There are a dozen different ways to help the poor outside of huge monetary donations. This Anatolian restaurant is feeding the needy for free. This Philippine community is building bleach lamps from plastic bottles for households without electricity. Graffiti artist MauPal is using Pope Francis as an icon of hope, creating “Superpope” t-shirts to help Vatican-sponsored charities.
“With the economic and social crisis that hit Italy and the world, I saw Francis as a symbol of hope for all,” the artist said.
“I graphically summed up a widely-shared opinion of the pope as someone with a lot of power who is also humane and humble at the same time.”
The Pope Francis shirts aren’t MauPal’s only masterpieces. In previous years, the artist depicted the Pope in various playful forms as street art. However, city cleaners were less than pleased, scrubbing the works off walls near St. Peter’s Basilica.
It was only after that MauPal made the remaining sketches appear on the Pope Francis shirts. And while some are also not appreciative of the cartoon tees, the Pope himself has expressed his approval.
“I offered him the drawing I had painted on a simple piece of wood, a medium I thought fit his (anti-luxury) philosophy. He looked at me, he smiled at me, then he affectionately pinched my cheek,” MauPal said.
If the Pope himself gives a thumbs-up to your work of kindness, you must be doing something right. And more importantly, if the Pope has given your artwork the smiley rubber stamp, well, I’d say you must be pretty skilled with a pencil!
After delivering her baby brother, 12-year-old Jacee Dellapena decided she wanted to be an OB-Gyn. These dreams are not so uncommon. For 24-year-old Montana Brown, realizing her dream of becoming a nurse doesn’t seem simple at all. A two-time cancer survivor, Brown decided she would pay it forward in the very hospital she was treated in.
When she was 2 years old, Brown was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of childhood cancer of the connective tissue. She underwent chemotherapy for a year at the AFLAC Cancer Center.
Brown had gone into remission, only to later find out, at the age of 15, that her cancer had returned. The same nurses that cared for her 13 years prior were once again by her side. Brown has since expressed her deepest gratitude for their compassion.
“The nurses here, as great as they were when I was 2… they were extremely loving and caring and compassionate. And, just the love they showed me and my family in our time of need just really helped me,” she said. “It helped me want to become as kind and as caring and as compassionate as they were for me.”
Brown has come full circle and is now a pediatric oncologist at the AFLAC Cancer Center. I suppose that sometimes, the best way to pay it forward is to have a look back.
Homelessness continues to be a pressing issue across the globe. At least 100 million people live off the streets, but good samaritans are doing what they can to help. Australian charity Every Little Bit Helps donates unused hotel toiletries to shelters. Studio Elmo Vemijs in the Netherlands recently erected a solar-powered village for transients. A blockchain program will be used by Austin to provide identity services to the homeless. To top it off, Housing Our Heroes in San Diego has successfully placed 1,007 veterans in rental homes.
Three large industrial tent structures that will shelter about 250 homeless people each are planned to be installed by the end of the year, and on Monday a city-sanctioned homeless encampment will open to about 200 people in response to a hepatitis A outbreak.
Among the 9,116 homeless veterans in the county, 5,619 are in San Diego. Housing Our Heroes hopes to assist another thousand veterans in the next 15 months. In regards to apartments, HOH offers incentives to various landlords. However, proprietor Jimmie Robinson says providing a space is not about the money.
“When you get to meet them, the satisfaction of helping people turn their lives around was more important,” he said. “When you see somebody rebuilding their lives, that’s what it’s become for me, more than than the incentives.”
Hopefully, in the coming years, we’ll get to greet all homeless veterans with a warm welcome home.
It’s 2018 and we all know heroes don’t always wear capes. In fact, they also vary in age. You can be a budding 8-year-old lifeguard or a middle-aged charitable millionaire. Whatever the case, not one hero is like another. This retired grandpa is a champion to NICU babies — he cradles them for a living.
“There are a lot of benefits to that warm connection of being held—when a baby puts their face against your heartbeat, there’s a benefit there. I came to love it, but not just because of the connection with the babies, but the whole atmosphere of the hospital.” [said grandpa David Deutchman.]
Deutchman volunteers at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and has been doing so for 12 years. Prior to baby-cuddling, his official job title was in international business marketing. Now, the father of two is a dad to hundreds, if only for a day or so.
“I talk with mothers and sometimes I hold their hand, because holding a mom’s hand is just as important as holding a baby,” he says. “There’s a lot of stress for these parents. Having somebody tell them they can go get breakfast and assure them I’ll be there with their baby, it means something to them. It’s important.”
While NICU babies can be fussy, a bit of spit-up does little to faze Deutchman. I sure do wish he was my grandpa.
It’s stories about locals risking their lives to save animals from an active volcano or a modest restaurant feeding the poor that restore my faith in humanity. Amidst a slew of tragedies, I became doubtful of the human capacity to do good. I then came across the story of Dr. Richard Overfelt, an 88-year-old professor who helps schoolteachers rediscover their love for educating. And to say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement.
“We cover teachers up today with statistics, with data, and testing almost every other day,” Overfelt said. And as a result he says “there isn’t enough time and energy to really teach the kids.”
Excellent point. On the first day of classes at Truman State University, senior professor Overfelt dresses in a clown costume. It’s unusual but hilarious, and nothing like Pennywise from Stephen King’s It. Overfelt teaches educators not just to revise their curriculums, but to relate to their students on a personal level. Looking back at my own academic life, I suppose I can confirm that what made the most impact to me then as a student is exactly what the senior professor tells his successors.
“I teach that if the heart is empty, it doesn’t make any difference how full the head [is],” said Overfelt.
Many have credited him for their decisions to remain in their professions, learning how to better educate and, in the process, have fun. Which leads me to say this… Maybe I ought to commission a therapy session with Dr. Overfelt on demotivating Mondays.
Random acts of kindness can range anywhere from rescuing a drowning family to saving a swan tangled in fishing wire. Whatever the case, they are often unexpected and incredibly heartwarming. This generous elderly man decided he would pay it forward to the next generation, buying toys for a toddler at Target.
“Owen grabbed [three dinosaur toys] and we were trying to pick out which one he wanted when Owen abruptly yelled, “Hi,” at this older man walking past us,” [mom Alyssa] Hacker wrote [on Facebook]. “He turned around and said, ‘Hey sweet boy.’”
A grandfather himself, the generous elderly man handed the child a $20 bill for all three toys as the little boy continued to play with the miniature dinosaurs. His reason for doing so? It’s tear-jerking, to say the least.
“I just lost my 2-year-old grandson last week. You take this money and buy this boy all three dinosaurs.”
Tissues, anyone? Hacker initially felt that the anonymous grandpa was a little too close for comfort — clearly, his act of benevolence changed that. The video that she posted on Facebook even garnered hundreds of thousands of shares.
“There is still some good in this world,” she added.
While it’s often best to remain cautious with strangers, keep in mind that there are a bunch who mean well.
Even after the war, veterans continue to be heroes for us, animals (Google Lt. Col. Faye Cuevas!), and each other. Moved by the staggering number of PTSD-sufferers, air force veteran Donnie Davis decided to dedicate his retirement to building homes for other vets.
“The whole idea is to give them a chance to stabilize,” [says] Davis… “They don’t want handouts, but we are offering a hand.”
The cabins stand at only 300 square feet but are part of a 277-acre lakeside community. It may not be spacious, but it comes with a view — and at no cost. Organizers also assist in job hunts and counseling, and with no timeline on healing, there is no pressure to leave the village. Completely run by volunteers, funding is scarce, but Davis remains hopeful.
“When we bought this, someone asked how I am going to do this, and I said I don’t know,” Davis [says]. “It’s just faith. Everyone’s coming together and supporting this, and it’s great.”
Vets — we thank you for your service. Now it’s our turn to serve you.
When people like Bill Gates are donating billions of dollars to charity, your own efforts may seem eclipsed. But, as I like to say, every good deed counts, no matter the extent. Hockey star Jonathan Drouin decided to surprise underprivileged children by purchasing them an arena suite to attend games.
“From the first day I got here, I wanted to get involved and do something for children by giving them an opportunity to enjoy memorable experiences. By giving them a chance to attend a hockey game, I am hoping that an evening in the suite will provide the kids and their families with some relief from the personal hardships they are facing,” Drouin said.
Prior to the suite stunt, Canadiens player Drouin also pledged $500,000 to a Montreal medical center over a 10-year span. The Bell Centre suite cost him a sizable check of $165,000. Regardless of numbers, Drouin seems to be more than willing to help.
“They’ll have a chance to be together and have a great time, and for me, it’s an opportunity to contribute in my own way to their well-being.”
While the Canadiens are off to a somewhat rocky start, Drouin has confirmed his rightful place as MVP.
Just last month, twin sisters Marian and Mary Jane Fields took their sisterhood to the next level after undergoing a skin transplant. Now, kidney donees Annie MacDonald and Kim Moncion are bonding over their same-donor transplants. While their medical conditions were hard to deal with, their experience has brought them closer than ever.
“I looked into it and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, she’s literally down the road,'” MacDonald said.
“We’ve got a connection now… We’re kidney twins.”
Doctors broke the good news to MacDonald after five years on dialysis, while Moncion was luckier, waiting in the wings only a few months. MacDonald is hoping to reach out to the donor’s family in order to thank them for saving her life.
“Hopefully in a year I can send a letter to the family to let them know how grateful I am,” she said.
“They’re my hero. It’s amazing what gift they’ve given us. Even if I don’t hear back, at least I can reach out and tell them how happy I am and what they’ve given me.”
Dr. Derek Chaudhary, who tended to both women, is hosting a kidney walk to honor not only MacDonald and Moncion, but all patients in need of transplants. The fresh donees are proof that good can come of the darkest of moments.
For many in need of a financial boost, GoFundMe has been a great resource for campaigning. Cops have used it to sponsor a sterling student’s college tuition. A deaf boy has used it to provide hearing aids for other deaf children. For teens at Champlin Park High School, it was instrumental to helping substitute teacher Walter Erickson pay for his wife’s surgery.
“He’s just impacted so many of our lives in amazing ways,” said Katie Blodgett, a senior at Champlin Park. “He’s the kind of substitute teacher where he connects with us more on a personal level and he obviously loves what he does and that makes it more encouraging for us to learn.”
Erickson had been saving up to shoulder his wife’s cataract surgery and dental care, thus choosing not to retire. Initially, students aimed to raise $500 and ended up exceeding their goal by $13,405. Erickson’s wife was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.
“When I told my wife about this last Friday, she said, ‘Who are these girls? What kind of parents do they have that they could be so caring and compassionate?’”
Though the eighty-year-old has no plans to retire anytime soon, the extra cash should come in handy.