Category Archives: People Are Good

Opening Doors

Thanks to Carol for finding this story!

I’m Josh Yandt – the Doorman. I was bullied in school. I made my high school a better place by holding doors and have inspired people all over the globe to be kind to one another. I speak to schools and workplaces promoting kindness.

Take a look!

What They Learned in First Grade

Last weekend the Minnesota Vikings lost a close game to the Seattle Seahawks.

Jan 10, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh (3) misses the potential game-winning field goal against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-245810 ORIG FILE ID: 20160110_jla_sk1_115.jpg

The Seahawks were scoreless into the fourth quarter where they came from behind to take a 10-9 lead against the Vikings who were the home team.

On their final drive, the Vikings drove down the field and with 22 seconds remaining Blair Walsh, their field goal kicker, attempted a 27-yard field goal.


In the frigid Minnesota cold, he hooked the kick left and missed.

Everyone was stunned. The Vikings and their fans. And the Seahawks and their fans as well.

Blair Walsh took full responsibility for his missed kick saying, “It’s my fault.”

Lots of Viking fans launched tirades against him and the team.



But a group of first grade teachers at Northpoint Elmentary School in Blaine, Minnesota, used the experience as a teaching moment.

The students were asked to write a letter showing empathy and encouragement.

It fit right into their learning targets, specifically the lesson of empathy.


The teachers sent the letters to Walsh. He delayed his plans to start his off season in warmer weather to take a trip to visit the students…

Here’s the story and video from ESPN.COM:

Ben Goessling
ESPN Staff Writer

BLAINE, Minn. — Kicker Blair Walsh’s original plan was to leave the frozen north on Wednesday, to begin his offseason in a warmer climate after the Vikings’ NFC wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The outpouring of support he received from a class of first-graders made him change his schedule.

Walsh visited Northpoint Elementary in Blaine on Thursday to thank a group of students who wrote letters of encouragement to the kicker after his missed 27-yard field goal at the end of the Vikings’ 10-9 loss Sunday. The first-graders had been learning about empathy, and students wrote to Walsh in hopes of cheering him up.

The kicker said he received “too many [letters] to count — probably from every one of those kids.”

A group of first-graders had Blair Walsh’s back after the Vikings kicker’s costly miss in the wild-card round. On Thursday, Walsh gave back by visiting them during the school day.

On Thursday morning, Walsh spoke to the entire first grade at Northpoint before visiting each classroom to sign autographs and take pictures with children and teachers.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Walsh said. “My dad actually brought it to my attention, and it’s too cool. The fact that these teachers have the initiative to show those students what had happened, and they wrote those kind things, it’s unbelievable. It really is. These kids really made a difference in my life, and I’m glad to come here and brighten their day a little bit.”

Walsh, who led the NFL with 34 field goals this year and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012, answered a round of questions from students and teachers in a group assembly, getting quizzed on such topics as his path to the NFL (Walsh was a soccer player in high school before he started kicking for the football team) and whether he has a guinea pig (“I don’t, but my family has a poodle, though,” he said).

“I wanted to show these kids that I cared and that I appreciated what they did, and I didn’t want to wait until the spring, when I came back [for offseason workouts],” Walsh said. “I wanted to do it now, while it’s still fresh in their minds. It was important to me to show them right away that, ‘Hey, I’m appreciative of everything you guys are doing for me and the kind gesture you showed toward me.'”

Praynksters in an Idaho Life

Our favorite news channel is KTVB, and one of my favorite things to watch on it is Brian Holmes’ Idaho Life. He reports on unique, wonderful, and Idaho-esque stories…

Yesterday’s story was about Pascal Karega, a young refugee  from The Congo who spent over three years in a camp after escaping civil war in his native country. He’s now in America, working two jobs, studying to earn his high school diploma, and taking care of his younger brother.

There is a local group called the Praynksters who use the idea of a flash mob and turn it into an opportunity to do good and have a good giggle at the same time. They are a faith-based group who surprise people in need with some Christmas presents. And they organize other kinds of ‘giving mobs’.

The Praynksters met with Pascal for their recent giving mob.

Here’s the video and the story that aired yesterday on KTVB:

EAGLE – It is the giving season and, once again, the “Praynksters” have surprised another person with a parade of presents.

It’s a typical weekday morning at The Griddle in Eagle. Diners are dining, cooks are cooking, and dishes are being diligently done in the back by Pascal Karega.

“Sometimes it gets a little crazy,” said Karega.

This job is another in a long list Karega’s had in the four years he’s lived in Idaho.

“I love working in the restaurant, it’s one of my favorite jobs,” he said.

“He had sort of a poise and charisma about him,” said his manager, Martin Oshiro, who hired Karega a few months ago.

“He’s got just a great spirit, he’s very uplifting, positive, he’s always smiling,” said Oshiro.

Which may be surprising considering where Pascal came from. He escaped the civil war in his home country of The Congo only to spend three and half years in a refugee camp in Zimbabwe. He doesn’t like to think about it.

“It is my country, I love my country. And it just makes me sometimes upset,” said Karega.

So instead he focuses on what’s ahead of him, even if that means at the age of 24 he is trying to earn a high school diploma, working two jobs six days a week, and watching over his younger brother.

“It has been a while since i slept for eight hours,” he said.

Even with as little time as he has, Karega was willing to sit down for an interview with what he thought was a documentary filmmaker.

“All I knew was he’s gonna come, do the interview and that would be it,” said Karega. But that wouldn’t be it.

Instead of being in a documentary about refugees, Karega was being made a recipient of the “Praynksters” giving mob.

“I think it was his story. We knew he had the right look and feel. It was just something divine that pulled us to Pascal,” said Jeff Agosta, a member of Praynksters.

One by one, more than two dozen strangers stopped and gave Karega a gift. And it didn’t stop there. The Praynksters also provided a wedding package for Karega and his fiance. And a local car company chipped in, too.

It was a moment Karega will never forget. And a reaction Agosta won’t either.

“He had that exhale of a lot of stress that’s been building up and it said, ‘Something’s paying off. I’m doing something right and somebody’s watching out for me,'” said Agosta.

Now Karega can continue to watch out for himself and his future, a long way from just taking up space in a refugee camp.

“You start planning because you see actually a way. It’s hard to start planning when you don’t know if there is even a way,” he said.

Karega plans to study business management in college after getting his diploma next year.

As for the Praynksters, they plan to do a giving mob again next year and hope to inspire others to give just a little of themselves.

If you would like to see the whole “Giving Mob” clip, click here.

Wil Can Fly…

Remember yesterday’s post about the dad who took pictures of his youngest as a real life Elf on the Shelf?

That dad, Alan Lawrence, has also created pictures of his son Wil flying and you can find many of the photos on his blog:

What a wonderful dad and what a great inspiration this family is!

From USA Today

‘Wil Can Fly’ photos honor boy with Down Syndrome

Alan Lawrence, a photographer and father of six from Utah, has posted some amazing photos of his son soaring over a corn maze, gliding over the waters of San Francisco and eating an ice cream from the air.


Lawrence says his two-year-old son Wil is “blessed with Down Syndrome and the ability of flight.”

When Wil was a baby, he used to wiggle his arms and feet in the air like he was trying to fly, Lawrence said.


“My family would always joke that he was trying so hard that one day he would start flying,” Lawrence told USA TODAY Network.

He decided to make Wil’s flight a reality by using Photoshop to create images of Wil hovering above places the family has visited.


The series of images, called ‘Wil Can Fly’, are part of a 2016 calendar, with half the proceeds from sales donated to two Down Syndrome foundations. The series serves as a reminder that people with Down Syndrome can do anything they set their minds to, Lawrence says.


Lawrence said the photo series has helped him share his son’s story and connect with other parents who are going through emotions that can surround parenting a child with Down Syndrome.


“I had struggled when I found out Wil had Down Syndrome and these photos are a celebration and illustrate the joy we have with him,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fathers and mothers reach out to me and say, ‘I appreciate your honesty.'”


Elf on the Shelf

I’d never heard of Elf on the Shelf until a few years ago.

I’ll admit that I still don’t know a whole lot about the whole phenomena, but I think this is the basic premise…

Santa Claus knows who has been naughty and who has been nice because elves visit children between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Parents tell their kids about the elves by reading a book and placing the elf in a different location throughout the house every night so that the kids get the idea that the elves are watching them.

NBC News aired a story today about a family who has (with a little help from Photoshop) turned their youngest into a real-life Elf on a Shelf.

Dad Turns Baby Into Real Life Elf on A Shelf


Love it or hate it, the “Elf on the Shelf” is helping many families understand the meaning of Christmas.

And that’s what photographer Alan Lawrence realized when he turned his 4-month-old son into one.

“We’ve always just kinda called him our little elf,’ said Lawrence of his son.

Lawrence started working towards turning his son into a “real” elf simply by taking photos with his the tot around the house dressed as an elf — and then photo shopping himself out.

“He was special and he’s different,” said Lawrence, a father of six. “I want to celebrate the blessing that he is to our family.”


This is the first time Lawrence and his family have ever done Elf on the Shelf, but they didn’t anticipate the viral response they’ve gotten.

He even perches atop the shower in one photo.


And causes some Christmas tree mischief.


Lawrence has been at work earlier this year raising money and awareness for kids with down syndrome, inspired by his son Wil who’s been diagnosed with the condition.


A bit more video…

White Envelope Project

Some of you may have seen this before; I had not until yesterday.

This is going to start a new tradition for me…


For the Man Who Hated Christmas

by Nancy W. Gavin

It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas–oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it–overspending… the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma—the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids – and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition–one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.

Editor’s Note: This true story was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue ofWoman’s Day magazine. It was the first place winner out of thousands of entries in the magazine’s “My Most Moving Holiday Tradition” contest in which readers were asked to share their favorite holiday tradition and the story behind it. The story inspired a family from Atlanta, Georgia to start The White Envelope Project and Giving101, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth about the importance of giving.

Semi-Quiet Housing

I saw this on the news tonight.

It’s a story about grad students who don’t live in dorms but live in retirement homes along side retired residents. Both populations benefit!

From NBC News:

These Students Are Dumping Their Dorms for a Retirement Home

Retirement homes are perhaps the last place one might expect to find graduate students living. But for some in Cleveland, that’s the best student housing arrangement they could ask for.

Daniel Parvin, 25, calls the Judson Manor, a vintage one-time luxury hotel, his home after long days of study pursuing his Ph.D. at the Cleveland Institute of Music. But in his spare time, he’s also their resident pianist.

“I inherit 100 surrogate grandparents here,” he said. “And they’re really dear friends of mine.”

In exchange for free housing, students living at Judson Manor give free performances at least once a month.

When it was first agreed on that the students would be living at the residence, there were no worries about the late-night loud parties that may typically be associated with college students.


“I wasn’t remotely apprehensive at all,” said retirement home resident Mark Corcoran. “I thought it was a good addition to the community, and it has been without question. It has really worked very well.”

And after hearing one concert, some who haven’t touched an instrument in years felt compelled to play along with him.

“I had the privilege to play with him [Daniel],” said Janet Hall. “He was great. When I made a mistake, he didn’t jump up and walk away or say, ‘Janet that’s awful.’ He’s just very nice about it.”

And for other residents, just having the students around does much to lift their spirits.


“You see a young person coming toward you and want to look alive,” said Paul Ingalls. “You want to look like you’re still part of it.”

The residents have developed such an affinity for the students they even consider them as part of their family, referring to them as grandchildren.

Tiffany Tieu, 23, who plays the violin at Judson Manor, had an audition in Brazil, which concerned some residents about how she would get there. But in the end it turned out just fine when they found out she had friends there.

“She’s as much my family,” said Laura Berick, 79, of Tieu. “I see more of her than I do some my adult grandkids.”

But what could they possibly have in common? It turns out that much more than the music has brought them together.

“We found a lot of things that we like to do together,” said Tiffany. “Cooking, sharing a meal, talking about art.”

George Havens believes that both the students and the residents get as much as they give.

“It’s a win for us, because we have delightful young people here,” Havens said.

All in a Day’s Work…

Ever wonder what policemen go through in and of a day?

I do.

While it is hard to imagine the stress of their jobs, we can occasionally get glimpses.

During the San Bernardino shooting aftermath, an officer calmed the people he was leading to safety with assurances…

From the Huffington Post:

Leading people to safety at a social services center in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday, a police officer reassured them: “I’ll take a bullet before you do.”

Gabi Flores, a customer services coordinator at the Inland Regional Center, shared video of the evacuation with KPCC, an NPR station in Southern California.

“Try to relax, everyone, try to relax,” the officer tells employees shaken by the mass shooting. “I’ll take a bullet before you do, that’s for damn sure. Just be cool, OK?”

Simply amazing!