setting up the foundation has given him confidence.

“I used to think I didn’t amount to much, but then I discovered my ideas aren’t that bad after all. I’ve learned that if you follow your heart and do things your own way, people will support you. I’m just a very ordinary Dutch guy who does what he likes best, and my hobby is helping others.”

I thought I would not be able to give you a link to their website, for it is in German, and as far as I know only three of my readers, Michael, Bee and Jeannie, speak German, but I had a thought and went in search of an English version, and sure enough … I found it!  Stichting Ambulance Wens 

I am in awe of Kees and Ineke, and also of those 270 volunteers who give their time to making last wishes come true.  These are truly good people … the sort the world needs more of.

Good People Doing Good Things — For Planet Earth

Today, in light of how very critical our environment is becoming as evidenced by the horrific Australian bushfires that have been burning since last June, I went in search of good people who are doing good things, small and large, for the environment.  Not surprisingly, I found some to share with you …

They call him “Forest Man”, but his name is Jadav Payeng.  Jadav has planted a tree every single day for 40 years and now this man-made forest that was once a landscape devastated by erosion is bigger than Central Park!  Now this incredible forest is home to hundreds of elephants, rhinos, boars, reptiles, and birds. This botanical-enthusiast says he is planning to plant trees until his “last breath”.

“Nature is God. It gives me inspiration. It gives me power … As long as it survives, I survive.”

Mr. Payeng has been featured on a Tedx Talks, and in 2015, he was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India.  Definitely a Good People, yes?

A new grocery store opened in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2016, and people are still, four years later, clamoring to get in.WeFood-1What’s so unique about WeFood?  They are selling food that, for one reason or another, is not sellable in other supermarkets.  Some of it is over-ripe or blemished produce, some is food that is near its expiry date, and some is just … flawed in some way, like the ketchup bottle in this short video clip …

WeFood was started by a charity organization, DanChurchAid (DCA).  WeFood sells surplus food items at a price that is 30–70% lower than the original selling price. The profits are allocated to tackling famine in countries where DCA works including South Sudan, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.  WeFood relies exclusively on volunteers to man the registers, stock the shelves, etc.  As interest and support for WeFood continues to grow, DCA opened another surplus food store in the city of Aarhus in 2018, where 100 volunteers signed up to support the running of the store.WeFood-2Føtex, one of Denmark’s largest supermarket chains has supported WeFood since the beginning. An agreement between WeFood and Føtex, has encouraged a mutually beneficial collaboration contributing to overall food-waste reduction.

Lots to love about WeFood … volunteers, cutting down on food waste, and profits being used to support anti-poverty initiatives in other parts of the world.

If you’ve been following Filosofa’s Word for any length of time, you know that I am not a fan of the ultra-wealthy.  But, I also believe in giving credit where credit is due, and I have highlighted the philanthropy of a few billionaires in the past, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and others.  So, while we’re on the subject of the environment and billionaires, I’d like to introduce you to Swiss philanthropist and conservationist Hansjörg Wyss. Hansjorg-WyssIn October 2018, Mr. Wyss wrote an OpEd for the New York Times titled, We Have to Save the Planet. So I’m Donating $1 Billion.   If you have a minute, read his piece … I was impressed and at the same time, could not help but notice the irony in the difference between Mr. Wyss’ view and our own current government’s.  I like Mr. Wyss’ much better …

“I have decided to donate $1 billion over the next decade to help accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world, with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030. This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target. For the sake of all living things, let’s see to it that far more of our planet is protected by the people, for the people and for all time.”

Thumbs up to Mr. Hansjörg Wyss!  👍 👍

And finally, I would like to finish where I began, with the Australian bushfires that have devastated so much of the flora and fauna, possibly having killed as many as 1.25 billion animals.  But, some people are stepping up to the plate to help.  Right now, for most of us, that help translates into monetary donations, and a few notable people have come onto my radar in that regard.

  • Tennis star Serena Williams won her first big championship title in three years and is using her $43,000 prize money to Australian bushfire relief efforts.
  • Hollywood star Nicole Kidman and her husband, country singer Keith Urban have donated $500,000.
  • Pop Star Pink has donated $500,000
  • Australian actor Chris Hemsworth has donated $1 million.
  • Numerous other notables have donated undisclosed amounts, including Selena Gomez, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and more.

And, of course, many people are donating what they can afford, be it $10 or $100.  The World Wildlife Fund  will be helping care for animals now, and helping re-build their habitats after the fires clear.  You can even adopt a koala!!!  The National Bushfire Recovery Agency  also has information on where to donate and how to help out, for any who are interested.

And thus concludes this week’s ‘good people’ post.  Remember, my friends, there are ever so many ways in which we can be good people ourselves.  Maybe I should have a contest one of these weeks and see how many of us can be good people … what do you think?  To me, you’re all good people.  Love ‘n hugs!