Good People Doing Good Things – Ariel Nessel and the Pollination Project

Today’s good person, believe it or not, is a real estate developer. I never thought … well, never mind … suffice it to say that there are good and bad people in every walk of life.

The first time the Pollination Project came onto my radar a few months ago, I rejected it after a quick glance, seeing the words “seed grants”, and thinking that what they did was give away money to buy seeds.  That in itself is a noble thing, of course, but I did not feel it provided enough material for an entire post.  The Pollination Project and its founder, Ariel Nessel, however, are persistent and they once more became a blip on the radar this week, when I decided to give them a bit more than a cursory glance.  I am so glad I did!  This organization actually has very little to do with plant seeds, and a whole lot to do with humanity and compassion!  So without further ado, allow me to introduce to you Mr. Ariel Nessel, co-founder of the Pollination Project.

Wed-nessel-1Mr. Nessel is a successful real estate developer in Dallas, Texas, where he purchases older, dilapidated buildings and brings them back to their original condition, or better.  “Through efforts to increase the energy efficiency of our properties and extend their useful lives, we help create housing which is much more environmentally sustainable. By offering yoga classes, after school programs for children, and installing bird feeders, hammocks, water fountains, sculptures, fire pits, and bark parks, Nessel Development endeavors to create a sanctuary of peace for our Residents in an often high-stress world. We endeavor to be generous with the fruits of our labor by making significant donations to charities that promote living that is compassionate, peaceful and environmentally sustainable.” He donates more than 30% of his operating income to charity.  However, it is not his business that I want to talk about today.

In 2013, Ariel and his sister-in-law,  Stephanie Klempner, came up with the idea for the Pollination Project, an organization that makes daily seed grants to “inspiring social change-makers who are committed to a world that works for all. Our daily grant making began on January 1, 2013 and since then, we have funded a different project every single day. We also make larger impact grants of up to $5000 to projects that have demonstrated impact and success.”

The daily $1,000 grants are available for anyone who is sincerely wants to use their resources to improve the world.  There are some qualifications: “One is that everything we support is volunteer based, it’s service based. None of the money we provide can be used to pay yourself for your work. It’s an orientation towards service. Some other qualifications are that we look at … This is early seed. We’re trying to water seeds and not to water oak trees. If you’re part of a larger organization, or any organization that has full-time paid staff, any paid staff, then that would not qualify for the Pollination Project.”

Pollination Project does not merely issue a check for $1,000 based on a good idea and then walk away.  They have a 3-program process that includes:

  • The seed grants – “We make $1000 seed grants to individual changemakers all over the world, helping them launch and expand grassroots social change projects.”
  • Philanthropic education – “We provide educational events, writing and presentations on the topic of innovations in philanthropy.”
  • Grantee Capacity Building – “We provide an assortment of tools, resources, coaching, training, p/r and more to support our grantees in growing their leadership and building their project, far beyond what our seed grant of $1,000 provides.”

In 2015, the Pollination Project teamed up with Levi Strauss & Co. to make seed grants that give a leg up to young people working on environmental solutions all over the globe. The goal is to develop the next generation of global environmental leaders who will conserve, protect, restore and advocate for the ecosystems upon which our civilization depends.

Let’s take a look at some of the young people who have been given a leg up by this joint effort …

Wed-KirstenNine-year-old Kirsten Chavis has been an activist since age five. She explains, “I have been involved in all sorts of outreach and have attended a lot of council meetings, events, fundraisers, and workshops alongside my mother. My experiences range from taking notes in Board Meetings to collecting food for families and running green lessons.” Kirsten runs the Youth Earth Club at her inner city Los Angeles middle school. Her project brings environmental and health education and events to the school’s population of primarily low-income Latino and African American families, including kids with special needs, and kids in foster care. Kirsten’s club teaches kids much more than recycling. “Now kids can tell you about indoor and outdoor composting, e-waste, and different ways of saving water like by turning off the running water while brushing your teeth.”


Wed-JulienBuilding on his experiences with the 4-H Million Trees project, 16-year-old California student Julien Levy founded Seeding Malawi to create an immediate win-win solution to rampant malnourishment among students in Malawi. Julien explained that while he was working in Malawi to establish tree nurseries in schools, the children were so malnourished that “tree planting events had to be in the morning, because they were too hungry and had no energy by the afternoon.” Seeding Malawi is establishing permaculture gardens at schools throughout the country. Participating villages will set aside a football field-sized plot of land on school grounds and students and residents will be given instruction in permaculture techniques. Each garden will provide food for up to 3,000 children, and will also serve as a means of teaching best-practice permaculture and agriculture techniques to youth and the communities they live in.


Wed-donieceA number of the Pollination Project’s grantees have received awards or public recognition, for example Doniece Sandoval who was featured on CNN this June. Doniece Sandoval noted a jump in San Francisco homelessness with an economic downturn. The homeless, many of them elderly, lacked basic amenities like bathing facilities. Determined to help, Sandoval bought old buses and turned them into mobile showers. Her nonprofit, Lava Mae, has since provided more than 20,000 showers to more than 4,000 homeless individuals.


Wed-Ponce-3I was especially thrilled to find that one of my previous “Good People” from May, young Thomas Ponce  received a grant from the Pollination Project!  Life is full of little coincidences.


There are so many great, humanitarian projects that have been helped by the Pollination Project that I wish I could share them all.  In fact, to date, the project has awarded 2,236 grants in 107 nations around the globe.  There is a special East African hub that is led by a team of local change-makers who are also Pollination Project grantees themselves. Their goal is to reach geographically and technologically marginalized grant applicants (with no internet access, no computer skills and limited English).

wed-east-africaThe types of programs the Pollination Project supports are widely varied:

  • Animal Rights & Welfare
  • Arts & Culture
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Health & Wellness
  • Human Rights & Dignity
  • Kindness & Generosity
  • Leadership Development
  • Schools & Education
  • Youth

Unfortunately, I cannot begin to cover all the great projects that have begun with just a $1,000 grant from the Pollination Project, but their website  is a veritable treasure trove of information, including a brief summary of all the projects they have funded and the impact they have had all over the world.  $1,000 is not a lot of money, but it is amazing to see what it can do in the right hands.  Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of help, and knowing there is somebody who believes in you.

Hats off to Mr. Nessel, the Pollination Project, and all those beneficiaries who are going the extra mile to help make the world just a little bit better place for us all!

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Good People Doing Good Things – Mohamed Bzeek

“I am not an angel. I am not a hero. It’s just what we are supposed to do as a human being.”

Three weeks ago I wrote about the couple, Michael and Camille Geraldi, who had adopted, over the course of 40 years, some 88 children with special needs.  They are an amazing couple and their story was one of my most popular ever.  Imagine my amazement when a similar story literally dropped into my lap on Monday night when I was not even looking for a subject for this post, but was doing research for another piece. Please allow me to introduce you to a gentleman with a heart of gold, Mr. Mohamed Bzeek.

bzeek-headerMr. Bzeek lives in Los Angeles, where he has made it his life’s mission to take in foster children.  Not just any foster children, but Mr. Bzeek takes in the foster children that nobody else will … those who are dying of terminal illnesses.  Mohamed Bzeek started caring for foster children when he met his late wife, who was then already a foster mom. At first, they took in children who had medical issues. In 1995, they started taking in only children who were terminally ill. Over the years, Bzeek says, he’s taken in about 40 children with medical problems, ten of whom died while in his care, some while in his very arms.

Why does he do it?  His faith, for one thing. He feels that it’s his duty as a Muslim to help those in need. “It’s the big factor, my faith, because I believe as a Muslim we need to extend our hand to help people who need us. Doesn’t matter what nationality, what religion, what country. To me it doesn’t matter, I do it as a human being for another human being,” he says. “You have to do it from your heart, really. If you do it for money, you’re not going to stay for long.”

bzeek-5Speaking of one of his former children, he says, “And this is my kid who died with the cancer. He has a cancer. He died. They operate on him, and they find the cancer separate all of his organs. So, the doctor said, let’s stitch him back, and said, there’s nothing we can do for him.”

Mr. Bzeek came to the U.S. from Libya in 1978, then an engineering student.  Years later, through a mutual friend, he met a woman named Dawn, who would become his wife. She had become a foster parent in the early 1980s, before she met Bzeek. Her grandparents had been foster parents, and she was inspired by them, Bzeek said. Before she met Bzeek, she opened her home as an emergency shelter for foster children who needed immediate placement or who were placed in protective custody. Bzeek became a U.S. citizen in 1997. And then, in 2015, Bzeek’s wife died, and in 2016, Bzeek himself was diagnosed with cancer.

“I had to face everything by myself. If I am 62-years-old and I’m scared and afraid to be by myself – I felt what the kids felt. The young kids, how they feel when they are alone, have no family, nobody comforts them, nobody tells them ‘It’s ok, I’m here for you, we go through this together and it will be fine.’ This operation in December has humbled me, and makes me work more and help more kids.”

The video below is short (3:33 min) but please watch it … I fell in love with Mr. Bzeek when I saw this:

 

Today, he is foster parent to a 6-year-old girl* born with microcephaly, a rare disorder in which a baby’s brain doesn’t fully develop. She cannot see or hear. She responds only to touch. At seven weeks old, the county took her from her biological parents. They called Bzeek, and he agreed to take her in.

bzeek-6The girl’s head is too small for her 34-pound body, which is too small for her age. She was born with an encephalocele, a rare malformation in which part of her brain protruded through an opening in her skull, according to Dr. Suzanne Roberts, the girl’s pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Neurosurgeons removed the protruding brain tissue shortly after her birth, but much of her brain remains undeveloped. She has been in Bzeek’s care since she was a month old. Before her, he cared for three other children with the same condition.

“These kids, it’s a life sentence for them.”  A snippet of an interview between Mr. Bzeek and NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro:

Bzeek: And, also, she has, like, seizures. She’s blind and deaf. She has clubfoot and dislocated hips.

Navarro: How do you communicate with her? She is blind. She can’t hear.

Bzeek: Touch – communication, touching her, you know? She smiled when I play with her and make a little bit, like, noise, you know? It doesn’t mean anything. But that shows you that, you know, she understands that somebody tried to communicate with her, you know?

Navarro: How many of them have died in your care?

Bzeek: Ten. They need somebody who will be with them and take care of them, you know? It doesn’t matter how hard, you know, because somebody has to do it.

Navarro: How do you deal with the loss when they pass away? How do you cope?

Bzeek: I mean, at church. You know, you have a kid since it was a baby, since it was one week or two weeks or a few days. And, like, some of them stayed, like, six years and four months. It’s really hard. I mean, I consider them as, like, my biological, you know? And it hurts. But I believe that is part of life, you know?

Bzeek-3

Melissa Testerman, an intake coordinator for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has nothing but the highest praise for Mr. Bzeek.  “If anyone ever calls us and says, ‘This kid needs to go home on hospice,’ there’s only one name we think of. He’s the only one that would take a child who would possibly not make it.”

Neil Zanville of the Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services says that without Bzeek these children would be forced to live in medical facilities rather than the comfort of a loving home. “Mr. Bzeek is dealing with children who only have a limited amount of time. I think he’s even taken children in that died days later. So it’s the rare individual, or he might be the only individual in LA county, that will provide a home environment and provide love and care when a child in fact has very limited time left.”

On reading his story in the Los Angeles Times (an excellent read, if you have time) in February, a woman named Margaret Cotts was so moved that she decided to set up a GoFundMe account to help Mr. Bzeek. The donations will be used to get him central air conditioning and heating (right now he only has a swamp cooler in his living room), additional help, a new car and roof repairs.  As of this writing, the account has received $496,253!!!

Bzeek’s own biological son, Adam, himself was born in 1997 with brittle bones, dwarfism and other physical challenges and requires much care. At 19 years of age, and a computer science student at a local college, he weighs a scant 65 pounds. A nurse’s aide helps with care on weekdays from 8:00 to 4:00. But, still, it’s a full-time job, one Mr. Bzeek handles by himself every night and every weekend. Sleep is a precious commodity, and other than his time in the hospital last December, Mr. Bzeek has not had a “day off” since 2010. With his foster daughter’s seizures happening more and more often, he usually sleeps near her on the couch, just in case.

So the next time you hear somebody say we should ban all Muslims, think of Mr. Bzeek and think about all the children who would have spent their last days on earth all alone if not for him.  I know that if I ever get to L.A., I will make time to stop by and shake his hand. In the words of Rod Dreher writing for the American Conservative, “The whole story is so beautiful it hurts.”

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*No names of the children can be used because of privacy laws

Additional Resources:

Mr. Bzeet’s Facebook page

PBS News Hour interview with 7:00 min podcast

Good People Doing Good Things – Habitat for Humanity AND Jimmy Carter

Unless you have been stranded in the Himalayas for the past forty years, you have no doubt heard of Habitat for Humanity.  I could not decide whether this post should be about Habitat for Humanity, or about Jimmy Carter, so I combined the two, as they rather go hand-in-hand.

habitat-4.png

A Brief Bit of History …

Habitat for Humanity traces its roots back to a community farm, Koinonia Farm, on the outskirts of Americus, Georgia circa 1965 when Millard and Linda Fuller, living on the farm, developed the concept of “partnership housing.” The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build decent, affordable houses. The houses would be built at no profit. New homeowners’ house payments would be combined with no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fundraising to create “The Fund for Humanity,” which would then be used to build more homes.

In 1973, the Fullers decided to take the Fund for Humanity concept to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. After three years of hard work to launch a successful house building program there, the Fullers then returned to the United States and called together a group of supporters to discuss the future of their dream: Habitat for Humanity International, founded in 1976.

Habitat now works in 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in nearly 70 countries and has helped 6.8 million people achieve strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Involvement …

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter became involved with Habitat for Humanity in 1984 and has since become its highest profile proponent. He has been involved in fund-raising and publicity as well as actual homebuilding, taking part in the annual Jimmy Carter Work Project “blitz build”.  The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project is an annual home building blitz organized by Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates. It generally takes place in the United States one year, and an international location the next. Not only do the Carters organize the project and contribute financially, but Jimmy, now 92 years of age, can often be seen in a hard hat using a hammer and saw!

Jimmy-Carter-2.jpgThis year’s Work Project takes place in Canada, and the plan is to build 150 homes in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary.  The event kicked off in Edmonton, where 75 of the homes are being built, 25 more homes in Winnipeg and 50 homes in territories and provinces across Canada.

In addition to the annual week-long building blitz, perhaps the most important contribution Jimmy Carter has made to Habitat for Humanity is his enthusiasm and his name.  Carter has brought in both donations and volunteers and continues to do so.

What They Do and How It Works …

One of the most impressive things about Habitat for Humanity is that it helps people, but it is not charity, they are not simply given a home.  The family in need of affordable housing partners with Habitat, helping build their own home, and even paying an affordable no-interest mortgage.

habitat-6Habitat relies on volunteer labor in order to construct simple and affordable homes with its partner families, as well as to build community and civil society in the areas in which it works. Many churches and other houses of worship (synagogues, temples, mosques etc.) sponsor houses and provide a large amount of the volunteers from their congregations. Some corporations and businesses who value good corporate citizenship provide financial support to the projects and/or donate materials for use in construction. Many politicians and celebrities have volunteered with Habitat, reflecting its profile as a highly regarded non-profit.

But they do much more than simply building a house …

Habitat believes that a family’s success relies, in part, on the dynamics of the neighborhood, so they will often help with neighborhood re-vitalization and even help fix up neighbors’ homes. There is also a disaster response program to provide shelter assistance, education, training and partnerships to the affected individuals who find themselves in unthinkable situations. And finally they provide financial education services for new homeowners who may not be savvy about financial matters.  The topics include budgeting, credit cards, loans, saving & investing, and credit reports.

habitat-5.jpgThere are also a number of ongoing special programs under the Habitat umbrella:

  • A Brush With Kindness – groups of volunteers help homeowners with exterior maintenance, such as painting, repairs, landscaping, etc.
  • RV Care-A-Vanners – volunteers travel in their personal recreational vehicles, making stops at local Habitat affiliates to assist in house construction and renovations.
  • Women Build – provide an environment in which women can feel comfortable learning construction skills they might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn. Lowe’s is a major sponsor and underwriter of Women Build, and has generously supported each National Women Build Week. In addition to competitive grant opportunities, Lowe’s offers a series of free how-to clinics for U.S. Women Build affiliates.
  • Youth Programs – a variety of youth programs aimed at teaching the value of helping others are aimed mainly at kids 16 years of age and up, but one program, Youth United, engages children as young as five years old, though they cannot actually be on a building site.

One Family’s Story …

Sitting in front of the Habitat Charlotte home he helped build for his family, Mario reflects on what a decent place to live and an affordable mortgage has made possible for him. He feels like a better father.

And More …

Habitat for Humanity has partnered with energy companies, such as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to provide solar grids for some homes, saving the homeowner up to 85% on their electric bills, while helping protect the environment. They are planning to expand this initiative in the future.

There is much more that Habitat does around the globe, such as working in under-developed countries to help find ways to provide improved sanitation.  But alas, it would take a book, and this is a mere, humble blog post.  I suggest you visit the Habitat for Humanity website  to learn more about this excellent organization.

But the real story here is not the organization … it is the people who volunteer their time, who donate money and materials.  Those are the ‘everyday heroes’, the people who have learned that we are all a part of the same race, the human race, and have come to understand that we are all on this planet together.

Good People Doing Good Things – Many, Many, Many

Last week’s ‘good people’ story about the couple who adopted 88 children with disabilities is one that may not be top-able, so I won’t even try.  Today I shine a spotlight on three good people whose good deeds, though on a smaller scale,  did not go unnoticed.  Today’s first good person did not adopt 88 children, but he did adopt two …


Jody Thompson and his wife Jeannie did not plan for a large family … in 2015 they had two children already, Ryan (15) and Charley (8), and life was pretty fine.  Jody was a police officer with the Poteau, Oklahoma police department and it was just as he was about to go on duty on that day in April, 2015, that he responded to a call about a report of child abuse.

When Thompson and other officers arrived at the house, what they found sickened them.  Thompson, who had worked several child abuse cases before, said it was the worst he had ever seen.  8-year-old John was bound by rope, his wrists and ankles tied together, stuffed into a barrel, and the barrel filled with freezing water.  Once they extricated young John, they found that he was covered in bruises, severely underweight and had a large knot on his head.  The parents went to jail, and Officer Thompson took John to the hospital, where he spent the entire night and most of the next day watching over him.

wed-Thompson-3Thompson says he knew when he saw John in that house that they were destined to become a part of each other’s lives. The Thompsons originally took John in as foster parents, and began adoption proceedings.  Around that time, they discovered that Jeannie was pregnant with their third child!  But wait … there’s more …

Seven months later, Jody received a call from the Department of Human Services (DHS) informing him that John’s biological mother, who was in jail awaiting trial for the abuse of John, had just given birth to a baby girl, and asking if Jody and Jeannie would consider taking her in as well!  They picked up the baby girl, Paizley, the next day when she was barely 24 hours old.  “Never in my life did I dream of having a large family, but God had different plans and so here we are. And I’m loving it all.”

Wed-Thompson-1.jpgSince then, the biological parents agreed to waive any and all parental rights, and the Thompsons have legally adopted both John and Paizley. Today, John Thompson is a straight A student in the gifted and talented program at his school. Poteau Police Chief Stephen Fruen commends his officer, saying “All of us can sit back and say we would do the same in that situation, but to come through with it and to do that, that’s a measure of a man – and a very good police officer.”

thumbsTwo thumbs up to this caring, loving officer of the law and his wife!


Amy Wright of Wilmington, North Carolina, has two children with Down’s Syndrome.  Instead of feeling sorry for herself or them, she turned troubles into a positive.  “There’s a statistic that somewhere between 70-85% of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed–and we just think that’s an embarrassment to our country.” So Amy decided to do something about that in her own little corner of the world.

bitty-beau.jpgWright founded Bitty and Beau’s Coffee, a coffee shop that employs 40 people with disabilities. “It hit me like a lightning bolt: a coffee shop! I realized it would be the perfect environment for bringing people together. Seeing the staff taking orders, serving coffee — they’d realize how capable they are.”

“Our wait time is no longer than any of our competitors. They’ve all gotten really good at their jobs and step up if somebody else needs help. Creating this has given people a way to interact with people with disabilities that [they] never had before. This is a safe place where people can test the waters and realize how much more alike we are than different. And that’s what it’s all about.”

bitty-beau-2Bitty and Beau’s employ more than 40 people with disabilities, as well as two store managers who have degrees in special education. All the profits from the coffee shop go to Wright’s nonprofit, Able to Work USA. But she’s most proud of the bridges it’s built in the community. Ms. Wright has appeared on CNN, been interviewed by Southern Living Magazine, and Bitty and Beau’s is the official coffee of the Rachael Ray Show!  Pretty impressive … doffing-hathats off to the Wright family for making a positive contribution to not only disabled people, but to their community as well!


‘Tis better to give than to receive, so we are told, right?  Well Jim Hukill believes that, and he translates those words into actions.  When Jim was just under two years old, he was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy that doctors said would kill him by the age of 12. His parents never accepted that dire outcome, and Jim is still alive today at age 53!

HukillJim lived, but the disease left him a quadriplegic, requiring public services and community support all his life. In 1994 when he and his wife, Rhonette, were planning their wedding and preparing for their life together, they were surprised to find few resources for disabled people.  This led them, four years later, to form Eleos – The Care Network, Inc., a ministry of hope.  Eleos, in Greek mythology, was the personification of pity, mercy, clemency, and compassion.  Then in 2006, Eleos launched Lift Disability Network, an organization that provides the disabled and families of disabled with a plethora of programs, including camping, monthly events and family services. Services are available to families in need without regard to creed/beliefs.

Now all of that is very nice, however in 2007 Jim and Rhonette went a step further.  They launched an annual Christmas event called GiveBack. 100 volunteers – people with physical and intellectual disabilities and their families – filled 262 boxes of donated toys, school supplies, personal hygiene items and notes of encouragement for needy children in developing countries.

“It was incredible to watch people with disabilities be able to move beyond that position of being a recipient of services to being empowered to do something for other people,” Hukill recalls. “One man with intellectual disabilities told us, ‘I’m working really hard, and I’m loving every minute of it!’ He was just so excited to be contributing.”

The program has grown, and in 2014 there were 250 volunteers filling 2,121 boxes for Operation Christmas Child, boxes that went out to disadvantaged children in more than 100 countries including Ghana, Mexico, Niger and Zimbabwe.  Hukill is a humble man who gets around in an electric-powered wheelchair and uses voice-recognition software on his computer, employs self-deprecating wit to put strangers at ease. “I talk about my big head,” he says with a laugh.


Now, this final story is not really about someone doing good things for others, but in my ‘net surfing, I came across it and thought it was both touching and fascinating, so I decided to include it in this morning’s post.

type-art-1Take a look at the above picture … take a close look … closer … can you tell what medium the artist was using?  Nope … nope … no, wrong again.  Let us try another:

type-art-3Now can you tell?  No, not that either.  Give up?  Okay … the artist is Paul Smith (he actually died in 2007 – no, he did not craft these pictures posthumously) and his medium?  A typewriter … not just any typewriter, but a vintage manual typewriter!

“While severe cerebral palsy may have put the traditional tools of an artist’s trade out of Paul’s grasp, his creativity and artistic prowess were unleashed in a surprising fashion—through the strategic placement of the ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) symbol keys with a single finger on this vintage typewriter. Fueled by his imagination and memories, he created more than 400 masterpieces before his death in 2007 at 85-years-old.”Abilities.com

When he was 11-years-old, still 5 years before he would learn to speak, Paul discovered his own unique way of expressing himself using an old typewriter abandoned by a neighbor. As his mastery of the typewriter grew, he developed techniques to create shadings, colors, and textures that made his work resemble pencil or charcoal drawings. For more information about Paul Smith and his art, click the link above, and as for this post, I will let Paul’s work speak for itself. (The header image for this post is also one of Smith’s works of art)

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Good People Doing Good Things – Michael and Camille Geraldi

I actually planned and started today’s post to be three short stories about ‘good people doing good things’ for disabled people.  But once I got to the story of Michael and Camille Geraldi, I realized that I did not want to consign their story to a short, 200-300 word snippet, as theirs is a story deserving of so much more.  So, please allow me to introduce you to two beautiful people …

Geraldis-3Michael Geraldi was a pediatrician and his wife Camille a nurse.  What, you ask, is so special about the Geraldis?  During the course of their 40-year marriage, these two wonderful people adopted 88 children with special needs. It started in 1973 when Michael would often find Camille, late at night and well past the end of her shift, in the nursery, rocking the special babies, the ones that families and medical science had already given up on.  Camille had already adopted three of these infants, and when Michael proposed to her, she replied that she wanted to dedicate her life to providing a home for these special children.  Michael replied, “I want to follow your dream.”

child-1The Geraldi family includes kids with intellectual disabilities, spina bifida and Down syndrome. Some have autism or extreme facial deformities. “One child was born with only a brain stem,” Camille said. “We took care of him. He lived to be 25 years old and never had a bedsore.”

The couple established the Possible Dream Foundation in 1986, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  Through the years, 32 of the children they adopted have died.   “The children I took in were expected to die,” Camille, now 68, told CNN. “But so many of them have lived.” 

child-2To the extent possible, the Geraldis created a normal, loving home environment for the children, complete with assigned chores.  More than 40 children, many of whom are now adults, consider the Geraldis their parents, with countless others staying for extended periods of respite care, hospice, therapeutic rehabilitation and sometimes specialty day care. The oldest, Darlene, is now 32. She lives in a Florida group home. The youngest, Isabella, is 8. Born to a cocaine addict, the girl was deaf and blind as an infant. Today, she is performing a year above her grade level in school.

child-3In addition to the difficulties of caring for so many special-needs children, they have suffered other difficulties as well.  In 1992, Hurricane Andrew flattened their home. The kids were okay, but the family had to relocate to some cabins Mike, co-owned along with several other doctors in Murphy, North Carolina. Then in 2011, while the family was away on a camping trip, lightning struck their homestead. The fire destroyed everything: the house, vehicles, their sense of security. It was after the fire that they relocated from Florida to Ellijay, Georgia.

Geraldis-bookIn 1996, Camille wrote and published a book, Camille’s Children: 31 Miracles and Counting, about their experiences to that point, and providing information about resources for parents of children with disabilities.

The Geraldis have been featured on CNN, in People Magazine, Larry King Live, USA Today, Ladies Home Journal and The Miami Herald.  In addition, they have been featured not once, but twice on 60 Minutes. Here is a clip of the most recent, in 2014

A 1999 article in The Ambassadors  featuring the Geraldis says “the family expenditure is at the astronomical figure of $264,000 annually. The family expenditures in a single month is more than $22,000 including $1,800 electricity and $1,200 for diapers. The Geraldis consume 18 gallons of milk, and 12 large pizzas weekely. Each frozen food order includes 12 packages of brocolli, 36 beef patties, 20 bags of meatballs, and 35 package [sic] of hotdogs!!”  I won’t even ask how many rolls of toilet tissue they need in a week!!!

geraldis-2In the same article is a quote by Camille Geraldi that warms my heart:

“I always keep a new baby with me every moment for the first six months to make sure we bond. Having a second child does not divide and diminish a mother’s love, the way a mathematician divides and reduces his numbers. Love is not a pound of meat that can be weighed or a truckload of bricks that can be counted. Love is not finite and measurable or bound by logical rule. Love is illogical and irrational. It is bottomless. There is plenty to go around whether there are two children or thirty-one.”

geraldis-michaelSadly, Michael Geraldi died of cancer on 08 March 2016.  Until shortly before his death, Michael continued to practice medicine full time, providing pro bono medical services for any mentally, physically or developmentally challenged child who needed it. The couple had never taken a real vacation, and were planning to do some traveling in 2015 when Michael was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos.

These two people are the epitome of humanity, of compassion, of caring for their fellow humans.  Please take a moment to visit the Possible Dream Foundation website where you can learn more about Michael and Camille, as well as see pictures and bios of some of the children they adopted. These two people truly lived their lives for others. Two thumbs up to these courageous and caring people!

When I first started this weekly feature, Good People Doing Good Things, I despaired that it would be difficult to find the kind of people I was looking for every week.  I did not just want to feature rich people who gave away a portion of their wealth as a tax write-off annually, nor did I want to feature people whose good works might have underlying motives.  I wanted people who did good things, whether large or small, simply out of the goodness of their heart, out of a sense of humanity.  I need not have worried about finding these people … every week I find more than I have the time and space to write about, and that, my friends, gives me hope that despite it all, the human race will persevere in the face of adversity.  Until next week …

 

Good People Doing Good Things – For Mother Earth

Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. – Evo Morales

This week in my search for good people I found several examples of people spending their time doing good things for the environment, so I decided to follow that theme, in honour of World Environment Day, which was earlier this month on June 5th.  While some may greedily take from the Earth without a thought of giving back, there are many who are dedicated to helping clean up and protect our environment.  Let us look at just a few of those people.

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In Mumbai India, a lawyer by the name of Afroz Shah brought together over 2,000 volunteers to clean up a 2-mile stretch of Versova Beach.  The group collectively picked up over 160 tons of trash from the beach, but they didn’t stop there!  They also planted 500 coconut trees!

The group was comprised of local students, local business people, and members of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). This in itself is impressive, but what I find most admirable about Mr. Shah is that his commitment is long-term … for the past 87 weekends he has spent his time organizing community clean-ups on the beach.

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Afroz Shah

In the words of one local fisherman, “Before this movement, we were helpless when we saw garbage affecting the marine life, but nothing was done about it. However, after the clean-up drive, we can see the difference. We have realized that if the entire fishing community of Versova comes together, there will be no plastic in sight.”

My hat is off to Mr. Shah for his tremendous and inspirational efforts!  See … there are even good lawyers in the world!


rokkeKjell Inge Røkke (please do NOT ask Filosofa how to pronounce this name!) started his career as a fisherman at the age of 18, with neither a high school nor college education.  His rise in business is a story in itself, but will have to wait for another day, for today’s topic is what he is doing for the environment.  Røkke is considered to be one of the ten wealthiest people in Norway, with a net worth equal to $2.6 billion USD.

On 16 May 2017 Røkke announced that he is funding the purchase of a giant research vessel. The ship is built in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in Norway. The Research Expedition Vessel (REV) is a 600-foot vessel that will maneuver the ocean’s waters sucking up plastic waste. Capable of accumulating and recycling up to 5 tons of plastic per day, the REV will also double as a mobile laboratory for scientists to monitor and observe the ocean’s ecosystems.

Once completed, the ship will accommodate 60 scientists who will ‘monitor and observe the ocean’s ecosystems’.  The scientists on board will have some of the most hi-tech research equipment available to them in order to properly observe the seas. Røkke hopes that the team will be able to utilize these facilities to discover new ways in assisting and nourishing the ocean’s struggling ecosystems.

“I am a fisherman, and curious by nature. Resources in the oceans and on the seabed have provided significant value for society – and also for my family and myself. For this, I am very grateful. However, the oceans are also under greater pressure than ever before from overfishing, coastal pollution, habitat destruction, climate change and ocean acidification, and one of the most pressing challenges of all, plasticization of the ocean. The need for knowledge and solutions is pressing.”

Røkke told Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper that he wanted “to give back to society what I’ve earned” and described the cost of the ship as costing “the lion’s share of his fortune”.


vetpawThink about this pairing:  veterans coming home, feeling displaced, often suffering from PTSD or other physical/emotional injuries … and … species of wildlife endangered by poachers with little or no conscience, willing to kill an animal as a trophy or for profit.  How do those two connect, you ask.  The answer is Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW).

According to their website, VETPAW “provides meaningful employment to post-9/11 veterans, utilizing their expertise to train and support Africa’s anti-poaching rangers to prevent the extermination of keystone African wildlife, and the disastrous economic and environmental impact it would have.”

rhino.jpgFounded by former marine Ryan Tate and his wife Jeanne, the group of US military veterans he has assembled work in a remote private reserve in the far north of South Africa.  African park rangers are often shot by the poachers who are intent on killing animals for their ivory tusks or horns. With the training and assistance provided by the VETPAW soldiers, conservationists can work to defend the massive mammals, while knowing someone has their own back.

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Ryan Tate

The program has resulted in a 11% drop in the number of rhinos killed during the first half of 2016.  Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same substance as fingernails, yet a kilo is worth up to $65,000. South Africa is home to 80% of the world’s wild rhinos.  The poachers are often criminal gangs, armed to the teeth, well-funded and part of transnational syndicates who will stop at nothing.

VETPAW is serving two important functions by helping preserve the wild rhino and other endangered animals, but also giving returning vets a purpose in life, a focus.  And there is another benefit from this program … local farmers and communities say they are safer now, as the poachers frequently posed a threat to them.


There is no single cause that is more important than protecting our planet, our oceans, forests, and wildlife.  We cannot all go protect wildlife in South Africa, or purchase a billion-dollar boat to clean up the oceans, but isn’t it good to know that there are people out there doing just that?  And we can do small things that make a difference.

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Good People Doing Good Things – Michael Bloomberg

The past several weeks I have focused on good works on a smaller scale, ordinary people going out of their way to make the world just a little bit better for someone. But today I want to shine a spotlight on someone doing some pretty big things, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Many outside the New York area may not be aware of how much good Bloomberg does, but over his lifetime he has given away more than $4.3 billion!  His contributions range from something as small and simple as painting a roof, to the $1 billion he has given to Johns Hopkins University. I have always had rather a soft spot for Mr. Bloomberg, knew he was a good man, but even I had no idea just how much he has given back to the world.

His philosophy on giving is to give to organizations that seek to bring about change on a local level but serve a broader purpose. The majority of his contributions are in the fields of Environment, Public Health, the Arts, Government Innovation, Education, Women’s Economic Development in Africa. Mr. Bloomberg has also signed the Giving Pledge started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, vowing to give away at least half of his wealth over the course of his lifetime. Between 2004 and 2011, Bloomberg was listed as a top 10 American philanthropist each year.

Let us take a brief look at some of the causes he supports:

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  • Environment
    • Focused on combating climate change and moving toward clean energy sources. In 2011, the foundation partnered with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign and as of this writing he has given more than $80 million to that cause.
    • Partners with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group to curb carbon emissions in major cities around the world.
    • Committed $53 million to Vibrant Oceans Initiative over the course of five years to help reform fisheries and increase sustainable populations.
    • Invested $5 million in Little Sun, a solar-powered lamp company founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and entrepreneur Frederik Ottesen.
  • Wed-Bloomberg-healthPublic Health
    • Donated $100 million to help the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation eradicate polio worldwide.
    • Pledged to donate $600 million to curb tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.
    • Partnered with the World Health Organization to donate $125 million to reduce traffic-related fatalities, and committed an additional $125 million to combat road traffic deaths in low- and middle-income cities.
    • Committed $50 million to the Global Family Planning Initiative, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation program focused on providing obstetric care and contraceptives to women in developing countries.
    • Pledged $250,000 to support Planned Parenthood, and also donated $8 million to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Maternal Health Program, which focuses on reducing maternal deaths in Tanzania, Africa and Latin America.
  • Education
    • Launched a $10 million program to help top-performing students from low- and middle-income families apply to and graduate from the nation’s top colleges.
  • Women’s Economic Development
    • Works with nonprofit advocacy organizations including Women for Women International and Sustainable Harvest to create economic opportunities for women in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Recently announced a $10 million grant to the Relationship Coffee Institute to support the expansion of its ongoing women’s economic development initiatives in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
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Monet’s Water Lilies

  • Arts
    • Announced a $15 million grant to five institutions — Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Botanical Garden, and Guggenheim Museum — as part of the Bloomberg Arts Engagement Initiative to develop mobile applications for visitors.
    • Committed a total of $83 million to cultural institutions around the world.
    • Launched the Public Art Challenge, a competition that invited local leaders and arts organizations to collaborate on temporary public art projects that would celebrate creativity and drive economic development.
  • Other
    • Donated $50 million to the Museum of Science in Boston.
    • Bloomberg has donated $1.1 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, making him the most generous living donor to any education institution in the country.

These are but a few of the good works being done by Michael Bloomberg and the Bloomberg Foundation. Note that in many instances Bloomberg Foundation partners with other organizations, such as Sierra Club or Sustainable Harvest.  “I’d think being a soloist falls apart,” he said. “I think there’s a limit to how much you can do on your own.”  And not all of his gestures are on the million-dollar scale, either.  He partnered with Al Gore once to paint a roof white in Queens, for which he was the subject of many jokes.  The reason for the roof-painting? White roofs, by reflecting heat rather than absorbing it, immediately reduced electricity bills and have since been replicated throughout the borough. His response to the mockers?  “We focused on things we could do in America that made a difference and were replicable elsewhere. It wasn’t solving all the problems. It wasn’t making India and China carbon-neutral, but it was something.”

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One thing that makes Bloomberg stand out in the crowd of wealthy philanthropists is that he is willing to try new things rather than, like some, wait for what they think will be the perfect organization and miss a lot of opportunities along the way. For example, as part of his initiative to cut traffic deaths both here and in other countries, he helped Vietnam implement helmet laws. “I would have bet anything against the idea of getting the Vietnamese government to pass a helmet law and that people would obey to have helmets. They passed it. They did enforce it. They cut the number of traffic deaths by a third overnight.”

Bloomberg has come under fire from time to time, both as a politician and as a businessman.  It is inevitable … one does not live in the spotlight of being mayor of one of the largest cities in the U.S. for 11 years without coming into criticism.  Bloomberg is human, so I am certain that he wasn’t always right, either, but overall I believe he was a good mayor and is a good human being.

A couple of things made me want to spotlight Mr. Bloomberg at this particular time.  One is his focus on the environment, an extremely hot (pun sort of intended) topic at present, with the current administration determined to roll back the gains we have made in attempting to overcome human-caused climate change.  And the other was the fact that Mr. Bloomberg, in addition to being a philanthropist, is two things:  a politician and a very successful businessman.  In recent months, we have had every reason to trust neither politicians nor businessmen, but Mr. Bloomberg is the exception.  He is living proof that politicians and businessmen CAN also be good people.  I thought it important for us to remember that, especially now. I try to keep the Good People posts non-political, but as I mentioned when I first started this feature, to some extent that is not always possible, for sometimes the good people are doing their good things as a result of the political environment.

Good People Doing Good Things – Dan Price

“It’s not about making money; it’s about making a difference.” – Dan Price, CEO Gravity Payments

Many times in the past few years, I have commented, snarkily, about the notorious 1% … the group of wealthy magnates who, though they account for only 1% of the population, control more than 90% of the wealth of the nation.  It is what we have come to think of as the ‘income divide’ or the ‘income gap’.  It is a vicious circle.  Rich people buy companies, the companies make money, the rich people who own the companies take that money and use it to buy more companies that make more money … Meanwhile, they balk at raising the federal minimum wage above $7.25 an hour, or about $15,000 per year.

The following came onto my radar through one of the sources I typically troll in search of ‘good people doing good things’, and as soon as I read the first paragraph, I knew I had found my good-person-of-the-week!  I almost backtracked, as I came upon some controversy & critique, but after reading everything I could find, considering the sources of the criticism, I concluded that this guy is the real deal and worthy of this post.  Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company on the west coast.

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In March 2015, Dan Price was hiking with a friend, Valerie Molina, who lamented about being about being able to make ends meet on her $40,000 annual salary.  Listening to her was a bit of a wake-up call for Price, as many of his own 120 employees earned even less than his friend.  Then, he says, he recalled a paper by Nobel prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, who found that people’s emotional well-being improves as their earnings rise, until their pay reaches about $75,000 a year, beyond which any additional earnings do nothing to increase happiness. Dan’s mind was made up that day, and he told his hiker-friend, “I’m going to pay all my employees minimum $70,000. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to do it, I need to run the numbers, but I am. Is that crazy?”

And that is exactly what he did.  But that, in itself, is not the best part of the story in my view.  The best part is that he did it by reducing his own salary from $1.1 million annually to around $77,000 in order to cover the increases for his employees.  For the remainder, he has committed up to 80% of the company profits. According to Mr. Price, “That was the happiest I’ve ever felt. For me, it was the best money I’ve ever spent.”

But the road was not a smooth one, as he had his share of detractors, some disgruntled employees, and was even sued by his own brother!  Former Idiot of the Week, Rush Limbaugh:

“He is a good liberal, and he’s read that people are happy at 70 grand. What he doesn’t understand is, happiness does not equal productive. Happiness equals comfort. “Seventy grand, well, I can stop working hard,” is what it means.

Anyway, he’s not tying this to anything other than employment. He’s not tying it to performance. He’s not tying it to sales. This is pure, unadulterated socialism, which has never worked. That’s why I hope this company is a case study in MBA programs on how socialism does not work, because it’s gonna fail. My guess is that just like when Solyndra went south, there will not be a story on Gravity Payments succumbing to gravity and going under.”

Limbaugh wrote a very long-winded and critical piece on Mr. Price, the gist of which was that he is a socialist and his employees will become lazy and useless.  He has since been proven wrong, but remember … there is a reason he was Idiot of the Week last August.

Others were critical as well, saying he had an ulterior motive, or was doing it only for publicity.  Other entrepreneurs in the area were not happy, saying Price’s decision made them appear ‘stingy’.  And his brother, Lucas, who owned 30% of the company, filed a lawsuit claiming that Dan had “worked against his brother’s interest as a minority shareholder”.  Last July, a judge ruled in Dan’s favour, but nonetheless there is a rift now between the brothers.

Two employees resigned shortly after the announcement, saying that in their view it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises. There is some validity to that argument, but I still applaud what Mr. Price did, and perhaps if the employees had stayed, a compromise could have been reached.

The company’s success speaks for itself:  employee turnover is drastically reduced, business is booming, and net profits nearly doubled between 2014 and 2016.  While measuring happiness is not an exact science, the employees appear to be happy … so happy, in fact, that they all pitched in to buy Mr. Price a brand new Tesla automobile!

And perhaps even more important than what Mr. Price did for his own company is the ripple effect it has had, expanding to other companies who followed Price’s example:

  • Josh Ledbetter of Ledbetter, Inc., cut his own salary by 82% and used it to give his three employees substantial raises.

  • Tony Tran of Third and Loom was so inspired by Price that he raised the wages of all his employees in the U.S. and his factory workers in Vietnam to $70,000.

  • Mario Zahariev of Pop’s Pizza saved $7,000 annually in credit card fees when he became a customer of Gravity Payments.  He used it to give raises to all eight of his employees.

  • Andrew Green of Green Solutions gave all his employees raises beteen 35% – 50%, which doubled the pay of his lowest paid workers.

Megan Driscoll, chief executive of biopharmaceutical recruiting firm PharmaLogics Recruiting also took a page from Dan Price’s book after hearing him speak, and increased her employee’s salaries from $37,500 to $50,000 … with commissions they will be earning $70,000 or more.  She says the results are remarkable … employee turnover has reduced, revenue has more than doubled, and the profit margin is steady.

No one person is going to reduce the disparity in incomes in the U.S., but it seems to me that Dan Price has, despite some overwhelming odds, done his fair share.  “Income inequality has been racing in the wrong direction,” he said. “I want to fight for the idea that if someone is intelligent, hard-working and does a good job, then they are entitled to live a middle-class lifestyle.”

Dan Price – a man who cares more about people than money.

If you are interested in reading more about Dan Price, his decision, and his company:

Interview on Today Show

About Gravity Payments

The Gravity of $70k

Good People Doing Good Things – First Place for Youth

Today’s Good People Doing Good Things post honours both an organization, and the two women who founded that organization.

Imagine, if you will, being 18 years old, having been taken from your parents at an early age and bounced from one home to another in the ensuing years, struggling to do well in school after school, and then on your 18th birthday being told you must leave your home.  Forever.  You have no job, you have no money, no car, and now no home.  This is the fate of far too many kids who are in the foster care system when they turn 18, or in some states 21.  The foster care system is riddled with problems … unqualified care givers, lack of funding, etc., but ‘aging out’ of the system may well be the biggest.

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Amy Lemley

Enter one of todays ‘good people’, Amy Lemley.  Amy was a former case manager in a group home run by the state of California where every day she saw firsthand the abuses, the desperation, and the statistics of what happened to the kids once they turned 18.  But Amy did not just sit around and talk about the problem … she decided to do something about it.

Recognizing that these kids needed help transitioning into adulthood, Lemley enrolled in a public policy graduate program at the University of California, Berkeley, and with her classmate and “kindred spirit” Deanne Pearn, the women founded an organization in 1998 to provide that support. That organization is First Place for Youth in Oakland, California.  The mission of First Place is to help foster kids build the skills they need to make a successful transition to self-sufficiency and responsible adulthood.

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Deanna Pearn

An estimated 30,000 adolescents ‘age out’ of the foster care system each year in the United States. When they attain the age of 18 or 21, depending on the state, they are no longer eligible to be in foster care.  Some families, particularly those where the child has been with the family for a very long time and has assimilated well, may allow the young person to continue living with them even though they will no longer receive money from the state to help support the child, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Wed-FPFY-2.pngWhen children age out of foster care, they become ineligible to receive state assistance with housing, food, and medical care under the foster care system. The Child Welfare League of America reports that as many as 36% of foster youth who have aged out of the system become homeless, 56% become unemployed, and nearly half of former foster youth become incarcerated within two years.  Less than half of emancipated youth who have aged out graduate from high school. And 77% of the young women reported a pregnancy, risking another generation reentering the system. Initially, Lemley and Pearn thought that if they could provide housing for the young people it would be enough to give them a leg up, but they quickly discovered that the needs were much greater.  Some of the program’s participants could barely read, so they expanded the program to include educational and career services.

While other children can mature gradually, relying on their parents for emotional advice or a bit of extra cash, these youths are entirely on their own. First Place started with just four youths recently aged out of the system, and they provided critical housing and support around education, employment and financial literacy.

First Place has expanded and grown, now serving five Bay Area counties and the city of Los Angeles.  They provide these transitional young people with their very first apartment, covering both the security deposit and the monthly rental fees.  In addition, they help the young adults meet four main goals: find stable employment, locate housing that matches their income, complete two semesters of community college or a certificate program and, finally, achieve “healthy living,” which means avoiding arrests, unintended pregnancies and substance abuse.

Wed-sam-cobb“This program is not a handout; it is a hand up. What we’re doing is trying to help you understand and make choices so that you can provide for yourself. You have to meet us, if not halfway, at least 30 percent, and invest in your own future. Which I think is one of the reasons it’s such a big success: it depends on them.” – Sam Cobbs, CEO, First Place for Youth

The results speak for the success of the program. In 2016, the organization helped 1,405 former foster children.  Upon leaving the program, 75% had secured their own stable homes, 96% had earned or were actively pursuing their high school diploma, 81% were employed and progressing toward self-sufficiency, and 81% were enrolled in a post-secondary program.

In 2012, Lemley and Pearn were instrumental in lobbying legislators to pass a law raising the age of emancipation from 18 to 21, giving foster youths an additional three years in the system to mature, finish their education and become ready for independence while still having a safety net.  Today, 21 states have expanded the age of emancipation.

The organization continues to succeed, although Ms. Lemley left in 2004.  She decided that her real place was in advocacy work.  She has spearheaded the formation of the Alameda County Foster Youth Alliance, a coalition of 26 organizations protecting the community’s most vulnerable children. She currently serves as Children’s Policy Director for the John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes.  Her achievements are many and I have only so much time and space, but you can read more about her work in this article in YouthToday.

Ms. Pearn remained with First Place for Youth until just two months ago, when CEO Sam Cobbs made the following announcement:

Wed-Cobbs-Pearn“It is with mixed emotions that I am writing to let you know our Co-Founder and Vice President of Policy, Deanne Pearn, will be moving on from First Place for Youth at the end of this month, to be Executive Director of Contra Costa Interfaith Housing. It is hard to express just how much First Place will miss Deanne. We wish her all the best in her new role, where she will lead CCIH’s efforts in providing critical support to vulnerable populations in Contra Costa County.”

First Place for Youth is now well-established and helping some of the people who need help the most.  This type of program is, no doubt, saving futures and even lives.  Be sure to check out their website.  And both Ms. Lemley and Ms. Pearn, though no longer with the organization, are still … good people doing good things.  My hat is off to both of them, as well as to the organization they founded and the people who make it work.  No one person can save the world, but as long as there are people like this who see a need and jump in to fill it, who have compassion for their fellow mankind, perhaps the world at least becomes a little better place.

Filosofa Apologizes … Humbly and Profusely!!!

Dear Readers …

sorry-5Filosofa screwed up … royally!  I could blame it on the fact that Monday was a holiday, and it messed up my sense of ‘what day is this?’  But the reality is that Filosofa is getting old, forgetful, and I really, really did not realize that Wednesday was upon us already.  My Wednesday morning post is supposed to be about Good People Doing Good Things. I promised you that. I am committed to inspiring us, reminding us that there really ARE good people in this world. But instead, I wrote about an idiot, instead.  How far off base can I be???

I am so so so so sorry, and I promise that this Thursday morning’s post (tomorrow) will be about a good person … or people.  Please forgive me … 😥

Love and Hugs to all who are reading this blog …

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