Something A Bit More Uplifting

I needed to step away from the politics of the day for just a few moments, and had just about decided to skip doing a morning post today, but as I scrolled through the 400+ emails awaiting some disposition, I came across one from World Central Kitchen.  You all remember them … the organization started and led by renowned Chef José Andrés.  I thought that maybe you guys could use a break from the angst of the moment, too, so I decided to share Chef Andrés’ letter with you for a bit of extra ‘good people doing good things’ around the world to remind us all that not everything is doom & gloom.

As missiles hit shopping mall and apartment buildings in Ukraine, WCK jumps into action

The past several days in Ukraine have seen horrific attacks on purely civilian targets, including a busy shopping mall in Kremenchuk, and apartment buildings in Kyiv & Mykolaiv–and just tonight, an apartment building in Odesa where at least 10 people were killed. In response to the missile strikes, WCK teams have jumped into action, bringing food & water. After the shopping mall was destroyed, we delivered hot meals, sandwiches, fruit, 2 tons of water & tea—and brought a generator & built a rest area for rescuers.

Hot meals, water & baby formula for communities devastated by deadly earthquake in Afghanistan

The most damaging earthquake in two decades struck the remote, mountainous provinces of Paktika and Khost in eastern Afghanistan last week. Killing more than a thousand people and injuring many more, families and rescue teams continue to care for survivors as medical facilities become more overwhelmed each day.

Together with Hospitality for Humanity–whose team lead is from the affected region–we are distributing thousands of hot meals every day to shelters, hospitals & clinics working around the clock. To increase capacity and serve more communities in need, we established two Relief Kitchens cooking for families. While the UN delivered tents, WCK is the only organization currently providing food & water.

Serving both lunch and dinner, fresh meals have included lobia chalaw (beans with tomatoes, parsley, mint, and spices), kabuli palaw (considered the national dish of Afghanistan composed of meat with rice, raisins, and carrots), naan, and fruit.

Assisting families and medical staff in need of clean water, we are also providing both bottled water and six 15,000-liter water tanks with our fresh meals. Damage from the earthquake destroyed entire villages and has left many families sleeping outside in the rain.

Tragically, many children have lost both of their parents. To provide as much comfort to these kids as possible, we’ve set up a special tent to give them a safe space where they can draw, read books, and enjoy some fresh fruit. Additionally, the team is starting a baby formula program to deliver bottles to mothers in hospitals.

Meet Some of the #ChefsForUkraine Team

WCK’s work across Ukraine is managed and carried out by thousands of brave Ukrainians every single day. Our team now includes more than 4,500 people—chefs, drivers, warehouse managers, logistics experts—who help us serve over 1 million daily meals.

In Zaporizhzhia, Alex Beluga and his namesake Beluga Restaurant feed thousands of people every single day. One village he serves is Mala Tokmachka, a community near Russian-occupied territory—prior to the invasion, Mala Tokmachka had 3,000 residents, but there are now just 600-800 people left. Alex brings WCK food kits for families here living with no power or electricity. Deliveries here are dangerous—their vehicle has been damaged by shelling—but Alex is dedicated to supporting families not receiving any other form of help.

Katya, WCK’s regional lead in the eastern city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, delivers critically needed food to families in the area. It was in Kramatorsk where we witnessed the horrific missile attack on the train station as families—including many young children—were desperately trying to flee. But Katya and her family have stayed behind, playing a vital role in supporting many who are unable to leave, even as attacks from Russia increase. Despite the danger, she says, “I really enjoy meeting and communicating with people, helping them—and this gives me the strength and desire to keep working.”

Earlier this month, a boxcar carrying pallets of WCK food to be delivered in eastern Ukraine was hit by a missile. Working with the incredible team from Ukrainian Railways, Katya helped clean up the mess and get the salvageable food to families in need.

Artem works with our WCK team in Dnipro to distribute thousands of WCK food kits and meals to families every day. He’s been traveling to frontline communities in the occupied Kherson region, and villages under attack in Donetsk. When he learned that water had been out for 2 months for 2,000 families, Artem brought a WCK generator to get the pumps working again–and 5 villages now have access to clean water.

Nastia is only 12 years old and came to Dnipro from Kharkiv with her mother Yulia in early March. They left their native town, home, and everything else, trying to save their lives. After receiving hot meals from a local WCK restaurant, they both began volunteering every day to help prepare meals for other Ukrainians forced to flee home!

Good People Doing Good Things — One And Thirty

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested you guys might have seen or experienced — or maybe even performed — a random act of kindness that would qualify as a ‘good people’ snippet, but since nobody jumped on that bandwagon, I shall tell one of my own from Monday afternoon.  I had made a rare trip to the grocery store for “just a few things” — sugar, zucchini, a red onion, and some cherry tomatoes.  Well, you all know how “just a few things” can sometimes turn into a bit more.  Since I only actually go into the grocery store about 3-4 times a year these days (I use the free pickup service most often), I was like a kid in a candy store!  To the essentials, I added a 7-pound bag of birdseed, some toaster egg pastries, a honeydew melon, and before I knew it I had 3 bags instead of the single bag I was anticipating.  Since I use my own reusable canvas bags, they hold a lot more than the average grocery bag, making them a bit on the heavy side.  So, I got home and being the stubborn mule that I am, I determined to carry all three in at one time, rather than make a second trip back out to the car.  (Miss Goose was out for a walk, else she would have been the one carrying them in.)  But then, there’s that four-inch rise to step up on the sidewalk in front of my house, and since the onset of my illness my balance is a bit off, I knew I had a problem.  So, I set one of the bags down on the sidewalk so I could use one hand to balance myself by holding on to the hood of the car, but I was still struggling to get onto the sidewalk.  The maintenance man for our apartment complex was working on the heat pump next door and saw me.  He immediately rushed over, took my arm, asked if I was alright, and helped me up onto the sidewalk.  He then insisted on carrying all three bags into the house for me.  Just a small thing?  Sure, but I was ever so grateful for his help … he didn’t have to do it, it isn’t part of his job to help an old lady whose too stubborn for her own good, but he’s a good person and so … he helped me.  This, my friends, means as much to me as someone who donates a million dollars to charity.  It’s those little acts of kindness that remind us of the bright side of humans.

A few days ago, another ‘good people’ and one of our own blogging buddies, Scottie, sent me an email with a video and said he thought perhaps I could use it for a forthcoming ‘good people’ post.  Well … long story short … this one brought a tear to my eye more than once!   The video is less than 8 minutes long, but it felt like only a minute … there are 30 … yes, 30 good people highlighted on this post … some doing small things, others risking their own lives or even giving a million dollars to a worthy cause!  As the narrator says at one point, “This is what it means to always remain human.”  Thank you so much, Scottie — you are good people too, y’know!

Good People Doing Good Things – Rob & Reece Scheer

I have come across so many good people since I started doing these posts back in February 2017 and I think they are all pretty terrific people, but Rob & Reece Scheer, whom I first discovered in 2018, are among my very favourites, so I thought I would share them with you again today …

This week, good people have been dropping into my lap!  No, not literally … that is actually Princess Nala you see on my lap.  But several times in the past week I have come across stories about good people.  This morning, I would like to introduce you to two of those good people:  Rob Scheer, and his husband Reece. Rob and Reece ScheeerRob Scheer was raised in an abusive household where his parents, both alcoholics and drug addicts, thought it was great fun to hold guns to their children’s heads from time to time.  When he was ten-years-old, his parents died and Rob was placed in foster care, carrying all his worldly belongings in a trash bag.  Rob was determined to rise above his beginnings, to define his own path in life.

At age 18, as typically happens with foster kids, Rob found himself homeless.  Not knowing what else to do, he joined the military.  When he got out, he took an office job and over the next decade and a half, successfully climbed the corporate ladder.  When he and Reece were married, they both knew they wanted to be dads … and they planned to adopt a child … one child … through the foster care system.  Well, you all know that saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”?  The first child available was actually two children, a sister and brother, Amaya and Makai.  And then before long, there were two more, Tristan and Greyson!  Even though Rob and Reece had planned to adopt only one child, they adopted all four, all but Amaya being under the age of two! Scheer-2One of the children, Makai, was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and had special needs.  Reece came across an article that said children with FAS seemed to recover when they were raised around animals and in fresh air.  So what did Rob & Reece do?  Why, they bought a farm, of course!  But not just a farm … they also bought goats and chickens and ducks!  They are an amazing family, each child knowing beyond a doubt that he or she is loved and wanted.Scheer-1And while adopting those four gorgeous children, buying a farm, and loving them so much would be enough to qualify them as ‘good people’ in my book, the story doesn’t end there!  Rob was disturbed when, some 30 years after his own horrific experience of his first foster home and that garbage bag with his belongings, all four of his kids came to them in the exact same way … with their meager belongings in a garbage bag.  This weighed heavily on Rob’s mind, and he decided to take the bull by the horns, to do something to change it, and he started a non-profit called Comfort Cases.

“I couldn’t believe it. The trash bag that I had carried so many years prior to that had found its way back into my life. It’s just not acceptable that any child should carry their belongings in something that we all throw our trash in and dispose of.”

At this point, I want to let Rob tell you a bit about himself, the family, and Comfort Cases …

Part of the mission statement of Comfort Cases reads …

“At Comfort Cases we believe that every child deserves to feel a sense of dignity.  Every child deserves to pack their belongings in a special bag that they can call their own.  It is our mission as a charity to provide a proper bag, filled with comfort and essential items, to these brave youth in foster care on their journey to find their forever home.”Scheer clan on Ellen

Recently Rob & Reece were featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.  I cannot embed the clip, but here is a link and I will tell you … you won’t regret seeing this and there won’t likely be a dry eye in the house!   At the end  of the segment, Ellen surprised the men with a check for $10,000 and $40,000 worth of luggage cases donated by Samsonite.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Rob and Reece through these two video clips … I think they are awesome men!  Meanwhile, two-thumbs up to Rob and Reece Scheer, two men who have done and continue to do good things for foster children!

They just walked by without looking or seeming to care

Our friend Scottie had an experience earlier today that he shared, and I want to share with you, for it’s something we should all be aware of. As I said this morning on my ‘good people’ post … little things mean so much! Far too many people are so internally focused that they don’t even notice someone struggling right in front of them. Luckily, there are still some good people like our Scottie … thank you, Scottie, for being who you are. We love you!

Scottie's Playtime

Hello all great people.   It is 2 PM and I am finally getting to sit at the computer and share my thoughts and answer comments.    Let me start by saying to ended up having to go to bed really early yesterday afternoon and stayed there until 7 this morning.    So little got done yesterday. 

This morning after coffee and doing some online bill paying, we decided to go to a local store and get me new sneakers.    I have not had new ones in 3 or four 4 years and the sole on one of them was separating from the rest of the shoe like they were of two different political parties.   So we went, I found a pair of shoes I like, was stunned at the price of nearly $100 dollars and Ron found a new shirt he liked that was sunscreen rated.   Then on the…

View original post 733 more words

Good People Doing Good Things — In Linda Taylor’s Neighborhood

Today I have just one good people story, but the story has lots ‘n lots of good people and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.  And at the end, I have an idea that I need your help with!

It’s amazing what people can do when they work together to help someone.  Linda Taylor, at 70 years of age, was given two months’ notice from her landlord to vacate the Minneapolis house she has lived in for nearly two decades.  It wasn’t that she didn’t pay her rent, or that she somehow violated the rental agreement for the house she has lived in for 19 years, but the owner was eager to sell the house and take advantage of skyrocketing housing prices.  The landlord,  Greg Berendt, was asking $299,000 and told Linda she could buy the house, or otherwise be out by January 31st.

Until 2020, Linda had worked for a local non-profit organization, but was laid off due to the pandemic.  Since then, she has struggled to make her rent payments, using some of her savings, and with help from family plus a government program started during the pandemic to help keep renters from being evicted.  But there was no way Linda could buy her home for $299,000!

Now, Linda was a beloved neighbor in her Minneapolis community, often referred to as the “bright star” of the neighborhood … everybody loved Linda.  So, when word got out, the neighbors, about 400 of them, decided to step up to the plate.  The Powderhorn Park community decided it would not allow their neighbor to be displaced.  Says Andrew Fahlstrom, who lives across the street from Linda …

“We have an active local neighborhood group because we’re within two blocks of George Floyd Square.  The infrastructure was there, the communication line was there, the neighborhood relationships were there.”

First, the neighbors wrote a letter to the landlord, urging him to wait on eviction and start negotiations with Taylor so she could buy the house. It was signed by about 400 neighbors and hand-delivered to Berendt.  The landlord responded that Linda could remain in her home until June 30th, and he also lowered the price to $250,000 – still out of Linda’s budget, but a bit better.

Another neighbor, Julia Eagles, took the initiative to organize such things as an art show, bake sale, pro-bono work by a real-estate agent, countless small donations, and other community-fund drives to come up with the money … and they did!  By May 31st, they had raised enough money for Linda to purchase her house!  Said Ms. Eagles …

“I don’t want anyone getting displaced or priced out of the community. We all believed collectively that we were going to do what it takes to keep Miss Linda here. So many people know and love this woman.”

In just four months, the people of Powderhorn Park raised $275,000 for Taylor — enough to buy her home and cover some needed repairs. Any additional funds will go toward utility payments.

Says Miss Linda …

“I knew my neighbors loved me, but I didn’t know how much.  Yesterday I went and did the closing for the house. It makes me feel so good, everything that I have given, it’s coming back to me and I want to continue to give. I love this neighborhood.”

I had an idea the other night that I wanted to share with you and maybe get your help.  I know we all have been on the receiving end of good people before – friends, neighbors, family members, and sometimes even strangers.  I certainly have throughout my life!  My own most recent ‘good people’ encounter took place over a period of several months after the onset of my heart problems. I was unable to do much more than walk 10 steps without passing out, so my beautiful neighbor, Maha, would cook extra each evening and bring over enough supper for me and my family.  She did this for months, and in fact even now she sends food over at least once a week, despite the fact that she’s having her own health issues at the moment. She also brought me flowers, balloons, chocolates, and other little special treats, and either she, her husband Ali, or one of their three sons came to check on me every day!

Every week, I write about good people, some doing huge great deeds like traveling to Ukraine to help people find housing, or cooking for the displaced refugees, and others doing small things, like shoveling an elderly person’s walkway, rescuing an abandoned kitten, or buying a meal for a homeless person.  And these stories inspire us, remind us that there are many good people in the world, far more than the not-so-good ones we see on the news every night.  But I was thinking … I would love it if you guys shared stories of the good people who have crossed your paths recently.  You know … if your neighbor helped you carry your groceries in, or a stranger stopped and helped you change a flat tire, or a local teen carried your weekly trash to the curb.  Little things mean so much.

So, no pressure here, but if you’d like to tell the story of an encounter you’ve had with a ‘good people’ recently, I would love to hear and share your story in next week’s ‘good people’ post!  If you’re interested, let me know in the comment section and then you can email me your story!  Again, no pressure at all … it’s just something I thought might be fun to do!

Good People Doing Good Things — Two Young Men

Today’s good people post focuses on young people, for they are the future of our world if we are to have a future, and frankly they have better sense than many adults if the ones I highlight in this post are any indicator.

First, I would like to introduce you to a young man, James Pearson.  At age 17, James already far exceeds most people in terms of intelligence and compassion.

Growing up in Baltimore City, James Pearson of Baltimore, Maryland is no stranger to the impact of gun violence. Baltimore City has the second highest gun-related death rate and 2021 marked the seventh consecutive year that the city surpassed 300 homicides from firearms. After losing a family member to gun violence, James began to think of ways he could take action in mitigating these acts and reduce the homicide and non-fatal shooting statistics in Baltimore City.

In 2021, James launched the Gun Violence Awareness Committee at the Maryland nonprofit Let’s Thrive Baltimore where he served as a volunteer. Through the committee, James—with the support of three other youth volunteers—leads weekly trainings and facilitates conversations for youth in the Baltimore area. Topics, which engage anywhere from 50 to 100 youth, range from conflict resolution to meditation and mental health. The committee would also provide resources around employment preparedness and host job fairs to help youth from low-income families and those considered at-risk find jobs. In the past year, James and his fellow youth leaders held a workshop for over 100 youth on healing from adverse childhood experiences and childhood trauma and organized one-on-one prep sessions to support their peers as they completed job applications and practiced for interviews.

Understanding that a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn’t be the most effective strategy for his peers, James also looked into how environmental design could also assist in crime prevention. Per the crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) approach, “when residents see spaces around their homes as their own, they are more likely to take care of those spaces and exert some positive influence over them”. As a result of James’ CPTED activities, he and his peers removed 80 bags of trash, planted nearly 100 shrubs, and removed debris from the area surrounding a local elementary school. By cleaning and beautifying the community around him, James hopes that youth see that they have a stake in their city and that they have access to a safe outlet through which they can make a positive impact.

Now how soon can we get James and some of his friends into Congress?

Next up is Ethan Bledsoe, a young man who genuinely cares about the environment, about our planet.

Growing up in rural Indiana, Ethan Bledsoe, age 18 of West Lafayette, Indiana, would frequently visit the nearby woods to observe nature and its fascinating inner workings: from the geometric construction of spider webs to the metamorphosis of tadpoles into frogs. Surrounded by nature, he learned to value the Earth and all that it gives us and developed a passion for protecting it. After moving schools in eighth grade, he encountered the concept of climate change through a fact poster in science class then spent hours doing additional research. Rising sea levels, worsening natural disasters, increasing land degradation, and rapid wildlife loss terrified him. He recalled his childhood in rural Indiana and knew that he couldn’t just stand by and watch climate change destroy the nature he loved.

While looking for ways he could make an impact, Ethan was disappointed by what he was seeing: there was a major gap in climate education; politicians would regularly sidestep their responsibility to create policy to address climate change; his city and new school weren’t taking the necessary steps to fight the climate crisis or educate students about climate change; and there was no push on them to change. Additionally, there was a complete lack of opportunities for youth to be involved in the political process or learn about climate action, let alone achieving climate solutions.

In response, Ethan set out to make projects that educate youth in his area about climate change and create opportunities for youth to be involved in the political process. He wanted to engage kids in his community through education and develop opportunities for youth. His first step was to organize a climate strike calling for his school to implement an AP Environmental Science course. Over 300 students attended the strike which led to the school administration approving of the AP Environmental Science course the following year! Ethan has also been determined to educate others directly, so he worked with STEAM programmers at the local library to implement an educational vertical garden program that educated kids on topics such as food insecurity and the importance of plants in climate resiliency.

Determined to increase the number of people provided with accurate information about climate change and actions to combat its causes and impact, Ethan created five little free libraries where the only things included are books and materials that are solely on climate-related topics. The libraries made climate education materials more accessible, equitable, and within walking distance of everywhere in the city. To continue to grow the scale of his work and increase education and advocacy efforts, Ethan launched Confront the Climate Crisis (CTCC), a statewide grassroots campaign. Through CTCC, Ethan and 30 youth activists lead service activities, provide opportunities for youth to take action, educate people about all things climate-related, and advocate for effective and feasible climate action policies.

Thank you, Ethan, for all that you are doing to save our home!

I had another, but I’ve run on long enough, so I’ll save it for next week.  Remember, folks, despite all the ugliness we are seeing in people these days, there are good people out there, and these young people give me hope for the future of not only the nation, but the planet.

Good People Doing Good Things — On An Ordinary Day …

Today’s good people are just ordinary people … they didn’t plan or set out to be good people necessarily, but circumstances rather threw them into a situation where they had an opportunity to either jump in and help … or walk away.  Needless to say, they didn’t walk away or I wouldn’t likely be writing about them.  And these are people from all over the world, proving yet again that there are good people everywhere, that kindness is international and knows no boundaries.

Matthew Jenkins was on his way to pick up his kids from school when he saw that a bus from a different school had toppled onto its side. This was the result from a drag race between two Mustangs, both of which reportedly hit 110 miles-per-hour.

By the time Matthew arrived, smoke was coming from the vehicle. But because he was in the National Guard, he was able to use his emergency response training to help free the children who were stuck inside. He was also able to make sure that everyone else who was helping was doing so in a way that was safe.

Although two of the children will need surgery from the injuries they sustained, every single person involved is expected to make a recovery. And that’s something that was made possible in large part because of Matthew, a kind stranger who wasn’t afraid to put himself in harm’s way in order to save others.

Tongai Matandirotya has worked as a bartender at the Brass Bell Kalk Bay restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa for the past 8 years. Coworkers describe him as a “wonderful, loveable, fun human being.” After watching him vault into action to save lives after a freak accident on the shore, they’re adding another description to his character: Heroic.

Tongai was tending the bar one afternoon on a beautiful day with crystal-clear blue skies and calm seas. Tourists who had finished their lunch at the restaurant were strolling along the water’s edge, taking in the stunning ocean and mountain views, when suddenly a “wall of water” rose up and carried dozens of people out to sea.

“I saw this wave come over the harbour and it covered the people, dragging them into the ocean. I immediately ran outside, undressed myself, and dived into the water because I saw a child go in as well. I have a very soft spot for kids, and my instinct just kicked in to see if I could help.”

There was a powerful riptide at play, making it difficult for the shocked victims to get back to shore. Tongai had had the foresight to grab his belt as he took off his pants. He used the leather strap to pull people from the water, yelling for help as he worked.

One of the people Tongai rescued was Clair Gardiner and her 8-year-old daughter, Arya van Hilten. They were admiring the seals on the coast when the wave hit.

“As we walked, a massive rogue wave knocked us into the harbour. Some of the people weren’t able to swim. It was hectic. When you’re in the moment, it’s much more dramatic. All I remember was grabbing my kid when I knew we would go over into the sea. I wrapped my arms around her and managed to get us safely away from the heavy waves.”

Moments later, Arya began to slip away in the current. Clair screamed for help, and the next thing she knew Tongai and another tourist man who’d jumped in to help were in the water next to her. Tongai grabbed Arya and shoved her onto the rocky shore. Clair scrambled up behind them, exhausted.

“I recently went to the restaurant to thank him,” she said. “My daughter recognised him immediately, and we all embraced each other. We are so thankful to Tongai and the tourist man who risked their lives to save ours; we’ll forever be grateful to them.”

Thanks to Tongai and other helpers, no one lost their lives that day! Tongai is now being hailed a hero and praised for leaping into action in spite of the danger to himself.

Henry Temmermans’ evening commute went from mundane to extraordinary in a split second one evening.

Henry was driving on highway A28 in Nunspeet, the Netherlands, when he saw a car driving erratically. The vehicle veered off the road at one point, bumping over a grassy area before returning to the street. Concerned, Henry pulled up alongside the car and peered inside.

“What I saw was not good. It was clear that the lady was no longer conscious. I saw that the guardrail wouldn’t stop her.”

Realizing her car would continue to move unless something stopped it, Henry decided to do the unthinkable: He accelerated and put his own vehicle directly in her path. Even though she would crash into him, he knew the driver inside needed help, and the only way to provide it was by stopping the car.

“I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I had to do something.”

A driver behind Henry happened to have a dashboard camera rolling, and he captured the moment when Henry used his car to save the day. The dramatic footage is nerve-wracking, to say the least!

Once the car was stopped, Henry and the man behind him immediately jumped out of their vehicles and rushed to help the victim behind the wheel. They called for help and attempted to wake the unconscious woman up. It took several minutes before she came around, and then she was taken to a hospital. She had five broken ribs from the accident, but it could have been so much worse if Henry hadn’t intervened!

Henry’s car had to be towed from the scene, so the other Good Samaritan drove him home. A few days later, Henry received a phone call from the woman’s husband and daughter to thank him for being the hero she needed during her medical emergency. “They were very grateful to me,” he said.

Even though he saved a life, Henry demurs when people call him a hero. “I see it on social media. People say they are proud of me, call me a hero. But I don’t see myself that way. You are obliged to help people in need. I did what I had to do. That others that maybe wouldn’t is up to them.”

You just never know as you start your day what life might throw at you today, so be prepared, and when you get that opportunity, I know you’ll all show the world what a ‘good people’ you are!

Good People Doing Good Things —

There are some nights when my angst is running high from the day’s news that it’s tough to switch gears to write a ‘good people’ post.  Tonight was one such night, until I read this first story …

What a graduation present!

Wiley College is a four-year, privately-supported, historically black college/university (HBCU) located on the west side of Marshall, Texas. Wiley College holds distinction as one of the oldest historically black colleges west of the Mississippi River.  On May 7th, more than 100 students earned their degrees, ready to head out into the world, but much to their surprise, they found themselves graduating with NO student debt!  That’s right … no student loans to pay off because an anonymous donor paid in full the loans of the entire graduating class!  The estimated cost of this generous gift is in the neighborhood of $330,000!

The school’s motto is:  Go Forth Inspired.  Well, there are some young people leaving Wiley this month who have good reason to be inspired!  My best guess is that at least some of them will ‘pay it forward’ at some point if they are able to do so.  Thumbs up to the anonymous donor!!!


And along similar lines, students at five Chicago Public Schools this week got the news that all their college tuition will be paid for—along with room and board, books, fees and taxes!  And not only are these freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors getting the free ride, but also one of their parents or guardians. No anonymous donor here, but still a lot of good people looking toward the future for these young people.

The multi-generation scholarship program is being launched by HOPE Chicago, a nonprofit led by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice Jackson.  HOPE Chicago has committed to raising $1 billion in support and funding over the next decade—and has raised $40 million already with funding partners that include several corporations, financial institutions, and private family foundations.

Students at the five inaugural schools gathered in gymnasiums across the city to hear the stunning news. 90 percent of kids attending citywide public schools are students of color and 80 percent are low-income, so this means many of them would not have been able to even think about attending college were it not for this program.

With its $1 billion goal, HOPE Chicago vows to provide scholarships for 24,000 students and more than 6,000 parents/guardians through its two-generation model, which is expected to increase the likelihood of students actually completing and graduating. A survey showed that only 27% of Chicago Public School students earn their degree, after 63% enroll.

What a great cause, a great organization!  Again, as I said above, it is to be hoped that some of these students will become contributors to the cause when they are able.  I wish there were organizations like HOPE Chicago in every major city in the nation … why aren’t there, I wonder?

And down at the elementary level …

Let’s turn our attention to John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky where teacher Stefany Bibb is leading a Kindness Crew.

During spring break, Ms. Bibb created a rock garden outside of the school’s building where students could place painted rocks with messages of kindness or happy designs. Students can keep the rocks for up to one week before returning them to the garden. If students choose to keep the rock longer, they can paint another one and replace the one they took.  But the movement goes way beyond painted rocks … take a look …

And Stefany Bibb refuses any credit for these young peoples’ acts of kindness, saying …

“Nothing you’ve heard from any of the students, nothing they do, is because of me.  I just gave them the outlet to do what they naturally do. They’re naturally kind. There’s nothing I can take credit for for how amazing they are and the kindness they spread. I’m just like, ‘Here, do what you do’.”

Wow, huh?  Wouldn’t you love to be able to project 20 years or so into the future and see how these kids turn out?

Speaking of kind young people …

Meet Amber Wilken, age 17, of Fort Mill, South Carolina.  Amber has always been a caring person since learning that her mother was homeless while growing up.  As a member of several service-focused organizations including Girl Scouts, JROTC, BETA Club, and her church youth group, Amber began tutoring and providing afterschool homework help through a local foundation to local youths. During these tutoring sessions, Amber found out that many of the youth she was working were experiencing food insecurity and she decided to do something.

One of her largest efforts to-date has been a series of food drives throughout the year. With the support of her school’s JROTC program, Amber has hosted both in-person and drive-by collection efforts along with contactless pickups and restocked a frequently accessed food pantry over a dozen times!  Through an initiative with her Girl Scout Troop, Amber was able to supply 75 children breakfast and lunch for an entire summer! Through partnerships with Panera and Publix, she has also led food recovery efforts to further support area pantries.  Her next goal is to create a community garden to support youth and teach youth sustainable gardening processes.

When she’s not fighting hunger, Amber supports her local Veterans Affairs group, serves as an Adventure Guide during Carowinds Amusement Park Wish Day, oversees the volunteer work of her fellow JROTC Cadets as their Community Service Director, and hosted a trunk-or-treat event to give youth the chance to celebrate Halloween during the pandemic with the support of a Hershey Youth Save Halloween grant.

Whew!  This young woman puts me to shame!  More thumbs up for Amber Wilken!!!

Good People Doing Good Things — Mister Rogers

I was scouring my usual sources for a few good people to write about today and I did find some, but they will have to wait until next week’s post, for during my search something popped up on my radar and by the time I finished reading it, I had tears and knew this would be my good people story this week.

We all knew that Fred Rogers, star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was a good guy.  But this one story shows just how good, just how caring an individual he was.

It all started in early 1987 when …

A mother called into PBS, asking if Mr. Rogers could send an autograph to her daughter. She was suffering from seizures and set to have brain surgery. When Fred Rogers heard about it, he flew to see her in the hospital rather than merely sending an autograph.

When Beth Usher was in kindergarten she had her first seizure. Doctors couldn’t find the problem and sent Beth home.

A few days later, Beth had another seizure. Then another. And another. Eventually, she had around 100 seizures a day. She was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s encephalitis, a rare inflammatory neurological disease that only affects one hemisphere of the brain.

Miraculously, during the 30 minutes when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired, Beth never had a seizure.

“I found his voice comforting. I felt like he was talking to me and nobody else.”

Before surgery that involved removing parts of Beth’s brain affected by the disease, her mother Kathy reached out to the Mister Rogers Neighborhood studio and spoke with the secretary, explaining the situation and asking if she could get a signed copy of Mr. Rogers’ picture for Beth. Less than an hour later, the secretary called back with a special message.

“Will you be home this evening at 7? Fred would like to call and speak with Beth,” the secretary told Kathy. “He called, and I said to Beth, ‘Beth… there’s a friend on the phone for you.'”

Beth spent over an hour on the phone with Mr. Rogers.

“I told him things I hadn’t told my mom or dad. I told him about the surgery and how I thought I might die. It was like talking to an old friend.”

On February 4, 1987, Beth underwent a 12-hour procedure to remove the left hemisphere of her brain. Initially after surgery, she was fine. But things took an unexpected turn, and she slipped into a coma.

“Mr. Rogers would call the hospital every day to check up on me. When he found out I wasn’t improving, he decided to make a trip.”

Beth’s family and nurses stood in the doorway watching as Rogers removed his puppets from his case.

“He gave Beth her own private show,” said Beth’s mother.

Shortly after Mr. Rogers visit, Beth did wake, surrounded by friends.

When Mr. Rogers called that day, Kathy told him the good news.

“He said, ‘Praise God’.”

Mr. Rogers and Beth’s friendship continued through the years. He always called Beth on her birthday until his death in 2003.

In this age where it seems that people think it is ‘cool’ to curse and act stupid on television, Mr. Rogers was the gold standard for children’s television.  So much so that the story goes that his car was once stolen, but when the thieves saw the news coverage, they promptly returned the car with a note reading, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”

Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002, and one year later, after Rogers passed away at the age of 74, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution to commemorate his life.  It read, in part …

“Through his spirituality and placid nature, Mr. Rogers was able to reach out to our nation’s children and encourage each of them to understand the important role they play in their communities and as part of their families.  More importantly, he did not shy away from dealing with difficult issues of death and divorce but rather encouraged children to express their emotions in a healthy, constructive manner, often providing a simple answer to life’s hardships.”

Who knows how many lives he touched in such a positive way that those people grew into ‘good people’ themselves?  So, although I’m ‘a day late and dollar short’ as my grandpa used to say, I say Mr. Rogers deserves to be our ‘good people’ for this week!

Good People Doing Good Things – Little Kids With BIG Hearts

There are two of my ‘weekly features’ that I try, no matter what is happening, never to miss:  Jolly Monday, and Wednesday’s ‘Good People’ posts.  This week, I am somewhat in a grey haze and already missed Jolly Monday (although it might just turn up a bit later in the week  😉  )  and was ready to throw in the towel on today’s Good People post.  But then … I remembered this post from early in 2017 and as I re-read it, I thought perhaps this is just what we ALL need right now to bring us back out of that grey, hazy place!  I think these kids will bring a smile to your face — they brought one to mine!

I have been working on this post for some four hours, and thus far, this sentence is all I have.  I made several false starts … people who seemed to be philanthropists, seemed to be doing good things, but on further digging were merely collecting on other people’s altruism.  Then there were scandals with some of the people/organizations I looked into.  So, as time and energy are running on fumes at this point, and my family members who walk on all fours are determined to drive me nuts, I decided to think small tonight.  Child-sized small, in fact. Children may only be able to do small-scale deeds, but it shows us that though their bodies may be small, their hearts are big. And since these pint-sized do-gooders hold our future in their hands, it is good to see that they already have a sense of caring for others, a sense of humanity.

You are never too young to understand the value of helping others.  Second grader Phoebe Brown was running errands with her mother last week in Independence, Missouri when she came across a winning, $100 scratch-off ticket, just lying on the ground. For a fleeting moment, Phoebe admits, the thought of a spree in the toy department held a certain appeal, but it didn’t take long for her to remember that her school was having a canned food drive that week, and she ended up spending the entire $100 on canned food to donate to those less fortunate.  Her good works even inspired her dad to match every dime she spent!  At the end of the food drive, Phoebe’s class had collected 541 items of food, making them her school’s winner. As a fun reward, Phoebe and her classmates were invited to shave their gym teacher’s beard.


A group of schoolboys in New South Wales, Australia, were about to board a bus and head home after a rugby league game when they noticed an 81-year-old gentleman moving his woodpile from the front of his home to the back, one piece at a time.  Without hesitation, the boys and their dads jumped in and moved every last piece of wood for the man.  A small gesture?  Perhaps, but it is a sign of respect and caring, a sign that these kids are being taught values and compassion.  Hats off to the rugby team at Cooma North Public School!


jaden-sink-3Westboro Baptist Church, best known for its intense hatred of most everything, is located on the East Side of Topeka, Kansas, directly across from Equality House, a resource center established by the non-profit group, Promoting Peace (interesting juxtaposition, don’t you think?).  Equality House and Promoting Peace is a whole story unto itself, but that will have to wait for some other Wednesday, because today’s story is about a six-year-old girl named Jaden Sink. After Jaden’s dad tried to explain to her that Westboro members promote messages of hate, Jayden decided she wanted to raise money toward spreading messages of love and peace. So Jayden opened a lemonade stand … not just any ol’ lemonade stand, but a pink lemonade stand, mind you!  And in the first day of business, she made $1,400!  I think this is proof that love sells better than hate!  By the end of that summer in 2013, Jaden had raised more than $23,000, all of which she donated to the cause of peace.

But Jaden’s story didn’t end there.  The story of Jaden’s pink lemonade stand went viral during that summer of 2013, and other children jumped happily on the bandwagon.  Today, there are some 70 stands worldwide, with all proceeds going toward Equality House’s anti-bullying initiatives.  Says Jaden, “We’re giving [the money] to the rainbow house to help people who are sick, and to help people be nice to each other.”  That’s my kind of kid!


When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, it made history as one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.  Then-10-year-old fifth-grader Talia Leman, seeing images of the destruction on the news, launched a charity urging kids to trick-or-treat for New Orleans, ultimately raising more than $10 million for the Hurricane Katrina foundation. From there, she founded RandomKid, a nonprofit that provides resources for young people who want to make a worldwide impact on any issue. Among the company’s successful efforts are reusable water bottles, which helped fund a water pump for an African village, and a push to provide crutches and artificial limbs to Haitian earthquake victims. Here is an example of a kid who started out doing small things and ended up doing some pretty big things!

Many of these stories are about small acts of kindness, but these children have the right idea, and I would not be surprised to see them make major differences in the world one of these days.  Hats off to the kids, of course, but also to their parents who have obviously taken the time to instill compassion, kindness and caring about others into the hearts of their children.