Remember on Jolly Monday I told you there would be a surprise on Friday?  Well … it’s Friday!  And … {🥁 Drumroll 🥁} it is World Smile Day!  Yes, there really is such a thing … let me tell you just a bit about it.

You know those cute smiley emoticons  🙂 that most of us use multiple times a day to convey mirth or joy?  Well, those icons have a history and that history is linked to World Smile Day … and naturally, I am about to tell you a bit about the history behind the smiley and the day.

harvey-ballThe year was 1963.  Harvey Ball was a commercial artist who had started his own company, Harvey Ball Advertising in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1959.  A local company, State Mutual Life Assurance Company, hired Ball to come up with an image to increase employee morale which was at an all-time low following a recent merger.  What he created was a smiley face, with one eye bigger than the other. In less than ten minutes, Harvey Ball came up with the simple yet world-changing smiley face. The simplicity of the image brought smiles to the faces of the executives, who paid him a whopping $45 for his creation.  That image went on to become the most recognizable symbol of good will and good cheer on the planet.

That $45 was the only financial reward Harvey ever saw from his creation, but here’s the neat thing about Harvey … he didn’t care.  According to his son, he always said, “Hey, I can only eat one steak at a time, drive one car at a time.”  Now that’s an attitude I’d surely like to see more businessmen have!

Anyway, time went by, and the smiley face caught on like wildfire. By 1971, the smiley face was the hottest selling image in the country: an estimated fifty million smiley buttons alone had been sold, and the image appeared on countless other products as well. But Harvey Ball became concerned about the over-commercialization of his symbol, and how its original meaning and intent had become lost in the constant repetition of the marketplace.  And of that concern was born World Smile Day!  Harvey felt that all of us should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts throughout the world.

Harvey declared that the first Friday in October each year would henceforth be World Smile Day, and thus it has been since the first one in 1999, not just in Worcester, Massachusetts, and not just in the U.S., but around the world!  Take a look …

Sadly, Harvey died two years later, but even today his legacy lives on, not just in the form of recognition of World Smile Day, but in the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation that was created to honour his name and his memory.  The Foundation is a non-profit charitable trust that supports children’s causes. The group licenses Smileys and organizes World Smile Day, which takes place on the first Friday of October each year and is a day dedicated to “good cheer and good works”. The catchphrase for the day is “Do an act of kindness – help one person smile”.  I like that, don’t you?

Now, we see those smileys just about every day, in a wide variety of colours and in the last few years there is an entire encyclopedia of smileys, some of which are doing almost everything but smiling! 😏 🙄 😬 🤤 But Harvey’s original smiley is unique, distinguishable from all the others.  A Harvey Ball smiley face can be identified by three distinguishing features: Narrow oval eyes (with the one on the right slightly larger than the one on the left), a bright sunny yellow color, and a mouth that is not a perfect arc, which has been claimed to be similar to a “Mona Lisa Mouth”. The face has creases at the sides of the mouth, and the mouth is slightly off-center (with the right side a little higher than the left) and the right side of the mouth is a slightly thicker than on the left.Havey-Ball-smileyAnd now that you know the origin of the smiley, and you know that today is World Smile Day, how ‘bout going out there and doing just one small kindness for someone?  Anything … help a neighbor carry in his or her groceries, buy a friend lunch, help an elderly person across the street or up the stairs, just something … anything.  You know what … you’ll bring a smile to that person’s face, but since smiles are contagious, you’ll get a smile back in return.  Oh, and by the way folks … in case you need an extra, I’ve left a basket of smileys by the door … feel free to take one … better yet, take two and share one!Monday-basket-smiles

This post is dedicated to our friend Ellen, who told me about World Smile Day last weekend, and then reminded me last night, which was fortuitous, for I had forgotten.  This one’s for you, Ellen.


Good People Doing Good Things … Little Things Mean A Lot

Yesterday, I wrote a couple of hard-hitting posts, so by last evening I was ready to settle in and begin work on my ‘good people’ post which is always a treat, for it gives me an opportunity to come up out of the rabbit hole and see a gentler side of the human race.  The first thing I came across was a short one, and then another, and within minutes I decided to do one of the ones that shine a light on people doing small acts of kindness or humanity.

Charlie set out bright and early from his home in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on Black Friday, fully intent on doing some Christmas shopping for his son.  Somewhere along the line, Charlie had a change of plans and he ended up, instead, spending $12,780 at the local Toys ‘R Us, but not on his son!  Charlie paid off the balance on 62 lay-a-ways for other shoppers, and then purchased an additional $2,000 worth of toys for Toys for Tots!

toys r us“I’m trying to bring some happiness to people, to the community that brought happiness to me and my family. I love this community and I am trying to provide back to it.”

What a way to spend Black Friday … doing something nice instead of pushing and shoving your way to the head of the line. Charlie did not wish his name used, and went as quickly and quietly as he came, but there are a lot of relieved and thankful parents tonight in Cherry Hill, New Jersey thanks to Charlie.

Bernard Darty of Paris, France, has done well for himself.  Though now retired, Darty is the co-founder of Darty Group, an electrical retailer operating more than 340 stores in Europe.  But Bernard wasn’t always so lucky, for he spent much of his childhood in hiding from the Nazis until June 1944, when U.S. troops landed on the shores of Normandy.

“I vividly remember the arrival of the hundreds of thousands of American troops who landed in Normandy to liberate us in June 1944. They were our saviors, doling out packets of sweets to half-starved, war-weary children who had almost given up hope for freedom. The gratitude I feel to these men is beyond words. They freed our country and they saved our lives. Without American troops, my family and I simply would not have existed. I think of that every time I look at our family photos.”

To show his gratitude, Mssr. Darty is making a $1 million donation to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Services for Armed Forces program of the American Red Cross.


“Even though more than 70 years have passed since my rescue, it’s not too late to give back. That’s a lesson I hope the next generation recognizes, because it’s all too easy to let procrastination give way to inaction. But action is what brings hope to those who need it.”

Thank you, Mssr. Darty … you are a fine example to that next generation.

Next up, two good people … an honest man and a woman with a generous spirit. Elmer Alvarez is a homeless man, living on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut.  Roberta Hoskie is a successful realtor in New Haven.  What brought these two together … was it the fickle finger of fate?  It was a $10,000 check that Ms. Hoskie dropped without realizing it.  Mr. Alvarez happened to find the check and not even for a minute did he consider keeping it, but instead did the right thing and returned the check to Ms. Hoskie

When Ms. Hoskie discovered that Alvarez was homeless, she was reminded of her own days of being in the same state, without a home, without hope, and she decided to ‘pay it forward’.  Ms. Hoskie is giving Mr. Alvarez a scholarship to real estate school, career counseling and a job interview. In addition, since Mr. Alvarez does not speak English well, Hoskie has included ESL (English as Second Language) classes. But wait … there is one more gift, and this one brought Mr. Alvarez to tears, as it did this writer.

“This winter you don’t have to worry about being in cold. We have housing for you.”

Alvarez-HoskieThere is, however, one condition: Once Alvarez gets on his feet she wants him to pay it forward and help others.  This, folks, is how it’s supposed to be.

And on that note, I must apologize for the brevity of this week’s good people post, but I am simply too exhausted to do any more tonight.  But perhaps there is a bit more after all.  One of my favourite people in this world is the late Maya Angelou, a lady of grace, charm, strength and compassion.  I share with you this morning some of Maya’s thoughts on giving …

Good People Doing Good Things – Lots Of ‘Em …

When I first began this Wednesday morning Good People Doing Good Things feature, I wasn’t sure how long I could keep it going.  I feared I would run out of ‘Good People’ after only a few weeks, or that people would find it boring.  Neither of those have come to pass.  The only times I have struggled to find those good people were when my own mood was too dark to open my heart, and my readers have been very positive, some even looking forward to Wednesday mornings for this reason.  Even the posts that I deemed only mediocre garnered enthusiasm.  I think we are at a point, in the U.S. and abroad, that we need to see that there are good people doing good things for others, despite all the gloom and doom of the multiple issues threatening our planet, our nations and our lives.  Moving on … today I am focusing, once again, on people who are not wealthy in terms of material possessions, but who are wealthy in the most important of ways, in their hearts and spirits.

Ever hear of a man named Rick Steves?  I had not until this week, but apparently he is well-known among those who watch travel shows.  According to Wikipedia, he is an American author and television personality focusing on European travel. He is the host of the American Public Television series Rick Steves’ Europe, has a public radio travel show called Travel with Rick Steves and has authored numerous travel guides.  But that is not all Mr. Steves does …


Young Rick Steves

As a teen backpacking through Europe, a journey he refers to as “Europe Through the Gutter,” he slept on trains, ferries, the pews of Greek churches, the concrete floors of Dutch construction projects, and in barns at the edge of unaffordable Swiss alpine resorts. Early in his life, he came to appreciate the value of a safe and comfortable place to sleep.

Steves worked his way up in the travel business, teaching classes, writing travel guides, consulting, organizing group tours, and a storefront business. Eventually, in 1991, came his first television show.  For all his hard work, Steves was making a decent living, but he never lost sight of the important things in life.

Wed-Steves-1In 2005, Steves constructed a 24-unit apartment complex in Lynnwood, Washington, called Trinity Way and administrated by the local YWCA, to provide transitional housing for homeless mothers and their children. Members of the Edmonds Noontime Rotary Club help maintain the buildings and grounds, providing everything from furniture to flowers. The club also raised $30,000 to build a play structure for the children there.

“Imagine the joy of knowing that I could provide a simple two-bedroom apartment for a mom and her kids as she fought to get her life back on track.”

Steves also raises funds for the hunger advocacy group Bread for the World. A supporter of the Arts, he gave $1 million to the Edmonds Center for the Arts and Cascade Symphony Orchestra. Just this year, on January 20th, inauguration day, Steves donated $50,000 to the ACLU.  This is a man who obviously cares about people more than profit.

Oh, and that 24-unit apartment complex?  He recently donated it to the YMCA to continue the work he began.

This next story has multiple good people doing good things …

Two years ago, a man named Eugene Yoon, inspired by philanthropist talk show host Ellen Degeneres, had a strange feeling that he was being called to do a random act of kindness for a stranger.


Eugene Yoon

Arthur Renowitzky was paralyzed when shot by a mugger in the parking lot of a San Francisco nightclub in 2007. Refusing to accept a doctor’s assessment that he would likely never walk or talk again, Renowitzky has gone on to become a an advocate for the disabled, founding the non profit Life Goes On Foundation, speaking out against gun violence, and visiting newly paralyzed patients to reassure them that, indeed, life does go on.  “My message is simple: to keep pushing, life goes on and to never give up,” Renowitzky said.


Wed-PerretteIn 2013, Renowitzky’s wheelchair was crushed by a hit-and-run driver.  Enter yet another good person, Pauley Perrette of NCIS fame, who saw a news story about the incident and bought Mr. Renowitzky a brand new wheelchair!

Fate sometimes moves in strange ways to bring people together.  It happened that one day Mr. Yoon was scrolling around Facebook and happened upon Mr. Renowitzky’s message.  “I reached out to him blindly and told him, ‘I’d like for you to achieve your dream of walking again.’ So, I pitched him this outlandish idea of walking the state of California to help him walk again!” Yoon said.

As it happened, Mr. Renowitzky had hopes of someday being able to purchase a device that would enable him to walk again, an exoskeleton from ReWalk Robotics that was designed to help paraplegics walk again – the only problem was that it cost $80,000.

Determined to earn the money, Eugene Yoon got the idea to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in order to raise awareness and money to help Arthur. He spent months getting into shape for the more than 2,600-mile journey from California’s border with Mexico the Canadian border. Yoon began his journey in April 2015 and reached the Canadian border in October of that year.  When he reached Acton, California, Mr. Renowitzky met up with him and provided some food and other supplies, saying, “There’s no way I can re-pay him. I’m forever grateful,”


When he was midway through the state of Washington, two weeks before the completion of his hike, Yoon received word that the monetary goal had been reached and Mr. Renowitzky would be getting his exoskeleton.  “I can remember that moment like it was yesterday,” Yoon said. He recorded a video on the spot, screaming “We did it!” at the top of his lungs.


The story, of course, does not end here.  Mr. Renowitzky continues his non-profit work through his Life Goes On Foundation.  He also spends much of his time advocating for an end to gun violence, having spoken to more than 100,000 youth on the dangers of gun violence and how they must have the strength to be good citizens and find positive ways to overcome their life obstacles.

Mr. Yoon continues helping people, one person at a time.  His latest venture is a man named Alberto who was struggling to make ends meet while taking care of his 24 family members.  Yoon hired Alberto as a seamster to start a clothing line called Kin Lov Gra (stands for Kindness Love Gratitude), which manufactures the Inside-Out T-shirt. The company’s stated goal:

“Every INSIDE-OUT T-SHIRT and INSIDE-OUT DENIM will support a lower-income family whom I met on Skid Row. Every item sold will help fund nine months of food, rent, and necessities. During the nine months, the low-income family will also be given a fair-paying employment opportunity under KIN LOV GRA so they will be able to create a savings for themselves. Once the nine months expire, they will be able to sustain themselves out of poverty through the savings they will have created.”

And as for Ms. Perrette, she supports many charitable organizations, including animal rescue organizations, the American Red Cross, civil rights organizations, and LGBT rights organizations. She once said, “I have learned the best cure for depression is forgiveness & doing random good deeds & acts of kindness to others.”

It really helps to read about people like this … helps put the rest of our worries and troubles into perspective, I think. I had a third story for this post, but I have already surpassed my self-imposed limit of 1,200 words, so I shall save the third for next week (besides which it is after 1:00 a.m. as I write this, and I might like to sleep sometime soon  🙂  )