Good People Doing Good Things … Overflowing Love

Some weeks putting together the good people post is a challenge, but this week … I have so many good people they are overflowing the bucket!  So, let’s jump right in …

A young man gives back …

Ashis Dhakal immigrated to the U.S., Salt Lake City, Utah, to be exact, at the age of 18 after spending years in a refugee camp in Nepal.  His first experiences were trying, being bullied at school because of both his ethnicity and his Hinduism, but Ashis dealt with it and still wanted to ‘give back’ to the community that was now his.

“I got bullied in school … they called me a terrorist and stuff like that. I practice Hinduism, and in Hinduism, service is very, very important, because, you know, we’re taught to give, and even if you don’t have anything, we try to give as much as we can.”

A few years ago, while working at a local KFC, he met a man who was homeless. While cleaning tables, Dhakal and the man connected, and the man shared his story about how he became homeless.  And all at once, an idea was born.

“One of the necessities he needed was clothes, and so that’s where I got the idea.”

Ashis Collects Clothes hosted its first clothing drive in 2019. Dhakal collected everything, including socks, hats, jackets, coats and shoes.

“With that project, I was able to bring so many people together and change so many lives. My biggest ‘why’ in my life is that as a young child, going through poverty, I was in the same shoes as they were in right now. I have a house. I have a computer now. I have a phone. But think about it. Those kids are still suffering. What I can do is better others so that, you know, they can give back to their community.”

For Dhakal, Ashis Collects Clothes is just a start: In the future, he wants to own a multimillion-dollar business that focuses on giving its money away to help others.  There is more to Ashis’ story and I encourage you to check out his Facebook page (link above) and his story as reported on MSN.

New parents … again!

I’d like to introduce you to Pam and Gary Willis.

Pam and Gary recently became new parents … to a family of seven children, ranging in age from four to fifteen.  Pam and Gary had already raised one family and were what is known as ‘empty nesters’, with their five children grown and gone from the nest, when one day Pam read an article about seven siblings from San Diego who had lost both their parents in a car crash. They needed a home, but even if they found one, they would likely be separated.  Says Pam …

“In that instant, their sweet smiling faces jumped off of the screen and into my heart. That evening I asked my husband if he’d seen the post. ‘Yes’, he said. ‘We should adopt them’. My heart stopped. ‘We should’, I said. We knew deep inside that this mission was being placed before us. If not us, then who?

They had been in foster care for a year since their parents had been killed in the car accident that they all had miraculously survived.

Who would keep them all together? Who would have the space for them? Who would have the time, and the love, and the patience for their trauma? The answer was clear… we would. Why else did we have a six bedroom house that was about to have it’s last child’s bedroom vacated? Why else would our nest that had raised our first five babies be empty just in time? It was only to make room for our new babies. They were ours from the minute we saw their faces on the news story.”

It took time and patience to go through the process, jump through the hoops, and maneuver through the mounds of red tape, but last June Pam and Gary brought the children home.

“We have never looked back since the day we met them and never doubted what we’re doing is the right thing to do. I have noticed how incredibly happy they are and that makes me so happy too, because that’s all we ask for. The oldest of the seven, Adelino, said to me recently, ‘Thank you for giving us this life,’ and there is no other feeling like that.”

Two thumbs up to these two caring, wonderful people for their courage and their love to these 7 young children.

Joshua Morris is a Delaware State Trooper … one with a huge heart!  Periodically, Trooper Morris drops by the local basketball court where the kids hang out and shoots a few baskets with them.  Recently, one of the kids on the court, 9-year-old Ra’kir Allen, shot a video of Morris and the kids having a bit of fun and the video went viral, as they say.

In the video, young Allen can be heard cheering for Trooper Morris …

“Oh that’s Curry, that’s Curry, that’s Curry!” yells Allen, comparing the officer to NBA Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry.

And it was that enthusiasm, coupled with the comparison to Curry, that inspired Trooper Morris to do what he did.  After speaking with Ra’kir’s mother, he went out and bought Ra’kir a pair of Curry sneakers (trainers for my Brit friends).  You have to see the video to feel the love, the joy, the excitement …

But that wasn’t all … he included a $50 bill in the left shoe.  Now, before joining the force, Trooper Morris earned his Master’s degree in Education, so … he understand kids and says he believes that police should never be strangers in the communities they serve.

“When he laces up those sneakers, he has somebody who believes in him. He has somebody who loves him. He has somebody that will be kind to him.”

THIS, my friends, is what police officers around the country should be doing.  They could earn so much trust and respect if only they gave some, showed they care.  My hat is off to Trooper Joshua Morris!

I had more, but I will save the rest for next week, for it’s late and I’m very tired.  I hope you enjoyed this week’s good people … I certainly did.

Good People Doing Good Things — More From Youth Service America (YSA)

Last Wednesday,  I highlighted a man (Steven Culbertson) and his organization (Youth Service America – YSA), and I promised to come back this week to highlight just a few of the kids and projects this wonderful organization has helped launch.  I am so encouraged when I see these young people, read about how they see it as their responsibility to help others, help the environment.  The first young man I would like to introduce you to is one that Mr. Culbertson mentioned last week, Jackson Silverman.  Jackson got his start in philanthropy, with the help of YSA, at age 12!  I will let Jackson tell you a bit about it …

“My brothers and I are lucky.  When we get hungry, we know that we will get fed.  But not every kid is so lucky.  A kid doesn’t have a lot of choice about hunger.  A kid can’t make their own money or buy their own food or cook their own dinner. Kids who are thinking about food don’t do as well in school or have the energy to do kid things like run on the playground.  In Charleston County alone, over 16,000 kids go hungry every weekend. That is a horrible number and my goal is to feed every last kid!

In April 2013, my brothers and I launched I Heart Hungry Kids because I believe that kids can change the world!  We started out with 25 kids packing 150 bags of food and three years later we pack 2,500 bags of food with 150 kid volunteers every month during the school year – that’s over 10,000 meals at each Packing Party! 

We have incredible partners like the Lowcountry Food Bank and Sodexo and I am so grateful for their support.  I am also amazed by the thousands of kid volunteers who have come out to pack bags of food to help make better lives for other kids.  Together we have packed over 175,000 bags of food using kid power, and we are just getting started!”

And if that isn’t enough … check out this video from his talk at TedX-Charleston … I fell in love with this kid!

Check out the I 💓 Hungry Kids website for more about what these young people are doing!

Even when I was growing up in the 1950s, there was a disconnect between kids and police in the inner-cities, but over the last half-century, it has become a much bigger problem.  Most cities in the U.S. are using community policing, a type of police work that focuses on police officers consistently working within the same communities so that police officers are able to build individual relationships with community members. Through relationship building, there is a higher level of community trust and respect amongst officers and individuals living within these communities.

Meet Miguel Coppedge, age 12, of Washington, D.C.  Miguel is taking an active role in working with police and emergency workers, and bringing them together with the neighborhood youth. He is working towards finding a solution to the lack of trust between police officers and community members. At the same time, Miguel is trying to increase the number of communities that use community policing methods.

Miguel has written and published three books (remember this kid is only 12!!!), the third titled Friendly Officers that discusses building relationships with police.  In February, Miguel brought together a group of kids from the neighborhood and a group of police officers. Miguel told those gathered for the program, “I wanted children, especially those with my skin color, to know that police officers are here to help you.” The officers Miguel counts as his friends were featured in Friendly Officers.Miguel was featured in the Metro Police Law Enforcement Magazine in February.  He has visited schools and camps to do book readings, speak with peers and the police, and discuss ways to improve trust and relationships between communities, children, and the police. And he has done a PSA (Public Service Announcement).  Take a look …

Brianna Jack has always loved to read.  In fact, she loves it so much that when she was only 7-years-old, she started a weekly ‘story time’ at her public library and read to children in her town of Baileyville, Maine.  Then one day she found out that fully 60% of children in North America do not have books in their homes (this statistic floors me, for I cannot imagine a home without books!), and Brianna set out to do something about that!  At age nine, Brianna started her own nonprofit organization called Maine Books for Maine Kids to encourage children to develop a love of reading and have access to books.  One of the first contributors to her cause was none other than the master of horror, Stephen King, who lived nearby and was impressed enough to donate $5,000.

Three years ago, Brianna moved, along with her family, to Upper Queensbury, Canada, but her work didn’t stop, for she almost immediately began helping youth in Canada by creating a second organization, Brianna’s Bookworms.  Brianna has now donated books in both the United States and Canada. She has held over 150 story time sessions and donated over 8,000 books. She does not plan to stop there; her goal is to donate books to kids all over the world to ensure that all children have access to age-appropriate reading materials in their homes. Regardless of country of origin, Brianna feels inspired to help all children.

Brianna has held several book drives to involve others in her organization’s mission. Instead of throwing out gently used books, people in both the United States and Canada have been able to donate their books to Brianna so she can make sure they get into the hands of the children that need them most. Over the past five years, she has impacted many children’s lives by providing them the opportunity to read at home every day. Her passion and drive has given so many kids access to one of life’s most important skills: reading.

More and more we are seeing young people getting involved with helping others, cleaning up the environment, marching and protesting for just causes … in short, just working toward a goal of making the world a little better place.  These kids are an inspiration to us all.  Their contributions today may seem small, but their hearts are huge, and they are starting life out on the right foot.  My hat is off to all of them, as well as the many others out there making a difference.  Great job, kids!