As Promised…Uplifting Stories!
As promised in the introduction to this Good Habits section of the web-site, I will now share uplifting stories that I come across of good things that people have done and are doing to contribute to a better world! It’s amazing to me what people will do—the good things that they will do, and which we seldom hear about (yes, I know people do bad things too—but we already hear plenty about that!). If you scroll down to the end of this section, you will find an invitation to contribute your own story to be published on this web-site! And if you want to hear new stories as I hear of them, follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page!
The first of the uplifting stories comes from a book called Stone Soup for the World, edited by Marianne Larned. This book is full of inspirational accounts of kindness, courage, and service. One such story is about Father Joe. Father Joe felt that homelessness was a cycle that needed to be broken, rather than just taking a bandaid approach. Dignity needed to be restored to people to help them reclaim their lives. To that end, he created -and got the money to build- The Village. This village offers private rooms for homeless families, clean dormitories for single men and women, a medical clinic, school for the children, and financial counseling for parents. And, of course, meals. Records show that after a year in Father Joe’s program, 80% of the families live in their own homes and have a positive cash flow. “Father Joe did more than just build a shelter; he changed the way a whole city dealt with homelessness.” (Stone Soup…) Visit the Saint Vincent de Paul web-site listed here for more information on Father Joe and his work! http://www.svdpv.org/hist.html
Sneed was a prison counselor who saw many prisoners return to jail or die in the streets upon release. She wondered why they couldn’t get out and get a job. Then, one day while recovering from a serious illness, she read the Grapes of Wrath and got the idea that gardening might help prisoners have a connection to the land and heal. So began the Garden Project! Once well, Catherine got permission to create a working garden on an eight-acre plot of land next to the prison. It took a year to read the land, which had to be cleared of a lot of junk, but the prisoners were happy to be outside. The garden eventually produced organic fruits and vegetables, which were given to local soup kitchens. The prisoners enjoyed giving back and gained some compassion. Still, this did not seem to help them get work when they were released. So Catherine decided to turn The Garden into a working farm and to employ ex-prisoners. She took a year off to get further education on farming and returned to implement what she had learned. The farm provides employment to more than 1200 ex-prisoners—paid with money from the sales of their produce. Many prisoners are rehabilitated by the whole experience—seeing their hard work pay off, feeling satisfaction at being able to grow things…this is enough for many to create a positive fresh start in their lives! Here is the Project’s current web-site: http://www.gardenproject.org/thegardenproject.htm
Gainesville woman helps ‘bridge people’
GAINESVILLE – A Gainesville woman, responding to an AccessNorthGA.com story about Gainesville’s homeless people who live under the city’s railroad bridges, this week decided to do something to help.
Tondra Stiles read of their plight when she read ANGA’s January 1st story and learned from Richard Bell with Feed the Need Ministry that they are cold and hungry. This week at a downtown laundromat where Bell brings people to wash their clothes, she brought homemade soup.
“I can’t fix it for everybody but I can make some soup, so that’s what I did,” Stiles said.
Stiles added she plans to do more to help, but getting the people out of the cold is a the priority.
“We’ve got to try to help get these people out from under the bridge,” Stiles said. “Whatever that means, I think we need to get the word out that they’re there.”
Bell said he’s still hoping to find a vacant heated building in Gainesville to shelter them during the upcoming cold weather months.
At this week’s Gainesville City Council meeting two council members said they were aware of the people under the city’s bridges.George Wangemann says he recently found a homeless man while on one of his litter clean-up outings; Myrtle Figueras said she knows of some efforts to help but called for more, saying Gainesville has a large homeless population.
Figueras said she wants Bell to appear at an upcoming work session and inform Council directly about the bridge people and their needs. Council also expects to hear from Phillippa Lewis Moss, Director of the Community Service Center, about Gainesville’s homeless problem.
A Victim Treats His Mugger Right
Questions or Comments?
Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.
But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.
He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.
“He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,'” Diaz says.
As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”
The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. “He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?'”
Diaz replied: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.
“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says.
Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.
“The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'”
“No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. “He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.'”
Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”
“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teen said.
Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. “He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says.
The teen couldn’t answer Diaz — or he didn’t want to.
When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”
The teen “didn’t even think about it” and returned the wallet, Diaz says. “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.”
Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen’s knife — “and he gave it to me.”
Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, “You’re the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch.”
“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”
Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.
The last of the uplifting stories I will share is a Kindness Project. I don’t remember how I came across this online project, but basically I receive weekly emails that are posted by this man Shmuel Greenbaum. I think perhaps I will just allow him to “tell” his story. I hope you can support his efforts as I do! Here’s his story:
Coping With Tragedy Fighting Terror With Kindness By Shmuel Greenbaum info@TraditionOfKindness.org (http://www.traditionofkindness.org/)
Kindness has been my personal response to terror. My wife, Shoshana, was murdered by a suicide bomber. She was one of over 100 victims that were killed or injured on August 9, 2001 at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem.
Sometimes I wonder whether telling my story can really help others. Since, the way I am coping with tragedy is so different than the norm, would anyone else understand it?
Many of the rabbis that came to visit me told me a story about a carpet. “Sometimes you only see the knots on the back,” they said; “Only later do you see the beautiful design on the front.” I thanked them for coming and explained that I see the beautiful design now. I see the “big picture.”
I have always been interested in the “big picture” – in how to make the world better. Since I was a kid, I always liked to tackle these big problems by assembling a group of experts to solve them. As a teenager I designed a system to tap hydroelectric power from the wastewater of apartment buildings. I contacted a local engineering school and assembled a team of academicians to prepare the plan for the US Department of Energy.
After my wife’s violent murder, I began a project to teach people how to be kinder. The project has just started to take off. At the moment, we have more than 30,000 subscribers on six continents to our “Daily Dose of Kindness” e-mail. Everyone who signs up for this e-mail list is also automatically signed up as an advisor. As I said before, I like having many advisors. Right now, I have over 30,000 “Kindness advisors”.
One of my Kindness advisors sent me an e-mail link to an article in the New York Times about how medical researches have found that acts of kindness stimulate the brain in the same place that physical pleasures do. So now medical researchers have shown that doing kindness causes enjoyment. From this you can see one way that I cope with tragedy – I receive tremendous pleasure by promoting kindness.
My favorite author on kindness is Zelig Pliskin. In his book Kindness, he presents eighty-five techniques to find new opportunities to do kindness by improving yourself and improving the world around you. In one chapter he explains how you can feel the thrill of an international sports victory every day if you visualize 100,000 people applauding for you and cheering you on when you do an act of kindness. Studies have shown that our hormonal system has actual biochemical responses even though the victory is totally a figment of our imagination.
Shortly after my wife’s death, I prayed with great intensity to G-d to help me to make the world better. From the feedback I am getting from my kindness projects, it is clear that my prayers are being answered and that I am helping to make the world a little kinder – one person at a time. This feeling of Divine assistance combined with the biochemical responses to my imagined victory has given me tremendous emotional strength.
Kind Words is a free weekly e-mail distributed by Partners In Kindness. http://www.PartnersInKindness.org
I think it’s apparent that there are a lot of uplifting stories out there– a lot of good going on in the world today…you likely know many people personally who have done or who are doing wonderful things for others. Be sure to remember this fact as you are bombarded with the negatives each day! Make it a habit—a good habit!
Share your uplifting story below (See Submission Guidelines)
This guy that works on our cars was telling us how, after leaving an auto parts store, he saw this young man standing in the road, barefoot—in 19 degree weather! So he got out and started talking to the guy. The people in the store he’d just left saw them and brought them inside. They fed the young man, who was homeless, while the guy we know went and bought some boots for him. How easy it would have been to ignore this man in need…made me smile that they were so kind to him 🙂
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