Heroes Of Every Week

Photo of health care workers flying to help NY gets love

This is a picture of health care workers from Georgia on-board a Southwest flight bound for New York. A loving army whose mission is to provide the shelter in the face of an unyielding storm. They are the front lines in this battle against a relentless enemy, and they fight not for a particular flag or country or political party. The battle they wage is for humankind. And if this global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to understand ourselves as citizens not of one place but of all places. A lesson brought home by our health care workers.

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, wife donate $5M for coronavirus ...

I’ve been an outspoken critic of the New Orleans Saints for quite some time, but then perspective happened. Their head coach, Sean Payton, tested positive for COVID-19. And all of a sudden I couldn’t remember why any of that other stuff mattered as much as hoping he got better. And then of course there is Drew Brees and his wife Brittany, who do great things on the regular. This week came the announcement they will be donating $5 million dollars to various charities throughout Louisiana- one of the hardest hit states. These two make up one hell of a championship team.

Shin-Soo Choo giving $1,000 to every player in Rangers' farm system

With no sports on the calendar, this doesn’t mean the athletes who entertain us aren’t getting things done. Shin-Soo Choo provides us with yet another example of this. The Texas Rangers outfielder is donating $1,000 dollars to every minor leaguer in his organization. The dude doesn’t hide behind his big major league contract when giving back to those in need is a much better idea.

Frank over at the now retired A Frank Angle chimed in this week with a beautiful story about a man and his never ending quest to find the good in this world. I’ll let Frank tell it from here.

Beloved TV Reporter Broadcasts From Home to Help Children With Mr ...

Steve Hartman isn’t an everyday Joe – he’s a reporter for CBS News who captures good stories. Because Coronavirus has taken him off the road, he did an online course for kids about kindness … Kindness 101. I had seen various reports through the week about his project, but here’s the final one that I saw this evening.

A Minnesota trooper pulled over a doctor for speeding and gave her ...

When Dr. Sarosh Janjua was pulled over for speeding on a Minnesota highway recently, she figured there was a debit to her bank account on her horizon. The cardiologist from Massachusetts travels to the North Star State once a month for work and on this particular day, she met the wrong end of state trooper Brian Schwartz‘s radar gun. But instead of a fine, Schwartz gave her a heartfelt reprimand to keep it safe and then handed her five N95 masks. The gesture left Janjua in tears, that for one beautiful moment in time, were joyous ones.

Dale over at A Dalectable Life has chimed in with a couple of winners this week. And yes, Imma keep using sporting terms since there ain’t no sports in sight . .

Susan Ryan and Wynn.

Her first get involves a service dog in training named Wynn who is already earning her stripes and then some as she provides respite to medical staff who find themselves in the midst of a frightening battle in Denver, Colorado. Wynn is being trained to become an assistance dog for Canine Companions for Independence -an organization that provides assistance dogs free of charges to those in need.

“Seeing stuff and hearing stuff that you can’t unsee has an impact on you,” Says Susan Ryan, an emergency physician at Rose Medical Center “That’s where the dogs come in. When you are in the presence of the dog and petting them you are taking a moment to ground yourself at that present time.”

The one year old yellow lab gives the staff something that is in seriously short supply these days: Peace of mind.

Chris Waba came over to Rylee Anderson's house to give her a face-to-face lesson while social distancing.

Like millions of students across the country, twelve year old Rylee Anderson is continuing her education in a virtual classroom this spring. So when the middle schooler from Madison, South Dakota struggled to get a grasp on her algebra work, her teacher took it upon himself to give her some much appreciated one on one instruction. So Chris Waba showed up on her front porch with a whiteboard and his marker.

They spent the next ten minutes working it out from different sides of her front porch door. Because as Waba puts it, he’s always communicated best when face to face with his students. And this current state of the world we live in wasn’t going to change the way Waba has been doing his thing for the past twenty seven years. Because that’s how we make it through this time. By understanding that the little things? Can be a really big deal.

My last story is about an exchange I had with a nurse whilst in line at the grocery store the other day. It was a simple conversation inside this most complex of times, as we adhered to the necessary commandment of a social distance. She was frazzled and scared, even if she never admitted as much. Fear is the kind of desperate knell those in the field of health care dare not ring. But I could tell her stiff upper lip was a trembling mess when there was nobody around to keep score.

I wanted to hug her and tell her that everything was going to be alright. But I knew that was against the rules, and it almost made me cry to think that we really don’t know when things get back to being alright again. And thank God for her, and for all the other people whose job it is to stand in front of a tsunami and maintain that stiff upper lip.

Before she left, she thanked me for the conversation and I thanked her for everything she is doing. She gave me a tired laugh, her face worn down with all the worst case scenarios she must somehow accept in order to do her job.

“I just want to go home,”

 

Heroes Of The Week- You Edition

This week is yours. When all the reading and the love you give to this spot comes hurtling back at you in the form of a well deserved hug. Pick up this hug, and know that you made it possible. Gracias.

Now for the Heroes you brought to Friday . . .

Image result for La La Land Kind Cafe hires foster kids

Mark over at markpaxson.com decided that Rand Paul probably isn’t going to be worthy of any humanitarian awards in the near or distant future, and he’s probably spot on in this assessment. So when I was doing my casting call, he left a comment in which he said he would get back to me. Erudite chap that he is, he got back to me in no time flat with, as he put it, “Somebody doing something about a frequently forgotten segment of our society…”

It’s a story about the La La Land Kind Cafe in Dallas Texas. The owner, Francois Reihani, hires young people who have aged out of the foster care system. So far, he’s employed nine of these kids. Because Reihani believes it’s about kindness every bit as much as it’s about coffee.

Those are some cool beans they’re brewing.

Monika at Tails Around The Ranch contributed a beauty from her neck of the woods. It’s about some local distillers (She’s quick to point out other states are doing it as well). who have retrofitted their equipment in order to . . . get this all you hand sanitizer hoarders and price gougers . . give the stuff away to firefighters and other first responders. And since I totally plagiarized her comment, I’ll let her tell you why it matters, because she does a wonderful job of bringing it all home.

The state fast tracked approval to make the switch on the equipment. This story really touched me since a few years ago the Town of Lyons flooded and resulting in being completely cut off from in-or-out access to any surrounding areas/towns. They lost their water/sewer plant. It took months for the state to rebuild roads in to repair/replace damaged homes/buildings. To be able to come back and give to their community makes them big-time heros in my book.

Could not have said it better myself, Monika.

Image result for cuban doctors go to Italy

Dale over at A Dalectable Life ain’t just a lovely connoisseur of photography and great eats. She dresses up the written word in sunshine on the regular as well. And she is a voracious hunter and gatherer of feel good news pieces, as evidenced by her many contributions to this Friday edition over the last year and change.

She chimed in with this story about how Cuba recently sent a 52 doctor brigade to Italy in response to the devastating wake of the virus. The communist country has already done the same in a half dozen other countries, as its emergency preparedness is proving to be a model of effectiveness- at home and abroad. According to Graciliano Díaz, the Cuban contingent is committed to this ‘honorable task, based on the principle of solidarity.

It would be nice if every country put its politics aside and followed suit.

John at Fiction Favorites sent me a video to share with you for this Friday edition. It’s Matthew McConaughey dishing up some much needed love for Austin, Texas . . and for all of us. It’s only a couple minutes long, but it’s a virtual hug and “We Got This” that is much appreciated inside these trying times. The dude is quirky, and you know that? That’s plenty fine with me, because underneath all that quirkiness resides a heart the size of the place he calls home.

Alls I gotta say is Alright! Alright! Alright!

Image result for Bay View Wisconsin Dino Parade

And for my last story, I paid a virtual visit to Bay View Wisconsin. It’s a throwback neighborhood sewn into the shores of Lake Michigan. The ancestral lineage of this town speaks to laborers and the community they dreamed for their children inside lifetimes so long removed from here.

That future love paradise came calling recently when the residents of Bay View got together for a parade. But not just any parade, since we’re . .  yanno, living inside the operative social precepts of a moment in time where keeping your distance has taken on a literal form.

So this parade, it took all of these things into consideration in a most prehistoric fashion sense. Their solution was to dress up like dinosaurs and march together, at six foot intervals, through the place they call home. As a way of saying that it’s okay not to be okay with all of this. But it’s never going to be okay to lose our sense of humor, or our ability to figure a way back.

Imma finish this episode off by saying thank you to all my contributors, and to let you know that this idea will become yet another new feature going forward. Because you guys are always telling me how much you look forward to this Friday post, and I ain’t gonna lie. I never saw it coming.

You did.

 

Casting Call For Heroes Fans

Image result for ted williams

If you’re a regular to this joint, then you’ve probably happened upon the Heroes episodes we dish up every Friday for your viewing feel good. You kept things going when I thought maybe it was just a phase. And by you, I mean anyone who looks forward to this little corner of the world when the end of the week comes calling.

You made Heroes a place worth coming to. I simply captained the thing into harbor thanks to your earnest chimes, which behave very much like gold on the dollar when it comes to the keeping on. So . . I don’t do this kind of thing but I figured maybe one or two or three of you might be down with it.

Send me a story that hits you in the feel good and I’ll post it on Friday. You can simply provide the link in your comment and I’ll make sure it gets pub love. Worst case scenario is nobody contributes and Heroes still shows up in the regularly scheduled programming. Best case scenario is I get all the stories I need through you for this week, and if it’s more than five? Well . . I ain’t presumptuous like that, but a boy is allowed to dream.

As for writing, I was practicing my short game this morning. I hope you like.

He remembered back to those nights inside the dusty wings of a very forgettable March. Back into the hopeless design of bad news gone caterwaul in episodic bonfires that left Caesar’s ghost to hemorrhage in its eternal playpen.  The days painted themselves in a haphazard chaste whose vicious prongs were sinking empires across the globe. And so he peddled elixirs in the recitations of Angelou, Wilde, Cummings, Morrison and his personal favorite, Kinsella.

The spoken verses were akin to candles in a church, sacred vows left behind by masters and mistresses of the written word for the sake of prayer. Each syllable a testimonial to the peaceful resistance of words inside a chaotic world. The stories were plush to his fractured brain, and the sound of each word tasted like fruit as it trespassed his lips. And he went on like this, plucking a snippet here and a paragraph there and joining them together in a brilliant quilt whose song redeemed the shadowy fates.

It went like this from March into April and then with May came the first idea that life would begin to take its traditional place setting back. Only now, he had ashes to confer to the winds of change. The world, his world, would prove to be extraordinarily different with each step into whatever came next. Oh sure, it was easy to promise such a thing when the end of the world had seemed an abject patent. All the same, he was aligned to a different star from here on out. And he knew it was impossibly difficult to comprehend, but he had seen the beginning inside the merciless clench of the end.

So it was that a June day found him tucked into a box seat along the third base line, holding to a foot long as his beer lost its froth. The sun shone down like a promise from Jay Gatsby, full of a million different promises. The field was a stained glass portrait of emerald fusing with ivory and caramel. How could he have ever taken such a beautiful thing as an early summer day at the ballpark for granted?

He cried at the thought.

Heroes Of The Week

Yeah . . . I know.

That’s why we have heroes . . . .

Image result for Kevin Love and arena workers

Kevin Love has made our Friday list a time or two, so it’s no surprise to see him back for another win this week. He recently donated $100,000 through the Kevin Love Fund to arena and support staff employees of the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the NBA season on hold and the future uncertain, Love is doing his part to ease some of the burden on the folks who make game nights happen. His gesture has inspired some of his baller compadres as well as several team owners to do the same. K Love says it’s all about “paying it forward”. I say he’s a champion on and off the court.

Image result for Anthony Fauci

With the COVID-19 virus affecting the way all of us go about our daily lives, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a much needed voice of reason and calm. He’s a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and unlike Mr Trump, Fauci has had both of his boots on the ground since this virus came to light. Fauci has been making the rounds- from morning talk shows to blogger podcasts. Calm, informative and insightful, he’s been a genuine voice of reason inside these uncertain times and it’s nice to know we have the good doctor on our side.

Image result for Handoko Gunawan

Be afraid and be very afraid if you’re a person of a certain age, because COVID-19 is coming for you and (fill in the horrible blanks from there). Thing is, Handoko Gunawan has never been daunted by this virus, not for one minute. The eighty year old lung specialist remained on the front lines in West Jakarta, Indonesia; treating patients at risk as well as those affected. He recently became ill and reports coming out of West Jakarta are sketchy at best. But remember what I was saying this past week about saying a prayer for people who really need it right now? Let’s do that.

Right about now, Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus Ohio should be raising the roof thanks to a sports slate that was supposed to include March Madness, NFL free agency and the start of the baseball season. And then everything changed; sports went away and people were told to stay out of public venues, and Coaches had to close up shop for the foreseeable future as a result. But on their way out, a regular at the sports bar decided to leave the workers a tip to ease the financial crunch in the form of a $2,500 tip.

Patrick “Benny” Leonard is the owner of Coaches, and he said it would be nice if people stopped fighting over toilet paper and adopted the mindset of this anonymous tipper. In other words, let’s remember the biggest team sport of them all. Humanity.

The capper on my Heroes isn’t about a hero at all. It’s about where us humans go from here. The photograph you’re looking at is one of the many canals in Venice and the story grab is courtesy of the lovely Dale over at A Dalectable Life. And yeah, those are fish you see swimming it up inside waters you can actually see through. For now. Until the new normal goes back to the old way of doing things.

And I know what you’re saying . . . But Marc! Things will never go back to the way they were before! The world has changed! Forever!

Well, we’ve felt this kind of thing and said this kind of thing and believed this kind of thing before. And then the world returned itself to us and we behaved very much like the entitled stewards that had been playing up the A side as if it had infinite thread on its musical wheels.

The rules of nature are speaking to us through that canal in Venice. They’re reminding us that we are tenants to this place, and that all the high and mighty we can muster isn’t going to save our asses from losing the keys if we’re not careful. It’s up to us to not simply learn the lessons inside this time in our history, but to live them. It’s not asking for us to stop doing the things we did before, it’s simply asking us do the one thing we tend to get away from when times are good.

Listen.

 

 

 

In The Darkness Came A Light

Kim Kardashian called. She wants her first world problems back.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite as dreadful or hopeless as Vladimir Putin was hoping it might turn out. Unless you hang out on the Twitter or Reddit sites, which I do not recommend you do unless dystopian soap opera plots are your jam. And just so you know, I’m not saying Vlad the Impaler of Hope had anything to do with this virus. His powers are limited to horse back riding without a shirt, eating cinnamon encrusted beef jerky without need for water and fucking with our elections.

Europe currently has a “Do Not Disturb” sign up as it has been hit especially hard. Tom Hanks and his lovely wife Rita are literally castaways as we speak. The Utah Jazz have gotten more pub than if they would have won the NBA title simply by having a couple of players test positive. Americans of all stations and status from coast to coast are providing an ever expanding face to this virus.

You know things have gotten serious when sports get shut down, because nothing gets in the way of our sports. Not two World Wars. Not the assassination of a President. Not even September 11th. But the dominoes which began with the cancellation of March Madness has crept into the NBA and NHL suspending play while the MLB has scrapped spring training and is moving back opening day.

Without benefit of games, ESPN has had to rely on journalism. Which is another way of saying that ratings have plummeted. Casinos are closing. Retailers are posting limits on toilet paper and hand sanitizer purchases. Web MD is currently a more popular site than Porn Hub.

If you’re young, consider this a vacation from the every day. Your immune systems are assembly line peach in comparison to us folks of a certain age. I’m in that notoriously provocative middle earth population of peeps who consider sneezing a four letter word. And if this tunnel doesn’t start giving us a little sunlight, we may have to resort to punching anyone who coughs inside our bubble. Nothing personal, of course.

And really, that’s the whole thing right there, isn’t it? This isn’t personal, unless we really want to make it so. Because right now, as a species, we still have the ability to stoke that fledgling spirit inside us that believes humanity is a pretty okay place to be. Even on its shittiest days, the world usually gives us something to latch onto. Hope really is riding shotgun, idiomatically speaking. And now more than ever, this is happening if we extricate ourselves from dark web searches for toilet paper and hand sanitizers. If we just let ourselves consider that human beings have been through a hell of a lot worse than this. Hell, we somehow survived the election of 2016, after all.

Let’s just sit back and take a deep breath, and let’s consider someone who has tested positive. Let’s think about what their families and friends are going through right now before we whine about not having picked up extra beer and chips in the event we’re holed up for a couple weeks time. Let’s just put ourselves in someone else’s head for a simple moment, and do something novel inside a time when looking out for yourself has become status. Let’s pray for them. That they make it through this thing with nothing more than a lousy t-shirt. Humanity is the only inventory we should be concerned with right now. Because to my way of thinking, the darkest of times is when the light is needed most. So it’s okay if our grocery list consists of a little humility, a little compassion and a whole lot of gratitude.

There’s a town called Siena, tucked inside a hilly region of Tuscany between the valleys and the clouds. Italy has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and so the residents of this charming little medieval arrangement of castles and cathedrals have been relegated to their homes as a result. But rather than bemoan this solitary existence fraught with ever more daunting scenarios, the people of Siena fixed themselves on a different approach. On the night of March 13th, one of the quarantined residents let loose with a song that floated from one window to another to another . . until the entire street was draped in music.

So this one little song from this one little town, I gotta think maybe it was telling us something. Maybe it was telling us that to dwell on the bold font headlines of gloom and doom is to miss the point. Maybe instead of focusing on what we are inside these moments, maybe we should focus on something much more powerful.

What we can be.

 

Best Of Heroes Of The Week!

As per an idea suggested by Susannah B, I’m offering up a “Best Of” episode. And not a moment too soon, since Heroes turned a year old . . . in December. That’s right, I only missed the first anniversary of Heroes by . . . four months.

Heroes first debuted on December 7, 2018 and it was titled “Top Five Heroes Of The Week”, which was soon abbreviated to “Top 5 Heroes Of The Week” and finally “Heroes Of The Week”. If you’ve been reading since those days, you know I dished these puppies up in equal amounts of likes and yikes back then. I even posted a “Villains of the Week” episode last August. Alas, it was the only such venture and the good guys bought the joint for good on December 5 when Heroes became Zero-Free.

So this is how it’s going to work. I ain’t utilized brevity on this post, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to cut to the music before it’s time. Besides, you peeps who know the what’s what on Heroes will spot those stories that hit you in the feels back when you read them the first time. So just sidle up to them and get reunited with that spell. And for those of you who may be new to this stretch of moment? Just pick a story, any story. Find the something that allows you to learn the world for all its winning and losing of a crazy beautiful chance.

Just go with it.

Image result for carey price makes toronto boy's day

(March 1, 2019) This story was courtesy of the lovely Dale at A Dalectable Life

Carey Price is a goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, and if you’ve never heard of him before, you’re probably an American. And that’s alright, because Price is doing his thing without our help. He’ll never be the owner of the Patriots, or an NBA mogul. But he’s writing checks to a constellation that never minds all that jazz, so it’s all good.

Thanks to Montreal Canadien officials and the family of a boy named Anderson, dreams came true during the team’s morning skate recently. The boy’s mother lost her battle with cancer last year, but her echoes reverberate still. Because within these echoes, a promise was made from mother to son; a promise that she would arrange a meeting with him and Carey Price. The fact that she was taken from the world much too soon didn’t silence the heartbeat of that promise.

And so it was that Anderson met his boyhood idol, and in so doing they shined a light into that darkness. Price signed Anderson’s hockey sticks and hockey pucks and his hockey jersey and he gave the kid a hug. And if there is a sporting event known to man that feels as good and as compelling and as worth it as this minute and a half video of a kid and his hero? I want tickets . . front row.

To promises kept.

Image result for Jay Singh helps shoplifter

(April 12, 2019)Jay Singh is a 7-Eleven store owner in Toledo Ohio who’s just trying to make ends meet. Running a convenience store ain’t the easiest gig, what with small margins and long hours and peeps trying to dig into those profits by taking your inventory free of charge.

Which is exactly what happened recently when an employee at the store informed Singh that a teenager was shoplifting. Singh went back and checked the cameras and sure enough, the kid in question had a serious case of the hot pockets. And so at this point, you wouldn’t have blamed the guy for dialing up 911. Because, yanno . . he’s got a business to run? And he’s not related to the Paisleys.

Singh did no such thing. Instead he asked the young shoplifter a simple question. Why? To which the kid replied that he was hungry, and that he was stealing food for himself and his kid brother. It was all Singh needed to hear.

The store owner went on a mini-shopping spree- collecting sausage rolls and sandwiches, chips and pizza and a 2 liter soda for the young man. Because he thought it a better idea to give him something rather than take something away by having him arrested. Because Singh’s bottom line doesn’t begin and end with cash money. Because sometimes, it really is better to give than to receive. Singh’s gesture inspired one of his customers- Cedric Bishop- to give the kid a ten spot. I mean, can you imagine being inside that moment with these people? It must have felt as if God was watering the lawn.

I like that idea just fine.

Image result for father jean-marc fournier and the fire brigade

(April 18, 2019)- Father Jean-Marc Fournier is the chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade. As fire laid waste to the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, Fournier insisted on re-entering the structure in an attempt to retrieve some of the priceless artifacts housed within.

He was joined by a group of rescue workers who formed a human chain in order to save the Crown of Thorns- believed to have been worn by Jesus during the crucifixion- and the tunic of Saint Louis which was worn by King Louis IV when he brought the crown to Paris.

Fournier has a resume of doing this kind of thing. He served as a military chaplain in Afghanistan before joining the Fire Brigade. In the aftermath of the 2015 Bataclan terrorist attacks, he helped to evacuate the victims. He also gave absolution to those lost in the attacks.

Holy Week always feels quiet to me, but never more so than after this trying week. That hush of appreciation for the mysteries that might hold answers, it speaks to me this time of year. And I do hold to the idea that all is never lost.

Only misplaced.

(July 19, 2019)- The Seattle Sounders football club played more than just a game the other night when they started Bheem Goyal in goal. The eight year old is battling Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, and so the Sounders- in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation- made Goyal’s dream of being a goalkeeper come true. They signed him to a contract, after which he opened things up by standing in goal for Seattle and gobbling up a shot on goal. He then exited the game between the Sounders and Dortmund to a standing ovation, receiving high fives from both sides. They don’t call it the beautiful game for nothing.

Abigail Arias — that's Officer Arias 758 to you — was sworn in by Freetown Police Chief Raymond Garivey in February.

(August 9 2019)- 7 year old Abigail Arias got to live out a dream job on Tuesday night, thanks to the peeps at the Blue Lives Matter Foundation. They organized a trip to New York City for Arias and her family so she could don the uniform of an MTA police officer. Abigail and her family also met with the NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill, and they visited other units across the city.

Arias has an incurable form of kidney cancer and so time is no longer something she or her family take for granted. Instead, they are grateful to borrow as much of the stuff as they can get their hands on. This little girl was sworn in as an honorary police officer in her hometown of Freeport, Texas back in February. And now this. And tomorrow, they’ll get to stepping on something else. Because in Abigail’s world, there is no time for hate or divisiveness and all the ugliness that comes with it.

There’s only time enough to dream.

(Abigail lost her battle in November. In a Facebook post, Chief Raymond Garivey said it would be his duty and privilege to heed the lessons taught to him by Officer Arias 758. He ended the post by saying “I love you Abigail”).

Hero Kid

(August 29, 2019)- Eight year old Christian Moore didn’t think twice when he saw his classmate Connor Crites struggling on his first day of school. He didn’t laugh, shake his head or judge Connor for having a meltdown right in front of their whole class.

Moore didn’t know Crites has autism or that he finds it extremely difficult to fit in with other kids. All Christian saw was a friend in need. So he did what any good friend would do. He sat with Connor as he cried, and then he held his hand and walked with him into school. No shaming, no blaming. Just love, in a not so random act of kindness that made all the difference in the world to one little boy.

That’s the problem with us adults. We tend to forget the power of compassion, and that it is every bit as much of a currency as all that dope we peddle to make us smarter and richer and stronger and younger. The difference with compassion is that the stuff has no expiration date. It will never leave us broke. Or empty. Or alone. And it is full of the kinds of nutrients that do a body and soul the most good. Lessons.

That picture is worth a thousand of ’em.

Image result for the basketball cop

September 19, 2019 Appreciating the good guys shouldn’t be a sometimes thing, reserved for national holidays or somber occasions. Because duty isn’t a sometimes thing for the men and women who put on a uniform every day. It doesn’t mean they’re infallible and it doesn’t mean their actions cannot be questioned. But to slant our opinions on every uniform is to miss out on cops like Bobby White, who became known as “the basketball cop” after video of him responding to a noise complaint in Gainesville, Florida went viral a few years back.

A white cop makes the scene where black kids are hanging out, things can go sideways in a hurry. Bobby White defused the situation by letting them know he had no problem with some kids balling. He even joined in. It wasn’t a “look at me” moment, but rather, a “look at us” moment, as in . . look at all the better outcomes we might achieve with just a little bit of understanding and some dialogue.

So the other day, The Meritorious Q sent me the “rematch” of that pickup game that happened three years ago but is still scoring all this time later. White brought Shaquille O’Neal out with him for another round, and it was such a brilliant spin move on what had already proven to be a wonderful story. Of hope. Because Shaq provides the kind of soul hug that doesn’t just light up the room he enters, it provides electricity for the entire neighborhood.

It was a valuable reminder that we don’t have to let anyone tell us what the world is supposed to look like. Because the better can happen from our rolled up sleeves to the tips of our fingers. In the quiet of our daily breaths to the pulse of a great big world that isn’t so frightfully hopeless when you let the ball bounce, and you let the kids play. Imagine the places we might find when the noise ceases to be a complaint, and becomes something else entirely.

An embrace.

Image result for chloe dorsey

October 4, 2019 When I write these posts up, I’m always on the lookout for something I’ve never felt before. And Chloe Dorsey paid me in full with her superwoman exploits at a state park. The Georgia woman was out for a run when she spotted a deer that was stuck in a metal fence. So she bent the bars to release it . . because of course she can! After running a few hundred feet, the deer got stuck in another fence. And Imma include the video, because it speaks to the fight we need to keep on pushing and the love that fuels the try.

The kids in Wilmette, Illinois, appreciate Alec Childress.

(October 18, 2009)- Alec Childress is the great grandson of a slave. When he was fourteen years old, his father left their Mississippi cotton farm to look for work up North, leaving his son in charge. Later on, when his family joined his father, Alec had to go to work as a dishwasher in order to pay for his schooling.

Alec learned the value of hard work and a positive attitude from an early age; a mindset that served him well in his thirty six years of working construction. And just twenty eight days into his retirement, Alec decided he didn’t feel like sitting around at home so he took a job as a crossing guard in Wilmette, Illinois

For the last fourteen years, Childress has been dealing up stories and smiles to go along with his trademark “Peace, I gotcha!”. He has come to own the corner of 9th Street and Lake Avenue, turning an intersection into the heart and soul of a neighborhood.

And so for his eightieth birthday, the neighborhood said thank you by throwing him a surprise party. Yard signs greeted him with “Peace, we gotcha!” and students who had moved on to middle school and high school returned to take part in the festivities. One girl who was off to London for college made it a point to stop by to wish her favorite crossing guard a happy birthday as well. In all, more than a hundred people showed up with cookies and gifts, and plenty of hugs.

“For me to be able to experience that kind of love tells me we have more good in the world than the bad,” Childress said. “It reaffirms my knowledge and belief in people.”

Well, he started it.

Image result for Kevin Zimmerman child seats

(October 25, 2019)- Milwaukee police officer Kevin Zimmerman brings more than a badge and his service issued particulars to the job every day. He also happens to bring a heart and soul whose perspective gleans best case scenarios from trying situations. As he did during a traffic stop recently when he came through for a young mother and her three children. Zimmerman had pulled over Andrella Jackson for driving with an improper registration, after which he saw that her young children were not in car seats. Jackson explained that she’d just bought the car at auction, but could not afford car seats for the kids. Zimmerman decided not to issue her a citation . . and then he bought the kids some car seats. That’s called a good day’s work, and then some.

Evoni Williams

(November 8, 2019)- And finally, we wrap things up with a Waffle House story that doesn’t involve armed robbery. It’s a story that involves doing the right thing, and a social media storm that actually worked out to everybody’s benefit. Imagine that!

Evoni Williams has this dream of going to college. She’s eighteen years old and a waitress at Waffle House, so you know she’s serious about it since the hours are unkind and the work exhausting. Dreams are circuitous in nature, and hers requires an apron and a fifth gear, to which she abides. So when an elderly gentleman came in and asked for assistance cutting his food because his hands weren’t functioning so well, Williams was on it. And so was Laura Wolf, who snapped a pic of the moment and posted it to Facebook. Because not every snapshot that goes viral is a gotcha moment. Sometimes a person just gets all wrapped up in the human effort and has to share it with the world.

“It was so busy in here, and she actually took the time to stop and hear what he had to say instead of walking past him. That just meant something to me,” Wolf told KHOU-TV.

The world noticed.

The City of La Marque, Texas awarded Williams with her own day . . .

Bonus News Item! . . . Now that is a holiday worth celebrating.

Williams was then rewarded with a $16,000 scholarship donated by Texas Southern University. And this dream of hers was coming into focus because of a human moment and a snapshot and a collective embrace that refuted the notion that nothing worthwhile ever happens inside the quiet moments.

This special gal happens to be of the opinion that she did nothing special and she said so herself. “It’s something I would do any other day,” Williams said.

Told ya.

And while I have no doubt that it’s something she would do on any other day, I’m really glad she did it on this particular day. When a bystander decided to break into the regularly scheduled life Williams was busy living, and let the world decide as to just how special a thing this was. And when the vote was in, the results were unanimous.

We won.

(November 25, 2019)- This last story is the best case scenario to an epidemic that’s had this country in a choke hold for more than two decades. It’s yet another story about a kid living on the fringe, until his feelings of isolation become too much. It’s yet another story about guns. But this story, which happened all the way back in May, has a much different ending than so many others.

Keanon Lowe was busy living the life he had imagined in January of 2017. The Gresham Oregon native was working as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers when he got a phone call that would change his life forever. Taylor Martinek, his best friend since their days at Jesuit High School, had died of an overdose after taking a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Shattered by the news, Lowe picked up the pieces by moving forward. He returned home and took a job at Parkrose High School coaching football and track and field. Last year, he became the school’s security guard as well. He was a living legend in his home state, having played wide receiver for the Oregon Ducks, but that’s not what brought him home.

Lowe saw a community in need, and this mattered more than a peach NFL gig ever could. To him. Because with some people, status is all about living right.

And so it was that Lowe was preparing his team for a district track meet when Angel Granados-Diaz walked into a fourth period government class; wearing a trench coat and carrying a shotgun. Lowe never missed a beat as he brought the student into a clench while wrestling the shot gun away from him. And then he hugged the kid, who is getting the help he needs now, instead of being immortalized as a monster.

“I told him I was there to save him . . I was there for a reason . . and that this is a life worth living . .”

It’s easy to lose our better angels to the hopeless depths of indifference and division. And then the fates bring us someone like Keanon Lowe, who turned a tragic ending into a lifetime of new beginnings. The right person in the right place so that the wrong time would never have a chance. And for one blessed day, flowers were given to the living instead of to the dead.

When faced with the prospect of just another day happening all over again, that hug was busy speaking a different language altogether. It spoke kindly to the wicked fates, two simple words uttered in the silence of a heroic embrace.

Not today.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Image result for bat man

Unlike most politicians and political pundits, I’m not gonna lie. I never saw Joe Biden happening to the scene the way he has over the past week. I wanted Bloomberg, I feared Bernie and I gained some respect for Buttigieg, even if he had no chance in hell of winning the nomination. See, the thing is, you can’t be civil these days. There has to be some controversy attached to your ass in order to be a viable political commodity.

Thank God for heroes, huh?

Image result for aly raisman

Me Too- Aly Raisman is my hero. I follow one athlete on Twitter . . her. And with good reason, because this young woman is the voice of a movement. A human movement. The three time Olympic gold medal winner condemned the proposed settlement reached between USA Gymnastics and the survivors of Larry Nassar’s reign of horror as USA Gymnastics team doctor. Raisman says the move is a transparent attempt by the organization to push the decades long abuses “under the rug . . . hoping people will forget about it when they watch the Olympics this summer,” She calls for full disclosure by USA Gymnastics and the USOC and I stand with her on this. Her latest interview shows me why I look up to Raisman the way I do. Because she refuses to play the role of victim when tough minded, straight forward advocacy is needed.

It’s why she’s my hero. Every single day.

Image result for Alex Trebek donates 100,000

I’ll take “Heroes” For 100,000, Alex- Jeopardy game show host Alex Trebek is waging the battle of his life. Stage four pancreatic cancer doesn’t make for very good odds when it comes to survival rates, yet Trebek isn’t throwing back punches for every one that lands on him. He admitted recently that his fight has thrown him into a massive depression most days, to the point where he has questioned whether it’s worth it to go on. But go on he does, and with the kind of spirit and selflessness that has defined his philanthropic efforts for decades.

Trebek recently donated $100,000 to Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission; a non-profit organization that provides food, shelter and hope to those in need. He doesn’t advertise his charitable ways but I’m glad someone divulged his latest contribution. Because the world needs to feel good about itself and the people it houses. Now more than ever. And Alex, he’s doing his part. For the win.

Image result for BACA

Brave Hearts- When you think of biker gangs, the idea of intimidation comes to mind. And this is exactly how the non-profit organization BACA wants it, sort of. Lemme ‘splain.

BACA stands for Bikers Against Child Abuse and their goal is to serve and protect the most vulnerable among us. John Paul Lily, known simply as “Chief”, created this group more than twenty years ago with the express intent of being there for abused kids. They’ll convene a meeting with the abused at which time they present them with a biker jacket complete with a BACA patch sewn onto it. Once the child is a member, this entitles them to round the clock protection from their abusers; everything from rides to and from school to showing up in court to provide a supportive presence (If the judge allows). The group does its business by the motto that “No child deserves to live in fear”. Lily and his merry band of saviors is working on it. (Thank you to the lovely Dale for this get).

The Strength in our Stars- Avey Cox has dreams that are so much bigger than her eight year old self. But one of the simplest and most cherished of these dreams was taken from her over the holidays when her father passed away. All those future moments went missing, one of which was the Daddy Daughter Dance held at Van Buren Elementary. Without that most special man in her life, the second grader would not be in attendance.

That’s when the school resource officer Nick Harvey stepped in. Once he learned of the girl’s heartbreaking tale, he reached out to her mother for permission to take little Avey to the dance. The invitation provided a much needed smile for a girl in need of just that, and the color coordinated duo danced the night away. Harvey has offered to be there for any future dances should Avey need a partner. I truly believe every star in the sky is a good deed, shone to us inside the darkest of nights. Harvey’s star shines brightly.

Murfee, a 3-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, won the 2020 Fair Haven mayoral race on March 3.

This last story is dedicated to Sam, who wrote books worth of blog posts on his experiences as a therapy dog over the years. His passing last week leaves a void in the lives of his family and friends and us; all the readers who came to know and love his efforts and exploits. Monika, thank you for shining his light for us to follow. And to Elsa and Stormin Norman . . we love you.

The mayoral results are in for a small Vermont town and voters are raising the (wait for it . . . ) woof. Because the new mayor of Fair Haven is a three year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Murfee. This distinguished gentleman is a certified therapy dog who visits nursing homes, grade schools and hospitals as a member of Caring Canines Therapy Dogs of Southern Vermont.

This tradition of electing a four legged animal to office is two years strong. The idea being to use the position in order to raise money for the needs of the community. What a novel concept, huh? So Murfee will lead all the fund raising campaigns with complete transparency, since he won’t be in the back pocket of any special interest groups. The dude raised almost $600 with a bake sale last year so he knows what he’s doing.

My superhero-meter was stoked to find this story, because it involves all the qualities I look for in my Friday vignettes. It’s got spirit and smarts, joy and hope. Because this seemingly innocuous tradition is all about inclusion rather than division. Indeed, according to Fair Haven’s Town Manager Joe Gunter, it appeals to people of all ages; teaching the kids about civics and reminding the older folks that liars don’t run the system unless we let them.

So to all those peeps who insist that the system has gone to the dogs?

We wish.