Good People Doing Good Things — You, Me, All Of Us!

Today’s good people post is not about a man saving 50 people from a burning building, nor about a dog rescuing a family in the Himalayas, nor about a woman stopping a runaway car with her own car.  How often do any of us find ourselves in those situations and with the wherewithal to be a hero?  When’s the last time you were walking and came across a burning building?  Note that I am not putting those acts of heroism down … no, not at all!  But I’m just saying that most of us will never, or at best once in our lifetimes, have the opportunity to be that sort of a hero.  But … unless you’re a hermit like me … you interact with people on a daily basis, whether it’s a store clerk, librarian, a coworker, someone you pass while out walking the dog, or just the postman delivering a package.  And every interaction is an opportunity … an opportunity to maybe brighten someone’s day and to practice your ‘good people’ skills.

Last year, Axios did a three-part series in their Finish Line newsletter about the little things people do to help someone or brighten somebody’s day, and I thought it would be fun to hear what the recipients of those little acts of kindness thought.  We tend to undervalue those simple little acts of kindness when we do them, but as you’re about to see, they are much more highly valued by those on the receiving end.

This first one really moved me …

  • “Some 30 years ago, I was working on recovery from a horrible depression. It was harder than anything I’ve ever done. One morning, it took everything I had to make a grocery run. As I dragged myself toward the store, a man looked at me and smiled, saying, ‘Good morning.’ I felt so much weight lifted off me. I could, for the first time in months, see a way out of my sadness.” —Sherri W., McKinney, Texas

A simple “Good morning” and a smile made so much difference!  And how much effort did that take?  That’s why on my Jolly Monday posts I’m always reminding you to share those smiles … you just never know what someone else is going through and how much your smile might mean to them.

Here are some of the other comments from recipients of small but important acts of kindness …

  • “The first time I was traveling alone with my daughter — who was 11 months old at the time — a stranger on a plane offered to hold her after we landed so I was able to gather our things and have a moment to breathe. It meant the most to a young mom with her hands full.” —Abby D., Des Moines, Iowa
  • “A fellow lawyer, a total stranger, put money in a parking meter for me when he realized that I would get stuck in court beyond the time I had left.” —Avraham M., West Hempstead, New York
  • “Just the other day I was trying to navigate a stroller through a coffee shop … not a glamorous task. When I went to leave, a man came darting from across the entire coffee shop to open the door for me. … It truly set the tone for my entire day.” —Lily M., Atlanta, Georgia
  • “My wife and I, both in our 70s, were loading heavy bags of rock for a landscaping project into our car.  A woman approached and loaded the rest. As she finished and turned away, I shouted, ‘You have restored my faith in humanity.’  She responded, ‘We all need that.'” —Roger R., Ballwin, Missouri
  • “I left my backpack, complete with my work laptop and files, on the busy NYC subway one evening. I was certain it was lost forever. I made a claim, panicked, and worried and worried again. … Then came an email and a text: ‘I have your red backpack.’ This amazing and kind medical student brought my backpack to me.” —Jane C., NYC
  • “Several years ago I was struggling to lace up my very large and cumbersome — but totally awesome — dress in the Maryland Renaissance Faire parking lot. The girl getting dressed at the car next to mine offered to help me do up my laces.” —Caroline M., Walnut Creek, California
  • “My first day working in a new city, I exited my office building and couldn’t remember how to find the train station. A stranger walked by, noticed I looked lost, and doubled back to see if I needed directions. I fell in love with Chicago that day.” —Spencer W., Chicago, Illinois
  • “When I got to the checkout, my 3-year-old ran away and my newborn started crying inconsolably. The lady behind me took over packing my shopping so I could find my son and calm my newborn. That act has always stuck with me because I had been feeling so overwhelmed and that helping hand made all the difference.” —Katherine N., Oxford, U.K.

See how easy it is to be a ‘good people’?  Let’s all dig up those smiles and kind words this week, hold the door open for someone, smile and say, “Hey, how ya doin’ today?”, and see if you can brighten someone’s day.  You never know … OH!!!  And just in time, here’s Jolly and Joyful with that basketful of smiles!  Take a few and share them, won’t you?

Good People Doing Good Things – Dr. Teri DeLane

I really don’t like to redux my ‘good people’ posts, for I think they are so important, especially these days, but tonight I find that my motivation and inspiration are simply at an all-time low and I cannot come up with a new one, try as I might.  I wrote this one back in 2017, and re-reading it tonight I have to say I think that Dr. Teri DeLane is worthy of a second glance … I hope you will, too.

Sometimes the best help a person in need can get comes from someone who has “been there, done that”.  Those are the people who truly understand what you are going through, whether it is the death of a loved one, a divorce, or drug addiction.  Enter Dr. Teri DeLane.  Let us travel back to the year 1967, for that is where Dr. DeLane’s remarkable journey began.

13-year-old Teri came from an abusive, violent, drug-addicted family in Las Vegas, and in the summer of 1967 she and a friend decided to hitchhike up to San Francisco to participate in Summer of Love.  For those too young to remember, Summer of Love was the convergance of some 100,000 young hippies on the San Francisco neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury that summer of 1967. Teri spent much of the summer just hanging out in the area, staying with one person or another, until eventually she contracted pneumonia and ended up back in Vegas, By age 14, she was using heroin, running the streets, dropped out of school, and spent time in and out of juvenile detention centers.  When she was 16, she spent a year in a youth prison, and by age 20 she had overdosed three times.

And then Teri discovered Delancey Street, the renowned San Francisco-based self-help program for drug addicts and ex-offenders. Teri entered Delancey Street Foundation in the early 1970s as a teenage prostitute, drug addict and school drop-out. Teri learned more than how to stop using drugs at Delancey Street.  She learned about being part of community and how to trust. “The Delancey Street Foundation saved my life by surrounding me with people who would not allow me to fail. The process is taking a person and giving them the tools necessary to live by, thrive by, to grow, to push you to your best potential, to pull out your strengths instead of always concentrating on your weaknesses,” she said.

Wed-DeLane-2Dr. DeLane would ultimately not only finish high school, but go on to earn two Master’s degrees and a doctorate in clinical psychology. It was while working on the doctorate that she became involved with running and developing programs for incarcerated men and women that were offshoots of the Delancey Street program. Then came a chance to work with a juvenile justice reform program as an advisor, and Teri knew she had found her calling. ”My heart and soul has always been youth because I was someone that got it and I desperately wanted to have an impact on changing kids.  Because I know that if you get in early and really work on them and help them learn to trust, they can change,” she said.

In 1998, Teri DeLane founded the Life Learning Academy, a non-residential San Francisco Unified School District charter school, based on the Delancey Street Foundation principles, that serves the city’s highest-risk, highest-need students. The school tracks a 99% graduation rate with 85% of the students going on to college.  The kids that do so well here are the kids with histories of school failure, truancy, arrest and substance abuse.  The ones that traditional school settings can’t provide for. The ones that would otherwise end up dead or in prison in a few short years.

“The idea about developing this school came up when Mayor Willie Brown contacted Delancey Street because the juvenile justice system in San Francisco was falling apart.”

DeLane incorporated practices of the Delancey Street program that could be integrated into a school environment:  creating community, engagement, leadership, dress code and working toward rewards.

And she trains her teachers and staff.  “It takes training to help people understand the complexity of teenagers.  The way to engage them is a push and pull process.  You give them a little and you take a little.  I train the staff to teach the kids how to think about their thinking so they can tune in and help them understand that have control of themselves, but it takes a long time to change that.  The kids are so engrossed in negative thinking and believing that they are failures.  What you need to know about teenagers is that they push against structure and crave it at the same time.”

Delane knows the background of each student and shares that with the staff.  Taking into account a student’s home environment, or even lack thereof, is key to understanding the behavioral issues that some of the students may have.  Even so, the Life Learning Academy does not rely on counseling and has no counselors on staff.  “We don’t need them,” she says, and recalls her own experience as an at-risk student in a traditional school system.  “I was sent to counseling because I was acting out in school.  No one said, “Wow, I get it.  Her environment and her family are complete disasters.  Now wonder she is angry, no wonder she is fighting.”  It wasn’t me that had the disorder really; it was the family system.”

“The way I changed wasn’t through traditional therapy.  It was by coming into an organization with people that helped me find my strengths, who yelled at me about the things that were going to get me in trouble and who kept me moving forward,” she said.  “Because the kids keep having to go back into their family environments I want to teach them tools to make them stronger and not take them back through their history.  Not to open them up but to empower them.  They may go home to a horrible environment, but they spend a lot of their waking hours in a positive, fun, exciting place.  Kids know that they can come in in the morning, be in a bad mood and people aren’t going to be on them and we will notice they are in a bad mood.”

Students are expected to take part in community service projects, internships and even to pursue part-time jobs.  “What we do at the school is a circle around the kids with a number of things that have to be included in their lives in order for them to have a full life:  education, a job, having money and a portion of the circle has to be learning how to give back,” she said.  “I teach that the way you get is by giving.  Not by sitting around talking about your problems. We don’t stay stuck in our past.  What we do is work through it, let it go and move on.”

All the students know Delane’s background, see what she has accomplished and witness her giving back every day.  And they know that the way she moved on from a troubled life is what they are learning at Life Learning Academy.  That realization allows trust to gain its foothold.

“I think I am really lucky because I have never forgotten where I come from. And as a result, I have gratitude to the ends of the earth because there is no better feeling in the world than watching kids become part of this community and start thriving and growing.”

Nobody can know how many lives Dr. DeLane has saved, how many she has kept from a lifetime of drug-addiction, prison, homelessness, but I suspect the number is high. Teri DeLane is truly an example of someone who has given back … and keeps on giving.  Two thumbs up to Dr. Teri DeLane!

Good People Doing Good Things — BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!

Books.  Books are probably the single most important tool we have at our disposal to teach children, to help them grow into their future role in the world.  From books they learn so much … history, different cultures, science, art, literature, and much, much more.  Think back to your own childhood … what would it have been without books?  Today we hear so much from politicians, religious leaders, and even school boards about banning books.  Personally, I think banning books is criminal!  Yes, some books may not be appropriate for very young children, but that is a call to be made by professional educators, not politicians!  Today, I want to introduce you to three young good people who are doing their part to ensure that young people have books to read, to learn and to grow from!  They, perhaps more than any others, are helping to secure the future by providing the means for the next generation to learn.

Rania Zuri (17 | Morgantown, West Virginia) loves reading, but noticed a challenge to many young children across her home state. In 2020, Rania was helping build a small library while volunteering at a local nonprofit when she learned that many of the young girls who would benefit from her work had never owned a book before. After more research, Rania found that not only were many parts of West Virginia “Book Deserts”— geographic area with limited access to age-appropriate books, print materials and reading culture—but many book donation organizations are inaccessible due to a lack of local funding partners. Furthermore, West Virginia has a high rate of families in poverty leaving them without disposable income to buy books, and some towns in the state are so small and remote, they do not have a public library within 50 miles. To help young children have access to books and other reading materials, Rania founded The LiTEArary Society.

The LiTEArary Society is made up of over 50 high school student volunteers who fundraise, purchase, and distribute beloved children’s books. The Society works closely with Head Start, a federal program for children ages 3-5 who live at or below the poverty line. Rania and her team began with three counties that were most in need, including the two counties most impacted by the opioid crisis. As the organization grew, they were able to partner with Barnes and Noble and support children in the Head Start programs across the remaining 52 counties in the state, distributing over 6,000 books. To bring books to even more children, The LiTEArary Society recently launched their “Fifty Nifty Head Start Road Tour” where they aim, with the help of Scholastic and Good Morning America, to support children in every Head Start program across the U.S.

When she and her team are not distributing books, Rania and the LiTEArary Society also host read-a-loud events and bring in authors of the books they distribute to talk with the younger students. Rania has also been hard at work raising awareness of book deserts and how collective action can make a difference through TedX and, most recently, by authoring a U.S. Senate Resolution sponsored by Senator Shelly Capito from West Virginia. The resolution, set to go to the Senate floor this Spring, will establish a special commemorative day to End Book Deserts for Children in Head Start. Scholastic and Barnes and Noble have put their support behind Rania and her resolution, giving the public easy opportunities to carry out The Society’s mission!

Something that Matthew Bordenstein (16 | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) learned during the COVID-19 lockdowns was the vastness of the discrepancy around access to books. This was especially noticeable in Matthew’s hometown where a large number of refugees, including those from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bhutan, Iraq, Morocco, and Myanmar have resettled. English Language Learners (ELLs) are at a disadvantage when attending schools and searching for employment, so Matthew joined the team at Bookworm Global as their Pittsburgh Ambassador to help increase English literacy.

As a Bookworm Global Ambassador, Matthew works with local students to host book drives for readers of all ages and abilities. After each donation event, Matthew will screen the books to ensure that they use language that is culturally sensitive and appropriate, then sort through the books and assign them to their destination. Based on needs from area schools, community organizations, and resettlement agencies, books might support youth through pop-up libraries, after-school programs, summer reading camps, community centers, and tutoring and mentorship programs. Matthew’s programming also supports adult ELLs, giving them the ability to learn or practice reading, speaking, and writing in English as they apply for jobs in their new country.

Since February 2022, Matthew has collected and donated over 4,000 books to youth and adults who have been resettled in the greater Pittsburgh community, and is now considered Bookworm Global’s refugee specialist. As Matthew continues his work, his next goal is to expand his reach so that he is able to provide books to more communities across Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania, as well as provide books in languages other than English. While Matthew is impacted by the story of each person he interacts with, he is most excited that these books are a sign of hope and of the future.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, reading was a big part of being at home for Natasha Agarwal (15 | Estero, Florida). Although she could not physically travel, she felt that she could visit anywhere in the world through a great book. Reading also gave her exposure to new cultures and ways of life. Upon realizing that not everyone has access to books—61% of families considered “low-income” did not have any books in their homes—Natasha wanted to find a way to give others the ability to travel the world by getting lost in a book. In eighth grade, she decided to host a book drive to support younger children in her community. Seeing how successful her book drive was (Natasha collected over 3,000 books) and how passionate her peers were in donating their favorite titles, she launched the nonprofit BelieveNBooks.

Through BelieveNBooks, Natasha aims to lessen the reading gap in Florida by increasing early access to books for children who are underserved or are facing hardships. Studies have shown that the most successful way to improve the reading achievement of children in low-income communities is to increase their access to print materials. They’ve also shown that as the number of books in a child’s home increases, the child’s reading scores also increase. In addition to her book drives, Natasha has also created a digital learning library called PAGETURNER, a YouTube Channel with videos of high school students reading early level children’s books aloud. Pictures of the pages will be projected onto the screen in addition to the audio. To give children the opportunity to read along, Natasha and her team also distribute hard copies of the books featured on the channel.

When Natasha started her nonprofit, she set a goal of distributing 60,000 books by the time she graduates high school in 2025. Having recently donated her 55,000th book, she’s upped her goal, aiming for 100,000 books! Natasha is always looking for ways to involve the community in her work, whether it’s activating her peers in sorting and packing sessions, partnering with schools in neighboring counties to start their own book drives, or finding organizations like the Shelter for Abused Women and Children or the Golisano Children’s Hospital to help her get books into the hands of children. By providing early access to reading materials, Natasha hope that the children she hopes will have a better foundation to help them throughout their time in school and beyond.

Good People Doing Good Things — Youth

I had several ‘good people’ on my radar for today’s post, but what I didn’t have was the energy to pull them all together in a new post!  Some days are like that, y’know?  This post is one that I did five years ago, in 2018, and I think these young people are well worth seeing again, not to mention that many of you weren’t even aware of Filosofa’s Word in 2018, so probably missed this one the first time ’round! 

jordan-jenningsRemember when you were ten years old?  Nah, me neither.  But I do know this much … at age ten, I likely did not know what an architect was. Ten-year-old Jordan Jennings, of Huntsville, Alabama, has two passions and architecture is one of them.  The other one is helping people.  And Jordan has combined his two passions into something that will blow your mind!

Jordan designs emergency shelter and mobile furniture for homeless people.  He has designed a four-season tent that can fit inside a backpack and be used as emergency shelter when an individual does not have a home or space in a shelter. In addition to creating the four-season tent, Jordan has designed light weight modular furniture that can be used in emergency housing and shelters. Jordan designs with one goal in mind: to make architecture designs that serve those with the greatest need.  Remember, this kid is only ten!!!

Jordan’s work recognizes that homeless individuals cannot always access supplies. Often there are not enough beds in shelters, so his four-season tent fulfills a great need for easily portable shelter. When an individual does have a bed in a shelter, many shelters have limited resources and can only provide just a bed to sleep in, not any other furniture that may make a space feel more like a home. This lack of furniture leaves children that live in shelters without a space to do homework or play. Jordan’s modular furniture provides an alternative solution.

Jordan’s inventions have been such a success that Jordan is teaching others how to make modular furniture to be donated to shelters and group homes. Jordan has led building workshops for other kids and for adults that are interested in design.  What an amazing and selfless young man, yes?

This ‘good people’ is actually an adult, but the story is about a young person, and it warmed my heart so I just had to include it.  Her name is Lindsey Preston, she lives in Moulton, Alabama, and she has Down Syndrome.  This year, Lindsey attended her prom, a Special Needs Prom, and by her side was her date … Don Jones, a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers!  The pictures are worth more than anything I can write …

“Anything I can do to make some kids smile, I would be more than willing to do. I think the most fun was all of the guys, I showed the guys about 5 or 6 new dance moves.”

“I had a great time with my beautiful prom date Lindsey at the Lawrence County LCDC prom,” Jones wrote on Instagram. “It was really an honor being around so many loving faces. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”

That, folks, is class.

girl scouts-1Girl Scout troop #6000 in New York City is special.  It is comprised of about 300 children living in homeless shelters.  The troop is new, an idea developed to help these girls learn, try new things, and have fun, but also to give them a sense of community.    Although the troop was formed in 2016, this was their first year for selling cookies, and they initially set a goal of 6,000 boxes of cookies, to match their troop number.

Guess how many boxes of cookies they sold?  No, I’m not telling you … guess!gs cookies-232,500 boxes!!!  They were given special permission to set up shop at Kellogg’s NYC Café in Union Square, where some customers waited in line as long as an hour.  Many customers dropped in an extra donation, and at the end of the six-day event the troop had raised more than $15,000 to help pay for trips and activities. girl scouts-2

Joey Gouthiere is 12-years-old now, but he was only seven when he began his work to inspire his community, Shreveport, Louisiana, to treat our planet better.  Joey started Geaux Green, pronounced “Go Green” five years ago.

“Whenever I would see litter on the ground, I felt like I needed to make a change and help the Earth. It made me feel like I needed to make a difference and encourage people to stop littering, pick up litter and recycle.”

Since founding Geaux Green, Joey has educated numerous individuals, ranging from students to the Louisiana House of Representatives.Joey-G-1While he’s a naturally soft-spoken individual, Joey uses his passion for improving his community to captivate audiences. Joey has been featured on the news and has presented to large crowds including the Caddo Parish School Board, past and current Shreveport City Council members, Louisiana State representatives and senators, and community groups, such as the Rotary Club of Shreveport, Lions Club, and others.Joey-G-2.jpgIn addition to educational presentations, Joey’s actions have had tangible outcomes. Joey has recruited hundreds of volunteers to join him in cleanup events, including event opportunities geared towards having families volunteer together. After speaking to city and state leaders, Joey was invited to meet the Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, to witness the signing of House Bill 111, Litter Education, into law. Joey is now working with the school system and his neighboring city to implement recycling programs.

Joey-G-3Joey has won the Prudential Spirit of Community Award and the Youth Leadership Award at the Keep Louisiana Beautiful Conference — both well-deserved.

I wish he could go give a talk to the U.S. Congress in Washington!!!

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these ‘good people’ … we all need to remember that, though our country is going through a dark period at the moment, there are many, many good people out there making a difference … and starting at an early age, too!!!  These kids, friends, are our future … treat them well.make a difference quote

Good People Doing Good Things — Two Of ‘Em!

Just two ‘good people’ stories today, folks … I have more, but I’m simply too tired to work much longer tonight.

A caring barber

Vernon Jackson is a barber in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Vernon works six days a week for profit, but on his ‘day off’, he still works cutting hair … for children with special needs … for free.  It’s something he’s done since 2021.

“I was hearing so many horror stories that parents were going through with other barber shops and just the barbers or stylists having no patience with their child. So I figured I would compromise by coming in on my day off so there were there would be no other barbers or stylists in the shop and I could give them the full attention that they need.”

Jackson said having an empty shop helps some children who are sensitive to new environments and sounds. His goal is to help the children get acclimated to the barber shop so they can feel comfortable coming in when other employees and clients are there.

“When I first started promoting that I was going to come in on my off day to do haircuts for children with different needs, a friend of mine just randomly inboxed me and said, ‘Hey Vern, can I sponsor a haircut?'”

More and more people asked to donate money for haircuts and Jackson started a GoFundMe. He calls the free haircuts the Gifted Program.

“These are parents that would pay any amount of money just for their child to be able to have an experience like any other person. And at the end of it, I can tell them ‘It’s covered.’ They say, ‘I got to give you a tip.’ I say, ‘No, trust me, this is part of the Gifted Program, this is a gift from the community, myself — please receive it.’”

Take a look for yourself …

A small thing?  Maybe … but how many of us would willingly give up our one day off every week to do something this kind?

A treat for a Sandy Hook survivor

Isaiah Márquez-Greene was only 8 years old on the horrible day that claimed 26 lives, including that of his 6-year-old sister, Ana Grace, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He’s now 18 years old and plans to become a lawyer, but family finances are tight. On the night he attended a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden in New York City, he had no idea his fate was about to change in a very big way!

Isaiah was delighted to meet Rangers captain Jacob Trouba, who greeted him on the ice for what the teen thought was just a jersey signing. Then Jacob asked him to take a seat at the bench and pulled out a scholarship funded by the Garden of Dreams Foundation!

“I know your story, I feel for you, you’re an amazing human,” Jacob told Isaiah.

Isaiah plans to attend the University of Connecticut in the fall, and Jacob wants to attend his graduation.

Good People Doing Good Things — Seeing A Need And Acting

I’m just featuring two ‘good people’ today, for my time and energy are low, but these two people saw a need and rose to the challenge to fill that need.  I think you’ll love them both!

We will feed you!

Classic American diners make money serving up hearty meals for a fair price, but one East Bay establishment has built its business giving away food for free.

It all started a few years ago when Collin Doran, owner of the Homemade Cafe in southwest Berkeley, decided to do something rather unusual in the restaurant business: offer anyone who is hungry a free breakfast, no questions asked.

“We would have people who would come by and they would usually panhandle or ask customers for extra food and my reaction was: ‘Hey, if you guys are hungry or in need of food, we will feed you,'” Doran said.

When the pandemic hit and food insecurity exploded, the need grew so much that Doran decided to make his unusual policy official, calling it the “Everybody Eats Program.”

“The typical Everybody Eats meal is a basic two-eggs breakfast: two eggs cooked however the customer likes it. You get a side of our delicious home fries and toast,” he said.

To qualify, one merely needs to grab a coupon from the diner bulletin board and find a seat. The only payment required is a thank you.

Samantha Akens, a neighborhood resident, has been relying on food assistance programs to get by. Being able to eat at the cafe free of charge is a godsend.

“I have to budget,” she said. “I have to find the people that can help out with little things financially and this is obviously a program that helps. Isn’t that amazing?” 

Paying customers can help by adding $5 to their bill, something many of his regulars, like Suzanne Skrivanich, are more than happy to do. “That just touches me in my heart,” she said. “I truly believe it’s part of human respect.” 

Duran’s program has become so popular, he’s now giving away about 200 meals a month.

“There was a small concern in the back of my mind that, if it got well known, it would be difficult to deal with a high volume of meals or keep up with everything,” he said. “But, I figured, if I’m going to get myself into trouble I’m going to get into good trouble.” 

Not only did he not get into “good trouble” but his business grew by 15 percent — a significant increase for any restaurant.

“Customers have reacted positively,” he said. “They’re contributing and helping us and, even if they don’t always contribute, they like the fact that we do it and they choose to come here more often.”

Now he hopes other businesses will follow suit.

“Doing it in a way that is socially responsible and trying to make the world a little better place,” he said.

Just go and do it!

Hana Fatima’s small pandemic gesture snowballed into a volunteer delivery network called the Good Neighbour Project.

While shopping with her father at an Ontario grocery store in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fatima noticed an elderly woman in the check-out line struggling with her groceries. She and her father offered to help carry her purchases to her car, and she had an idea to help others.

Fatima and her father shared their number with a few elderly neighbors. The idea was that those who needed help could provide them with a list of items that they would purchase so those most at risk didn’t have to be exposed to the virus in crowded stores.

They shared the idea with a few friends, and her father started a Facebook group to coordinate with others who wanted to help. Word spread, and within hours there were hundreds of people volunteering to do the same thing in their communities.

More than a year later, the project — called the Good Neighbour Project — has 6,000 volunteers who speak more than 30 languages with chapters in Toronto, London, and Ottawa.

Those who need assistance accessing groceries, essential supplies, and medication are connected via the Good Neighbour Hotline with a person who is able to purchase and deliver the items. The person making the request pays only for the cost of the groceries — delivery is free.

Since launching, the group has made more than 9,000 deliveries for vulnerable people including seniors, people with special needs, people who are pregnant, single parents, and others.

“When I saw the elderly person, I thought that was my opportunity to go and help somebody,” Fatima said. “Because whenever you get a chance to be helpful and kind, just go and do it without thinking about it. Everybody should do that. You see an opportunity? Somebody needs help? Just go and do it.”

Good People Doing Good Things — Ginny Schrappen

This week’s good people post is a bit different than my usual fare, but it’s a story that touched my heart, even brought a tear to my eye, and I hope you will find it inspiring, too.

Ginny Schrappen was in her mid-fifties back in 1998 when one day her church deacon handed her a letter.  It was from a man in prison who was just hoping to find someone … anyone … who would take a few minutes to write back to him.  Ginny did write back and their letter-writing continued for 25 years until earlier this month when Ginny finally got to meet her long-term pen pal face-to-face, hug-to-hug.

Ginny’s pen pal is Lamar Johnson, a man who was wrongfully convicted in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1994.  Johnson had been convicted of murder for the October 1994 killing of Marcus Boyd, who was shot dead on his front porch by two masked men. Police and prosecutors claimed Johnson gunned Boyd down during a dispute over drug money, despite the fact that he said he was not home at the time and despite the fact there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime scene.

Since that day in 1998 when Ginny penned the first letter, she and Lamar have continued to correspond regularly.  Eventually, Johnson’s case came to the attention of the Midwest Innocence Project and, long story short, they were able to prove that prosecutors had manipulated evidence, and along with the confession of another person, Lamar Johnson’s sentence was finally vacated after 28 years of his life spent in prison.

And just last week, he went to visit the pen pal with whom he had corresponded for a quarter of a century … take a look  …

Ginny says that from the very first letter she believed he was innocent of the murder, and she never lost faith in him, never stopped writing.  She truly was a “rainbow in his cloud.”  I think she is absolutely a ‘good people’, don’t you?

Good People Doing Good Things — Peter Tabichi

Peter TabichiI apologize in advance for a repeat of one of my good people posts from April 2019, but this guy is well-deserving of being so honoured a second time, and I think you’ll agree!

I would like to introduce you to Peter Tabichi.  Peter is a Kenyan science teacher and Franciscan friar at the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village in a remote part of Kenya’s Rift Valley.  More than 90% of his pupils are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one parent. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common. Students have to walk 4 miles along roads that can become impassable in the rainy season to reach the school and the area can be affected by drought and famine. RiftValleyMany of Mr. Tabichi’s students would not be able to attend school, if it weren’t for the fact that he gives 80% of his salary to help support the students.  That, in itself, is remarkable, but that isn’t all he does.

Despite only having one computer, a poor internet connection and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, Tabichi started a “talent nurturing club” and expanded the school’s science club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that many now qualify for national competitions.  His students have taken part in international science competitions and won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity.

Tabichi and four colleagues also give struggling pupils one-to-one tutoring in math and science, visiting students’ homes and meeting their families to identify the challenges they face.  Enrollment at the school has doubled to 400 over three years and girls’ achievement in particular has been boosted.  Take four minutes, if you will, to see Mr. Tabichi in action.

Last week Mr. Tabichi was honoured at a ceremony in Dubai where he was awarded the Varkey Foundation 2019 Global Teacher Prize and a check for $1 million!  The Global Teacher Prize is intended to raise the status of the teaching profession. The winner is selected by committees comprised of teachers, journalists, officials, entrepreneurs, business leaders and scientists. The 2019 competition included 10,000 nominations from 179 countries. The founder of the prize, Sunny Varkey, said he hopes Tabichi’s story “will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over Kenya and throughout the world every day”.Peter Tabichi awardAccepting the prize, Tabichi said:

“I am only here because of what my students have achieved. This prize gives them a chance. It tells the world that they can do anything. As a teacher working on the front line I have seen the promise of its young people – their curiosity, talent, their intelligence, their belief. Africa’s young people will no longer be held back by low expectations. Africa will produce scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs whose names will be one day famous in every corner of the world. And girls will be a huge part of this story. It’s morning in Africa. The skies are clear. The day is young and there is a blank page waiting to be written. This is Africa’s time.”

The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a video message:

Uhuru Kenyatta“Peter – your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent. Your students have shown that they can compete amongst the best in the world in science, technology and all fields of human endeavour.”

Upon his return to Kenya, he was given the royal treatment by local officials, fellow teachers and students who through songs praised him for his humility and selflessness.  At the school, he was cheered through songs and dances by relatives, local community and students.

Tabichi homecomingWhat do you suppose Mr. Tabichi plans to do with the prize money?  You got it!  He plans to use “much more than 80 percent” of his prize money in educating the needy bright students and empowering the local community to become resilient to effects of drought.

“My focus is not going to be just the children but help the community adapt to climate change. I will be helping them adopt a model of growing drought-tolerant crops in kitchen gardens.”

Tabichi sign.jpgI am in awe of this man and what he is doing, and give him a two thumbs up!


Good People Doing Good Things — Everyday Heroes

Every now and then I come across these video compilations of numerous people doing mostly small, everyday things, to help others, and I like to share them because I think it shows us that you don’t have to be wealthy or highly-skilled to be a good people.  All it really takes is caring about others and being willing to take a few minutes, or maybe a few dollars, to help someone out.  I hope you enjoy this one … oh, and get your box of tissues ready!

And if you still need more good news, head over to JoAnna’s place where she has several tidbits to fill in the gaps!

Good People Doing Good Things — In The Right Place At The Right Time

Sometimes we are just in the right place at the right time and have an opportunity to be ‘good people’.  Today’s good people all rather just fell into the role, but they are heroes in my book, for they didn’t turn a blind eye, or think about just walking away … they stayed, and they did something, in many cases saving a life.  I always ask myself when I read or hear stories like this – what would I have done?  Would I have the courage to jump in and help someone in trouble?

Pizza and a lost child at 3:00 a.m.?

Gabe Botello, who works for Villa Pizza, says he was in the middle of a delivery around 3 a.m. when he spotted a very young girl alone in the cold.

“I had people’s food, so I ran to the door and I gave them their food,” Botello told FOX 17. “I went back looking for her [and] I didn’t find her, so I got in my car, I drove around for a minute. I didn’t find her [so] I started pulling into parking lots.”

He eventually spotted the girl at a factory across the street. She was curled up between two cement blocks and wearing nothing but a t-shirt, diaper, and socks.

Botello put his sweatshirt on her and called 911.

“I had some water in my car, so she was drinking some water and I was just kind of like rubbing her back, letting her know she was okay and she started falling asleep,” said Botello. “She was so just like exhausted and cold.”

Police were able to reunite the 3-year-old with her mother, who was unaware her daughter was missing and thought she was sleeping.

It’s unclear how the toddler got out and for how long, but the Grand Rapids Police Department believes it was an accident.

Botello is just glad he was at the right place at the right time.

“Sometimes you want to turn a blind eye but, you just never know [who] you’re saving,” said Botello. “Anybody could have picked up that little girl. In the middle of Ionia and Wealthy is not the best part of Grand Rapids, there’s a lot of foot traffic over there, so, you know, I’m just glad she made it home. I’m glad she’s okay.”

Spiderman in Colorado Springs?

A man in Colorado Springs, Colorado, scaled three stories to save a neighbor suffering an asthma attack during an apartment building fire.

“We saw the fire going on and noticed a guy on the third floor was having a hard time breathing. He had an inhaler in his hand, couldn’t even stand up” said Dewey Parker. “Somebody else told the EMTs and they went up — but the door was locked.”

Parker says the neighbor was all alone in the apartment, and that when he saw someone in trouble, his adrenaline took over.

“He needed a hand. I just decided to scale up to the third floor off the balconies and unlocked the door,” said Parker. “I was able to reach. It was scary, though, because I figured, if my hand slipped, then they’re going to have to be helping me.”

Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control in minutes. Two apartments were affected, displacing eight people and five animals.

No one was harmed outside of the man that had an asthma attack, who, thanks to Parker, is going to be fine.

“I’m glad I was here and was able to help,” said Parker. “I just figured, if that was me, I would hope someone would have done the same thing.”

Out of the night came a hero

A mother and daughter in Minnesota said a hero recently came to their rescue during a snowstorm.

They only wish they got his name.

Jenny Zimbelman and her daughter Jazmine were recently trapped in their car after they hit a snow drift and the vehicle rolled on its side near East Grand Forks.

The two women said it was a very scary situation.

“She’s above me, still in her seatbelt. Hanging on so she doesn’t fall on me,” Zimbleman said.

“Another minute you don’t know what car could have come sliding in or anything like that.”

Out of nowhere, an unnamed “hero” climbed atop their car.

Jazmine said it was “extremely cold out,” but the stranger braved to elements to make sure she and her mom got out of the vehicle. After safely getting the women out of the vehicle, the man took off like a superhero before they could get his name.

“To have somebody not know me or my daughter, pull over on a very bad, bad day, climb on top of a car, open the door, get us out safe and then he just left. He is a hero,” Zimbelman said.

They hope to someday find the man who saved them.

He just saw a ‘flash of colour’

Francis Zuber was skiing at Mt. Baker Ski Area when a “flash of color” in the snow caught his attention. He quickly realized someone was buried under the snow.

“I only caught a glimpse of his board but it was enough to get my attention,” Zuber told Fox 13.

Ian Steger said he was snowboarding through the trees and the snow collapsed behind him, knocking him into the deep snow head-first.

Zuber’s GoPro footage shows him working frantically to clear enough snow for Steger to be able to breathe. Although Zuber seems calm in the video, he said he was “freaking out” internally.

“It was really frightening,” he said. “I mean, adrenaline is one heck of a drug.”

After about three minutes of digging, Zuber was able to clear enough snow for Steger to breathe.

“It was kind of just dumb luck that he came upon me. But he did find me and he did all the right things,” Steger said.

“I’ve told him how grateful I am that he was there and he had saved my life, how grateful my fiancé is.”