Good People Doing Good Things – For Mother Earth

Last night, I was literally glued to my laptop screen for over three hours watching a ping-pong match in Georgia between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.  By the time the race was finally called (the better candidate did win, in case any don’t know yet) at around 10:30, I was exhausted and my eyes felt like sandpaper, for I didn’t even blink much!  So, long story short, today’s ‘good people’ post is a reprise of one of my first ‘good people’ posts back in 2017.  I think this is one that bears repeating, for what these good people are doing will benefit us all, no matter what country you reside in, no matter your gender or ethnicity.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Friday JohnKu – AKA -TGIF – FRI-Yay/Good News

No, today is not Wednesday, not yet time for a ‘good people’ post, but I think we could all use a little break from the crises and disasters – both at home and around the globe – as we head into the weekend. My friend John Howell tells the story of an entire community of good people that warmed my heart as I think it will yours. Thank you, John!

Fiction Favorites

100 Farmers, Neighbors Help Harvest Iowa Farmer’s Crops After He Died Suddenly From Cancer


Paul Baker, courtesy of Melissa Baker

Today’s good news story was brought to my attention by blogger and author Noelle Granger. It comes from the Epoch Times Newsletter, and here it is in its entirety. Thanks so much, Noelle, for submitting this one.

When an Iowa farmer died suddenly and unexpectedly from lung cancer, his neighbors rallied together within days to reap the corn crops he left behind. His family, deeply humbled, are grateful for the tight-knit community that showed their love and saved their harvest.

Born and raised in Creston, Iowa, Paul Baker farmed around 500 acres of land, raising beef cattle, soybeans, and corn. Nobody, including Paul and his wife of 46 years, Lynn Baker, had any idea Paul was battling cancer.

After he became seriously ill…

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Good People Doing Good Things — A Reprise And An Update

I briefly considered skipping the ‘good people’ post this morning, for my energy seems to have flown the coop and I just really want to go to bed.  But then … I saw a post from our friend Bee Halton and something about it looked familiar.  The light bulb in my head came on!!!  I wrote about these people!  So, I searched my archive and sure enough … I wrote about them in 2018, a quirk of fate brought them together, and today, they still spend every Thanksgiving together!  So, I decided to redux my original post with an update from Bee’s!  This is truly one of the most heartwarming stories …

From my 2018 post titled Saturday Surprise — A Nice Story And A Cute Video …

Every now and then it happens that Saturday Surprise collides with Wednesday’s Good People and the result is … awesome, heartwarming and fun!  Today is one of those times!

The story begins at Thanksgiving 2016, when Wanda Dench made a text-a-boo-boo … or an erroneous text sent to the wrong person.  The story is told in the following text messages … the recipients of the original text inadvertently included Jamal Hinton, a complete stranger …



Wanda DenchJamal HintonAnd so it happened that 17-year-old Jamal went over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house for dinner! Wanda-JamalSince the heartwarming story first broke Dench has named Hinton as her ‘honorary grandson,’ which is quite fitting.  The two stayed in touch, and last year, he was invited back for Thanksgiving 2017.   In an interview with the Arizona Republic last year Dench said, “It was really nice having everybody here, we got to laugh about last year and reminisce about how it all blew up on our phone and how I had to change my number. We had a laugh and a good time.”

The two have stayed in touch, and ‘Grandma’ Wanda even sent Jamal a couple of gift cards at Christmas last year.  And this year … well of course Jamal was invited back and his girlfriend too!


text-6Hinton finds the dinners and his newfound family meaningful. “The world is becoming a better place than it used to be. With all the Donald Trump going on and all the racial comments going on, it’s kind of good to see there’s still good people out there.” Dench gave her new ‘grandson’ an open invitation for all future Thanksgivings at her house, so this is a tradition likely to live on for a lifetime.

A small thing?  Perhaps, but … seems to me that a whole lot of these “small things” add up to a whole lot of good in the world, a whole lot of heart, a whole lot of love.

Okay, so that was nice and heartwarming, but the holiday season has now officially kicked off and I think we need to start the weekend with something funny, don’t you?  So, you know what that means … a funny animal video!!!  I considered taking the cute animal video out for this reprised post, but thought, what the heck … we can all use a bit of a smile anyway, right?

Have a great weekend, folks, and don’t let the crowds crush you if you go shopping!  I went shopping from the comfort of my own chair, in my jammies, while sipping coffee last night!  Keep warm & safe!

And the update from Bee’s Good News TuesdayI Absolutely Love This Story!  Thank you, Sweet Bee!!!

Good People Doing Good Things — A Mix

There are so many good people in this world … but sadly they don’t get the same level of attention the not-so-good people get, for they are just quietly going about the daily business of helping others.  That’s why once a week I take time out of the darkness that is often an inherent part of this blog to shine a bright light on those most deserving good people!  This week, I am starting with the kids who have already learned the joy of helping others, for they are our future.

Good People start young!

In Iowa lives a young man, a kindergarten student named Makay.  During the summer, Makay had, as many kids do, a lemonade stand outside his house where he made a bit of a profit.  So, while some kids his age would be eyeing the latest video game or toy to spend his newfound wealth on, Makay just wanted to do something nice for his classmates.

After some thought, Makay decided to buy all the kindergarten kids at his school a pumpkin for Hallowe’en.  His family coordinated with his teacher and principal, who arranged a field trip to Pride of the Wapsi, a popular eastern Iowa pumpkin patch and corn maze destination.

The owners loved Makay’s idea so much that they let him pick enough pumpkins for the 1st Graders at his school, too. Pride of the Wapsi owner, “Farmer Pat”, decided to pay it forward with another act of kindness. He is donating all of the money Makay used to buy pumpkins to the Red Cross for Hurricane Ian relief.

See how that works, folks?  It’s the domino effect … one good deed leads to another and in theory, pretty soon all of us are doing good things!

More than just a pair of shoes

Romello “Mello” Early and his friend Melvin Anderson are 7th graders in Buffalo, New York.  Kids had been teasing Melvin over his worn-out shoes, but the teasing graduated to outright bullying and Melo was so distressed over it that he went home in tears one night and asked his mom if he could buy Melvin a new pair of shoes.

“Can I use my allowance, or you can take something away that I would get for Christmas?”

What parent could resist a plea such as that?  Naturally, Mello’s mom took him to the shoe store that evening and not only bought Melvin a new pair of shoes, but a pair of $135 Nikes!  Mello used money he had been saving from his allowance to buy the shoes.

When he learned of Mello’s generosity, the school’s Dean, Bryant Brown Jr., was brought to tears, in part because when he was growing up he had also been the victim of bullying.  Brown shared the story on Facebook, and it took off like wildfire, as good news stories often do.  Long story short, it came to the attention of numerous local news stations and eventually caught the eye of someone at The Washington Post and was featured in their “Good Vibes” feature.

Says Mello …

“You should always treat people the way you want to be treated. I have a lot of stuff, so I was thinking, let’s bless somebody else today.”

Out of the mouths of babes!

Police officers get a bad rap … sometimes with good reason, for there are ‘dirty cops’ out there … but I believe that most are dedicated public servants who want to help rather than hinder the public.  Here are just a couple of examples …

Above and beyond the call of duty

When a woman in McDonough, Georgia, was in a hurry to get to work but needed to stop for gas, she was stunned to find her credit card declined!  Police officer Harrison just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and as the woman decided to walk to work in the rain and leave her car at the fuel station until she could sort the problem, Officer Harrison instead used his personal card and paid for her full tank of gas!

No longer indecent

In Atlanta, Georgia, Officer Nguyen was dispatched to check out a report about an act of ‘indecent exposure’.  When Office Nguyen arrived, though, what he found was a homeless man whose clothes were so threadbare that parts of his body were exposed.  Rather than arrest the man, the officer went to Wal-Mart and bought a set of clothing and a pair of shoes for the man with his own money.  Just a little thing, but he didn’t have to do it … he could have taken him to the station and let it be someone else’s problem.

Back in February, I featured Dolly Parton as one of my ‘good people’ for her many forms of philanthropy.  Just this month, Ms. Parton received new kudos for her contribution to the Moderna Covid vaccine, and our friend Keith has that story, so hop over and check it out.  Thanks, Keith!  Dolly is indeed a ‘good people’, as are you!

Christmas is coming……….

I don’t know of another person who is as caring and giving as our dear friend David Prosser. His posts these days are rare, but this morning he reminds us to think of people who are far less fortunate than most of us in the upcoming holiday season, and suggests some simple ways in which we might help just a little. Thank you, David, for being who you are. Cwtch


Here we go again, it seems like about a month since the last one. But the shops are full of Christmas items and people are bustling around with determination on their faces.. We all want Christmas to be special for our families and our friends. Good, that’s how it’s meant to be.

But, let’s extend the range of our friends to encompass all those currently at war, who aren’t at war against us. All those who have lost their homes and their possessions and some, almost their lives. For a moment though let’s start closer to home. Almost every Supermarket these days has a basket for donations to food banks. These are not handouts to the bone idle but possibly the only food source for the homeless or those who have no work through no fault of their own, Being homeless is not a choice most people make, especially when…

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Good People Doing Good Things — Too Many To Count

I have just one story for this week’s ‘good people’ post, but it involves so many good people helping a family of refugees from Ukraine that I’ve lost count.  Be sure you have a box of tissues handy for this one, my friends.

Back in February when Russian troops attacked Ukraine and rockets landed less than two miles from their home, the Bezhenar family of Odessa knew they needed to leave the country for their safety.  So the family of six: (Oleksandr (father), Mariia (mother), Nina (grandmother) and 3 daughters – Ahnessa (age 10), Anhelina (age 15), and Eleonora (age 17) set out for the border leaving everything behind except one suitcase each.  They left their home, Oleksandr’s business, and the family pets, two dogs and a couple of cats.

It was no small feat leaving Ukraine … they waited in line for more than 24 hours at the border to Romania, fearing they might not be allowed to cross because of the rule that males under age 55 would not be allowed to leave Ukraine because they were needed for military duty.  But when they finally reached the front of the line, they were told that there is an exception for men who are accompanying more than two children and they were allowed to cross.

After arriving in a refugee camp in Romania, the family was linked via a refugee program to a man in the San Francisco Bay Area, Geoffrey Peters, whose son had recently purchased a house he was planning to rent out.  Mr. Peters convinced his son to donate the house to a refugee family for a period of two years, and he offered it to the Bezhenar family.

After two months of paperwork delays, the Bezhenars were finally on their way to their new home in Cloverdale, just outside of San Francisco.  Their new home with no furniture.  But Mr. Peters called on friends and neighbors for help and the people of Cloverdale came together in remarkable ways!  They not only furnished the house, but upon learning that the Bezhenar’s daughters were musically inclined, someone donated a piano!  They entered their new home to find a fully stocked refrigerator and a welcome cake with a Ukrainian sunflower for decoration.

Geoffrey Peters tells their story in his own words on the GoFundMe page he set up to help the Bezhenar family.  What you’ve read so far, in and of itself, would be a good people story, with Mr. Peters, his son, and the many community members of Cloverdale who did so much to make this refugee family feel welcome, but … it doesn’t end there!

Now, during the flight from Romania to San Francisco, the family’s mum, Mariia, chatted with one of the flight attendants, Dee Harnish, and the two exchanged contact information and stayed in touch in the days after, as the Bezhenars settled into their new life.  One day, Dee Harnish called Mariia to see how they were doing and was told that the youngest daughter, Ahnessa, missed her cat, Arsenii, so much she was not sleeping well and had become inconsolable.  Dee was so moved by their story that she reached out to Caroline Viola, a fellow flight attendant who is involved in animal rescue. Caroline recognized the desire to get Arsenii out of Ukraine as the monumental mission that it was, but nevertheless she offered to see what she could do.

From her home in Hawaii, Caroline worked with a rescue worker in Houston, Texas, and Arsenii’s journey was about to begin.  Mariia’s brother-in-law, who was taking care of Arsenii back in Ukraine, took care of details on his end, getting him vaccinated, microchipped, and obtaining a passport for the furry family member.  Who knew pets needed a passport???  He then drove Arsenii across the border on his motorcycle to Moldova.  Then, a driver took him to Romania, where he lived with a foster family for one month while his passport and other documents had to be re-done, since he came from a non-EU country.  Finally, with paperwork all in order, Arsenii was ready to head to the U.S. to rejoin his family!

Another person involved with animal rescue, Mimi Kate, was on vacation in Greece at the time, but when advised of the need for a human to accompany Arsenii, she cut her vacation short and went to pick up Arsenii in Romania.  There, a tuk-tuk driver, as if the story couldn’t find room for more characters, helped out, and drove Arsenii and Kate from Bucharest back to make her flight in Athens. Kate then took Arsenii from Athens to Montreal, Canada, then back to her home in Seattle, Washington.  Aresnii had put 7,000 miles under his paws.  And at the end of the long journey …

The entire Bezhenar family greeted them at the airport and what a reunion it was!  So many good people working so hard to get this family to safety, help them establish a whole new life, and reunite them with their beloved furry family member.  I think you’ll love this video of the reunion … I certainly did.  You did remember your box of tissues, right?

Good People Doing Good Things — Mama Rosie

I almost never redux good people posts.  There are enough good people out there who deserve the spotlight that I don’t need to revert back and redux them.  However … on occasion my attention is drawn elsewhere and rather than let you down, I do redux some of my favourites … I try not to do it often, but it happens on rare occasions.  Tonight, it is nearly 3:00 a.m. and I have literally been glued to my election returns app for about 5 hours now, and will likely be glued for another couple of hours!  Some of the results disgust me, but overall I’m pleased see that there is no red wave.  Seems like some … not all, but some … of the worst candidates are being told to go sit down and shut up.  Anyway, long story short, I did not write a new good people post tonight, but instead I am sharing with you one of my all-time favourite good people, Mama Rosie!  I first wrote about Mama Rosie back in January 2018, and four years later she is still doing good work!  She is, in my book, the very definition of humanity.

You probably don’t remember, but back in mid-October, I mentioned that I had started a piece about ‘Mama Rosie’, who was definitely a good candidate for this feature, but that she had done so many wonderful things that I couldn’t finish the piece in time for that week’s post.  At the time, I thought I would feature her the following week, but who-knows-what came along and distracted me, and I never did return to finish that one.  Mana Rosie is back on my radar this week, however, because apparently I am not the only one who thinks she is worthy of notice.  Mama Rosie, aka Rosalia Mashale, was one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes of the Year for 2017!  So without further ado, please allow me to introduce … Mama Rosie!!!!

Mama RosieIn 1989, Mama Rosie was a schoolteacher who had recently retired and moved from the Eastern Cape to the township of Khayelitsha, in Westerna Cape Town, South Africa.  Khayelitsha is a poor and overcrowded township of approximately 15 square miles, and a population density of more than 26,000 people per square mile.  The unemployment rate is 54.1% and Khayelitsha is afflicted by the largest HIV/Aids epidemic in the world. Many days Mama Rosie noticed children scavenging for food in a nearby dumpster, and one day she invited them in …

“I called them in, and we sang rhymes, and I gave them bread and something to drink. And that was the birth of the daycare center.”

Mama Rosie enlisted the aid of other women in the community and by the end of the first week, 36 children were being cared for.

Mama Rosie had run the free daycare center for over a decade, and was thinking of retiring when one morning she opened her door to find a child who had been abandoned on her doorstep.

“He was between the age of two and three. He was naked and full of sores. He didn’t even know his name.”

She did what anybody would do, and took the boy to the police, who, knowing her reputation of caring for children, told her that she should care for him!  And that was the beginning of the orphanage!  Before long police and social workers were bringing orphaned and abandoned children to Mama Rosie, and hospitals were calling her to pick up babies whose mothers had died in childbirth. She never turned a single one away.  By the end of the first year, she was caring for 67 children in her own home!

“I didn’t have the heart to turn anyone away. Young girls and boys and babies were in every part of my house.”

Baphymelele.jpgIn 2001, she established Baphumelele which means “we have progressed”, and boy have they ever … progressed …

“We have a medical clinic for children and another facility for adults. We care for those who have HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases, such as cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, and (we) operate a hospice for children.”

Please take a minute to watch this short video … I promise that you will fall in love with Mama Rosie!

Baphumelele has developed into a thriving community project over the years. In addition to the Children’s Home and Educare Centre, Baphumelele has expanded to include the Adult Respite Care Centre, Child Respite Centre,  Hospice in the Home, Child Headed Households, Fountain of Hope, and Rosie’s Bakery/Sewing Project.

Baphumelele takes care of more than 5,000 orphaned, abandoned or sick children in desperate need of loving homes. Some have lost their parents to Aids, while others are themselves HIV-positive.

When the children in Mama Rosie’s care grow up, she helps them find jobs, or else gives them work in the bakery.

Mama RosaBut Mama Rosie’s efforts don’t begin and end with only the children!  She founded a women’s group, Sakhulwazi Women’s Organisation where women come together to learn skills such as sewing, beading and growing food … skills that will help them earn a living in the community.

At the CNN 2017 Hero of the Year awards ceremony last month, Mama Rosie gave a speech, where she said …

“They always say it takes a village to raise a child. Please join us to raise more orphans.”

I give two thumbs up to Mama Rosie for all her tireless efforts on behalf of the people of Khayelitsha!


Sadly, Mama Rosie did not win the CNN Hero of Year award, but one of my previous ‘good people’ did!  Amy Wright of Wilmington, North Carolina was named Hero of the Year. 

I Once Thought There Was Some Good In Everyone

Until quite recently, I believed that all humans were some combination of good and bad.  None of us are perfect … I sometimes have thoughts that I’m not proud of and in my 71 years on this earth, I’ve done things I now regret.  Some people have more good than bad, and vice versa, but I always believed that at the core, people were good.  I sit before you today to tell you that I no longer believe that.  I have finally been convinced that some people are just evil beings.  This realization is not a pleasant one, not one that encourages me to want to remain a part of the human species.

When there is at least a shred of decency in a person, that part of them can be coaxed, nourished, and encouraged until that person finds their conscience and realizes the error of their ways.  At least, that’s what I thought.  But, where there is not so much as a shred of kindness, of compassion within a person’s psyche, there is no foundation upon which to build.  Where the conscience should reside, there is only a dark hole.

Last Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband was brutally beaten by a thug seeking to kidnap Ms. Pelosi.  Paul Pelosi sustained a skull fracture and serious damage to his arm and hands.  Most of us felt a great deal of empathy and asked ourselves … WHY???  How have we come to this point?  But, shortly after news of the attack, some people thought it was appropriate to mock, to denigrate, and to make up cruel, nasty stories about Mr. Pelosi and the attack.  ANYBODY, in my book, who cannot even have a bit of compassion for the victim of such an attack, has zero conscience, not a grain of humanity.  Yes, that means you, Kari Lake, and you, Governor Youngkin, and all those fools on Twitter who are posting memes and such that mock the seriousness of this situation.  Those people are irredeemable, for they have no core upon which to build.

Last night, we learned that a former co-worker of my daughter had been arrested for beating her 4-month-old baby daughter to death.  My daughter was devastated, remembering the years she and this woman had worked side-by-side as nurses, people whose entire focus in life was to preserve life.  A 4-month-old baby!  What the hell can a 4-month-old baby do to make its own mother so angry that she would beat it to death???  Cry?  Spit up on the sofa?  This woman is another example of someone without a conscience, someone who cannot ever be mistaken for a human again!

Until the past week, I retained some hope for humanity to win out over cruelty.  My ‘good people’ posts on Wednesdays have always been an attempt to balance out the darkness of the daily news stories by shining a light on those people making a positive difference in people’s lives.  Tonight, I must honestly say that I don’t know if I can do a ‘good people’ post this week … or ever again.  Make no mistake … yes, I believe there ARE many good people out there, quietly going about the business of trying to make this world a better place for us all, but … they are overshadowed by those who would mock, denigrate, and do violence against others.

The world has many problems, and there are many good, intelligent people trying to resolve those problems such as climate change, poverty and hunger, racism, guns, violence, wealth inequality and more, but there seem to be equally as many foolish, uncaring, conscience-less people trying to keep them from repairing the damage caused by humans for the past few centuries.  Can good overcome evil?  Until the last few days, I thought it could and likely would.  Today, I am not so sure, and that is depressing.

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

My apologies!  I try hard not to redux my ‘good people’ posts, but tonight I am behind on just about everything and have a largely diminished energy reserve, so I am returning to one I posted back in July 2017, more than five years ago, which means that many of you haven’t seen it.  At any rate, I think you’ll enjoy it …

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 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!


Good People Doing Good Things — Lots of ‘Em

Some weeks good people just drop into my lap, other weeks I have to go in search of them, but either way, there are always plenty of ‘em out there if you know where to look.  This week, a few dropped neatly into my lap, so I’m delighted to share their stories with you!

Let’s begin with Isaac Winfield, an 11-year-old boy in Redditch, Worcester in the UK who has started his own foodbank!  During the first year or so of the pandemic, Isaac’s family would send food packages to school with him to be given to those in need.  Isaac’s family also donated to local foodbanks, but Isaac treasured the ability to take food packages to school to share and distribute.  Then, Isaac changed schools and his new school didn’t have a program in place for kids to donate food.  Isaac was bummed, but then he came up with an idea.  He told his mom in the car one day, “it’s alright, we’ll give them food at my house.”  Says Isaac’s mom, Claire …

“I was laughing, but he had just broken his arm, so I let him do it to cheer him up. I doubled what money we gave them normally for food parcels, and he went off to Aldi. With a little bit of help, he put all the food he bought in a little greenhouse with some lights and started offering it from there. Someone spotted it and put it on one of those Facebook community sites, and it went mad. People came and donated. The greenhouse lasted four weeks before I had to go and get a shed because we ran out of room.”

Now Isaac is planning to expand the service and has a local charity sponsoring him to open a foodbank in the town. He has attracted the help of big sponsors like Morrison’s and a local charity called Building Bridges to keep his foodbank operational.  In addition, YouTuber Mark McCann donated the aforementioned van, fully-taxed and insured, to help get the foodbank mobile.  Isaac wanted it decorated with a rainbow logo and on weekends his parents take him to various places to distribute the food to those in need.

His mom says …

“For his 11th birthday he just wanted foodbank donations and the shed was absolutely rammed. He just wanted to get as many donations in as possible to help as many people as he can.”

Isaac has now been nominated for a local business award and hopes to open his second foodbank in the town next month.  Wow, right?  Just wow … what a remarkable young man!!!

I’d like you to meet another good people, trucker Gary Wilburn from San Antonio, Texas.  Wilburn was in heavy traffic on October 4th, near Forrest City, Arkansas.  After about an hour in the heavy traffic, he came across a badly crashed State Trooper’s vehicle on the side of the road. Every other motorist was passing the vehicle without stopping to look inside.

“I was in traffic for an hour before I saw the trooper. Some of the stuff I noticed was insane—no one’s calling the police, cars are driving by, and no one stopped to help him.”

Wilburn, who drives for Anderson Trucking, called 911 and reported what he found.

“He was banged up really bad. Lower legs were broken, upper legs were broken and he was pinned in. His legs were crushed really bad.”

He then stayed with the trapped officer until emergency personnel arrived and he was airlifted to a local hospital.  I can find no word on the officer’s condition, but Wilburn was named a Highway Angel for what he did.  Since the program’s inception in August 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage displayed while on the job.  Thumbs up to Mr. Wilburn and all the other Highway Angels out there looking out for us all!

Last month in Richmond, Indiana, a funeral was held for Police Officer Seara Burton, who had been shot and killed while responding to help other officers with a traffic stop. She was 28 years old and joined the Richmond police department four years ago.  Police Lieutenant Donnie Benedict said that on the day of the funeral, someone walked into the police station and handed over a white envelope. Inside it was eight one-dollar bills. The anonymous donation was from the homeless community in Richmond.

According to Officer Benedict …

“This gift was in a wrinkled dirty well-used envelope. They handed the envelope to the information officer and on the envelope was written these four words: people from the street. The person explained that several of the homeless people from the city of Richmond have taken up a donation from the people that live on our streets here in Richland and they wanted to donate this to Seara’s family. There have been many valuable gifts given in honor of Seara. However, none, and I mean none, are more valuable than the gift of 8 $1 bills in a dirty white envelope.”

That act of kindness has sparked a movement in Richmond. The community is now rallying behind the homeless population.  The story touched resident Amber Conley, who made a call out on Facebook asking for donations.  They have since collected enough donations to fill an entire room in the Richmond Fire Station — everything from blankets, coats, water, tents and more.

The group will hand out donations next week and Officer Burton’s family will be there to help.  The eight one-dollar bills from the envelope have been framed to remind everyone of the big impact Officer Burton had on the community she served for four years.

See, folks … there really are a lot of good people out there!