Good People Doing Good Things — Young People Around The World!

Today is World Kindness Day, so it’s rather a good day for this post, don’t you think?  Good people come in all sizes, shapes & colours, and there is no age requirement for being a good person.  Every now and then, I like to focus this feature on young people who are doing good things, for it gives us reason to hope for a brighter future.  And believe me, there are plenty of them out there!


Take, for example, Nicholas Lowinger.  Now, Nicholas had a good example to follow, for his mother worked in various homeless shelters across the state of Rhode Island.  When Nicholas was only five years old, his mother took him to visit in one of the shelters, and he quickly realized that the children in the shelter were living in circumstances that were very different from his own.  While Nicholas had a brand-new pair of light-up sneakers, he saw children in the shelter who had no shoes.nick-lowinger

“I saw other kids my age who looked just like me. The only difference was, they were wearing old, tattered shoes that were falling apart. Some didn’t have a pair of shoes to call their own. I’ve been very fortunate to grow up in a family that is able to provide me with whatever I need. A lot of kids here in the U.S. don’t have the same opportunities.”

Fast forward to 2010, when Nicholas was 12 years old and met a homeless brother and sister duo at school who took turns going to school because they only had one pair of shoes between them.  Nicholas gave the boy a pair of his own basketball sneakers, but it gave him an idea.

“I didn’t want to make one donation and stop there. I wanted it to be something I could do for the rest of my life.”

With the help of his parents, he then started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation.   Since 2010, the organization has donated new footwear to more than 100,000 homeless children in 35 states.  Take a look at this short clip to see Nicholas tell a bit of his story.

Two thumbs up to this young man whose social conscience began at a very early age!  👍👍


Or how about sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen … Six years ago, these two sisters, then ages 12 and 10, decided they were going to do something about the plastic problem on their island of Bali.  The girls were inspired by the country of Rwanda’s ban of polyethylene bags in 2008 and decided to try to get their native Bali to do the same.

Bali is part of the island nation of Indonesia, which is the world’s second biggest polluter when it comes to marine plastic, trailing only China.

The two sisters got the idea for Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013 after a lesson at school about influential world leaders — change-makers — including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

“My sister and I went home that day thinking, ‘Well, what can we do as kids living on the island of Bali?’ You see, we didn’t want to wait until we were older to start making a difference. It wasn’t even a question, really. It was more like, what can we do, as kids, right now.”

The answer was right in their own backyard …Bali-beach

“It got to the point where on weekends when we would go to our childhood beach, if we went swimming there, a plastic bag would wrap around your arm. And you say just, enough is enough.”

They went online and discovered that over 40 countries had already banned or taxed plastic bags.

“We thought, ‘Well, if they can do it, c’mon, Bali! C’mon, Indonesia! We can do it, too!’ So, without a business plan or a strategy or a budget, like my mom will tell you, we went forward with a pure passion and intention to make our island home plastic bag free.”

They got some friends together, went online to start a petition and got 6,000 signatures in less than a day! They spread awareness through school and community workshops. They organized massive beach cleanup campaigns, all the while drawing international attention and that of local politicians too.

“I think one of the biggest tools that pushed us forward was our decision to go on a food strike.”

The sisters put the word out about their plan on social media. Local media picked it up, and that prompted the governor at the time, I Made Pastika, to do what any savvy politician would do when faced with two teenage girls threatening a hunger strike. He invited them to come see him.

“Within 24 hours, we had a phone call and then the next day we were picked up from school and escorted to the office of the governor.”

Pastika signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the sisters to work toward eliminating plastic on the island — and later pledged to rid Bali of plastic bags by 2018. That didn’t happen, but the sisters kept engaging government at every level — local, municipal and national — to keep up the pressure. Melati Wijsen says she learned a lot about dealing with politicians in the process.Melati-IsabelBut … in December 2018, the new governor of Bali announced a law banning single-use plastic in 2019, thanks in part to the sisters’ efforts and those of like-minded NGOs.  Last year, the girls founded their own NGO (non-governmental organization), Bye Bye Plastic Bags.

“We’re actually now in 28 locations around the world, and it’s all led by young people. We’ve created a starter kit and a handbook that guides them through this process of how to start a movement.”

Bali-beach-2These young women are pretty awesome, don’t you think?  Perhaps we need them to come over here?  Another two thumbs up!  👍👍


And then there’s Kelvin Doe from Sierra Leone, the “world’s youngest self-taught engineer”.  Kelvin got his start when he began looking for ways to fix local problems with technology as an 11-year-old, just five years after the country’s volatile civil war ended.Kelvin-DoeKelvin Doe grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At the age of 11, he started collecting scrap material on the way home from school. He discovered that with a little bit of tinkering he could make working parts from things that others had thrown out. Feeling inspired he’d go to bed at 7pm only to wake up in the middle of the night and tinker while the rest of his family slept.

He went on to build a community radio station out of recycled parts that he powered with a generator also made out of reused material. David Sengeh, a PhD student at the MIT media lab and Kelvin’s mentor, said: “In Sierra Leone, other young people suddenly feel they can be like Kelvin.”

In 2016, at the age of 19, Kelvin became an honorary board member of Emergency USA (a global non-profit that provides free medical care for those affected by war and poverty) and founding the Kelvin Doe Foundation, a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering young people in Africa to design innovative solutions to tackle some of the most critical issues in their communities.

Take a look at this video from when he was only fifteen …

Wow, huh?  I’m in awe of this young man!  Another two thumbs-up!  👍👍


Okay, folks, I’ve run out of thumbs now, so that wraps this week’s “good people” post up, but hopefully you found something to love and to inspire you about these young people!  Until next week … remember, if you can’t find a good people, then just go ahead and be one!

Good People Doing Good Things — Too Many To Count

Hooray for Wednesdays!  It is such a breath of fresh air to shine a light on people who care about others, who are giving of themselves, even in the smallest of ways, to somehow make life better for somebody.


California is on fire …

You’ve all seen on television or the internet the terrible devastation caused by this year’s wildfires in California.  The fires extend from the northern to the southern border, and some 9.000 firefighters are working day and night to contain the fires.  Typically, when disaster strikes, good people jump into action, and today I would like to share with you a few people who are helping.  First of all, though, I want to give a shout out to those 9,000 firefighters.  They are working in horrid conditions, with very little sleep, risking their own lives to help save lives, property, forests … these guys are HEROES! TOPSHOT-US-WILDFIRES-CALIFORNIA-WILDFIRE

firefighter-2

firefighter-3

I had never heard the name John Cena until last night (yeah, I’m sure you are all rolling your eyes … I’ve told you, I am a pop culture throwback!), but it’s a name I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.  Turns out Mr. Cena is a former wrestler-turned-actor, who has a new movie coming out day after tomorrow in which he plays … a firefighter!   Mr. Cena put out a very touching video on Twitter, announcing that he is donating $500,000 to the California first responders.  But, he didn’t stop there … he called on Paramount Pictures to match his donation, which they did.

Other celebrities who have donated to the cause include Chris Pratt, LeBron James, and others. You all know how I generally feel about celebrities, millionaires and such, but when they open their hearts and wallets to those in need, I give credit where credit is due.

Last year, I wrote a post about heroic efforts large and small during the California wildfires of 2018 (I do hope this won’t become an annual feature!), and one part of that post featured celebrity chef José Andrés and his wonderful organization World Central Kitchen.  Just as they did last year, they are back out there this year feeding the firefighters.WCK-1Joining Chef Andrés were celebrity chefs Tyler Florence, Guy Fieri as well as many other chefs and volunteers.  You can see some of the pictures on the World Central Kitchen website.  Hats off to this very worthy organization and those who give of their own time and money to help feed those firefighters who are putting their lives on the line 24/7!


Two hearts …

Jonathan Pinkard collapsed at work one day a few months ago and was rushed to Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Coweta County, Georgia.  At 27 years of age, it was determined that Jonathan needed a heart transplant.  The problem wasn’t, as so often is the case, finding a heart, but rather Mr. Pinkard was deemed ineligible because he had no family to be his support system, to help him through the recovery process.  Without the transplant, Mr. Pinkard would die.

Enter ICU nurse Lori Wood …

“I think at some point God places people and situations in your life and you have a choice to do something about it. For me with this situation there was no choice. I had a room, I was a nurse, I could take care of him. So it really wasn’t anything that I struggled about it was just something that had to happen. He had to come home with me.”

Pinkard-Wood

Jonathan Pinkard and Nurse Lori Wood

So, Lori officially adopted Jonathan Pinkard, which got him onto the transplant list, and he received a new heart in August.  Ms. Wood is helping him transition to living independently once again, and Mr. Pinkard plans to return to work next month! Jonathan Pinkard may have a new heart, but Lori Wood has a huge heart, don’t you think?


A very little good people …

This story first came to my attention via our friend Keith, and then I found it on the ‘net.  It’s a little thing, but I thought it worthy to be included here.

The kid’s name is Jackson Champagne, and he is 8 years old.  On Hallowe’en night, Jackson was out trick-or-treating when he came to a house with a candy bowl set outside, as some people do.  But alas!  The bowl was empty!  Not so much as am M&M remained!

“All gone. There ain’t no more candy.”

Jackson turned as if to leave empty-handed, but as he noticed other witches, ghosts and goblins coming up the walkway, he stopped, dug around in his own bag, and put some of his own candy in the bowl for the little guys coming behind him!

Now if that doesn’t just melt your heart.  Happens that the homeowner, Leslie Hodges, saw the whole thing on their home security video later on that evening.  Hodges said just what I always say on these Wednesday posts …

“He renewed the faith that there are still some good people out there.”

Quite so.


Remember, folks … there are lots of good people out there doing good things … you don’t even have to look far.  In fact, I’m betting that if you go down the hall in your house right now and look in the mirror, you will see a ‘good people’.

Good People Doing Good Things — Heroes

There almost wasn’t a ‘good people’ post this morning, for while I had a couple of potential stories in my notes, I simply wasn’t motivated.  That seems to be the case a lot these past few days. I was actually watching part of a movie on my laptop, all but having given up on ‘good people’.  But then, I had an email from our friend Ellen, with a forward that included this first story, and I found the motivation I had been lacking.  So, my first ‘good people’ is actually Ellen, and my second is …


Just as it seems that bad news travels fast and far in today’s electronic age, so does news of bad cops, and we rarely hear about those who go out of their way to do good.  So, when this story came to my attention, I knew I wanted it to be first in the Wednesday morning line-up.

It happened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when 12-year veteran Officer Kevin Zimmerman pulled over Andrella LaShae Jackson for a problem with her car’s registration.  Three of Ms. Jackson’s children were in the back seat, two young enough to be in car seats, but they were not … in car seats.  Officer Zimmerman asked Ms. Jackson why the kids were not properly secured, and she replied that she couldn’t afford car seats, being a single mom.

“With bills coming up and winter coming up, I have to get coats and boots and shoes for my kids, So it was hard for me.”

Now, she could have incurred a hefty fine, but instead, Officer Zimmerman opened his heart and his wallet, went to Wal-Mart and bought, with his own money, two car seats for the little girls.  He then stopped by the police department to pick up stickers and children’s books for the girls, Niyah and Sky. He then visited Jackson’s home and installed the car seats himself. zimmerman-jackson.jpgZimmerman said he was raised to “do the right thing even if no one is looking”.

“I am a dad of three kids and can’t imagine anything happening to them or not being able to have them secured in their car seats.”

A big thumbs-up to Officer Zimmerman for going well above and beyond the call of duty and for his great kindness.  I’m sure the Jackson family won’t soon forget him.


Lamont Thomas of Buffalo, New York, thought he was finished raising children.  He had two biological children, and over the years, he had adopted five others through the foster care program … all were now grown, or nearly so.  Mr. Thomas began taking in foster children in 2000 and has fostered more than 30 children since.  According to the first child he fostered, then later adopted, Michael who is now 27 …

“He was my third foster home and it ended up being my forever home. Lamont never turned [a child] away. They either aged out or went back home to their own families. We’re all grown now, I can’t believe he’s started all over again. Lamont has been a life-saver to me. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today, had Lamont not ventured in my life.”

Fast forward to October 17th, in the courtroom of Judge Lisa Rodwin, where Lamont Thomas once again became a father … of five children!  The children, Zendaya, 5, Jamel, 4, Nakia, 3, Major, 2 and Michaela, 1, were siblings who had been removed from their parents’ home more than a year-and-a-half ago, and separated, sent to four different foster homes in four different cities.  Ever since their plight came to Lamont’s attention, he has been fighting to get them back together, and finally he did.Lamont-Thomas-1Says Mr. Thomas …

“They bring new energy to me. They’re lovable kids, very affectionate. They deserve to be raised as siblings, and that was my fight. I wanted to be the difference, make a difference by being a difference for these youth. I was fighting to keep back the tears. Every day I think about it, my eyes swell up. All that we endured to make this happen, it was something.”

Lamont-Thomas-3Another ‘good people’, a man who gives of himself, who puts others before his own self-interest.  A man who wants to make a positive difference in the world.  He gets Filosofa’s two thumbs up!


OBrien-1U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Kenneth O’Brien has quite a list of accomplishments … he has rescued people from a burning car; served on the president’s security team; and he was one of the divers who saved the team of Thai soccer players last year.

Last month, he was on a plane on his way to receive a medal for his heroism as one of 12 Airmen who were named the 2019 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.  On the Okinawa-to-Dallas flight with his family, he suddenly noticed a one-year-old child choking.  O’Brien quickly stepped in to perform CPR and back thrusts, and within a minute, the baby had regained consciousness.  He continued to check on the baby periodically, and all was well.

True heroes all seem to have one thing in common:  that “Aw, shucks, ‘twarn’t nothin’” attitude, and Sergeant O’Brien is no exception …

“I’m thankful that the child is ok and that I was able to help when the family needed support. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

OBrien-3He may not be tooting his own horn, but one of his fellow Air Force compadres, Lieutenant General Jim Slife, is!

“He’s on the President’s security detail during his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. He pulls a person from a burning car in Korea. He saves a Thai Navy SEAL during the Thai cave rescue mission. During that mission, he’s the furthest American in the cave, successfully rescuing the Thai [soccer players] who’d been trapped for days.

So, he’s rightfully recognized as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. AND THEN… on his flight back to the states from Okinawa last weekend for the AFA Convention to be recognized, an infant starts choking and stops breathing. Our man OB leaps into action, clears the breathing passage, resuscitates the kid, hands him back to the parents, and then goes on about his business.

Sheesh! I don’t know whether I want to be right next to him in case some bad stuff goes down, or whether I want to be as far away from him as possible because bad stuff always seems to go down around him.”

Wow.  We hear of many who are touted as being heroes, and most are in one way or another, but it just seems that the title isn’t even quite enough for Sergeant Kenneth O’Brien.

Good People Doing Good Things — Helping Kids (And A Turtle)

Ready for a look at some good people today?  I know I sure am … seen enough of the other kind this week!


Andrew Levy is a real estate agent in Palm Beach Gardens, but much of his business is conducted in the area of Jupiter (the city in Florida, not the planet).  You may remember a few months ago I wrote a piece about children who couldn’t afford their school lunch, and schools were not only denying them lunch, but shaming them as well?  Well, somehow the plight of numerous children in Jupiter, Florida, came to the attention of Mr. Levy and he was stunned to find that some children were going without lunch, or being given only a dry cheese sandwich.

Andrew marched (well, he probably drove) to the school district offices and paid off the debts of every child in the nine Jupiter schools! Andrew-Levy

“These children that were in debt were going to either not eat or they would get just cheese sandwiches and I thought that’s crazy. I thought you know something? If for a modest sum I could make that change, I’m gonna do it.”

Now it wasn’t, by most standards, a huge amount … $944.34 in total … but wasn’t it a beautiful thing to do?  And, Andrew isn’t planning to stop there, either!

“Every quarter, I’m going to do either a GoFundMe page or a fundraising page that can raise money every quarter, so lunch debt never accumulates so that children never have to worry about a hot meal and parents never have to worry about paying the bill.”

A little thing?  Maybe, but isn’t that what it’s all about?  People doing whatever they can to help others.


Jonathan Pollard is a lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  He says he remembers what it was like, being in college, too broke to go home for the holidays.  So, he wants to help young college students get home for the holidays this year, and this is what he posted on LinkedIn:

“If you’re a college student and you want to go home for Thanksgiving, but can’t afford the plane ticket home, I’m pitching in. I will book your ticket.

You must be in college, have financial need, and be able to prove that you are excelling in academics, sports, or extracurricular activities. Basically, you have to be excellent at whatever your passion is.

If you’re in college, can demonstrate excellence and need help getting home, just send me a message. I’m a small time nobody and can’t possibly afford to help everyone out there. But I’ll do my part. I’ll help as many people as I can. Because I don’t want anybody staying on campus alone because they can’t afford to get home. Trust me.

I know what it’s like to be in college, flat broke and too poor to go home. Well it’s not happening to you. Not on my watch.

I could go buy a new truck or I could send a bunch of young folks home for Thanksgiving. Seems like a no brainer to me.

I never forgot what it’s like and I never will.”

Another man with a kind heart … see, folks?  They are out there!


Dylan Ence is a senior this year at Dixie High School in St. George, Utah.  When Dylan was a freshman in 2015, he and his family visited the very poor village of Patamban Michoacan in Mexico, and the memory has stayed with him ever since.  So ….

Dylan is planning a return visit to the Mexican village in December.  And, guess how he’s getting there?Dylan-busYep, a school bus.  But … why?  Well, see, for the past four years, Dylan has been saving every penny for this day.  He was so moved by the plight of the poor village children who had no transportation and often spent entire weeks at school so as to not miss their classes, that he … bought them a bus!  Yep, Dylan bought the bus at auction and in December he will be driving it to Patamban Michoacan to donate to the village.

But that’s not all.  Ever since his initial visit, he has been taking donations of school supplies, buying some himself, and now the bus is filled with backpacks, pens, pencils, socks and clothing for the young village students!  He is currently in the process of getting insurance and travel papers from the Mexican government to get his bus and supplies safely across the border and plans to leave for the three-day journey on December 20th.  What a young man, yes?


Well, folks, that wraps … what?  Looks like Jolly just got up and he has a little good people story he wants to share, too …


jollyHi everybody.  I found a story about a turtle an’ I wanna share it with you, ‘k?  There was a big fire in the Amazon Rain Forest, an’ that’s a long way from here.  Anyway … a turtle named Freddy was burned really, really bad in the fire, an’ his shell was ruined, see?

Freddy-1.jpgAn’ then there’s this group of scientists called “Animal Avengers”, and guess what?  They made Freddy a bran’ new shell with somethin’ called a 3D printer! Freddy-2See, Freddy woulda died without a shell, but now he gots a bran new one!  But … the Avengers guys thought Freddy needed some colour, ‘cause his new shell was good, but it was just plain ol’ grey.  So …Freddy-3Dey painted his shell!

Freddy-4Isn’t he beeyuteeful!!!  Here’s a picture of the Avengers …AvengersAn’ you can watch this video, too … don’ worry … it’s real short!

jolly‘Bye now!  I hope you liked my story ‘bout Freddy!


Well, folks … Jolly had a pretty cool story, didn’t he?  He doesn’t usually help out with the good people posts, but he begged to get to tell that one.  And that’s a wrap for today … remember, friends … let’s all try to be a good people and help make the world just a bit better, okay?

Good People Doing Good Things — Jim Estill

Today’s good people is … WOW.  But then, all the good people I have found over the last two-and-a-half years since I started this feature are pretty awesome, from the youngest to the oldest. Today’s story is about a man who put his money where his heart is.

Meet Jim Estill of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.  Jim is the owner and CEO of a company that manufactures home appliances, Danby Products, Ltd.jim-estillAlthough Canada has been much more welcoming of Middle-Eastern immigrants than most other countries, including the U.S., the bureaucratic wheels often seem to turn at a snail’s pace.  The year was 2015, and Jim Estill was growing increasingly concerned watching the horrors of the Syrian civil war on television night after night.  So many were seeking refuge from the violence, and yet the channels for asylum often seemed to be jammed.  My own neighbors, who were refugees from Syria, were on the waiting list for a year-and-a-half before they were allowed into the U.S.

Jim decided to see what he could do.

Back in the 1970s, Canada introduced a program called Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program that was originally intended to help refugees fleeing from Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War, but the program is still in existence today.  Under the program, a private citizen may bring refugees to settle in Canada, but they must commit to covering the expenses of the new arrivals for the first year.  As you can imagine, that could come to quite a bit of an expense:  housing, food, utilities, clothing, medical care, transportation, education.  But Jim was determined, and he began by bringing … wait for it … not one, not ten, but 50 Syrian families into the town of Guelph!  More than 200 people!

Putting some up in his own house, he also rallied church groups and 800 volunteers across the city, and worked closely with the local Islamic society. People provided spare rooms, or helped find empty apartments, and the Salvation Army took the lead in collecting donated clothes to help the refugees stay warm during Canada’s cold winters. Meanwhile, Jim arranged for each Syrian family to have access to both English and Arabic mentors, so they could get their children enrolled in schools, start looking for jobs, get bank accounts, and all the other little things that are a part of relocating.

Initially, he gave 28 of the refugees jobs at his own company and provided the financial guarantees to enable them to set up shops in the city and launch other business ventures.  As of today, Jim has helped sponsor some 89 families – more than 300 people!Syrians-workI’ll let Jim tell you a little bit about why he did what he did …

Hi, I’m Jim Estill. You’re likely here wanting to know more about the refugees and what we’re doing. I’ve written this to give you a little more information.

Since beginning this journey of bringing Syrian refugees to my hometown, Guelph Ontario Canada, the question I’ve been asked repeatedly is “why?” So, it is a question that I’ve naturally given a lot of thought.

Why choose to help this cause and not others? Why choose to go to all the trouble? Why choose to give so much time and money to people I’ve never met?

But that’s just it—it wasn’t a choice at all. The answer circles back to one of my personal mantras that has done me well in both business and life: Do the right thing.

I like to read. A lot. I read books, news articles, anything to further my own knowledge. Because of my unending curiousity, in 2015 I kept a close eye on what was happening in the Middle East and Syria. The stories and images broke my heart.Syrian-city.jpgIt wasn’t a choice. I had the means and opportunity to help, so I did.

I like to start with the end in mind. Success is 50 families to safety. 50 families working, paying taxes and buying groceries where you and I buy them. 50 families speaking English and have some degree of integration. We are helping people through a hard time – not trying to keep them on charity. I have failed if any of them end up on welfare.

The process hasn’t been easy. Getting into this, I knew it would be difficult, but the biggest challenges were ones that none of us saw coming. Picking up 50 families and plunking them into a new country that is very unlike where they’re from, it isn’t hard to foresee some difficulties. Learning the language, adjusting to Canadian lifestyles, finding work. Not easy challenges, but manageable nonetheless.

No, the more difficult challenges were things like delays in the entrance process, maintaining volunteer interest while we waited for families. However, those difficulties pale in comparison to the hardest task of all: deciding which families to bring in. It is like playing God and it causes lost sleep.

The Syrians we bring in have been through a lot. They often have families in Canada. They have mentors and helpers to help them start to build a new life in Canada. They do need to help themselves though.

I love being the CEO of Danby (as well as being a mentor to all my side projects) and while it’s been tricky to accommodate everything, it’s been a true test of my time management abilities. Suffice to say, it has been a tough go. But as hard as it has been (and will continue to be), I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Many of the stories written have said that I have saved or rescued these people. I wouldn’t say I’ve saved anybody—all I set out to do was provide a way out and an opportunity for people that I saw were suffering. These families are now part of my community, and my life. If I can share a little bit of money and time to help a family to not only survive, but flourish, that sure sounds like the right thing to do.

For his work helping refugees, in March of this year Jim was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s second-highest honour. Canada’s Governor General, Julie Payette, who represents Queen Elizabeth II, said that he had shown “outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation”.  I second that motion … I think Jim is most deserving of this honour, don’t you?jim-estill-award

Good People Doing Good Things — Olawale and Temie

As promised yesterday, here it is, only a day late, this week’s ‘good people’ post!  Thanks so much to those of you who suggested that I should be the ‘good people’ of the week!  You brought a smile, and I so appreciate the encouragement, the vote of confidence.  But, in truth, I don’t see myself as a ‘good people’, especially as compared to the good people I write about who are out there doing things for others, while I sit home in my comfy chair, with a fresh cuppa coffee, and only write.  But again, thanks so much … I love you all!  But now …

I’d like you to meet Dr. Olawale Sulaiman, 49, professor of neurosurgery and spinal surgery at the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sulaiman-1Born and raised on Lagos Island, Lagos, Nigeria, he says of his childhood …

“I am one of 10 children born into a polygamous family. My siblings and I shared one room where we often found ourselves sleeping on a mat on the floor.”

There was no way his parents could have afforded to put him through college, but at the age of 19, he received a scholarship to study medicine in Bulgaria through the Bureau for External Aid, a Nigerian government program targeted at improving the quality of life for Nigeria’s most vulnerable communities.

He received a combined MD/MSc degree at Medical University, Varna, Bulgaria, and a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. His neurosurgery training was completed at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. He completed post-residency fellowship training in complex nerve reconstruction at Louisiana State University and complex spine surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, USA.

A well-educated and energetic man, but that isn’t what qualifies him for a spot on the “good people” post.  That honour comes from his philanthropic works for the people of Nigeria.  Sulaiman said the scholarship opened many doors and, in turn, he feels responsible to give back through healthcare.

“Africans who have had the privilege of getting outstanding training and education abroad must mobilize their network of influence to transform our continent.”

Sulaiman-wifeIn 2010, Sulaiman established RNZ Global, a healthcare development company with his wife, Patricia, a nurse. The company provides medical services including neuro and spinal surgery and offers health courses like first aid CPR in Nigeria and the US.  Dr. Sulaiman also negotiated with his employer to take a 25% cut in pay in exchange for extended vacation time so that he could spend more time working in Nigeria.

“I would use my vacation times for the medical missions, which were also planned with education and training sessions. We donated a lot of medications, equipment and hands-on training on surgical techniques.”

RNZ Global has treated more than 500 patients and provided preventative medicine to up to 5,000 people in the US and Nigeria.  But, it doesn’t stop there.  RNZ Global also has a not-for-profit arm called RNZ foundation. The foundation focuses on providing free neurological health care to those in need but who cannot afford to pay. sulaiman-2.pngSulaiman and his team have performed miracles. In December, Sulaiman operated on a man whose back pain affected his ability to walk. The man was able to walk unaided a day after the surgery. Another of his patients is also able to move independently after the doctor did emergency surgery for a brain tumor that previously left her comatose.

“That’s why I continue to do it. Because I think you can really make a significant impact on people that would otherwise be hopeless.”


And, in a related story …

Allow me to introduce you to Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder of LifeBank, a blood and oxygen delivery company in the West African country of Nigeria. Giwa-TobusunIn 2014, Giwa-Tubosun experienced complications from her pregnancy.  She was rushed to the nearest hospital where her and her son’s lives were saved by a C-section operation.

“I realized after I had my son that the highest cause of maternal mortality is postpartum hemorrhage, the most important thing you can do when a mum is hemorrhaging is replace the blood she has lost, even if you can’t stop the bleeding.”

Since she founded LifeBank in 2016, the company has raised thousands of dollars, launched across three states in Nigeria, serving in more than 300 hospitals and saved up to 4,000 lives.

Donated blood has about six weeks before it becomes too old for transfusion.  Quite often, the blood expires before it is used because doctors find it challenging to get the type of blood they need.  Giwa-Tubosun found that there was a communication lag as doctors struggled to get blood while blood banks were discarding it after the six-week expiration period.

“One of the insights I got was the existence of a surplus and a shortage of blood. We have people on the supply side discarding expired blood and on the demand side dying because the blood is not available. I thought the solution was to help both sides pass information to each other.”

With Lifebank, Giwa-Tubosun was able to connect blood banks with hospitals and their patients. Her team gathers inventory data from about 52 blood banks across Lagos and responds to requests from hospitals based on the data provided by the banks.

Between them, Dr. Sulaiman and Temie Giwa-Tubosun are saving lives in a nation where many cannot afford medical care at all.  I give two thumbs-up to both of these generous people!

thumbs

Good People Doing Good Things — Three Nice Guys

I want to begin today’s ‘good people’ post with an update to a previous post.  Many of you many not have yet discovered Filosofa’s Word back in June 2017 when I wrote about Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company in Seattle, Washington.  What Mr. Price did back then was to slash his own salary from $1.1 million to $77,000 in order to pay every one of his employees a minimum of $70,000.  He came into much criticism at the time, and many said it would never work … but it did! I was thrilled to see Fox Business have to eat their words, after they labeled him the “lunatic of all lunatics,” and Rush Limbaugh declared, “I hope this company is a case study in M.B.A. programs on how socialism does not work, because it’s going to fail.”

Dan-Price.jpgThis week, Dan Price is back in the news.  Gravity Payments succeeded so well that its income has more than doubled in the four years since Mr. Price initially boosted his staff’s salaries.  Some time ago, he acquired another company, ChargeItPro in Boise, Idaho.  This week was the ribbon-cutting ceremony, as the employees of that branch moved into a brand-new office, and Mr. Price, who flew in for the ceremony, announced that they, too, would be given raises bringing their minimum salary to $70,000 by 2024.  They will get an immediate $10,000 increase, and incremental raises until they reach the $70,000 mark.

For the second time, I give Mr. Dan Price two thumbs up for caring more about people than about lining his own pockets.  See … capitalism could work if every company owner had the heart of Mr. Price!


Jerry Martin drives a school bus for Copperas Cove Independent School District in Texas.  Last week, he went above and beyond the call of duty after noticing that at one of the stops where he picked up children, the weeds and grass had grown quite high.  Turns out, the house on the property is currently vacant and nobody has been keeping up with the yard.Jerry-MartinMr. Martin worried about the kids standing in the tall weeds, so the next day, he took his own mower and … yep, you guessed it … he cut the grass!  A little thing, for sure, but how many people would have done that?


David Vance is a customer assistant at Lidl supermarket’s Connswater branch in east Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK).  Last Tuesday, a cashier called him over because his customer, an elderly gentleman, was having trouble paying for his groceries.  His card was repeatedly declined, and the man didn’t seem to understand.

After a quick assessment and trying the card once again, David Vance did the nicest thing … he pulled out his own wallet, gave the cashier enough money to cover the man’s groceries, and said to the cashier …

“That’s fine, put that through.”

Just like that.  The man, not really understanding what happened and apparently assuming that he had just paid for his own groceries, took his purchases and left the store.  David Vance went back to work, the cashier took the next customer, and life went on.

Except that a customer in line behind the elderly man had noticed, and she, Karen Gibney, posted this on Lidl’s Facebook page …

“Today I watched one of your till staff pay for an elderly man’s shopping from his own wallet. I don’t think the man was aware that his card kept declining and didn’t seem to understand that the staff member had paid for it as he didn’t say thank you, he just walked on with not a word.

But I saw it. I saw him discreetly pay and sat back down at his till like it never happened. I wanted to let you know that this is one of the kindest acts I’ve seen from a staff member ever.

It was in your Connswater branch just after 9am. It would be nice for him to hear a thank you that he didn’t get from the customer he helped.”

David was a bit surprised when told by the store’s management of the Facebook post …

David-Vance

“Last week I didn’t think I did anything out of the ordinary, I just noticed one of our regular customers needed a hand. I was a bit taken aback to hear about the Facebook post and the traction it got – I don’t even have Facebook myself!”

Lidl has recognized David’s actions by making him “Customer Service Champion” for the month of October.  See, folks, this is what good people are like … they don’t think twice, they don’t expect a reward … they just help people because it’s who they are.


It’s a shorter-than-usual ‘good people’ post today, not because I ran out of good people … nothing could be further from the truth … but because I ran out of energy.  Still, I hope these three people inspired you, helped you to remember that the people we see everyday on the news are not the only kind out there, but that they are counter-balanced by the good people, quietly going about their business, not asking for recognition or reward.

Good People Doing Good Things — Najah Bazzy

Good morning, friends!  If it’s Wednesday, that must mean it’s time for some … Good People!!!  Today I would like to introduce you to Najah Bazzy.

Najah BazzyIn 1996, she was working as a nurse in Detroit, Michigan, when she visited an Iraqi refugee family to help care for their dying 3-month-old infant. The family had recently immigrated to the U.S., and she knew the situation would be difficult, but she wasn’t prepared for what she encountered.

“There, at the house, I got my first glimpse of poverty. They absolutely had nothing. There was no refrigerator, there was no stove, there was no crib. The baby was in a laundry basket, laying on clean white towels. I was so devastated by that. I decided that this wasn’t going to happen on my watch.”

That day, Bazzy and her family gathered all the furniture and household items that they could — including a crib — and delivered everything to the family.  And thus began Najah Bazzy’s life as a philanthropist … a good people.

When the infant died, and the family was unable to bury him, Najah raised funds from the community to provide him with a proper burial.  Witnessing this family’s sorrowful experience and shocking living conditions, Najah was inspired and determined to harness the community’s efforts to help struggling families. She asked community members to donate furniture, food, clothing, and household goods.

For years, Bazzy ran her goodwill effort from her home, transporting donated goods in her family’s minivan. Eventually, her efforts grew into Zaman International, a nonprofit that now supports impoverished women and children of all backgrounds in the Detroit area. The group has helped more than 250,000 people.ZamanIn 2004, Zaman International – Hope for Humanity officially became an NGO committed to addressing basic needs and empowering marginalized women and children through relief and development programs.

Detroit is the poorest major city in the U.S., with over half the children living in poverty.  Today, Zaman operates from a 40,000-square-foot facility in the suburb of Inkster. The group’s warehouse offers aisles of food, rows of clothes and vast arrays of furniture free to those in need. The group’s case managers help clients access housing and other services.

“We work to stabilize them as quickly as we can. Women walk in and they are in desperate need, and they walk out with their basic needs met. Our mothers are able to come. They get a voucher and have the same dignified shopping experience as somebody else, but do not have to pay for it. It’s about dignity.”

Zaman also offers clients free education and job placement, as well as vocational training through its sewing and culinary arts programs. The goal is to help women become self-sufficient.

“We’re a one-stop shop. We help our clients move from a ‘hand out’ to a ‘hands on,’ because when you’re in crisis … the idea of how to get yourself out of it is overwhelming.”

Let’s hear a bit from Najah Bazzy about how she got from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ …

“Zaman began helping refugees during the post-Gulf War when we had a tremendous amount of refugees from Iraq coming into the Detroit area. But after a few years, I saw another population that was even more marginalized: the single mom, trying to raise her children with nothing.

Now, we focus on women with children living well below the poverty line. Most of our families make below $10,000 a year. We still help refugees, but we now have a large African American population. It’s open to everybody. It’s not based on faith or culture. All that matters here is: What do you need?

Our organization is a little mini-United Nations. Watching African American and Arab and Jewish and gay and people with disabilities and everyone working together — I just love that. For me, that’s the highest expression of faith — just bringing people together. Islam is full of verses about caring for humankind, but I think I would be this human being no matter what faith tradition I followed. Because in my heart of hearts I believe we are one human family.

There is a lot of risk in doing the work that I do, as a visible Muslim woman in hijab. I’ve had death threats. I’ve had to have protection placed around me. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. To know that you can put out love, but there are people out there who will judge love, this saddens me. I want to make every breath count, so I can’t fear those who choose hate. I can only control the love I have in my heart and choose that love.”

Najah Bazzy-2What started on such a small scale now provides so much to so many.  Najah Bazzy is very much hands-on in Zaman International, and they offer so many programs that it makes my head spin!  To name just a few …

  • Plots for Tots – Infant Burial Program – assists families that cannot afford a proper burial for their fetus, infant or toddler.
  • O.O.S.T. Vocational and Literacy Training Program – offers women the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families by learning job-ready sewing and culinary arts skills and English language literacy.
  • Client Choice Food Pantry and Mobile Hot Food Pantry – An official partner of Gleaners Community Food Bank, Zaman’s Client Choice Food Pantry allows families to choose culturally appropriate and nutritionally balanced food each month. The Mobile Hot Food Pantry delivers meals, created by the Culinary Arts Kitchen, to home-bound families in need.

And in other news …

  • Zaman gives more than 1,700 backpacks to low-income kids with funding from Ford
  • Zaman’s literacy program receives $27,000 in WIOA funding
  • Zaman promotes community-based education at University of Notre Dame conference

And it goes on … and on.  What started as one woman who wanted to help out in her community, has turned into a massive project that has helped more than a quarter-million people.  My thumbs are up to Ms. Najah Bazzy for caring so much about people.


A brief update about a previous ‘good people’

Robert-SmithYou may remember back in May, when I wrote about Robert F. Smith,  who gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College and shocked the graduating class by announcing that he would be paying off the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class.  Well, now, he says that he is paying off the debt of the students’ parents as well!


See, folks … there are good people in this world … people who care more about others than they care about their own personal wealth.  These are the people that give us hope for a brighter future.  These are the real heroes in this world.

Good People Doing Good Things — Helpers

I’ve stumbled across two men today who have made being a ‘good people’ their life’s work.


James Anderson is originally from Liverpool, where he was a bin man (trash collector) before he became a plumber in 1998.  Now living in Burnley, James has his own plumbing company, which used to be called Northern Plumbing & Heating, but in March 2017 he changed it to DEPHER, which stands for Disabled and Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Response.  What triggered the change?plumber-AndersonAt the time, he was called to provide a 2nd opinion for an elderly man who had just been given an estimate for £5,500 ($6,870 USD) for a boiler repair.  When Anderson arrived, he realized the company that gave the elderly man the estimate was trying to scam him out of what might have been his life savings for a simple, inexpensive repair.  Mr. Anderson spent 45 minutes repairing the gentleman’s boiler and handed him an invoice.  The amount?  £0.

“That was the incident that pushed me to turn Northern Plumbing and Heating into Depher cic. It got me thinking about other elderly and vulnerable people — we need to do something more to help the people who need it most. A lot of elderly and disabled people don’t like asking for assistance and if they can’t afford something like fixing the boiler, they might not do it and get into trouble. We are there to take that worry away.”

Since then, Mr. Anderson has provided free plumbing and heating services to more than 2,300 elderly and disabled people. plumber-1He continues to do some ‘for-profit’ plumbing, which helps pay the bills, but also relies on crowdfunding and other donations, though he is currently some £8,000 in debt.  When asked why he would be willing to go into debt to do this, he replies …

“To me, debt is debt… I would rather owe some money to somebody and another person be alive and happy and safe. It’s an ethos that’s in my heart and it will always stay there.”

plumber-2.jpgLast week, Mr. Anderson did some repairs for a 91-year-old woman with leukemia and presented her with this invoice …

plumber-3

The woman’s daughter, Christine Rowlands, shared it on Facebook and it went viral, leading to phone interviews with BBC, CNN and others, which is how I found the story.  Two thumbs up to this man who is doing his part to help others … a true ‘good people’.


Jon Potter is 29 years of age, a handyman by trade, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  One day back in 2015, he was fueling his car when a woman approached and asked him for a ride to a battered-women’s shelter, and he turned her down.  She walked away, and he quickly felt a wave of regret. He got out of his car to look for her, but she was gone. Feeling terrible, he vowed to be kinder next time a stranger needed help.  And he has kept that vow … in spades!Jon-PotterA few weeks later, in the spring of 2015, he saw his opportunity when someone on a Pittsburgh Reddit group needed a hand installing a television antenna. Potter saw his opportunity, did it for no charge and felt great about it. Then someone on the same Reddit group asked for a cat sitter, and he jumped at the chance.  Says Potter …

“It snowballed from there. I decided that for the next year, if anyone asks me for help, as long as it’s legal and as long as it won’t harm anyone else, I’d do it. It sounds ridiculous, but I did it.”

Soon, he was committing near-daily acts of kindness in the Pittsburgh community: helping someone repair vinyl siding, moving furniture, fixing a leaky roof, changing a grandmother’s tire on the side of the road. All for free. He even raised $700 for a teen in his community who was injured while stopping a hate crime.

But one year led to two, then three, and now, four years later, Jon Potter is still saying “yes” to random requests from strangers, gaining Potter fame in Pittsburgh for his hundreds — perhaps thousands — of kind acts.  He’s actually somewhat of a legend around town.  On Reddit, person after person gushes about how Potter (username: pghparagliding) offered to help when it was most needed.

potter-2-3.png

But Potter’s biggest good deed yet came about last month, after he learned of a father of two who was in need of a kidney transplant.  Never one to back down from a good deed, he found out he could live a long and healthy life with one kidney. Then he got tested and learned he was a perfect match for the man in need.

In the months before the donation, the two men met and became close friends. Per doctors’ orders, Potter had to lose 20 pounds before the surgery, which he did.  The surgery took place on August 13th, and both men are recovering and doing well.

Recently, Jon was featured on a CBS segment.  Take a look …

I think it’s fair to say that Jon Potter has more than made up for saying “no” to the woman at the gas station four years ago, don’t you?


I hope this week’s dose of ‘good people’ lifts your spirits a bit and reminds you that there are good people out there … they just don’t make as much noise as the other kind.

Good People Doing Good Things — Big & Little

Guess what I found?  I found good people!


Generosity times 100 …

Alec Sprague lives in Jacksonville, Florida.  A few days ago, he went to his local Costco store to buy a generator, and I imagine his jaw dropped when he saw a man buying not one, not two, but 100 generators!  At $450 each, that is no small feat!  About $45,000 by my reckoning … one could buy a brand new car for that and still have money left over!

Now, I don’t think Alec got the man’s name, but he did speak to him and found that the man was buying not only 100 generators, but also a large stash of food to send to the Bahamas for those who, in the wake of Hurricane Dorian last week, are left without electricity or supplies, many without homes.  Add to that $45,000 tab another $4,285.70 for a variety of non-perishable food such as peas, beans, coffee, salt, pepper and other essentials.  What a kind and generous act!  This, folks, is humanitarianism at its finest!


One good deed leads to … six!

dominoesYou all know how dominoes work, right?  You knock the first one over and all the rest fall one-by-one.  Well, this story reminds me of dominoes, for one person’s good deed led to another and another and pretty soon, what started as one good deed ended up saving six lives and bringing twelve people together in a bond that … well, see for yourself.  This story, by the way, came to me courtesy of Scott Lawlor, aka sklawlor … thank you, Scott!

Brendan-Flaherty

Brendan Flaherty

 

It happened last year at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Brendan Flaherty was born with Denys-Drash Syndrome resulting in unhealthy kidneys, and before he was even 2, he needed a kidney transplant. At 15 months old, he received a kidney donation from his father.  But for the past six years, Flaherty, now 21, has been on dialysis—hooked up to a machine for some six hours a night, and now he desperately needed a second kidney transplant to save his life.

Brendan’s best friend, Philip Cameli, graciously offered to donate one of his own kidneys to Flaherty. However, the process wouldn’t be that simple, and unfortunately, Cameli and Flaherty did not have a compatible tissue match.  According to Flaherty …

“Any time you hear that it’s always disappointing, but I’ve heard so many of those. We kind of just expected it.”

Kimberly-Cooper

Kimberly Cooper

That’s when—out of the blue—a brave, compassionate woman named Kimberly Cooper stepped up.  One day Cooper simply walked into Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and announced she wanted to donate a kidney. She didn’t have a family member or friend to donate to, but she was determined to help someone who needed a kidney.  Turned out that she was a match for Brendan, and he received Cooper’s kidney on February 18th 2018.

Now, Brendan’s friend Philip Cameli was all prepared to donate his kidney, and the fact that Brendan couldn’t use it was not going to deter this young man.  Through Northwestern’s swap program, a match was found for Cameli’s kidney, and he donated his to Clotilde Ruiz.  Clotilde’s daughter, Daisy, had hoped to donate a kidney to her mum, but since she wasn’t a match, she instead donated her kidney to another person on Northwestern’s list, Scott Rial!  You see what I mean about the domino thing?

The momentum kept up the pace and three other donors also successfully donated kidneys to three recipients.  And all this happened within one short week, back in February 2018.  Later that month, the donors and patients finally met each other, culminating in an extraordinary string of organ transplants that Northwestern Memorial Hospital is calling “The Twelve Person Kidney Exchange.”chartThough most of these people were strangers, they forged a fast and unique bond.  I have always said that the most important thing we can give to others is to give of ourselves, but when I said it, I was thinking of our time.  This … this is truly an example of ‘giving of yourself’, don’t you think?


No act too small …

On a somewhat smaller scale, but pure goodness nonetheless, we have Kim Colvin.  Kim’s two sons had grown and left home to start their own families, careers, etc., and Kim led a busy life with job, friends, hobbies and such.  Rarely did she cook just for herself, but rather lived on sandwiches, frozen dinners, or take out.

But one day, Kim had a craving for a home-cooked meal … I think we can all relate to that.  So, she got to work in the kitchen.  She made roast beef with a veggie medley.  She made macaroni and cheese, she made green beans, she grilled corn, and then she made corn muffins.  Remember, Kim lives alone!

After Colvin had her dinner, she went to pack up the leftovers.

Staring at all the food she made, she knew she wouldn’t finish it before it all went bad. She might have it for dinner the next day and the next, but then what?  She didn’t want to end up throwing it all away … and then, she had an idea.  There is a park near her house, and she has seen people under the gazebo, begging for change or needing a place to stay.

She started to make a plate of food, and then another, and she soon found she had enough leftovers to make 11 plates. It was already getting late, so she rushed over the park—it couldn’t have taken much more than 15 minutes, she remembered. It was just supposed to be a quick errand to run before it got dark.

She got to the park and immediately saw a man sitting on the steps. She offered him a plate, and he took it. She kept walking around the park toward the gazebo, and as she turned the corner she saw a woman on her knees praying, with three children beside her.  She did not know it at the time, but the woman had just lost everything—she had no money, had nowhere to go, and she didn’t know how she would provide for her three children that night.

Colvin gave the lady the rest of the food she had prepared, and determined to cook something again the next night to bring back.

“This could be me, this could be us. How many of these people was once us? Like they were once able and now they’re not.  Just consider it when you’re done with your meal—if it fixes one plate, two plates…”

Kim-ColvinAgain … not a huge thing, but … I bet to the woman and her three children it was.


And one other small act of kindness by a young person …

Stephanie Rogers said she was driving her daughter, Skyler Smith, after school last Wednesday, when they spotted a very small girl, a first-grader as it turned out, walking along the road on her way home from school on a busy street with no sidewalks.  Young Skyler said to her mum …

“Stop the car. I’m going to walk with her.”

And that is just what she did.  Turned out, there was a mix-up at the school, and they were to have put her on the bus, but somehow the wires got crossed and the child was released to walk home.  I give two thumbs up to Skyler for caring so much.  The best time to start being a good people, I think, is when you’re a little people, and by the time you’re a big people, it’s just a habit.


Remember, folks … there are good people out there … lots of them!  We can all find ways to be good people … small, simple things might mean a lot to someone in need.