Good People Doing Good Things — Teens And A Principal

I write a lot about the hate and divisiveness in this country, in the world.  Wednesday mornings, however, are my chance to step back from that part of the world and instead to shine a light on people who are countering the hate with love, with acts of kindness, of giving, of caring and compassion.  Today, I bring you several of those ‘good people’ …

Teens are good people too …

So often we hear people judge an entire group by the actions of a few.  This is often the case when it comes to that strange breed known as ‘teenagers’, or ‘teens’ for short.  They are at a crossroads between childhood and adulthood, and to add insult to injury, there are those pesky hormones.  But, despite the common rhetoric about teens, I shall prove to you that teens are good people too.

Snow Angels

In the town of Parsippany, New Jersey, there lives a woman named Natalie Blair.  Natalie requires regular dialysis treatments in order to stay alive.  Last week, after a major snowfall, her neighbor Brian Lanigan shoveled Natalie’s driveway so she could get out for her treatment, but then another 8 inches of snow was predicted to fall overnight, which would completely block her drive once again.  Brian, an EMT, had to get to work, so he called on his younger brother, Patrick … one of those ‘teenagers’, and asked him to do what he could to help Ms. Blair.

Patrick, a senior at Parsippany High School, started calling his friends, asking for help.  Four of these teens answered the call and came to spend the night at Patrick’s house so they could start shoveling early.  Early indeed … at 4:30 they were working on Ms. Blair’s driveway with a vengeance, attacking that snow! LaniganPatrick’s father, Peter, thought the boys deserved kudos, and tweeted the above.  I agree … hats off to these young boys.  Sadly, the snow didn’t cause school to be canceled, so after a short rest, the boys all headed out for their morning classes.

A new set of wheels

Tanner Wilson and Brandon Qualls of Norman, Arkansas, have been friends since they were little kids.  Brandon Qualls needs a wheelchair to get around, and his old one, a manual chair, has become difficult for him to use, as his arms tire more easily than they used to.

Both boys are seniors at Caddo Hills High School, and Tanner works after school and on weekends at a local mechanic’s shop.  One day in February, Tanner Wilson brought something unique to school … something he had been saving for two years to buy.  Can you guess?  Yep!  A motorized wheelchair for his friend Brandon!Tanner-BrandonTanner brought the wheelchair into class to surprise Brandon, who burst into tears …

“They came in and my face just blew up. I was just crying everywhere. I was like, ‘Wow I can’t believe he did that for me.’ It’s been my dream to just have one of these, and my dream came true.”

The only problem with Brandon’s new wheelchair is that it doesn’t fit into his family’s car, so Tanner is pondering ways to help the family buy a new car next!  Tanner Wilson … an extraordinary example of a teen … a good person!

Next time you hear somebody put down teens, remember Patrick Lanigan & friends, and Tanner Wilson … there are many more like them.

Nite-nite …

Belinda George is the principal of Homer Drive Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas.  The school district is poor, with over 90% of the children coming from families whose incomes are below the poverty level.  On Tuesdays, Ms. George’s workday does not end at 4:00 or even 5:00, for at 8:00, she is still doing something for her students – reading them a bedtime story!Belinda-GeorgeEvery Tuesday evening, Ms. George dons her pajamas, grabs a children’s book, and reads aloud to her students from her home using Facebook Live.  Though she originally started the weekly video segment in order to connect with her own students, she has quickly gained followers from youngsters across the country.

Called ‘Tucked-In Tuesdays’, the goal is to pique the kids’ interest in reading.  She makes it fun and personal for the kids.  One night, she wore a Cookie Monster onesie. Another, she wore one covered with pink hearts.  She gives shout-outs to each child as they log-in to watch.

“They’ll ask questions while I’m reading. They’re responsive. They’ll type in questions or put sad or happy faces. Being familiar with their reading can make a connection. I try to cover different interests. If kids can’t relate, they don’t read. They watch me read with emotion and make the book come alive. That’s my thing. Making them feel whatever the book is trying to make you feel. And the pajamas don’t hurt. It’s a matter of just relating to the kids. It’s just a conversation piece. ‘I like your pajamas,’ the kids say. They want to tune in to see what I’m wearing.”

I remember being in elementary school, even high school, and the only times I ever saw the principal was when I was sent to his office.  Actually, come to think of it, I knew the principal fairly well … first name basis, in fact.  Sigh.

Anyway, two thumbs-up to Principal Belinda George for going well above and beyond the call of duty, for giving of herself, giving something extra to help her students!

And that wraps up our good people post for today, but there will be more of them next week … I promise!good people

Good People Doing Good Things — Answering The Call For Help

Every Wednesday I go in search of ‘good people’ … those who are putting their own needs and wants aside for a short time to give of themselves to help others in one way or another.  Tonight I had plans to highlight a single individual, a sports ‘star’, as it were, for he has gone far above and beyond to help others.  And I will bring you the story of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar soon, perhaps next Wednesday, for he is deserving.  But last night, as I began writing, something guided me in another direction.  Something said to me that we need to see and hear about the little people, the plain, ordinary everyday average Joe, just like you and like me, this week.  We need to see and be reminded that we are the ‘salt of the earth’, that even though we haven’t got much, we can still make a big difference in someone’s life.  We need something to counter the angst and divisiveness we see around us every day.  And so, I begin today’s good people post with 4,855 good people all in one place.  Oh, and Gronda … get your tissues before reading on.

To save a child …

oscar-saxelbyoscar-saxelby-2Oscar Saxelby-Lee is five-years-old, lives in Worcester, United Kingdom, and in December, Oscar was diagnosed with cancer.  Specifically, with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a highly aggressive form of cancer.  Since his diagnosis, Oscar has had 20 blood transfusions and four weeks of chemotherapy.  Still, the only cure for his illness is a stem-cell transplant.  Doctors have told Oscar’s parents, Olivia Saxelby and Jamie Lee, that his chances for survival will severely diminish if they cannot find a donor within the next three months.

Oscar recently spent his 5th birthday at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.Oscar-birthdayOscar’s school, Pitmaston Primary, jumped into action and put out the call for potential donors to come be tested.  According to head teacher Kate Wilcox …


Kate Wilcox

“We are doing absolutely everything we can to push and find him a stem cell donor, that’s what he really needs. Numbers matter hugely because obviously we know we’re looking for a particular tissue match for Oscar. The more we have, the more chance we have of finding that golden person who is Oscar’s match.”

Oscar-parents.jpgSome 80 volunteers coordinated the drive, dubbed “Hand in Hand for Oscar” last weekend.  Those volunteers are certainly good people but wait for this.  It rained that day, so one might think the number of people showing up to be tested would be scant, but no … nearly 5,000 people showed up and stood in the rain, to see if they could donate stem cells to Oscar!waiting-in-line-OscarIt is too early to know if a match was found last weekend, but not too early to know that there were 4,855 + 80 wonderful people willing to give up a part of their weekend to help a very sick little boy.  Thanks, and thumbs up to each and every one of them!

What’s in a card?

There aren’t very many World War II veterans around anymore.  It’s been 74 years since the end of the war, and if you consider most GIs were likely at least 20 when the war ended, that would make the youngest of them 94-years-old … or older.  So, when veteran Joe Cuba was about to see his 100th birthday, a milestone in itself, he was asked what he would like for his special day.  He said the only thing he really wanted was to receive 100 birthday cards!

Now, Joe lives at Brookdale Midwestern, an assisted living facility in Wichita Falls, Texas, where the staff wanted to make Joe’s special wish come true.  They posted this picture on Facebook, hoping to garner 100 people with good hearts (and the price of a card + postage) to send Joe a card.Joe-Facebook-picAnd just like young Oscar’s story above, when the call went out, the good people rallied in numbers far beyond the expectation!Joe-mailman.jpgNeedless to say, the postman had his work cut out for him that day!  But Joe was ever so happy at receiving more than 2,500 cards!!!Joe-cardsNow folks, sure a card only costs a few bucks, and postage is only $0.55 for a regular-size card, but it’s the time and the thought.  Thousands of people took time from their busy day to go select and buy a card, go home and write a message in the card, address the card, and send it to Joe.  There were even some who took the extra time to make homemade cards!  Some people even sent small gifts like hats or t-shirts.Joe-cards-giftsAnother thanks and more 👍👍 to all the good people who took the time to wish Joe Cuba a Happy Birthday!  🎈🎈 🎁   🎂   🎁 🎈🎈

See, folks … the good people still outnumber the bad … we just don’t see or hear them as much, for they quietly go about their business without feeling the need to loudly toot their own horns.  Whether it’s a sick little boy or a lonely old man, when the call goes out, the good people show up … in droves!  Until next Wednesday, then, let’s all try to be good people and do something, even just a small something, for somebody else.

Good People Doing Good Things — Mr. Rogers

Once again, I take a short detour from my normal ‘good people’ post to honour someone who died 16 years ago today, but throughout his life was most definitely a shining example of a ‘good people’.

Mr. Rogers-header-3I’m fairly certain that I don’t need to introduce Mr. Rogers to those of you in the U.S., who have almost certainly seen Mr. Rogers on his children’s television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  I find no evidence that it was aired across the pond, however, so Mr. Rogers may not be familiar to our European friends.

Now, just being the host of a kids’ television show doesn’t automatically qualify one as a good person, but Fred Rogers went well beyond the call to entertain children, but also gave them something more, a sense of self-worth as well as a sense of security.

Mr. Rogers-header-2During the 33-year tenure of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, he tackled a wide variety of topics, addressing some of the fears and anxieties that most children have, such as the first day of school, a trip to the hospital, death, divorce, AIDS, and war. He felt that children were far too intuitive to accept the normal response of adults to children, “don’t worry about it”, and that kids would worry anyway, so it was better to talk about these things, to explain them.

His calm demeanor was reassuring, and it was the real Fred Rogers.  He refused to change his persona on camera compared to how he acted off camera, saying …

“One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away.”

Fred Rogers graduated magna cum laude from Rollins College with a degree in music in 1951.  When he returned to his parents’ house, he found they had bought a newfangled contraption called a ‘television’ set, or ‘t.v.’ for short.  But he hated what he saw on the t.v.  All he saw was angry people throwing pies in each other’s faces, and he vowed then and there to use the medium to make the world a better place.Mr. McFeely-Mr. RogersAnd he did just that.  He tackled the tough subjects that sometimes parents are afraid to talk to their children about.  Shortly after his show began in 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Mr. Rogers took on the topic in a manner that few could, by explaining that it’s okay to be sad when something like this happens, and that different people react differently to such sadness.  It is one of his most memorable and most-watched clips.Mr. Rogers-feet.jpgOn another notable episode, Rogers soaked his feet alongside Officer Clemmons, who was African-American, in a kiddie pool on a hot day. The scene was a subtle symbolic message of inclusion during a time when racial segregation in the United States was widespread.

In a 1981 segment aired in Season 11, Episode 4, Rogers met a young quadriplegic boy, Jeff Erlanger, who showed how his electric wheelchair worked and explained why he needed it. Erlanger and Rogers both sang a duet of the song “It’s You I Like.”  Years later, when Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999, Erlanger was a surprise guest to introduce Rogers. Rogers “leaped” out of his seat and straight onto the stage when Erlanger appeared.

He ended each show by saying …

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.”

Fred Rogers was a religious man, an ordained a minister of the United Presbyterian Church, but he left religion out of his show, saying he preferred his show to be inclusive, not to let any child feel left out or unwanted.  Rather, his theme was ‘kindness’, pure and simple.   Or, as many have defined it, ‘radical kindness’.

Daniel-Mr. RogersMr. Rogers did more than talk to kids each day, he advocated for them.  In 1969, Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. His goal was to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in response to proposed budget cuts. In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. He argued that alternative television programming like his Neighborhood helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, sometimes opposing less positive messages in the media and in popular culture. He even recited the lyrics to one of his songs.

The chairman of the subcommittee, John O. Pastore, was not familiar with Rogers’ work and was sometimes described as impatient. However, he reported that the testimony had given him goosebumps, and declared, “I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million.” The subsequent congressional appropriation, for 1971, increased PBS funding from $9 million to $22 million.

Years later, Mr. Rogers also swayed the Supreme Court to allow VCR’s to record TV shows from home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.Mr. Rogers-headerFred Rogers died on this date in 2003 of stomach cancer, but his memory lives on through the many children, now adults, who were touched by his words and acts of kindness for more than three decades.  He won numerous awards, including four daytime Emmys, a 1997 Lifetime Achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and, in 2002, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1999, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

As I said in the beginning, I don’t typically honour people in my ‘good people’ posts posthumously, though I did so once before when I featured Mike Ilitch  two years ago.  But our friend Ellen made this as a suggestion a few days ago, and as the anniversary of his death fell on a Wednesday, it seemed somehow right, for Fred Rogers was indeed a “good people”.

Good People Doing Good Things — Rose

This week’s ‘good people’ post is a little different than usual.  A friend posted this on Facebook a few days ago, and I found it to be so inspiring that I wanted to share it with you.  While Rose wasn’t saving lives or rescuing animals, didn’t donate a million dollars to a worthy cause, she did something for others that I think makes her a ‘good people’.  She shared timeless words of wisdom, and inspired many.  I hope you’ll agree that Rose is worthy of being this week’s good person.

An 87-Year-Old College Student Named Rose.


The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned round to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop.

I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us.

She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets.The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.” She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.”

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.

When you finish reading this, please send this peaceful word of advice to your friends and family, they’ll really enjoy it! These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE.


We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give.

Good People Doing Good Things — Ruby Kate Chitsey

A young lady, eleven-year-old Ruby Kate Chitsey, has popped up on my radar no less than three times in the past week, and with good reason.  Ruby’s mom, Amanda, is a nurse-practitioner who works in various nursing homes in and around their town of Harrison, Arkansas.  Whenever possible, Ruby accompanies her mom on her rounds several days a week.  I’ll let Ruby tell you in her own words what defining moment inspired her to begin her wondrous project …

“One day as my mom and I were leaving the nursing home, a patient named Pearl was glued to the exit doors staring for a long time at something. I figured whatever it was must be pretty exciting because I hadn’t seen anything exciting all day. So I hurried to catch up to her before whatever this was disappeared. I thought maybe it was a baby bird? A wreck in the parking lot? Ambulance? 

I get up there and there is a normal dog being led out on a leash to a car by a normal lady. That was it! Boring. I asked her what was going on and she said that was her dog of 12ish years. The dog had come to visit for the day and she was staring at the door because she didn’t know the next time she would see her dog again.

Pearl’s face was so sad.  I thought of all the things in this world Pearl could have, she would probably just ask for more visits with her dog. I know it costs $12 for a pet sitter/visit. I’m eleven and I have enough money saved in my piggy bank to get Pearl a few visits with her dog.”

Ruby-3Now, Ruby has already proven herself to be possessed of a huge, caring heart.  When she was nine-years-old, she started a project “to promote the kindness of Harrison people and its businesses through a painted rock project, called Harrison Rocks.”  Ruby gives credit for her inspiration to paint rocks to her cat, Bubba. Her first painted rock was a Bubba rock.

“My cat, he’s very inspiring and not everyone has a Bubba. I thought maybe if we put out a painted rock it would be like a little Bubba. It could make someone feel happy.”

But that was a precursor to her current project.  After her encounter with Pearl in the nursing home, Ruby started thinking.  Just $12 didn’t seem like much, but after talking to her mom and some of the nursing home residents, she learned that many of the people in the nursing homes are on Medicaid and while their daily care is covered by Medicaid, they are given only $40 in cash to purchase those extras each month.Ruby-4Ruby started spending more time with the residents, and began asking them a simple question:  “If I could bring you three things in the whole world, what would those be?”  The answers were surprisingly simple … fresh fruit, haircuts, snacks, or a book.  And Ruby began keeping a notebook …Ruby-notebook

And thus, The Three Wishes project was born.  With the help of her mother, she set up a GoFundMe account  that took off like wildfire, earning over $96,000 since its inception two months ago!

One man, when asked by Ruby what he would like, said “I want some pants that fit!”  Ruby’s mom says she has known that patient for over 18 years and never even realized that his pants were all too tight.

“I have been working in this field for 25 years, and you get used to caring for people’s medical needs, but you can forget about the need for joy.”

Ruby-2.jpegA visit to The Three Wishes Facebook page tells of the many special projects Ruby has done, such as the day she handed out over 100 candy bars to residents, some of whom said they had not had a candy bar in years.  And the first week in February, Ruby and her mom delivered McDonald’s Happy Meals that were a hit with all!Ruby-McDonaldsRuby has also begun creating artwork to adorn the residents walls.  Here’s a recent post by Ruby’s mom, Amanda …Amanda-post

Then there was the robotic cat (yes, there really is such a thing … I checked it out and then threatened to replace the Sig Six with them if they don’t behave! 😾) Ruby provided to a patient who absolutely adores cats more than anything in the world. This cat will sit on her lap all day if she likes and interact with her just enough to provide comfort.robotic-catIn addition to local media, Ruby’s project has attracted international attention, being featured on CNN as well as BBC.

Ruby visits the nursing homes (5 in total) a few times a week while Amanda makes her rounds, but to fill in the gaps, she has recruited a helper, one Marilyn Spurlock, who says …

Marilyn-Spurlock“It gives me something to do. It took away a lot of my depression — because I felt worthless and couldn’t do anything to help anybody. I’ve been here so long, I was no longer useful. Every day that goes by, I get a little more excited. I go out into in the hub — the areas where people sit. I look and talk to them and ask if there’s anything they need.”

Ruby Kate Chitsey is only 11 years old, and yet she has discovered something that many people my own age still don’t understand … a simple concept that there is much joy to be gained from helping others.  I hope never to be in a nursing home, but if ever I am, I hope there is someone like Ruby Kate to bring a ray of sunshine into my life! As I often do when writing about the very young who are doing good things, I have to give partial credit to Ruby’s parents, Dr. Blake and Amanda Chitsey, for they have obviously been superior role models.  And I give a huge thumbs-up to this young lady for dedicating her time and energy to helping so many people!

Good People Doing Good Things — Polar Vortex

Last week, many parts of the U.S. found themselves in the midst of a Polar Vortex, seeing record-breaking low temperatures.  You know that expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”?  Well, the going got tough last week, and … the tough got going.

ct-chicago-homeless-cold-photos-20190131Chicago was one of the hardest hit, with temperatures dropping at one point to -38° (F).  Chicago, like most major cities, has a significant homeless population, and while the Salvation Army went around the city taking as many of the homeless as possible to shelters, there was still a contingent of homeless people living in a tent city on the South Side, using propane tanks for heat.  Until … one of the propane tanks exploded, the fire department was called, and all the propane tanks were confiscated by city officials, who called them a ‘Level 1 Hazmat risk’.

“There was a significant amount of propane there.  And, with that many cylinders, that’s like a bomb going off.” – Chicago Fire Chief Walter Schroeder

Right … but that left 70 people in tents with no way to keep warm on the second coldest night in the history of the city.  City officials were contacting the Salvation Army, in hopes they might find room in some of their warming centers, when …Candice-Payne.jpgEnter Candice Payne, a Chicago realtor, who heard about the homeless people and decided to be a good Samaritan.  She used her American Express card and without hesitation, paid for motel rooms for the 70 homeless people in that tent city for the rest of the week!  This, my friends, is what I mean when I refer to ‘social conscience’.  Helping people who you know can never repay you, other than with a word of thanks and a hug.

But it didn’t end there!  Candice posted about the plight of these people on social media, and in no time … well, I’ll let Candice tell you the rest …

“I went on social media and I posted, hey, I’m renting 20 hotel rooms for the homeless. If anyone has a van or a passenger van that will help me transport the homeless to the hotel, I’ll pay you. And it went completely viral. It allowed us to go from 20 rooms to 59 rooms for four nights.

They call me an angel, and these people, they – they want to work. They want to work for their room. What can I do for you? Some people probably look at them and, like, don’t understand their story. And the truth be told, with this government shutdown and all of that stuff, a lot of people are one paycheck away from that same situation.

I mean, there was a lot of people pulling up, dropping off food, blankets, and that’s fine. Well, below zero, the food was getting cold as soon as someone set it out there.”

You know … we hear things every day about people in need of help, whether the homeless, the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised … and we say, “Somebody ought to do something.”  Well, Candice Payne decided she was going to be the somebody to do something, and who knows how many might well owe their lives to Ms. Payne because she made that decision.  My hat is off and my thumbs are up to Ms. Payne!

wall-of-loveIn Cleveland, Ohio, where the temperatures matched those of Chicago’s last week, resides another heroic young woman, Holly Jackson, whose motto is “Make the world a better place one person at a time.”Holly-Jackson25 years ago, Holly was living in a Cleveland homeless shelter. Since then she’s graduated college and has recently taken up a cause close to her heart. She’s giving back.  Holly puts things like coats, hats, and gloves on fences around Northeast Ohio. She’s hoping that others join her on the pay it forward crusade.

“I wanted to do something to give back and make sure there’s not stigma to it. Whoever needs it, can take it.”

I have read of a number of other instances of people pitching in to help those less fortunate, such as the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri, who came to the rescue of a family of nine who were living in an apartment with no heat and no hot water.  Or the pharmacist in Lake Odessa, Michigan, who hired her son and his snowmobile to make deliveries of medication to her patients who could not get to her pharmacy.

It may be cold outside, but inside, there are an awful lot of people with very warm hearts.  When I first started this “Good People” feature in February 2017 … wow, I can’t believe it’s been two years already! … I noted that while it is not a political feature and I would avoid politics to the extent that I could, it might sometimes happen that a political figure or situation would play into the story.  That said, I ask that you look at the people here, people digging into their own pockets, people giving of their most precious resource – time, and ask yourself how much the man in the Oval Office likely donated to help the homeless or the homebound during this time.  Or any politician, for that matter?  I say it’s time, if they claim to care so much for the people of this nation, for them to put their money where their mouths are.  In this, the ‘Land of Milk and Honey’, we should not have people living on the streets.  Period.  The fact that we do is a reflection on the entire nation.

Meanwhile, hats off to all those good people who reached out to others, who may have saved lives last week.  Thank you!

Good People Doing Good Things — ‘Round the World

They are out there, folks.  Good people exist.  They see a need, they do whatever is in their power to help meet that need.  And they exist everywhere, as you will see in a minute.  Somedays it is easy to believe that we are nothing but a cruel and evil society whose only concerns are wealth and greed.  In truth, there is a lot of that all over the world … I don’t even try to deny it.  But, at least once in a while it is requisite for our emotional and physical well-being to step back from the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world and look for the flowers growing among the thistles.  flowers-among-thistlesThey are there … you just have to look for them, for they are often overshadowed by the thistles.  That is why, no matter how embedded I am in the political fray, no matter what else is happening in the world, I try very hard to make sure I focus on those good people at least once a week.

I’d like to introduce you to a young man named Vaughn, and his friend Tony.  Vaughn is ten-years-old and was not feeling well one day last November when his mother, Mandy, needed to stop for fuel at a local gas station in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  I don’t know what the station attendant, Tony, said to young Vaughn, but within minutes he had him laughing and talking. z2zjh-boy-buys-gas-station-worker-bike-1

According to Vaughn’s mother’s Facebook page

“Since then we regularly visit the station and Vaughn eagerly looks out for his new friend. Tony always takes the time to talk to Vaughn about the various bikes we haul to Giba and back and listens so obligingly to him as he chatters away.

So when Tony asked us to looks out for a reasonably priced bike for him Vaughn promised to find him one.

Vaughn has been collecting all the silver money around the house for months, saving for a “holiday” for us. One night he came to me and asked if I really wanted a holiday and upon asking why he said he would rather put his savings towards helping Tony get his bike. ❤️

And so today, we cracked open the piggy bank and took all the silvers to Game where he bought his friend a bicycle.

Our children make us proud on so many occasions but today my heart and his is so full of the joy at the kind man’s face as he, rather stunned accepted his gift from this 10year old boy.”

Ten years old and he’s already learned the value of giving, of caring, of friendship.

There is a community of Sikhs living in San Antonio, Texas, that offered free meals to all government workers during the recent shutdown.  As part of the Sikh religion, one of their duties is to look after and protect the downtrodden.sikh center san antonio

“We are here to support those federal employees who are not getting their paycheck, and we really appreciate their services… and we believe our nation should appreciate and give gratitude to those men and women who are doing wonderful service for us, but are not getting paid so. They come early in the morning, four o’clock, sometimes five o’clock to start preparing.” — Balwinder Dhillon, President of the Sikh Center of San Antonio.

And while no one in their community is directly affected by the shutdown …

plates of food “We don’t worry about one community. We all belong to one race, which is the human race. We think we are all brothers and sisters and we need to support each other no matter who we are. We may have different color, different class or religion, or social and economic status, but at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters.”

“We all belong to one race, which is the human race.” Spot ON!!!

Pat-Smith-1.jpgMeet Pat Smith.  Pat runs a bed and breakfast in St Austell, Cornwall, UK, but that is not why she is being featured here today.  For her 2018 New Year’s resolution, Pat vowed to clean up one beach each week from Coverack, Cornwall, to Blackpool Sands, Devon.  And she has done just that.

“Doing 52 beach cleans in 2018 was my New Year’s Resolution and it’s finally done. I won’t stop as our beaches need me.”

pat-smith-2Check out this article with pictures of some of the litter Pat has picked up, as well as a listing of all 52 beaches she has cleaned in the past year.    But Pat’s good stewardship doesn’t end there!beach trashIn the summer of 2017, Pat launched an environmental group, The Final Straw Cornwall.

“I founded the Final Straw to try and raise awareness of the catastrophic damage we are doing to our oceans from our casual consumption of single use plastics. I feel I have a responsibility to my children and grandchildren to do something about it.”


This organization really deserves a post of its own, but by the time I came across it last night, I already had the two previous good people, and I didn’t want to slight them.  But do take a look at the Final Straw website (link above) and see some of the really wonderful things they are doing to reduce plastic waste in our environment.  Every country needs a branch of Final Straw.  Come to think of it, every country needs a Pat Smith!

That’s all I have time for today, but be sure to drop in again next Wednesday, for there are many, many more good people out there.  Oh, by the way, remember Liam Hannon and his dad, Scott, that I wrote about last week?  I received a Facebook message from Scott Hannon a few days ago … he had seen the piece and wrote to thank me for highlighting his son!  I’m always happy when I hear from one of the good people I write about!

Good People Doing Good Things — Liam and Scott Hannon

Last night when I began working on my ‘good people’ post, I intended to write about 3 or 4 people, as I often do, and I picked one with which to begin.  But, before long I was up to nearly 700 words and still had more to say about this remarkable duo … a boy and his dad …

liam-7Today, please allow me to introduce to you 12-year-old Liam Hannon of Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Liam’s dad typically sent him to camp for a portion of each summer, but in 2017, when Liam was just ten, he informed his dad that he didn’t want to go to camp that year.  Dad said okay but insisted that Liam find something productive and positive to keep himself busy through the summer.

That first week of summer vacation, Liam and his dad found an online treasure hunt game called Brain Chase, where Liam chose three topics to focus on, one of which was ‘service’.  The game challenged Liam to find some way, some project to give back to his community.  Liam thought about the homeless people he saw every day right outside his building, and he had an idea.  The idea was to make … sandwiches!  Sandwiches to pass out to the people who needed them most.  And thus was Liam’s Lunches of Love born.liam-6In the first week, Liam loaded up a wagon and handed out 20 sandwiches with his dad’s help. He went from sandwiches to complete bag lunches, upgraded the wagon to a hand-cart, and to date has served up more than 2,000 bag lunches to homeless people in his neighborhood.  He doesn’t just make the lunches (with some help from dad), but on each and every lunch bag, he writes a handwritten message, often accompanied by an encouraging little bit of artwork.liam-3Liam hopes to someday expand his philanthropy to include animal rescue.  A story his dad tells of one incident furthers our faith in Liam’s good heart …

His father remembers Liam’s first animal rescue: a bucket of 15 baitfish. Father and son had gone fishing. Liam watched his dad jab one small fish with a fishing hook. The boy held the bucket against his chest.  “I heard him tell the fish, ‘Don’t worry. It’s OK. I’m going to talk to him,’” Scott said.  Liam persuaded his father to throw every single baitfish back into the water, including the one on the hook so he could ‘be with his friends.’ “He’s just a wise soul for his age,” Scott said.

Now, Liam obviously has a huge heart and is a ‘good people’, but I think his dad, Scott, has to get some of the credit here, too.  Scott doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk, and Liam has grown up seeing the examples set by his dad.

“One time, Liam said, ‘Dad, did you just tell that lady she didn’t have to pay you?’ And I said, ‘Yes, she’s 90 and lives on her own and has no one to help. That $80 means nothing to me.’ He has learned like that, but he’s always been a very empathetic kid.”

Scott is a single parent, working at a mid-level job and lives in a rent-controlled building, so needless to say, there came a point early on in this venture where they needed help to pay for the groceries for the lunches Liam was handing out.

“That first week, we made 20 lunches. That was going to be it, but then Liam said, ‘Dad, can we do this again? I like doing this.’…So we kept doing it, and each week it grew a little bit more.”

So, they started a GoFundMe.   Over the weeks, donations poured in to help Liam’s Lunches of Love, and local grocery stores contributed meals, too. Friends and neighbors also volunteered their time to hand out bags, which freed Liam and Scott up to spend more time with each recipient and get to know them. And that experience has opened their eyes.

“Liam has learned a lot about the difference between what a real homeless person is like versus the idea he had in his head just from seeing people on the street. He realized they’re a lot different than he thought they were, and he’s grown up a little because of it.”

liam-1Liam and his Liam’s Lunches of Love have received national recognition from ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, the Boston Globe and others.  But the real honour came last month when Liam was one of five young people showcased on CNN’s “Young Wonders: A CNN Heroes Special” hosted by Anderson Cooper.  Take a look …

The five were also honoured the next night on “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute”.  As Anderson Cooper said at that event …

“The next generation reminds us of the unwavering foundation that really connects us all — incredible acts of kindness, unconditional love and the promise of a better tomorrow.”

liam-8I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Hats off and two thumbs up to Liam and his dad Scott … these are the people who remind us what humanity is really about, don’t you think?

For more about Liam, his dad and this project, be sure to check out the Liam’s Lunches of Love website.

Good People Doing Good Things — Dynamic Duos!

It has been a while since I’ve focused exclusively on young people doing good things, but these are always so uplifting … it is so heartwarming when we see kids who already have compassion and genuinely want to find ways to help others.  So, today, I would like to introduce two dynamic duos, brothers and sisters who work together to do good things to help humanity.

Julianna Gouthiere remembers when she was six years old, her mom telling her a story about a time when a fireman gave her a stuffed animal at the scene of a motorcycle accident and the impact it had on her mom’s life.  She turned to her mom and said she wanted to do that — to give stuffed animals to children in hard life situations.

Julianna in 2013 and in 2018

Julianna is eleven now and the founder of Bear Share.  Her project donates new stuffed animals to children going through difficult life situations. As of December 2018, Bear Share has donated over 16,000 stuffed animals in 6 states (Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, and Florida) and 2 countries outside of the United States (Africa and India).  Now that, in itself, is an awesome thing for a young lady of so few years, but wait … there’s more.

Joey in 2015 and 2018

Julianna’s brother, Joey, older by two whole years, saw what his baby sister was doing and wanted to do something of his own, so he founded Geaux Green, to encourage everyone to do their share in taking care of Planet Earth.  In the first few months of his project, he was able to secure a recycling container for his former school, A.C. Steere Elementary. He also adopted the garden there and had regular work days for 3 years where he and others picked up litter and took care of the garden. Hundreds of people have joined Geaux Green and are helping to keep their localities clean.  His short-term goal is for every school in Caddo Parish (Shreveport, Louisiana) to begin recycling and to stop using styrofoam for its meals.

The two together have formed a 501(c)(3) called Geaux Show Lovegeaux show love

Check out their website … I think you’ll be impressed by the sheer energy of these two young siblings!

Now, lest you think these are small things … sure they are, but folks, remember … these kids were only 6 and 8 years old when they started these projects … and already they have made a difference in people’s lives.

And yet another brother/sister dynamic duo are Alexander and Allison Wu of Lexington, Massachusetts.  It all started when 6-year-old Allison learned how to make origami cranes. She made a hundred of them to help Japan recover after a tsunami. For each crane that was donated, a company gave 1 dollar. Japan could use the money for housing, food and other things that they needed.alex and allisonAfterwards, she sold origami crafts at the local Farmer’s Market sale with her friend.  The following year, her brother Alex became her assistant. Alex and Allison worked very well together.  After selling at the local Farmer’s Market for five years in a row, together they decided to help others in need and to raise money for children.origami-1Proceeds from their origami are donated to Housing Families, Inc.,  an organization that provides shelter to homeless families.  Alexander’s goal is not only to raise money, but also to raise awareness about homeless families and their unique struggles.  In addition to selling origami, Alex tutors children at the shelter, organizes a holiday boutique called “Housing Families Holiday Boutique,” where homeless families can select gifts for each other, creates Birthday2Go boxes that include the necessary supplies to host a child’s birthday party, and curates cleaning supply kits for families transitioning into new homes.alex and allison-2Working together, Alexander and Allison have mobilized their peers to support Housing Families Inc. by contributing origami creations and by purchasing items from Origami4Kids to support the cause. More than 200 children and parents were able to celebrate the holidays this past year through the Housing Families Holiday Boutique, 25 children had birthday parties with the Birthday2Go boxes, and ten families cleaned their homes with the cleaning kits.

One thing that stands out about these young people, as well as the ones I have written about in the past, is that at such a young age, they are doing for others, selfless acts of humanity.  Where, do you suppose, they get their values?  I think we also need to give a ‘hats off’ to their parents, for they must be doing something right to be raising such conscientious young people.  If this world stands a chance for survival, our fate is in the hands of young people like these.

Good People Doing Good Things — National Park Volunteers

As a result of the Trump government shutdown, some 800,000+ federal employees are either furloughed from their jobs, else are asked to continue working without immediate compensation and with only the hope of back pay at some elusive date in the future.  Among those who are on furlough are the employees of the national parks around the nation.Trash-overflowing.jpgWith nobody to empty trash, clean restrooms, move debris from public areas, the parks were, after nearly three weeks untended, falling into a state of disrepair.  But last week, some good people took notice.  Let me introduce you to just a few …

Mike Skelton is the owner of Yellowstone Wonders, a company that offers tours of Yellowstone National Park.  Last week, with the holidays in the rearview mirror, Mike noticed a serious buildup of trash in the park.yellowstone-4

“We all live here. When it gets down to it, it is our park and it belongs to all of us in this country.”

Yellowstone-3.jpgAnd with that, he gathered a few other local residents and got to work.  They brushed snow off entrances, cleaned toilets, replaced toilet paper and switched out garbage bags, and they’ll likely do it again most weekends, if the shutdown continues.  The first day, Saturday, Mr. Skelton was joined by about 15 volunteers, but the next day, Sunday, there were 40!  Some volunteers brought supplies from home or bought them along the way.yellowstone-2In addition to individuals lending a hand, dozens of small businesses located in proximity to Yellowstone National Park have all chipped in thousands of dollars to keep the park open and tidy during the winter tourist season … they even offer free pizza to the volunteers!

gsm-signIn Tennessee, Marc Newland and his 10-year-old daughter Erica have spent their days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hiking the mountain trails with trash bags in hand so they can pick up litter along the way. gsm-3The Newlands have always been avid hikers, but when Marc told his daughter about how the shutdown would affect the mountain park, she suggested that they take it upon themselves to keep the trails tidy.

“Erica says that she would like to challenge other hikers to take one day off from getting in miles and impressive vista pics and instead, give back by grabbing a trash bag, heading to the park and collecting some litter!! These mountains give so much to so many people. Imagine if only a fraction of those people decided to give back to the mountains.”


Ever hear of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA)?  It is a Maryland-based organization that regularly organizes community service cleaning efforts across the country, and presently they are mobilizing to clean up in Joshua Tree National Park, Everglades National Park, the National Mall, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.


Joshua Tree National Park – California

At least 70 members of the group emptied overflowing trash cans, picked up piles of litter and swept the streets over the weekend.  Young.  Muslim.  Men.  The ones who so many call terrorists … are picking up trash in order to keep our national parks clean.  Think about that one for a minute, if you will.

These are but a few of the groups and individuals who are stepping up to the plate during the Trump shutdown to help keep things running smoothly.  Unfortunately, due to a weekend incident where park visitors damaged trees while driving off-road, Joshua Tree National Park is now closed to visitors.  Had park rangers been on the job, the incident likely would not have happened.

Nonetheless, there are thousands of people out there volunteering to pick up the slack left by the Trump shutdown, and I, for one, am grateful to them.  The parks belong to us all, and we should offer kudos to these fine volunteers for helping to take care of the parks so that we can continue to enjoy them.  Thank you ALL!!!