Friday, March 31, 2017

When he saw the customer's breakfast go cold, he offered to help

For Joe Thomas, it was a typical day as wait staff at IHOP in Springfield Illinois. A couple of regulars came in, Dale and 'Ma', and Thomas did what he's been doing for the last five years - he pulled up a chair to help feed Ma.

She has Huntington's Disease, a progressive neurological impairment, and she needs help to use utensils. Since the pair has come to IHOP weekly for years, Thomas had noticed Dale's breakfast often went cold while he fed his wife. One day about five years ago, he offered to help feed her so Dale could enjoy his meal too. The couple accepted his offer, and the routine was established.

Last weekend, a customer snapped a photo of this arrangement and posted it on Facebook. The photo and the accompanying story went viral, touching millions of people with its simple kindness.

Thomas has received an offer to go for training in nursing. He hasn't made any decisions, but thinks he might like to return to a job he once had as a rehab tech in a residence for adults with disabilities. He was also quick to praise his supervisor and his fellow wait staff, since they pick up the slack at his other tables while he helps Ma with her meal.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Helping this collapsed runner across the finish line came naturally

I'm not a runner, never was, but I understand there's a culture of support among runners. They stick together, encouraging each other during training and races so each individual meets their goals.

Sunday's Philadelphia Love Half-Marathon was a challenging 13+ mile run. Within 100 yards of the finish line, a runner later identified as Haley Klinger, a Messiah College student, started to struggle. Her legs gave out, and she collapsed, nearly hitting the ground.

Three other runners, Joseph McGinty and Bryan Crnkovic of the Philadelphia area, and an unidentified runner in blue, slowed their own run to help the young woman. Crnkovic and the other man supported under her arms and continued with her several paces. McGinty, running alongside, realized they weren't able to keep her on her feet. He lifted Klinger, telling her, "We're going to finish this race together." He ran with her in his arms, carrying her right up to the finish line. There, he placed her on her feet and he and Crnkovic supported her so she could cross the finish line on her own two feet. Medical attention was waiting.

The men didn't know their kindness was caught on camera until later that evening. They claim they were just doing what came naturally.

Monday, March 27, 2017

He risked his life to chase down the perpetrator of a hate crime

Olathe Kansas resident Ian Grillot was at a local bar last month, watching a basketball game. A man entered the bar and made disparaging remarks to two other patrons, whom he assumed to be of Middle Eastern descent. He was heard to yell, "Get out of my country!" and was promptly ejected from the bar. He returned, gun in hand, and shots were fired.

On instinct, Grillot ducked beneath a table but kept his presence of mind. He counted 9 shots, and assumed the shooter's magazine was then empty. So he stood and gave chase, intent on catching the gunman before he could harm someone else.

Turns out there was another bullet left. It pierced Grillot's hand and lodged in his chest, narrowly missing major arteries and his spinal cord. He was hospitalized for weeks. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with medical expenses.

It turns out the two men shot in the bar were of Indian descent, both aviation engineers employed locally for years by Garmin. One of the men died of his injuries, the other was critically injured.

A few days ago, Grillot's decision to act was honored by the Indian-American community in Houston. He was presented with a check for $100,000 in recognition of  his "selfless act beyond the call of duty."

Grillot insists he just did what anyone else would have done. He couldn't live with himself if he didn't try to stop the shooter from continuing his rampage elsewhere. And the man who was critically injured? He's doing well, and looking forward to the future with his pregnant wife.

The shooter has been arrested and charged with first degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

86-year-old man raises 400K by recycling, donates it to charity

Over the years, Ringgold Georgia resident Johnny Jennings and his son Brent spent a lot of hours picking up cans. Brent remembers it as together time, and the pair would take the money earned and put it in a savings account. When Brent was ready to buy his first house, he had enough for a down payment.

But ever since he was 18-years-old, Johnny has donated his recycling earnings to his favorite charity - the Georgia Baptist Children's Home and Family Ministry. He was inspired to support them by a long-ago visit there. It seems that when he started to leave, several of the children hugged his leg and asked him to be their daddy. It melted his heart.

So since then, Johnny gives the Home a check every year, usually between $10,000 and $35,000. Now, at 86-years-old, Johnny's total contributions to the Home total over $400,000.

And he's not slowing down. Johnny plans to continue 'until my toes turn up.' 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Man breaks up a fight, hailed a hero

Ibn Ali Miller was running errands in his hometown of Atlantic City NJ on Monday. A street crowded with teens caught his attention and he pulled his car over. Without a thought that he might be walking into a dangerous situation, the 26-year-old married father of six got out and approached the group. At the center, he found two young men involved in a fist fight.

In a video that went viral, Miller is seen urging the combatants to stop fighting, as that would bring shame on their hardworking parents. He tells them he will not leave until they make peace. They do.

Miller has been praised by individuals including NBA star LeBron James and rapper Snoop Dogg. More importantly, the teens themselves have thanked him for stopping the fight. For his quick peacemaking action, Miller was hailed a hero and honored by Atlantic City council. A Muslim, Miller is humble, insisting that he just did what was right.

Monday, March 20, 2017

This 10-year-old's kindness went viral

Last summer, 10-year-old Leah Nelson saw her dad crying. He was upset by police shootings in Dallas Texas, and took the news especially hard - Leah's mom is a Sacramento police officer.

Leah had just started to share her woven rubber band bracelets with others, calling her outreach Becuz I Care. She asked people to show a simple kindness to someone, then give that person a bracelet as a reminder to pass the kindness on. After the shooting, Leah told her parents she thought a message should be added to the bracelets. They agreed, and typed out the message, "In a world with so many issues, let's show people they are valued." The bracelets with their message were first distributed in Sacramento in July. The media got hold of the story, and it went viral. Becuz I Care became a movement.

Becuz I Care has been tagged in stories of kindness across the US. It has spread overseas to England, Brazil, the Congo, Belgium, South Africa, France and Indonesia.

All because a girl listened to her heart and chose kindness.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The photographer with a heart for kids with disabilities

A blog post changed Annapolis Maryland photographer Stephanie Smith's business forever. It seems a family was scheduled for a shoot with an area photographer. A few days before the shoot, the mother contacted the photographer to firm up details. She told him that one of her children has Down Syndrome and may need a little extra time and patience. The photographer cancelled the shoot, stating that this was not his ideal client.

Stephanie was horrified, and decided to do something. She established Lenses for Love, which provides free photo shoots for families with a child who has special needs. Word spread and requests for Stephanie's services came in from around the country. A GoFundMe site was set up to help with costs involved in travel, props, etc. Better than that, other photographers from other regions joined Stephanie in offering the free shoot.
Thanks to them, precious moments with the whole family can be captured and cherished.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Because no student should sit alone at the lunch table

Four students at a Boca Raton high school noticed that sometimes, fellow students ate lunch alone. Having been in that awkward, uncomfortable position themselves, they decided to do something about it. They banded together to form a club called We Dine Together.

During the school's lunch break, club members roam the courtyard and seek out students sitting alone. They introduce themselves and strike up a conversation. Hopefully, the connections made will help new or socially isolated students feel part of their school community. The club hopes their program becomes a model for others across the country.

A few months ago, I highlighted a similar connectional program. That one, Sit With Us, is a free smartphone app created by a California student. She too had felt the pain of sitting alone at school lunch. The purpose is the same - to reach out and create a welcoming community to every student in the school.

The empathy shown by these sensitive students is a credit to them, their families, and their school communities. Instead of complaining about a problem, they found a way to be part of the solution.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hairstylist works over 8 hours to help a depressed woman feel like herself again

Kate Langman is a stylist at an Ulta salon. A few weeks back, she noticed a woman very interested in all the Redken products in one particular line. Langman asked if she needed help and the woman spilled her story.

It seems that she was severely depressed and often didn't even get out of bed. She had done no self-care for months, not even brushing and washing her hair. The bun on the back of her head was matted into what Langman described as one big dreadlock. Langman felt bad for the woman and her situation, so instead of selling her products, Langman urged her to make an appointment for the following day. She planned to personally help the woman regain control of her hair.

The woman did not show up for the appointment, nor did she show up for one a couple weeks later. Then one day, she just walked in again, telling Langman that she finally got herself back out of bed. Langman was determined to take care of her right then and there.
It took 8-1/2 hours, with over 4 of those hours just combing out the matted knots, but the end result is beautiful. Even more than the new look, Langman is delighted with the woman's reaction. Her cheeks gained color and her eyes sparkled as she rain her fingers through her hair for the first time in months.

Langman knows the new hairstyle gave the woman a lift. No doubt, knowing someone cared lifted her spirits too.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Canadian teen on horseback delivers hot coffee to stranded trucker

Eileen Eagle Bears couldn't just sit and watch. The roadside camera from Highway 10 showed a truck stuck on the icy road, with its driver still inside. The highway was an otherwise deserted sheet of ice. Help would come, but it would take a while. In the meantime, Eileen knew that driver would be alone.

She filled a thermos with hot coffee and mounted her horse. Even though she had to walk the horse along some stretches because of the icy conditions, she and the horse trekked about 2.5 miles to deliver the coffee to the stranded driver, Peter Douglas. Eileen and her horse even came back a second time with some water, a thermos of stew, and some potatoes.

Douglas' truck was eventually towed to safety and he resumed his trip. He'd been stuck for 28 hours. But the help and encouragement Eileen brought let him know he hadn't been stranded.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Boy's honesty leads to forgiveness

A few days ago, Chrissy Marie of Washington state found this handwritten note at her door. 

The note nearly broke her heart.

She posted the note and money on Facebook in the hopes of finding Jake. Even though she doesn't condone stealing, she wants him to give him his $5 back and she wants to reassure him that she has other wind chimes. In fact, if Jake and his sister stop by, Chrissy will give them each a butterfly windchime of their own.

As a young child, Chrissy lost her mother too. She feels a good deal of empathy for Jake and his sister. She wants to make sure Jake is rewarded for taking responsibility for the theft.

So far, Chrissy has not located Jake. Her reaction to the situation has sparked both criticism and praise. She maintains her stance of forgiveness.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

He's not alone anymore

One of the regular customers at the Leeds, England grocery store where Ellie Walker works is 86-year-old Edwin Holmes. He chats up the employees and other customers, and most everyone there knows him by name.
At Christmastime, 22-year-old Ellie learned that Edwin would spend the holidays alone. His wife died years ago, and his adult daughter and grandchildren live in Australia. Ellie invited him to join her for a holiday dinner.

Edwin showed up for the dinner in his best suit, and even brought flowers for his 'date.' The unlikely duo had a lovely time. They still meet for coffee and long talks. Both of them feel their lives are richer for this cross-generational friendship.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

One woman's idea - fill purses with feminine hygiene products and give them to homeless women

Jana Girdauskas isn't quite sure what prompted the thought, but last Monday she wondered how homeless women manage when they get their periods. How would they get the costly products they need, the tampons and pads and such? The Toronto mother of two pictured herself in that situation and decided to give away some of her own products. She needed something to hold the items, so she posted a request for donated purses on a local parenting Facebook page. She was overwhelmed with the generous response. Not only were purses dropped off by the dozen, but also personal extras like scarves, deodorants, and coffee shop gift cards. Apparently, Toronto residents form a caring community.

Last week Jana and her husband delivered the first round of what they're calling 'period purses' to women living on the streets. The women are understandably grateful for the purse full of necessities. Jana and her husband, neither of whom have ever done something like this before, have enough filled purses to keep the project going for another 10 days. They are looking to local shelters and other charities to take the idea and run with it.

I love this idea - such a simple and straightforward way to promote personal dignity.