Out Of The Ashes Poured Love From A Community

In his younger days you could find Vernon Freeman of Dallas anywhere in the community lending a hand.  A carpenter by trade he was known in the area as someone who would pitch in to help at your house if you needed it.   He had built a reputation for fixing whatever problem you had with your house even if you couldn’t afford to pay him for it.

Well in the fall of 2012 it was his turn to need a hand.  The 85 year old great-grandfather had an electrical fire in his family home of 50 years.   Not having insurance he decided to do whatever he could to work on the house himself.  It didn’t take long for his physical energy and finances to wear thin.  That’s when people began talking about his situation, even airing on the local news.

As people heard his story a few decided to step up and take action.  They began working on Mr. Freeman’s house and others started to join in.  He was living with his son temporarily while work was being done.  But he spent most of his days sitting on the front porch of his family home, watching the repairs.

As efforts continued the generosity of the town snowballed.  The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity donated supplies and an online registry was created for people to see what was needed and how they could help buy supplies.  Construction companies donated time and labor while a window company donated all new windows.  A local roofing company donated lumber, siding and insulation.  All the new floors were donated by a local design & carpet center.  Food vendors volunteered to bring their food trucks over to feed the volunteers.  Are you getting the picture here?  The list goes on!

Once as workers were finishing their day Mr. Freeman asked if they could leave the sheet rock tape at the house.  When they arrived the next day they found that he had stayed and by himself had taped the seams in two bedrooms and the kitchen.  He was thrilled to have the work get to a point where he could pitch in himself.

Mr freeman

As the house neared completion the generosity of the community remained steady.  Furniture, paint and appliances were all donated and set in place to welcome Mr. Freeman back home.  Target gift cards were even rolling in to help supply him with other essentials.

On July 6th of this year Mr. Freeman walked back in his front door.  Project complete!  Lovely example of a community giving back to one who gave so freely himself!

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

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Heroes Come In All Sizes

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I love superhero movies!  I don’t know what it is, but I get caught up in the drama, the cheesy story, and the humanity of them all.  (Except for Thor and Superman – we all know they aren’t human, but I still love them!)

I don’t know what super power I would choose if I was presented with options, but I’d love the ability to swoop in and make a difference in some stranger’s life.  Then I’d change back into my street clothes (because of course I would have acted super-bly in my incredibly awesome, probably purple, superhero costume-mine would have laced up sneakers though, who are they kidding making these women run in 8 inch heals)!

In all the DC and Marvel movies I’ve been to I have yet to see a superhero that looked like this…

victor

This is Victor Flores of California.  He’s 13 now, but he was just 9 when this picture was taken and when he certainly acted like a superhero.

Victor and his friend, Aiden were at his grandfather’s property.  The ground was covered with snow and the pond on the property had iced over.  They were chasing ducks when Aiden stepped out onto the pond and the ice gave way from under him.

In true hero fashion, Victor reached out for Aiden.  When he did, he slipped on the edge and fell into the freezing water too.   He could see Aiden was in a panic and flailing in the water.  Victor remained calm, made it to the edge again and pulled himself out.  Then he ran and grabbed a pole and used it to pull Aiden out just as his grandmother was making it down to help, knowing the boys were in trouble.

When the rescue workers arrived they found Aiden was in shock from the cold water.  They thought it was unbelievable that Victor had remained calm and collected during the ordeal.  Both boys were taken to the hospital to be checked out but were fine and soon released.  They asked him what he’d do next time if it ever happened again and in true superhero fashion he said he’d do the very same thing!

So when the little trick-or-treaters come to your door next week, just remember; some of them may actually be heroes in disguise!

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

 

15 Year Old Provides New Shoes to 10,000 children

It’s not odd for teenagers to have an award or medal or two on a shelf in their room; 6th grade T-Ball participation award, 4th grade spelling bee champ, junior varsity basketball champs.  All pretty normal collectibles for a lot of kids.   Not so normal are the awards that sit on the bedroom shelves of 15 year old Nicholas Lowinger; 2012 Rhode Island Prudential Spirit of Community Award, 2011 RI Jefferson Award, 2011 Hasbro Community Action Hero Award and the 2011 Youth Leader Award.

At age 5 Nicholas began visiting homeless shelters with his mom who worked with various shelters across Rhode Island.  On one such visit young Nicholas was excited to show off his new tennis shoes to the kids he was going to meet.  His mother explained to him that the kids he would be meeting were not as fortunate as him and he should be careful that showing off new items might make the kids feel bad.  This visit made a lasting impact on Nicholas that he wouldn’t forget!

What started as a community service project, prior to his bar mitzvah in 2010, became a life of giving for Nicholas. He started Gotta Have Sole Foundation with the help of his parents.  His motivation was knowing that kids can have a hard enough time trying to fit in and having decent shoes to wear to school or while playing sports shouldn’t be something they need to worry about as well.  The shoes given to the children also allowed their parents one less financial burden.

Sole_logowordmark_360_360Now with a garage full of donated shoes and help from more than 1,000 volunteers throughout the past few years, Nicholas has been able to provide brand new shoes to more than 10,000 children in homeless shelters in 21 different states.  Adding to the program Nicholas has established SOLEdiers in honor of his grandfathers who is a WWII veteran.  This program provides gift cards for shoe stores to disabled and needy veterans.  The children of the veterans are provided shoes through Nicholas’ inventory.

Knowing how important sport participation can be; Nicholas also has started a program called Serving Love.  This program provides sporting footgear so kids have the opportunity to participate in school sports programs.

If you’d like more information about this amazing young man and his foundation you can visit his website http://www.gottahavesole.org/ghs/

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

Ed Wares Woodworking Reaches Children In South Korea

Ed Wares grew up around wood in Massachusetts.  His parents owned a sawmill and he spent most of his childhood there.  He currently lives in Tennessee in a log cabin that he built 80% by himself.

It seems like a natural fit that he would become a woodworker.  He estimates he’s made more than a thousand wooden toy cars in addition to countless other woodworking projects. His motivation is bringing happiness to the children that will eventually play with his creations.  He feels it’s a way for him to give thanks to God by doing good things for His children.  He has one or two toys on hand at all times and is happy to pass them out to any child he meets.

Ed and his grandson in the workshop

Ed and his grandson in the workshop

Mr. Wares’ daughter Sabrina is a program manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center and when he heard they were sponsoring an orphanage in South Korea he naturally wanted to help.  He started right away, carving the little wood toys in his workshop.  More than 100 of his little wood cars made their way to the Chechon Children’s Home, 75 miles southeast of Seoul in time for Christmas last year.
The orphanage was founded in 1962 by Jane White, an American missionary.  Since 1966 the airmen from AFTAC’s 452nd Detachment have sponsored the orphanage and helped provide for the children.  Originally functioning solely from donations and sponsors the orphanage now receives some government funding and helps the children transition into their adult life once they are able to leave the orphanage with life skill seminars and other programs.   With facility large enough to house 90 children from birth to 18 they take in abandoned babies and children from unwed mothers or families that for a time are unable to care for their children; with the intention to reunite them once the families have been equipped to care for them again.

Crossing national borders; good people doing good things.

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

9/11 Reflections

My husband is a crane operator at a steal factory.  Sunday at 1 pm they are to park the cranes, silence their radios, and have one minute of remembrance of the events and the lives lost on 9/11.  Their silence will be broken by the voice of their boss saying, “Let’s Roll.”

I was born in the fall of 1969.  I wasn’t alive yet when JFK was assassinated or when Neil Armstrong set his foot on the surface of the moon.

I do remember the fall of the Berlin wall, the Iran hostage crisis, and Desert Storm.

I know in my 41 years on this planet there have been many historical moments that have taken place.  But so far none have impacted me in the way those events did as they unfolded that day.

We all remember where we were when we heard.  I was in the drive thru of a credit union, my second day on the job.  About 6 miles away was an airport.  As we listened on a radio, and later watched news coverage on the tv one staff member drove home to get; the sky became eerily empty.  For a few minutes we witnessed planes simply circling, waiting their turn to land as they had been instructed.  Then nothing but perfect, clear blue sky.  But there was nothing perfect about it.

It was surreal.  I guess the thesaurus doesn’t have words to quite describe the hours and the feelings we were all about to endure.  I couldn’t wait to get off work and get my kids from school.  I needed to hold them.  They wouldn’t let us close the credit union and go home, worried there could be a “run on the bank” as people panicked.  That didn’t happen.  Instead a quiet shock of disbelief hung in the air.

Once I got home with my kids and my husband, we were glued to the television.  I cried.  Didn’t you?  For the first time in my lifetime we were attacked on our soil.

We had experienced the Oklahoma City bombing and the Columbine Massacre.  But those were sick, twisted, crazy American’s.

This time it wasn’t one of us.  This time it meant war.

We’ve heard the names and stories of some of the heroes and I’m sure there are many, many more but we weren’t able to hear their stories.  The story of their heroic deeds unfortunately died along with them and those they were sacrificially trying to save.

That day brought us together.  Me and you.  As fellow Americans.  We all joined hands that day, figuratively.  The American patriotism hit a high the likes of which I had never seen.

Words cannot express my gratitude to the men and women who defend our country, here and abroad or to the citizens that protect our streets and lives on our own soil on a daily basis.

To those that have been left behind by one of those fallen heroes I offer my sincerest thankfulness to your loved one who gave their life for me, as an American.  I pray you will have a sense of comfort and pride as our nation reflects this weekend on the 10th Anniversary of that fateful day.