Good People Doing Good Things — Lots Of ‘Em!

It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time to leave the dark world of politics for a few minutes and take a look at some good people who are quietly going about the business of being … good people!

A trio of teens …

A little after midnight, Aeron McQuillin, Bailey Campbell, and Billy Tarbett were on their way to Tim Horton’s coffee shop after a swim when they noticed steam billowing from under the hood of a car stopped along Highway 20 in Fonthill, Ontario.

The boys, all car enthusiasts, pulled over to lend a hand. After looking under the hood, they told the driver that it probably needed a new engine and advised against starting the motor. The woman was visibly upset and said she couldn’t afford a tow.

That’s when Billy suggested they push the car to the woman’s home in Welland.

“We had nothing better to do—but even if we did I would like to think we would have helped her anyway.”

good-samaritan-teensThe teens grabbed their water bottles and pushed the Chevy Cobalt up a hill and continued for more than two hours along the dark Merritville Highway, laughing, joking, and appreciating the great ‘workout’. “We were helping her, but also she was helping us,” said Tarbett.

Another stranger, Niagara Falls resident Dan Morrison, decided to drive along behind the trio to keep them safe—he turned on his flashers and totally went into “Dad mode”.

The cooperative rescue mission, which covered over 4 miles (7 km) finally ended at four in the morning.  According to Aeron McQuillin …

“We were at the right place at the right time, and this is one of those stories that we can look back on in 10 years and say it was one of those crazy things we did, but it was all worth it.”

Dan posted about it on social media with a photo of the boys, and their phones began “blowing up” with messages from people they’d never met. Some offered a free meal or Tim Horton’s gift card.

But the boys were taking none of it.

“We really appreciate it, but we didn’t do this to get free handouts. If I was broken down on the side of the road, I would love for someone to stop and help out.”

Morrison, a father of two, said this was a great reminder that in a seemingly-negative world, “There’s good kids out there.”

Indeed … we sometimes need to be reminded of that, for in general we hear much more about those who are getting into trouble or causing mischief.

Eco-friendly skies …

Two thumbs up to Air New Zealand for slashing their use of plastic on flights—cutting out 55 million items, which will actually make the planes lighter, save a bit of fuel, but most importantly, cutting way down on the airline’s carbon footprint.

As of 2018, the company generated 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, making it one of New Zealand’s largest polluters.  Management decided it was time to be pro-active and do what they could to be more environmentally conscientious.  The list of plastics that will no longer be used is 55 million items long, and includes everything from plastic cups to water bottles, sauce packets to cheese trays. Every one of those pieces has a carbon footprint equal to around 3 ounces of carbon dioxide, so by eliminating them from the flights, Air New Zealand cuts out 10.3 million pounds of CO2 this year alone.air-New-ZealandThe majority of the 55 million items come in the form of 29 million cups. Passengers on international flights will still be able to get a cup of coffee when they want, but as of this fall, those cups will be made from plants. It’s a change the airline started earlier this year on domestic flights, swapping out 14.7 million for the plant-based version. The same goes for plastic water cups, which will be exchanged for a recyclable alternative.

Great job, New Zealand Air, and let’s hope other airlines quickly follow suit.

Two dads – six kids

Steve-RobSteve and Rob Anderson-McLean of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have been together for 18 years. They shared a commitment ceremony in 2006 and were legally married in Maryland in 2013.  The couple raised two sons together, Parker, 25 and Noah, 21, from a previous marriage. But after their boys grew up, they decided they “weren’t done” being parents just yet and began exploring adoption.

Meanwhile, in Ohio there were six children – Carlos, 14, Guadalupe, 13, Maria, 12, Selena, 10, Nasa, 9, and Max, 7 – who had been in foster care for nearly five years.  The children had been subjected to abuse and neglect, had been separated, and the parents finally lost all custodial rights.

Steve and Rob happened to see the children on an adoption website and the rest is history.

the kidsSteve and Rob were matched with the kids in June 2018. The siblings went to live with the couple a month later and have been with them ever since.  The adoption was finalized on May 23rd.  The judge asked the couple …

“Do you understand at this point forward they are your children? They are just as much as your biological children?”

Steve says …

“Obviously we knew that, but when I looked up and saw all those eyes, it was very emotional. We never imagined we’d be lucky enough or blessed enough to have six.”

adoptionHow many couples do you know who, after raising two children to adulthood, are willing to start all over, taking on not one, not two, but six children?  Today, all six siblings have the Anderson-McLean name and two doting dads.

“I’d say our kids have brought a great kind of crazy to our lives. It’s heartwarming and so exciting to see how they connect with us and our extended family and friends.”

the family

“We’ve known them for less than a year, but at the same time, it feels as if our emotional bonds were years in the making. There are no rules as to what can constitute a family, and the love that we share.”

I give two thumbs up to these two men for giving so much to these six kids!  The world needs more like them.

An editorial aside, if you will permit me.  Right now, there are an estimated 690,000 children in U.S. foster care awaiting adoption. So, when social conservatives create laws allowing religious adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, they’re denying children a chance to be raised in a loving home.

And that’s all I’ve got for this week, folks.  Isn’t it nice, though, to see people like these doing things that make the world just a little bit better place?  ‘Til next week …

Good People Doing Good Things — Lots of ‘Em

This week, the focus is on everyday people doing things that help others in one way or another.  It’s nice to report on those people who are making mega-differences in people’s lives, but sometimes it’s just as meaningful to look at the everyday folks who are doing what is within their power to make a difference.  Sometime, the opportunity to be a ‘good people’ just drops in your lap, as you’ll see in the last story.

Mohan-3Mohan Sudabattula, a 23-year-old student, along with his team of volunteers collect medical equipment from thrift stores and donations. They clean up the gear, which ranges from slings and braces to wheelchairs and walkers, and then send it to disadvantaged medical facilities around the world.Mohan-1.pngSudabattula thought of this idea when he was in school and volunteering in the prosthetics department at a nearby hospital. Whenever a patient outgrew a prosthetic, it would simply be thrown in the garbage. While prosthetics are designed exclusively for the wearer, Mohan wondered if he could recycle other medical equipment and give it a new life.Mohan-2Back in 2006, he went to India with his parents, and while at an orphanage he saw children creating makeshift crutches and wheelchairs out of everyday objects. Now, over ten years later, he was able to donate several dozen wheelchairs and crutches to that very same orphanage because of the work he is doing with Project Embrace.

Since launching the nonprofit in 2016, the group has donated over 900 refurbished medical devices to low-income hospitals in the U.S. and India.

Simon Child works in the very McDonalds in Fayetteville, Florida that he was caught sleeping in. When a woman in the community saw Child asleep in a booth, she photographed him and posted the picture on Facebook, apparently hoping to mock or shame him.Simon-1.jpegThe post had the opposite effect the woman was hoping for, as everyone in the community rallied around the homeless worker. They learned that Child had a child of his own and was working tirelessly to support them both after the death of his mother.Simon-2.jpgNews spread, and soon the entire community was pitching in to help Simon. He got a free haircut from a local barbershop to help him look more professional. A local eatery lent him a car for job interviews. One member even offered to put Child and his son up in a hotel until they found a permanent residence.Simon-3.pngMembers also donated food, clothes, diapers, and more to help the struggling father. They even raised $2,000 for Child to get a life start. As for the woman, Child says he harbors no ill will towards her because, without her post, the community would have never known.

Rita-1Riya Hariharan (16, Palo Alto, California) is the founder, a global organization that provides critically needed educational and wellness supplies for kids who are orphans around the world with the goal to motivate the kids to stay in school, be well, and change the trajectory of their future.  Through her organization, Riya is helping two severely under-resourced schools, in Haiti and India.

In India, Riya supports an orphanage of children who are primarily from the historically most oppressed (Dalit) community and come from a variety of backgrounds … single mothers, parents unable to provide basic care and mostly children who are orphans. Kids need to walk a good distance to school through the somewhat harsh climates in Bidar – from cold winters to the heavy southwest monsoon. ​ Giftkids shipped colorful sweaters to them in time for the Indian holiday of Diwali.rita-india.pngIn Haiti, the remedial school she helps is comprised of enthusiastic kids who struggle with reading and are first-generation learners. They attend this free school with the hope to be able to attend high school someday. However the kids are often absent in class because they do not have proper shoes to walk the distance to school. ​In 2017, Giftkids shipped new sneakers to them in time for their pre-Kanaval celebration in January.riya-haiti.pngIn the two years since its start, Giftkids today has helped over 100 kids in need in Haiti, India, and San Jose, California.

This last story is a really small thing, but it struck a chord with me, and I think speaks volumes about this man.

Tim Crowley and some buddies were hanging out in Tim’s backyard last weekend, and there was a fair amount of drinking going on when all of a sudden, a baby bird fell out of the sky!  The bird needed help, so Tim, still with some of his wits about him, called the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah and sent them a picture of the bird.Petey-1The staff at the Center told Tim to bring the baby bird on in, but there was one problem:  nobody in the group was sober enough to drive!  So, after some thought and debate, they called for an Uber!  The first Uber driver refused, so they didn’t tell the next driver who the passenger would be, and she gladly delivered the little birdie to the Wildlife Center.Petey-2The staff at the center named the little guy, fittingly, Petey Uber, and they say it is unlikely he would have survived without intervention.  Tim Crowley … the man paid for an Uber to save the life of one little birdie!  Doesn’t that bring a lump to your throat?  How many people do you know who would have done the same?

Petey is reportedly doing fine and will be released into the wild when he is able to survive on his own.  Thanks to Tim Crowley!

And that’s a wrap for today, folks!  If any of you run across a ‘good people’, feel free to send me a link or story, and I will consider it for inclusion in the good people posts!  Meanwhile, let’s all try to be a good people, even if only in a small way.

Good People Doing Good Things — Big Hearts 💖

Finally, Wednesday has rolled around again and I can write something uplifting instead of the gloom and doom that has been my steady diet all week.  So grab your coffee … sit back and put on a happy face for a few minutes …

Taking on a family …

Barry Farmer was taken from his parents and placed in foster care at an early age.  Barry was one of the lucky ones, and his grandmother was allowed to be his foster parent under a Virginia program called ‘Kinship Care’.  But even so, Barry grew up not knowing what it was to be cared for by his parents.

When he turned 21 years of age, Barry decided he wanted to do for someone else what his grandmother had done for him, and he became licensed as a foster parent.  His first foster child was 8-year-old Jaxon, who was only supposed to stay with him until his parents were once again able to care for him.  That didn’t happen, and eventually the foster care program placed Jaxon up for adoption.  When he was to meet his potential adoptive parents, Jaxon asked for Barry Farmer to be his “forever father”.

In 2011, Barry adopted his first child, Jaxon …Barry-JaxonAnd two years later, another lad came into the fold when Barry adopted 11-year-old Xavier.  And then in 2016, Barry adopted another, 4-year-old Jeremiah.  And you can tell just by looking at this family that there is a bond … that it is working for them …

“Fatherhood has been everything I imagine it to be because I’m the father I wish I had growing up. I’m involved, I’m there when my boys go to sleep and when they wake up.  I’m their biggest cheerleader when helping them achieve their goals. I try not to miss a beat in their lives. I take the responsibility of being their father very seriously and never for granted. They are loving, strong-willed and, at times, extremely thoughtful. My sons have a lot of potential to make a positive impact on this world, I just hope they realize it and act on it.”

Barry-JeremiahHow many young men do you know who, starting at age 21, are willing to dedicate their lives to adopting children, becoming a single dad to three boys?  I don’t know many.

Homes for Vets …

We’ve all heard the tragic stories of veterans … men and women who risked their lives to fight for this nation, for our lives, our freedom … who end up destitute, homeless, living on the streets.  Well, in Kansas City, Missouri, the community decided to do something about it.

A group of veterans got together and formed the Veterans Community Project.  They built 13 tiny homes, consisting of four family units and nine single units, all fully functional.tiny-homes-1Not only that, but the group will be offering classes on how to manage finances, cook, stay healthy, and overcome substance abuse.  They are also planning to build an additional 19 homes in the near future.

One of the residents of the new homes is Marvin Gregory, who had spent six years living on the streets …Mavin-Gregory

“I just want to be in here and absorb it all.  Doors are closed for you when you’re a little older and people don’t think you have the goods to work and make it happen. It’s rough. They have some places. But the shelters are pretty much full and it’s hard finding shelter in Kansas City.”

According to one of the group’s founders, Brandon Mixon …

“We’re pulling these guys out of the trenches in their battle and saving their lives because they would have done the exact same for us. They could have been that guy that saved my life in Afghanistan or pulled me to safety.”

Two thumbs up to these guys who are doing so much for their fellow vets!

Meet Michael Platt …Michael-PlattMichael is 13-years-old, lives in Maryland, and he is unique.  You see, Michael owns and operates a bakery called … Michael’s Desserts!  And that in itself makes him pretty unique, for how many kids that age do you know who are running their own business?  But, that alone doesn’t qualify him for a slot in a good people post.  What does qualify him, however, is that for every cupcake he sells, he donates one to the homeless.  Now, that may not seem like much to you, but this kid is only 13, and already he is giving away 50% of his income … not net profit, but gross income … to feed the homeless.  That’s more than a lot of adults I know give away in their lifetime!cupcakes.pngFrom a young age, Michael loved cupcakes. He spent many afternoons at his computer watching YouTube bakers.  At just 11 years old, he founded Michael’s Desserts which operates on a unique business model.

“I knew that I wanted to make a business, but I knew I didn’t just want to make money, I also wanted to help people at the same time.  I always wanted to have a purpose for what I do. It’s all about helping people — not just having a purpose for yourself, but thinking about, ‘How does this touch other things?'”

This young man is going places!  Remember that name, for I bet about 10 years from now, maybe sooner, you’re going to hear it again.

And that’s a wrap for this week, folks.  Remember … if you can’t find a good person, then be one!

Good People Doing Good Things — Little Things Mean A Lot

I started this post early last evening, and I had picked out several good people, the plan being to highlight each with a brief ‘snippet’.  I spent nearly an hour on the first one, as I was having a hard time staying focused, and then something in my head kept saying it seemed familiar.  It was … I had written about the Little Free Library way back in 2018.   😔  So, then I decided that some of the half dozen people I had selected for this morning’s post didn’t really interest me all that much (I told you, my focus is not working well).  Which leaves me with just two for today.  But hey … two good people snippets is still better than nothing, yes?  Annnnnd … there’s a fun bonus at the end!

Divers In, Trash Out

I’m always seeing stories about people trying to set a Guinness World record for one thing or another.  Sometimes I include them in my Jolly Monday posts, for they are so silly that one must laugh.  Today, though, I am including one in my Wednesday ‘good people’ post, for these guys are trying to set a record for doing something to help us all!

It happened down in Deerfield Beach, Florida, where 633 scuba divers got together to clean up a section of the ocean.  The previous record was 614 in a dive organized in the Red Sea in Egypt in 2015.  A Guinness official, Michael Empric, flew in from Florida to verify the count and watch the operation.  Each diver had to stay in the water  for at least 15 minutes to be counted.

One of the divers was 13-year-old Dahlia Bolin.  She and her mother Rebecca came all the way from Mackinaw, Illinois, to help set the record, and pick up debris.  She recovered a white, metal sign with red lettering that warned: Boats Must Not Come Within 100 Yards of Pier.


Dahlia Bolin (center) with her mother (left) and another diver

The event was organized by Dixie Divers and the Woman’s Club of Deerfield Beach and included divers from across the United States, along with Europe and South America.  The divers retrieved 9,000 items of marine debris, including 3,200 pounds of fishing gear, and 1,600 pounds of lead fishing weights alone, the result of years of anglers cutting bait.Divers.jpgGranted, it is but a drop in the bucket of waste in our oceans, but I have to give two thumbs up to these divers for doing their part to help clean up … and just imagine if this were done on every beach around the world, say once a month?  Great job, divers!  You earned that record!

Learning Respect and Compassion

This one was sent to me last week by our friend Scott Lawlor … thank you Scott!  Leaving Florida and heading over to New Mexico where Gino Perez teaches a wood and metal shop class at Valley High School in Albuquerque.  Mr. Perez teaches a skill, but also a life’s lesson to his young students as they learn to make handcrafted wooden urns adorned with the symbols of all the branches of the military to be used for the cremated remains of homeless and indigent veterans.  Says Perez …

“I wanted to make it real clear the status of these Americans — they’re mostly homeless and they were also veterans with full military honors and nobody claimed their bodies. I’ve never seen a group of students engage in a project like this. Even students that were down on the military for whatever reason — they’ve all got their politics — would say we’re doing a good thing.”

Perez-classPerez, who has been a teacher for four years and is a Navy veteran himself was looking for a way to get his students involved in the community, while learning about metal and woodworking.

The students’ work will be recognized Sept. 20 at an assembly that will include New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Jack Fox, Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley and Joshua McManigal of Daniels Family Funeral Services, who all partner in the Forgotten Heroes Burial Program.  The Forgotten Heroes Burial Program provides a full military funeral at Santa Fe National Cemetery if there are no family members or friends to claim their remains or there is no money to provide for their funeral services.

A good teacher and students who are learning to be good people.  Can’t ask for more than that, can you?

Never Too Old

This one isn’t really about a ‘good people’ helping others, but it’s a fun, uplifting story, and I think this lady deserves a spot here anyway.  Perhaps it’s about perseverance?

Meet Julia Hawkins, who just happens to have been on this earth for some 103 years.  Now, a lot of people slow down when they get older … I know this for a fact, for at 68 I have slowed down considerably!  But not Ms. Hawkins … she sped up considerably!  In fact, just last week, she ran both the 50-meter and the 100-meter dash races in the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico! Julia-Hawkins.jpgTwo years ago, at the age of 101, Julia Hawkins set a record by running the 100-meter dash in just 39.62 seconds.  They called her the “Hurricane.”  This year, she had actually slowed down some, and was about 6 seconds slower on the 100-meter dash, but as she said …

“I’m two years older, remember?”

Ms. Hawkins got into running late in life, and it has become one of her many passions. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she takes daily walks and cares for trees on her property. She has four children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was married to her late husband, Murray, for 70 years, after they had a wedding by telephone during World War II.  Married 70 years … I told you it was perseverance!

Asked in a New York Times interview about her training regimen, she said …

“I run on the street by my house, occasionally, not often. As I get older, I feel like I only have so many 100-yard dashes left, and I don’t want to waste them in practice. Can you imagine that? I have markers on the street to show me where 50 yards is, and where 100 is, and I go by that. But I don’t practice much. I’m just pretty good at moving around and I do it when I have to, whatever I have to do.”

I like this lady!

Back next week with some more ‘good people’, and hopefully I will be better able to focus then.

Good People Doing Good Things — For Ronald Dembner

I was pondering yesterday afternoon about the Good People feature.  Some weeks, I consider skipping it altogether, but then I remember the comments from past good people posts, and I realize that this feature may well be the most important post I write all week.  I try to mix it up, sometimes featuring a single person who is helping others in a big way, other times featuring a number of people just like me and you, people who have nothing much more than their time and compassion to offer. Average Joes just like us, finding ways to help people, ways to be the person we all hope to find within ourselves. These people all inspire us, give us hope that good will win over the current evil we see everywhere we turn, and they maybe make us try to do just a little bit better in our own lives.  Today, I bring you a woman who inspired a community to help an elderly veteran.

Lauren-MulvihillLauren Mulvihill is a single mom and an Uber driver in the area of Stockbridge, Georgia.  She got the call last week to pick up an 89-year-old veteran named Ronald Dembner from the local Veteran’s hospital and take him to his home. Ronald Dembner-1But when Lauren arrived at Mr. Dembner’s home, she was aghast at the conditions in which he was living.  His home was a shambles, for Mr. Dembner has mobility problems and is not physically able to properly care for it.  Turns out, he was afraid that both his dog and his home would be taken from him if he asked for any sort of help.  He is a widower, both of his sons have died, and even the home care nurses had stopped coming to visit.

Well, Lauren Mulvihill may not have much money, but she has a heart of gold and she was not about to leave Mr. Dembner in those conditions!  She asked him if there was somebody … family or friend … that he could call to come help him, but the answer, sadly, was no.  Mr. Dembner was all alone except for his dog, King.  Lauren knew that with her own children to take care of, she couldn’t possibly clean and repair Mr. Dembner’s home by herself, so …

Helping Mr. RonaldWhat else could she do but post a call to arms on Facebook?  She created a public Facebook group  called Helping Mr. Ronald, and the response was overwhelming! Here are just a sampling of the responses …

  • Do you need flooring? My husband and I own a flooring company and would be happy to help.

  • Hello! Thank you for letting me join! I came across this beautiful story while browsing thru Life in Henry! You all are such an inspiration. I would love to volunteer my time in any way I can. I am a retired veteran, and I would like to share his story with a Veteran group here on Facebook. They may have some good info and resources available to Mr. Robert. Thank you all for what you are for this gentleman; there is an Army ethos from long ago….no fellow Soldier/man left behind…God bless Lauren Mulvihill for not leaving him behind!

  • I can’t drive but if there is laundry that needs to be done and caught up, if someone can bring to me in Jackson I will do it here at my home and get it all done. I also have a kennel that can be borrowed till fence is up to give King some outside time.

  • I have professional experience in cleaning and organizing. Let me know if I can help. I can make myself available whenever you need me.

Dozens of volunteers came forward and began to clean and help strip apart the house. In just a week’s time, they had already removed all of the garbage, the old furniture and the old carpet.


Volunteer Shaquin Thomas delivers Mr. Ronald food

The next step is painting the walls and putting in new floor. They’re also trying to get someone to come fix the mold situation  One husband/wife team provided free fencing, a vet saw to King’s rabies shots and flea treatment, another signed him up for Meals on Wheels, his home was cleaned top to bottom, someone else donated new flooring … and finally, the support was so overwhelming, Mr. Dembner couldn’t stop crying, and Lauren had to post …

Please no more visitors for Mr. Ronald unless you have spoke with me first. I think we are all forgetting he is still a person and has a lot going on right now. If you wish to stop or bring him anything just message me and I will work some time in for you!! Thank you so much everyone 😘😘😘

Dembner-MulvihillWow, huh?  Just wow.

This story isn’t about just one good people, though kudos and hats off to Ms. Lauren Mulvihill for having such a big heart and for getting this ball rolling, but this is about so many good people coming out in support of a man who served his country and now needs a helping hand.  These are the good people, my friends … these are the real people, the real heroes in this world.Helping-people-reason-quote.jpg

Good People Doing Good Things —

I usually focus on every day, average individuals in these ‘Good People’ posts, but on occasion I like to highlight companies, businesses, and organizations that are going above and beyond to make people’s lives a little bit better in one way or another.

In Dubuque, Iowa, there is a school, Alternative Learning Center, that has found a unique way to encourage students to help others.  In lieu of running laps for their physical education credits, students can volunteer to help disabled and senior citizens.

Hitzler-2The learning center is specifically geared towards junior and senior high students who are at risk of dropping out of traditional schools.  Teacher Tim Hitzler is the man behind the program, and he has directly overseen it.  The students volunteer to do yardwork or other chores for those who struggle to do these things themselves.  According to Mr. Hitzler …

“The students and I and other students come out and help them. Could be raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, cleaning gutters, just depends on what they need. The students aren’t typically too excited at the beginning, but once they get involved and start doing the yard work, they become more motivated. What they really like is … helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person.”

Hitzler-1.pngTurns out this is not Tim Hitzler’s first journey into altruism.  He is also the founder of a non-profit, Key City Creative Center, in Dubuque, that lends space, tools and studios to people to work on a variety of projects.  Veterans are given free membership, others pay a small fee.  As Tim says …

“The tools and the space are very valuable. But the collaboration and the knowledge you get from other people here are where the real value is.”

Take a look …

Thumbs up to Tim Hitzler and the Alternative Learning Center for helping people, and especially for teaching young people the value of being good people, of helping others.

Back in March, I wrote in another ‘good people’ post about a large supermarket chain in the UK, Sainsbury’s, and gave them kudos for being a company that took care of their people.  Well, this week Sainsbury’s is back on my radar for another extraordinary move, this time taking care of the environment.SainsburysThe company has already implemented measures that are leading to a reduction of 8,101 tonnes (that’s 17,859,626 pounds) of non-recyclable plastic and “virgin plastic” every year.  But now, in addition, they have committed to cutting a further 1,284 tonnes (2,830,732 pounds) of plastic from their supply chain over the course of the next year, including plastic cutlery, bags, lids, and trays.

Plastic cutlery will be removed from all their over 1,400 stores as well as plastic trays for asparagus and sweetcorn; plastic cream pot lids; plastic tomato and carrot trays; and plastic sleeves from herb pots.plastic-freeThe company has also committed to replacing their black plastic trays; plastic fruit and vegetable film; PVC and polystyrene trays; and plastic egg trays with recyclable alternatives.

According to Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe …

“We are absolutely committed to reducing unnecessary plastic packaging in Sainsbury’s stores. Our customers expect us to be leading the way on major issues like this, so I am determined to remove and replace plastic packaging where we can and offer alternatives to plastic where packaging is still required to protect a product.”

Yo!  Kroger, Giant, Safeway, Food Lion … are you guys listening???  Thumbs up, once again, to Sainsbury’s!

Mike-Than-Tun-Win.jpegMeet Mike Than Tun Win, a businessman and entrepreneur in Myanmar.  Mike is the founder of, a successful travel agency, and is CEO of BOD Tech Co., Myanmar’s first fully tech-based vehicle financing company.  Sounds just like many a rich capitalist, eh?  But what sets Mike apart is his big heart and the fact that he is using some of his success to help others.

Mike Than Tun Win created a non-profit organization called LessWalk which is buying up the bikes and making them suitable for students, then donating them to underprivileged children across the country who walk miles to school.

“It’s a common sight to see lines and lines of students walking long distances from home to school in rural villages. Some students can walk up to one hour from home to school and the families can hardly afford a simple form of transport like bicycle or motorcycle… a school bus is almost unheard of to the students in rural villages.”

Than was able to purchase the bikes at $40 per bike, costing a total of $400,000. Half of the money for the project has been funded through donations to LessWalk. Than himself provided the rest.

“I’m only halfway through the journey. The remaining 50 percent is making sure we have an impact.”

And, while this final story doesn’t exactly qualify as ‘good people doing good things’, it is heartwarming, and isn’t that, after all, what the good people posts are all about?

Harold Nelson started fishing when he was eight-years-old.  He later joined the military and served in the third infantry during World War II under General George S. Patton. Throughout the war, he made six amphibious invasions and was shot four times.

Ten years ago, when he was a spry 94-years-old, he was on a bus on his way to a casino near his Colorado home when a young lady, Jeanne Gold, happened to sit down next to him.  Jeanne was a spring chicken, only 84 years of age at the time!  The two hit it off, and it was a matter of days ‘til Harold introduced Jeanne to his one true love:  fishing.  Well, she took to it like a fish to water, and the two became boyfriend & girlfriend. Harold-JeanneToday, the couple are still boyfriend/girlfriend, Harold is 104 and going strong, and they still fish together most every day!  Though a gust of wind may knock him over, as it has in the past according to his recollection, Nelson has no plans to hang up his fishing pole anytime soon.

“When I’m pushing up daisies, I’m going to quit fishing.”

Just goes to show, you just never know when or where love will strike, and … you’re never too old to fall in love.  Maybe I’ll go buy me some hip-waders and take a bus ride!paragraph divider 2

Good People Doing Good Things — Finn Lanning

His name is Damien, last name unknown, and he is 13 years old.  Let me tell you a bit about Damien.  He was placed in foster care at a very early age, and as so often happens, has been bounced from one foster home to another.  When he was eight years old, Damien’s kidneys both stopped working and he was diagnosed with a serious kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.  The only cure is a kidney transplant, and meanwhile Damien must spend more than 12 hours per day hooked to a dialysis machine.

DamienThere is a rule in the medical community about transplant recipients … they must have a stable home — homeless people are not placed on the list because they tend to have more complications.  Much of the time, Damien’s only home has been a hospital, when foster homes have not worked out, often because of the intensive care and restrictive diet that Damien requires.  As a result, Damien has been on and off the transplant list for the past five years.

Early last year, a relative took Damien in and once again he was back on the transplant list.  His mental and physical health improved, and he was able to enroll in the AXL Academy in Aurora, Colorado.  Enter math teacher, Finn Lanning.  Says Finn …

“Although he has significant health challenges, he is an excellent student and a kind, generous, and motivated human being.”

Sadly, after caring for Damien for several months, last fall the relative decided that Damien’s additional needs were simply too much, and she was no longer able to care for Damien.  The decision was made to return him to the custody of the county.  The county would be sending him back to the hospital where he had spent much of his young life, sometimes for months at a time, once even for a full year.  He would once again be removed from the transplant list.

On what was to be his last day at school, Damien told his math teacher that he wouldn’t be back.  Finn Lanning asked why, and he told him.  Over the next few days, Finn couldn’t get Damien out of his mind.

“Over that time, I started out going in to give him his work and just hang out with him a little bit, keep him caught up in the classroom. And as I learned more about his story and what he was facing and what his needs were and why they weren’t being met, it just became really hard for me to look the other way.”

It wasn’t an immediate decision, Finn recalls …

“’No way! This is not something that I’m going to do.’ But as time went on, I felt a call to engage with it. I couldn’t just not do it. I didn’t see it as an option.”

Damien-Finn-3So, in late December Finn began training to take care of young Damien, and Damien moved in with Finn earlier this year.  When the community heard of the story, they began pitching in with a bed and assorted things Finn would need to provide a home for Damien.  Damien’s dietary requirements are challenging and costly, and like any 13-year-old boy, Damien sometimes rebels and really wants nachos or fried chicken.  Nonetheless, one of the things the two enjoy doing is cooking together!


Finn has to take time off work twice a week to take Damien to doctor’s appointments, and a number of his fellow-teachers have donated their vacation time so that he wouldn’t lose any pay.  Damien doesn’t have his kidney yet, but they are hoping for soon … very soon.  Meanwhile, the two are bonding, learning to live together, and … perhaps the best part … Finn is planning to adopt Damien!  First things first, he says, and the first priority is getting the kidney, but after that he plans to adopt him.


Good People Doing Good Things — Curtis Jenkins!

These days more than ever, we need to be reminded of all the good people, people who are giving of themselves to do good for others.  They aren’t hard to find … you sometimes just have to sift through all the noise to find these people quietly going about the business of … being good people.  Today, I would like you to meet a school bus driver for Lake Highlands Elementary school in Dallas, Texas.  His name is Curtis Jenkins and his story is heartwarming … Gronda, get your tissues.Curtis-Jenkins.jpegUp until eight years ago, Curtis owned his own plumbing and electrical company.  Then, his mother became ill and he needed greater flexibility in order to take her to and from appointments, so he sold his business and took a job with the Richardson Independent School District (RISD) driving a school bus.  And it was there he found his passion in life … the kids.

Jenkins makes the trip to and from school fun!  He has created a community inside bus No. 1693. Students apply for their ‘jobs’ and earn “bus bucks” that Jenkins designed himself. Children who don’t work receive a weekly stipend ($5 bus bucks), but they’re taxed $2.  Only recently, he added another wrinkle … each working child contributes one of their bus bucks to help those who aren’t working.  At the end of the week, bus bucks can be redeemed for needed school supplies (purchased by Curtis). Among the ‘jobs’ are sheriff, police officer, banker, administrative assistant, and translator.


Students are fined when they break Jenkins’ rules, which are centered around respect and compassion.

“I’m teaching love. If you don’t love, it might cost you some things.”

It’s no classroom, but Jenkins plans daily lessons that he worries are otherwise neglected. He shows students how to fly paper airplanes and tie a tie, among other useful life skills.

“I want to put imagination back in children without desensitizing them.”

Students campaigned for bus president in March and were tasked with creating a budget to add more jobs. But multiplication is tricky. So is public speaking, which is why one fifth-grader dropped out of the race.  A second-grader, trying to offer him words of encouragement, said …

“Look, all you need to say is some fancy words, and something that’s going to make everyone excited or something. Then they’re going to choose you. It’s not that hard.” (I can’t imagine where the kid learned that lesson?)

But Curtis Jenkins’ acts of kindness go much further than that.  He makes each child on his bus a special card on their birthdays, and he and his wife, Shaneqia, purchase turkeys for some of the kids’ families at Thanksgiving.  At Easter, he and Shaneqia put together special Easter bags for the kids.  It’s the little things that mean so much.

Every morning when he arrives at school with his young charges, he gives a brief talk from the front of the bus with advice like, “Walk with a purpose until you walk into your purpose. Everybody deserves a chance. No matter the odds, don’t ever count anyone out — including yourself.”  The kids love him.  One parent reported recently that her child is excited to get up and come to school because he knows Jenkins will be there to greet him each morning at the bus stop.  Another child said …

“My mom got divorced when I was only 4. He’s the father that I always wanted. In some ways, I wish my dad could have been like that.”

Until last December, Curtis had gone quietly about the business of being a bus driver, mentor, helper, with few outside the school noticing.  That all changed the week of Christmas, however, when he and Shaneqia decided not to buy Christmas gifts for each other, but instead to spend the money on gifts for the children.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, he got the kids talking about what they hoped to get for Christmas, and Curtis made mental notes.  In the end, he and Shaneqia ended up also spending the money they had put back for a second honeymoon … they felt this was more important. One of his fellow bus drivers and a parent also chipped in once they discovered what he was doing.


A teacher took a picture of Curtis standing before his gift-laden bus and the school posted it on Facebook as a way to thank Curtis for going above and beyond the call of duty. The photo and accompanying story went viral.  The post was be shared 13,500 times and his story ran across media outlets in 20 countries, all within 48 hours!  HuffPost and even Breitbart picked up the story, as did CBS and NBC.

Jenkins wasn’t prepared for the nonprofits who claimed they donated to him, even though they hadn’t. A company is turning a profit by sending thank you cards to him on behalf of their customers. His daughter wasn’t ready for the 2,000 Instagram followers who flooded her inbox in search of her dad’s contact information. Jenkins didn’t expect to buy a P.O. box or hire a lawyer to establish a nonprofit.

But that is what, after giving it much thought, he did.

“If I have a platform now, why not use it?”

Jenkins’ nonprofit, Magnifying Caring and Change, is still in the development stages, but will be an extension of what he does for the students on his bus. He partnered with Cozy Coats for Kids to buy jackets for students. His hope is that one day he’ll have a community center for them after school.

“Just take the time to look at yourselves and think, if you were in another position than what you are in right now, how do you want somebody to treat you. I’m not rich at all. But I plan to one day be a blessing to people in need. We need these kids to know they have potential — they are like little apprentices. One day they will be the leaders when we aren’t around.”

Wise words from a wise, kind, and compassionate man.  Two thumbs up to Mr. Curtis Jenkins!


Good People Doing Good Things — Robert F. Smith

It’s graduation season at colleges all across the nation, but one commencement ceremony will stand out in the minds of many for the rest of their lives.  Graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, will be telling their grandchildren about their graduation “way back in 2019”.  Why?  Because of the generosity of one man, Robert Frederick Smith.

Mr. Smith gave the commencement speech at Morehouse last Sunday.  Watch (pay particular attention to the guy in the lower left-hand corner)

Who, you ask, is Robert Frederick Smith?  Never heard of him, have you?  Well, he is a 56-year-old African-American man, originally from Colorado, currently living in Austin, Texas.  He is a businessman, investor, and philanthropist, a former chemical engineer and investment banker. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners.  Not the sort of person I typically feature in my good people posts, and not the sort we usually think of when we think of ‘generosity’.

Smith’s net worth is estimated at $5 billion, but he is not your typical billionaire.  Smith was not born into abject poverty, but neither was he born into wealth.  Both of his parents were schoolteachers and his was very much a middle-class upbringing.  But Smith had drive, he had ambition, and he knew at an early age what he wanted.

As a junior in high school, Smith landed an internship at Bell Labs — by calling the company every week for five months until he got a slot. Smith tinkered with computers during his summer and winter breaks and went on to study chemical engineering at Cornell University. He earned an MBA from Columbia University, followed by an investment banking job at Goldman Sachs. After advising billion-dollar mergers for tech companies such as Microsoft and Apple, he left Goldman to found Vista Equity Partners in 2000.  Today, Robert Smith is the wealthiest African-American in the nation.

Smith’s gift to Morehouse graduates is far from his first act of generosity.  Prior to the 2003 opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Smith donated $20 million.  In 2016, he gave $50 million to Cornell University for its chemical and biomolecular engineering school, and to support black and female engineering students. He is the founding director and president of the Fund II Foundation. Under his leadership, Fund II Foundation has invested in organizations such as Cornell, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), National Park Foundation, Susan G. Komen, and Global Wildlife Conservation, among many others.

In 2018, Smith was the largest individual donor at the City of Hope Gala, earmarking funds towards prostate cancer treatment for black men and for breast cancer research for black women. Smith also donated $2.5 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation to advance prostate cancer research among African-American men.

In 2017, Smith signed on for The Giving Pledge, joining such notable philanthropists as Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett and currently 190 others.

Robert-Frederick-Smith“I will never forget that my path was paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans whose names I will never know. Their struggles, their courage, and their progress allowed me to strive and achieve. My story would only be possible in America, and it is incumbent on all of us to pay this inheritance forward. For these reasons, on behalf of my family, I am privileged to join the Giving Pledge with a commitment to invest half my net worth—during my lifetime—to causes that support equality of opportunity for African Americans, as well as causes that cultivate ecological protection to ensure a livable planet for future generations.”

As you all know, I typically have little or no use for billionaires, as very few use their wealth to help people.  But when a man pledges to pay off the student debt for 396 college graduates, my hat is off to him.

I did a bit of research and found that the average white college graduate leaves school with $28,650 in student loan debt.  But, according to Brookings Institute, the average black student has an additional $7,400 in debt, in part because black parents have less wealth to help pay for their children’s educations.  So, what Mr. Smith has done for these graduates is no small thing, for the total could well end up being around $15 million, according to my calculations.  And what he said toward the end of his speech … he called on those graduates to “pay it forward” … will ensure that his gift is one of those that ‘keeps on giving’.

Good People Doing Good Things — Two Restaurateurs

It is so easy to overlook the people in this world who are quietly going about the business of being humanitarians in small ways.  Oh sure, we notice the ones like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates who are pledging to give 50% or more of their lifetime earnings to charitable causes, and don’t get me wrong … I applaud them for what they do.  But, they are noticed and given kudos, while the ones who do the small things like bring meals to homeless people, or rescue an animal are largely overlooked.  In these Wednesday morning posts, I try to mix it up and present a few of those doing big things, but also those who are flying under the radar, so to speak.  This morning, I would like to introduce you to two restaurant owners who are making a difference in people’s lives.

Juan Carlos Beristain is the owner of JC’s Café in Cary, Illinois.  Although the café serves up desserts, coffee and all the other things you expect to find in such an establishment, his specialty is … soup.  Dozens of different varieties of soup are enjoyed by the café’s patrons.  But Mr. Beristain has another customer … one who cannot come to the Café.

Noah Dionesotes has multiple sclerosis and is undergoing chemotherapy.  Noah had been a regular in Mr. Beristain’s café, loved his soups, but is now unable to visit the café.  So, every week, sometimes several times a week, Juan Carlos Beristain loads up a number of containers of soup and delivers them to Noah Dionesotes’ home, free of charge.

“I really feel when other people are in pain. I felt that I could help him at least by delivering the soup that he likes, with the nutrition that is going to help him.”

For more than seven months, these special soup deliveries have provided more than just the nutrition that Noah needs to regain his strength. They’ve also led to a special bond between the two men. Noah described Juan Carlos as a warm, positive person who has become his best friend.


Noah and Juan

This, folks, is what it means to be human.  What Juan is doing is a small thing, sure, but how many people go through their entire lives without doing this much to help another?

Her name is Ruth, and she is a mere mortal, but to many she is an angel. Ruth Henricks is the owner of The Huddle restaurant in San Diego, California.  Her story begins back in 1989, during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.  One of Ruth’s most frequent customers was a lanky young man named Scott, who came in for a meal every day.  As Ruth came to know Scott, he confided in her that he was dying of AIDS and that he had become too weak to cook for himself …

“When I come in, I’m greeted by everyone.  They know my name, and they pat me on the back and ask how it’s going today – no matter how I look.  I’m so grateful for you and the homecooked meals.  I depend on you for my meals, Ruth.  If I’m not at The Huddle, you’ll know I’m not eating.”

And, of course, the day came when Scott no longer came to The Huddle.  It was then that Ruth was talking to another customer, a doctor, about Scott, and the doc had a suggestion.  He said Ruth could put a note on the cash register, offering to deliver meals to people with AIDS.  She did, and the response was overwhelming.  Ultimately, Ruth, the doctor, and a group of supporters started a non-profit called Special Delivery San Diego.  Most of her original volunteers were her customers, and they started out delivering around 75 meals per day to AIDS patients.


Ruth Henricks (center) and a few of the volunteers of Special Delivery

Eventually, Ruth and Special Delivery expanded their services to provide meals to people with other illnesses, including cancer, kidney disease and other debilitating, chronic diseases.  To-date, Special Delivery has served more than 6,000 people and prepared more than 1 million meals for them.

Clients are referred by social workers or doctors and receive three meals, five days a week. Many recipients are bedbound; some are living below the poverty line.  According to one of their meal recipients, Alden Steffens …

“I can’t cope on my own. I can’t cook. I’m just drained. I probably would be dead if it wasn’t for Special Delivery and the food.  It’s a joy every day when they ring the bell. It’s instant healing, even if you were sick five minutes before. They smile, and they treat you like a wonderful equal.”

In the early years, around 1993, one of the recipients of the Special Delivery meals was a young man named Rob.  Rob had served in the Navy in the early 1980s and when he later found he had AIDS, his family disowned him.  According to Ruth, “When we started feeding him, we became his family.”  When Rob died, Ruth discovered that Rob had left a $25,000 life insurance policy to Special Delivery to help keep the program going.

But Hendricks’ efforts don’t stop with only the food deliveries, for as she became more aware of her community, she began to see other needs.  She opened a food pantry, which now benefits roughly 800 families a month.  While running that pantry, Henricks found that many people had diabetes. So, she started a program tailored to their dietary needs, complete with a weekly nutrition class and free diabetic-friendly groceries.

Whew!  Did I mention that Ruth is 75 years of age?  Says Ruth …

ruth-1.jpg“I have been very fortunate to attract the most loving, caring, hardworking volunteers. We share each other’s joys, sorrows. We feel good about what we’re doing. And it is a family.  I have a few volunteers who are still with me from the day we started Special Delivery. And a lot of times I say, ‘Why do you keep coming back?’ And they say, ‘Well, we really believe in what we’ve created here.’

I’ve promised everyone that the diabetic program will be the last program, but I didn’t know there was going to be anything beyond the pantry, so we’ll see what comes. If we see some type of a food insecurity need in the community, we’re going to try and fix it. I can’t promise that everyone in San Diego will be able to eat tonight. But we’re going to try our best to feed the people in our corner of the world.”

I’ve got to give a two thumbs-up to Ruth and all her volunteers … 👍👍

I hope these stories helped to remind you that there are good people out there, silently operating behind the scenes to help others.  They don’t advertise, they don’t toot their own horns … they simply do.