I found some, I found some!!! Good people are out there, folks, they just don’t make as much noise as the other kind, so sometimes you have to go looking for them!
Workin’ 9 to 5 …
It is rare that I highlight the ‘rich and famous’ in my good people posts, but today I’d like to make one of those rare exceptions. I have long admired singer/songwriter/actress/humanitarian Dolly Parton for her good heart – she has supported many charitable efforts, particularly in the area of literacy, primarily through her Dollywood Foundation. Her literacy program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a part of the Dollywood Foundation, mails one book per month to each enrolled child from the time of their birth until they enter kindergarten in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland.
The Dollywood Foundation, funded from Parton’s profits, has been noted for bringing jobs and tax revenues to a previously depressed region. Parton also has worked to raise money for several other causes, including the American Red Cross and HIV/AIDS-related charities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parton donated $1 million towards research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and encouraged those who can afford it to make similar donations. She said “I’m a very proud girl today to know I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.” Her donation funded the critical early stages of development of the Moderna vaccine.
But last week she took yet another step on the humanitarian path when she announced a new free college program for employees of her Tennessee amusement park, Dollywood. Starting February 24th, seasonal, part-, and full-time employees at Dollywood are eligible for free college from their first day of work. Dollywood is in the Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, a rural area with little outside of tourism to boost its economy, so this will be a huge help for the people in the area. My hat is off to Dolly Parton and I only wish every person who has the means to do so were as generous.
It was a dark and stormy night, when out of the dark emerged a hero
On January 31, 2022, residents in Canada were bracing themselves for a mega snowstorm sometimes called a “Saskatchewan Screamer.” These storms occur when a fast-moving, low-pressure system spreads across the plains, enveloping the area in treacherous winter weather with winds so strong they actually sound like someone is screaming.
Shannon St. Onge knew the storm was coming. She just thought she had more time. Shannon is the director of finance at First Nations University of Canada. When she received a call about a check that needed her signature around 3 p.m., she rushed to the city of Regina, which is about 15 miles from her home in Pense, to get the job done. She finished her task quickly and began heading back home, where her two kids were waiting for her.
Before leaving town, Shannon filled her gas tank, purchased a new cellphone charger because hers had broken, and picked up a pizza for her kids to have for dinner. But as she started for home, the weather quickly deteriorated with the storm arriving hours earlier than predicted, and before she knew it, she was driving straight through a blizzard!
Shannon drove as long as she could by sticking her head out the driver’s side window so she could see the gravel on the edge of the road. Eventually, she was forced to stop the vehicle entirely.
“There was no visibility, and there was no way I was going any further, because it would have been far too dangerous.”
She called 911 for assistance, but there wasn’t much the operator could do. They said they would send out a cruiser to check on her, but no one ever came. That’s when the single mom started to worry in earnest …
“Would the gas tank last until morning? What if I was hit by another vehicle? What if I fell asleep and the tailpipe was blocked? What if I didn’t make it home at all?”
Looking around for clues about her location, Shannon was able to make out a sign that said Bouvier Lane. A friend suggested she drop a pin on Google Maps, which she shared to a Pense community page on Facebook. As luck would have it, a stranger saw the post and recognized a farm near where Shannon was stuck!
“He private messaged me and said, ‘I know that family. Send me your phone number and I’ll contact their son.’”
Inside the house, Andre Bouvier Sr., an 80-year-old retired farmer, was enjoying a quiet evening with his 70-year-old wife. When he got the call about a stranded motorist outside on the road, he didn’t hesitate before throwing on his bright yellow jacket and snow boots. His wife fretted and told him not to go, but he insisted. He later said …
“Everybody would have done the same thing. You don’t think about it, you just do it.”
I’m not so sure that’s true, but still, isn’t it good to know that there are some who “just do it?” Carrying an LED flashlight, Andre headed out into the blizzard. “The worst part was the wind … Halfway there, I had to put my mitts in front of my eyes.”
You can imagine Shannon’s relief when she saw Andre heading her way! To his astonishment, she wasn’t the only one who’d stopped at his farm — two more cars had pulled over to wait out the storm as well! Waving his flashlight, Andre led them back to his home. Said Shannon …
“Once we arrived to his house, and I parked the car, I got out and jumped into his arms and gave him a great big bear hug. I was sobbing with gratitude, I was so grateful.”
Once inside their home, the Bouviers fed their unexpected guests, gave them blankets and pillows, and made them as comfortable as they could. The next morning, Andre was up before dawn to plow the driveway, and by 5:30, everyone was back in their cars and crawling toward home in the diminishing storm.
“In the end, we all made it home safely and I have never hugged my kids tighter,” Shannon wrote.
He gave a piece of himself … literally
Steven Robinson was on a family trip to Detroit when he realized his old friend, Richard Koonce, lived nearby. Robinson and Koonce were once college roommates but hadn’t seen each other for some 21 years. Koonce invited Robinson and his family over, but Robinson was taken back by Koonce’s considerable weight loss. That’s when Robinson learned Koonce has been battling a rare liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC, since 2019. He had tried various treatment options with little success and was seeking a living donor for a liver transplant.
Steve Robinson did not hesitate. He offered to donate a piece of his liver to save his friend. And he was a match with the same blood type. The life-saving operation was performed on Valentine’s Day at a Cleveland hospital. Robinson will be in recovery for six to eight weeks. For Koonce, it will take about six months. Said Mr. Koonce …
“I am so truly grateful for the gift of life that God has offered through my friend, Steve Robinson, who decided almost within the very minute that he learned of my disease to step up and do whatever he could to help me.”
It seems to me that there can be no greater gift than to give a piece of yourself to someone in need. Steve Robinson is yet another ‘good people.’
Steve Robinson (l) and Richard Koonce (2nd from right) with their wives