Good People Doing Good Things — Inspiring Youths

I must apologize, but tonight I simply cannot write a new ‘good people’ post and instead will do what I have only done once before — repeat one from January 2018.  You will read about three really big-hearted young people and they will make you smile, even if you read it two+ years ago.  My humble apologies, but I hope you will enjoy this repeat.


Yesterday I wrote a piece about integrity, and bemoaned the fact that we seem to have lost ours along the way.  Today, I would like to shine a spotlight on some young people who still have their values, who still have integrity, who still believe in helping others and making a difference.


Campbell Remess

Meet Campbell Remess, age 13. Campbell, nicknamed Bumble by his little sister, lives with his family in Hobart, Tasmania.  (Tasmania, for those who might have thought it was only the fictional home of the Tasmanian Devil, is an island state off the southern coast of Australia.)  So what, you ask, does Campbell do?  He makes teddy bears!  Yes, you heard me right … he sews teddy bears in, according to his mum, almost all of his spare time.

Campbell RemessIt all started when Campbell was nine years old and asked his parents if he could buy Christmas gifts for sick children, for he wanted to do something to brighten their spirits. His parents had to turn down his request, for Campbell is one of nine children and … well, money, y’know?  Still, Campbell was a determined young lad, and so he found a pattern for a teddy bear online and with a bit of help from his mom, managed to craft what would become the first of more than a thousand such bears.

So, what does Campbell do with the bears?  Well, every week he hand delivers some to sick children at the Royal Hobart Hospital near his home.  He also sends his bears to sick children all over the world, and has a special bear he makes, the Winning Bear, for cancer patients to hold onto during treatments and at those down times.  He has even sent bears to victims of terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris. But it doesn’t end there …

campbell remess 2.jpgMore recently, Campbell started auctioning some of his bears on eBay, and donates all proceeds to charity.

“I put them online for auction for people to buy and all money goes to charity. My top bear sold for $5,000. On eBay they sell for about $1,000 to $2,000.”

Campbell says he lost count of how many bears he has made, but estimates it is somewhere between 1,200 – 1.400.  His goal is to make a bear a day, or 365 per year.  What I liked most about this young man is his attitude, his heart, when he said …

“Everyone can do something like this, it isn’t too hard to do it. I think the world would be a lot happier if everyone was kind and helpful and not mean, and if everyone had a teddy bear.”


Ryan Hickman

We are often amazed when young people start their own business, perhaps fresh out of college, or shortly thereafter.  But I believe Ryan Hickman may qualify as the youngest person ever to start his own business.  Ryan Hickman started his business at the ripe young age of 3½, and now, at age 7, is the CEO, manager, and sole employee of Ryan’s Recycling Company in Orange County, California.

Ryan HickmanWhen he was 3½ years old, Ryan Hickman visited the rePlanet recycling center in California, and found his life’s mission. The next day, standing in the family’s driveway with his dad, he pointed down the street and made an announcement: “My new business! I’m going to pick up all the cans and bottles from everyone in the neighborhood.” And that is just what he did!

To date, according to Ryan’s website, he has collected over 290,000 cans and bottles for recycling, and from his profits has donated nearly $6,000 to Pacific Marine Mammal Center.  He has also managed to save some $11,000 from his profits, which his dad, Damion Hickman, says will go toward college.  Ryan, however, has other ideas:  he wants to buy a full-size trash truck and eventually become a garbage man.  Any bets who wins that argument?

Ryan Hickman 2Last year, Ryan was invited to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and Ellen then surprised him with a mini golf cart to help him with his recycling business, and also gave him a check for $10,000! When Ellen asked him why he likes recycling so much, he replied, “It’s because bottles get to the ocean and then animals get sick and die.”

He’s only seven years old, so it’s hard to predict what path this young man’s life will take, but one thing is for sure … he is doing good things and his heart is in the right place.


Haile Thomas

How many kids eat mostly healthy food?  Probably not a lot, but 16-year-old Haile Thomas of Tucson, Arizona, is on a mission to change that.  Haile’s mother began teaching Haile how to cook when she was only five years old.  At age ten, after completing a Girls Making Media workshop, Haile was greatly inspired to share her cooking adventures with other kids and thus was launched her online cooking show, Kids Can Cook.

Haile Thomas Al RokerHaile Thomas does not just cook, but she COOKS!  She puts me to shame, and I am fairly adept in the kitchen.  In 2013 she appeared on the Today show and cooked black bean and corn quinoa salad with garlic shrimp and avocado, a dish she had previously cooked up for first lady Michelle Obama as part of the first Kids’ State Dinner.

“I started asking questions about where my food comes from and what I was eating.”

She signed up for the youth advisory board of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which aims to combat childhood obesity, and from there started working with local chefs doing cooking demonstrations.

“The alliance and the chefs really inspired me and got me to where I am now.”

Her show, Kids Can Cook, teaches kids how to prepare nourishing meals for themselves, with recipes that call for simple ingredients.

Haile Thomas.jpgAnd if that’s not enough, Haile travels around the nation talking about her mission and has been awarded several grants for her service programs, HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle) and the Healthy Girl Club. She is the founder and director of the Tucson-based HAPPY Organization, Inc., which serves to improve the health and wellness of Arizona youth and families.

“I hope to make a difference by inspiring other kids to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and become educated about how good and bad food affects their bodies, overall health and quality of life.”

And she’s only 16.  She has most of the adults I know beat for understanding, practicing and teaching good nutritional values.  Imagine what a difference this young woman will make.  Move over Emeril!

Haile-Obamas.jpg


I have two others, but I have already surpassed my self-imposed word limit, so I shall save them for another day.  Friends … we see so much pure evil every day in the news, and I spend the bulk of my time writing about that evil.  Every now and then, it does us all good to pull ourselves up out of the dark places and look around us, for when we do, we see that there are many, many people out there countering the evil, doing good things for others.  These three young people serve as an inspiration, give us hope that perhaps all is not lost, and that there is still conscience and integrity in the world.  My hat is off to these three and all the others out there doing good things.  Until next Wednesday … SMILE!

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 …

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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.

Yoon-1

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-renowitzky

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,”

yoon-2

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.

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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  🙂  )