Over a decade ago, my father was dying from lung cancer. I was a single mom, running a consulting business and now making numerous trips to the hospital with him for chemotherapy treatments and spending nights at his house during hospice care. Needless to say, it was emotionally and physically exhausting and left me little time to tend to every day matters like grocery shopping and house cleaning. One night I arrived home late from a recent visit with my dad, to find my kitchen spotless. A dear friend (who’s mother had died from cancer a few years earlier) and her boyfriend had taken it upon themselves to do the dishes. So simple, and yet so profound. I have never forgotten that sweet, simple gesture.
In January 2013 Camille was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right tibia, a rare bone cancer. Ten years old at the time, she had been a competitive Irish step dancer and in a matter of weeks, she went from a dance floor to an oncology floor. Because of many complications, she has been hospitalized over 10 times and is currently receiving chemotherapy. During this difficult time, Camille has kept the most positive, creative spirit. She is especially fond of making things out of Duck Tape. She collects the most wild colors and patterns and fashions wallets, key holders, eyeglass cases, the works. Her pieces are precise, functional, fun and very artistic.
Even with insurance, the costs that attend her treatment, surgeries, check-ups and care are staggering for her mom. Last month, her dance school, the O’Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance, held a fundraiser for Camille and her family. It was called the “We’re Sticking With You, Camille” campaign and it featured rolls of Duck Tape! Contributors could purchase tape for themselves and/or donate a roll to Camille. One hundred percent of the proceeds was given directly to Camille’s family, along with dozens of rolls of crazily colorful tape for her next projects.
“English was not his native language, but he was incredibly eloquent and articulate in conveying the language of kindness.”—
Maurine Strafford, one of Karim Algha’s customers.
I wanted to pass along this bit of bonus audio to you folks, because it’s absolutely amazing. In it, Strafford explains how the kindness Karim showed each day transcended any language barrier between them.
We ride the T almost daily. My husband uses a walker. Every time we are on the T the driver of the bus or a passenger helps him with the walker and someone always gives us both seats if there are none available in the front. This happens whether we are on the subway or a bus.
I can’t help but smile when I see this happen on public transportation. A small kindness that always leaves an impression. Thanks for sharing. — Nate
This is not a story of great drama, but it changed my life — perhaps saved it.
At 43 years old I was very ill with an undiagnosed illness for a few years. My family was deceased, my friends long gone and I saw no one but health care workers a few days a week. Of course the disability payments kept me going but there were no extras. I was discouraged, exhausted, and so lonely.
Christmas came, though it was unlikely that I would have noticed it except for the knock at the door one day. I didn’t recognize the woman who came in and handed me an envelope with my name on it then quickly left. When I opened it, five $20 bills fell out.
There was a typed letter that said:
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
The money was welcome, yes, but the warmth I felt that someone (I had not a clue who) was thinking of me and cared meant the most. The world shifted a bit for me. Maybe things would turn out alright, I thought.
That was 20 years ago. I am still sick, pretty poor, but I live my life with as much joy and color and passion as I can. And whenever I am able, I slide an anonymous card, sweater, or CD to someone who has found a deep bottom.
I do this with gratitude for the opportunity to try to give back all that was given to me in that one envelope, from that special heart.
Thanks for the gig recording Dave Hartsock. An incredible, unduplicable experience. I will do that thing that your station policy does not permit, share that Dave Hartsock's sacrifice continues in that his saving are gone and that of his primary caregiver, his mother are nearly decimated. Please give forward by searching his name.
LISTEN: A Woman Describes What It's Like To Nearly Drown -- And The Story Of Her Survival
When Carol Fernandez went tubing with her friends on the Salt River in Arizona 30 years ago, she was expecting an idyllic day of aquatic activities. And for the first hour that is precisely what she got – that is until, unexpectedly, her tube flipped over, the rope tethering her friends’ tubes to her own pinning her underwater.
Fernandez, 21-years-old at the time, had a full life ahead of her — she was young, engaged, and madly in love — but in an instant she risked losing it all. The adrenaline coursing through her veins, she viciously fought to get to the surface of the shallow water. Luckily, her struggle was loud enough to catch the attention of a man floating nearby.
"There just happened to be this guy who had gotten stuck under the bridge,” Fernandez recalled of the situation. “He lifted my head up so that I could breathe, but he thought my neck was going to break so he let go." Fernandez says she held her breath for as long as she could, but soon had no choice but to breathe in water.
LISTEN: CAROL FERNANDEZ DESCRIBES WHAT IT’S LIKE TO NEARLY DROWN
And that was the last thing she remembers before waking up on the banks of the river surrounded by a large onlooking crowd. One man was leaning directly over her – the man who had revived her. And beside him, stood the man who tried to free her on the river.
The two were friends, and both played a critical role in saving Fernandez’s life, and despite telling them “thank you” repeatedly, she wishes she could say more.
“You don’t know at the time the impact that it’s going to have. You know, [to say] this is going to affect me every day for the rest of my life – you really can’t tell that to somebody. But it would be really great to tell them that now.”
Without the quick action of those two men, she says, she might not have survived – and she couldn’t be more grateful.
“I think about you guys – whoever you are — what you did has stayed with me every single day. I hope that somehow they know that.”
After her near-death experience Carol went on to become a mother, a wife, and a lawyer, and now lives with her family in Newton, Mass..
CALLOUT: Your stories for the Kind World on-air debut
Nate Goldman here, creator of Kind World. We’re gearing up for the Kind World on-air debut, and we’re looking for some remarkable stories of kindness to produce. Do you have a story of kindness you’d like to share?
Just respond through this post with your story, or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org
A Man Killed By Police In Brazil, And An Airline Employee Determined To Bring Him Home
In 2007 Joseph Martin was celebrating his 30th birthday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was a beautiful night. The streets were packed, and people of all kinds were out and about. But that didn’t stop the unthinkable from happening. After a verbal altercation with an off-duty police officer, Joseph was shot and killed. And just like that Joseph became a statistic — one of more than 11,000 people killed by police officers between 2003-2009 in the Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo districts of Brazil, according to Human Rights Watch.
Joseph’s aunt, Elizabeth Martin, was in Maine when this all happened. When she found out, she immediately went home and helped her sister with the difficult process of getting Joseph’s body shipped back home. Because his body was considered freight, the process was taking longer than usual. But through one airline employee’s kindness, a glint of light shone in an otherwise dark and painful time.
In 2007 my nephew Joseph was living in Brazil. He had been there for a few years. He was just enamored with the people, the culture, the language, and he was teaching English. And on may 25 he was celebrating his 30th birthday. It was a beautiful evening and people were outside, and he got into a verbal altercation with an off-duty policeman. And then this off-duty cop shot him, killed him, from about 16 feet away.
Joseph died in surgery that evening. Everything happened late, late at night. My sister found out that morning. The circumstances of my finding out were different because I was in northern Maine. And the game warden had to fly in by float plane and he told me that my nephew had died. I called one of my sisters and it was then that I found out Joe had been murdered.
I remember I threw the cell phone down and I started screaming. And I just fell on the ground and I just would take a deep breath and scream, and another deep breath and scream. It was as if my body could not contain that much pain.
A few days later, maybe as much as a week or more, we were waiting to get his body home and the logistics were complicated because shipping his body home meant shipping his body as freight - it was a coffin within a container. One of my sisters was monitoring his journey home and in Miami there was going to be a 10 hour delay before his body was going to be put on the next flight. And I remember one of my sisters was on the phone with the freight office in Miami and she was talking to an employee, and I overheard my sister say to the man, “His name is Joe. Can you please call him Joseph, not ‘freight.’” I suspect it was painful for him to hear, but the employee then apologized and then he asked my sister to hold, and he came back and he said “We got Joseph on the next flight out.”
And I really like thinking about that man at work in Miami. Clearly he was listening to my sister…but really listened, because he heard her pain. And her her the point. She wanted Joseph home. And he did that. He helped get Joseph home. He helped return a child home to his family.
And I will never forget that night getting a phone call from my sister, and she said, “I have good news. Joseph is home.”
Since Joseph’s killing, Elizabeth Martin has become an outspoken advocate for exposing police brutality and police violence in Brazil. She is the founder of Brazil Police Watch.
An Anonymous Envelope Saves The Holidays For A Young, Struggling Mother
18 years ago, Kim Ross was juggling two part-time jobs, a college curriculum, and caring for a 10 year old daughter. “It was a difficult time for us,” she says. Paying the bills wasn’t always easy either, especially during the holidays when Kim would try to save up enough money to get her daughter something special. But one year, an anonymous envelope she found in her mailbox turned what could’ve been an especially difficult holiday season into one she remembers to this day.
I was about 27/28 years old, and at that time my daughter was 10. I had decided I was going to go back to college, and I was also working two part time jobs. So it was really, it was just a tough time for us. So it was Christmas time and it’s always a difficult time of year in terms of trying to come up with enough money to try and get what your children what they’re asking for and provide them with a nice Christmas but also, you know, be able to meet the bills.
So one day I came home from school, and I found a card in the mail and it didn’t have a return address on it. It just had my name and my address and so it was a little strange. And then I opened it up and the card said, “Happy Christmas to you and your daughter” and inside the card was $100.
You know, it’s almost one of those knee-buckling moments where you’re just like “Wow. Really? Me?” I just couldn’t believe that somebody else from the outside was looking in and had seen the struggle I was having, and had thought enough to just send this money with absolutely no strings attached. Just, here, I see what you’re going through and I value that. It was just…it was really nice.
It was a busy Saturday afternoon just before Christmas. I was the third person in line at the cash register at Trader Joe’s in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The first person in line was an elderly woman who was having a pleasant conversation with the cashier while helping to pack her 3 bags of groceries. Behind her, and in front of me, was an athletic looking, middle-aged man. Just before the elderly woman retrieved her wallet to pay, the man struck up a quiet conversation with the woman and the cashier. When I saw the elderly woman’s eyes tear up as she gently patted the man’s back, I thought that I had witnessed an act of kindness and generosity. Once the man had left the store I asked the cashier to confirm what I thought I had seen: the man unexpectedly paying for the woman’s groceries. She told me that was exactly what had happened. We both expressed gratitude for having witnessed this kindness; and I reflected on this all day.
When I returned home my daughter Emily had just arrived from New York to celebrate the holidays. I was full of excitement and emotion when I told her the Trader Joe’s story, and she was just as moved as I was. Emily is hard to keep up with because she travels around the globe for a literacy project at Columbia University. She had just returned from Singapore so she was really raking up the frequent flyer miles that give her a shot at upgrading her seat to first class. I know it sounds decadent to travel first class but when you live in the air and in hotels, it is a great time to catch up on lagging sleep. When Emily left after Christmas, the Trader Joe’s incident stayed with her. When she got to Logan Airport to head for the west coast she was not even close to the top of the list for an upgrade but was given a comfortable bulkhead seat at the front of coach. Once she was settled in, a flight crew commotion that halted the boarding progress occurred when a woman in a wheelchair was being shuttled to row 25. Emily offered the woman her seat to be able to have more room and took the woman’s seat in row 25. After about 10 minutes had passed a flight attendant walked over to Emily in row 25 and offered her a first class seat.
I believe the positive energy created by the man at Trader Joe’s had an amazing ripple effect for a lot of people. Thank you to that athletic, middle-aged man in line at Trader Joe’s.
Strangers Come To Honeymooners’ Rescue After Car Flips
For their honeymoon, Steve Brykman and his wife decided to travel cross-country in their camper. When they reached Wyoming, they decided to take the scenic route, traveling up the Big Horn mountains to catch the view. Seeing as it was September, they thought nothing of it. But as they traveled up the mountain, the weather began to take a turn for the worse. A freak snow storm, they called it. Complete white-out. Then they lost control of the camper, and began traveling down the narrow mountain roads backwards. They flipped over. Fortunately, the roads weren’t empty and the actions of several strangers turned what would have been a nightmare honeymoon into a remarkable story of kindness.
My wife and I were on our honeymoon and we had this souped up ‘84 Westy camper and we decided that we were going to travel across the country for our honeymoon in the camper. And we got to Wyoming, and this was the first week in September and so we decided to take the scenic route which went up into the Big Horn mountains. So we started heading up those mountains, and then it started to rain a little, and then it starts to get cold, and rain starts to freeze on the windshield, hindering our vision. And then it begins to snow. I remember cattle heading down the mountain, which probably should’ve been our first indication we should’ve been out of there. And within like 5 minutes we were in a complete white-out, and it became clear this was going to be just a complete disaster. And then a gust of wind just hit the side of the camper, which is basically just a giant rectangle, and actually spun the camper entirely around so that we were traveling down this mountain backwards. I’m not a very religious person but I remember saying like ‘Okay, God! It’s up to you! It’s your call!” It seemed like forever, but it was probably a few seconds later that we hit the side of the road and rolled the camper upside down on the side of the road that happened to have a side to it. Because on the other side of the road it was just a sheer cliff face. And wound up stopping upside down, and we had to get out of it upside down. My wife, who’s a much quicker thinker than I am was able to hop into the road. I remember thinking like “oh wow that’s amazing that she was able to get all the wedding gifts out of the car and arrange them on the road like that.” Of course, she didn’t. They had just flown out of the vehicle. Fortunately, a car came within 5 or 10 minutes and the guy stopped, and he was training to be a fireman so we knew we were in good hands. And he helped us pack up his car with whatever we needed, and took us down the mountain in the Lovell, Wyoming. And we did go to the hospital and get checked out. We were okay. And the nurse drove us back to the hotel, so I asked her how do we get out of here? The nearest car rental place is out in Cody, Wyoming which is 50-60 miles from where we were. So the nurse was like ‘well I’m going that way anyway so I’ll give you a ride.” So I don’t think she was ‘going that way anyway,’ I think she was just doing it to be nice and to help us get on with our honeymoon.
This experience taught me that there’s always going to be somebody to help you no matter where you are. Because, I mean, we were in the middle of nowhere on a mountain in the middle of a freak snowstorm and here’s a fireman in training coming to our rescue. But there it is.
With Help From Neighbors, A Struggling Family Starts A Holiday Tradition
Living in poverty can generate stories of kindness, a certain quality of which—I imagine—cannot be experienced by even the slightly well-to-do. As a child, I was struck by my mother’s accounts of her family’s meager Christmases, which colored my sense of the meaning of the holiday. But for a middle-class, second-generation American child, those images—though lasting—could be, at best, a mere copy of the original.
Back in July, we launched this digital experiment called “Kind World.” In it, we explore people’s experiences with random acts of kindness. Over the last several months, we’ve collected dozens of stories and featured many of them right here on our Tumblr.
So, to capture the warmth of the season, we compiled our favorite Kind World stories — each one demonstrating the overwhelming goodness that exists in the world. From a man buying a retail manager’s entire staff a cup of coffee during the hectic holiday sales season to a woman with mitochondrial disease helping a man stuck in his New York City apartment during Superstorm Sandy, these stories detail the human experiences that may not necessarily make the news, but are just as important to share.
Press the play button below to listen to the full compilation.
If I submit a story by voice mail will you publish a text version or are contributors encouraged to do both?
Any voice mail I receive and produce, I will always attach a transcript to. So the text version is something I include in each audio post. Thanks for the question, and I hope to hear your story come in! The number is 617-651-0909.
Hey everybody - I just wanted to send out a note apologizing for the lack of content coming out of here lately. My time has been sucked up with another project that is set to end early next week, so don’t you fret - Kind World will be back soon with more wonderful stories!
In the meantime, if you have a story to tell about an act of kindness that had an affect on you, record it on our voicemail line at 617-651-0909. Thanks!
Friends, Family, And Strangers Come Together After House Fire
We had a horrible house fire last October. Devastated, not knowing yet what, if anything, could be replaced or repaired, I posted the incident on my Facebook Page. Within an hour, offers of help, food, a place to stay, a car to drive, came in from many people (including our banker and insurance agent). All of them followed through with their offers. There are a lot of good people out there; sometimes it takes a near tragedy to recognize it.
Our house was repaired and new furniture delivered the day before Christmas, another miracle wrought by our out-of-work contractor friends, who also received a wonderful Christmas gift in the form of payment because of our insurance company and bank.
Hurricane Sandy Knocks Out A Disabled Man's Breathing Machine And A Heartwarming Journey To Save Him Unfolds
Crystal Evans has never met Nick Dupree. Nick lives in the Tribeca area of Manhattan and Crystal lives in Boston. The only time they speak is to share advice and stories on an online forum dedicated to people with mitochondrial disease - a disease they both share.
Nick, however, has a much more severe case than Crystal, and though they are both wheelchair bound, Nick’s disease requires him to be on a feeding tube and ventilator. So when Superstorm Sandy approached, and New York City slowly began to lose power, Crystal immediately thought of Nick. So, as one does, she opened up her Facebook to see if Nick was okay. Turns out, she was right to be worried. Nick had posted that his power had gone out, and the nurses who usually help him couldn’t get into the city because all public transit had been suspended.
Nick only had so many hours before all of his equipment would shut off. And that’s when Crystal sprung to action, organizing a massive effort to save Nick Dupree.
Picking Up A Hitchhiker Leads To Lesson In Humility
So I never pick up hitch-hikers as a rule. I don’t know what moved me to do so today. I was heading from North Platte to Brady and he was just outside of North Platte. He jumped in and said “thanks for stopping”. I said no problem, I’m going to Brady about 23 miles up the road, and I’ll take you that far.
As we were conversing, I noticed he reeked of booze. I also noticed his wrinkled, sun darkened face, his shoddy hair and clothes, unshaven face, and only the clothes on his back.
But what I noticed most was his piercing, large blue eyes. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and I believe it, if you look closely, you can pretty much tell the kind of soul a person has through their eyes. His eyes were almost indescribable. They were so mesmerizing, not an ounce of hate in them. Looking at his very rough exterior, I could tell he’d been down a very hard road. Somehow, despite the road he had been down, there was no hate in his eyes…only love.
Just a comment: I am having an unusually difficult bout with depression right now. When I awaken each and every morning, I am greeted instantaneously by fear, anxiety, and a sense of doom that hangs over me for the first 4 or 5 hours of each day. I survive by finding ways to distract myself from thinking about the environment and the UNkind world out there. And now that I've discovered "Kind World," I find it is pure blessing. Just wanted you to know. Might even offer a story of my own soon.
It’s notes like these that make stopping this project inconceivable to me. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
Stranded After September 11th, A Stranger Offers Help
Angelique Tung flew from San Francisco to New York City on September 10th for a business meeting. The next morning, she entered the South Tower of the World Trade Center a little after 8AM. Then the first plane hit. She was told to evacuate, and while making her way down the stairwell to the ground floor the second plane hit. She made it to the ground safely, but come night time had no where she could sleep. Her hotel was impossible to enter due to its proximity to Ground Zero. So she went to visit a colleague’s family in Rye, New York. There, a small act of kindness occurred that, in any other situation, might’ve been overlooked. But for Angelique, it meant everything.
After A Woman Loses Her Home, A Family Brings Her In
Shelley Fitzgerald is from Westford, Massachusetts and this past Spring she lost her home. Unsure of where to go or what to do, something wonderful happened. A family she barely knew offered their motor home for her to stay in, for free, for as long as she needed. Regularly, they would check in on her, and welcomed her into their family with open arms. Listen to Shelley’s story below.
This Spring I lost my house, I was too depressed to work, and somebody I barely knew offered to let me live in their motorhome in their driveway, and had come over and check on me, and kind of included me in their family. It made all the difference in the world, it was just an amazing thing. And I’m doing much better today, and 95% of it is because of the people who helped me out.
I’m looking for more stories to feature on Kind World! So if you have a story about a random act of kindness, just leave a message on our voicemail (phone number on the picture above) and I may feature you on the site. Thanks so much!
PS - be sure to leave your name and where you’re from too :)
Hello, I just wanted to let you know that reading your Kind World stories always makes me smile, and sometimes tear up, and truly be grateful that at least one media outlet exists that is trying to bring some positivity to our world's news. Any time I'm having a bad day or feel down, I navigate over to this blog to catch up on posts I've missed- and I always leave with a smile. So, thank you, and please keep this wonderful experiment going! Sincerely, Samantha
Thanks Samantha! I am going to keep this project up for as long as possible. So keep coming back and keep smiling! It’s why this project was created :)
A Woman Remembers The Men Who Helped Her Father Overcome His Stuttering
After World War II Peg Grandison and her parents moved outside of Massachusetts so her father could work at a textile company and make a very modest but livable income. His income, however, was not enough to pay for therapy to fix his stutter or even the bus ticket to get to Boston for treatment. And in a story that seems almost unfathomable today, the therapist in Boston as well as the therapist’s superior did everything they could do to get him the treatment — and money — he needed.
So I was in New York this past Saturday riding in a taxi. About 2 minutes after I got out, I realized I had forgotten to get my suitcase and laptop out of the trunk. Unfortunately, the taxi was long gone and I didn’t have a medallion number or any way to figure out what cab it was. My friends told me it was unlikely I’d ever see them again.
Well, a few hours later, I got a call on my cell phone. It was the driver of the cab, telling me he had my bags. He was overjoyed that he had reached me, and apologized (!) that he was out at JFK airport, but he said that be would be back soon and would bring them to me. Well he did just that, and everything was right in place, including my laptop and new iPad.
A huge thanks to Mohammed, the driver of NYC taxi 7C96. Its good to know there are still honest people in the world who do the right thing!
The Story Of How Boston's Book Club For The Homeless Came To Be
Peter Resnik was walking along the Boston Common on a cold Boston winter when he spotted a man wearing a Giants jacket. For those who don’t know, wearing a Giants jacket in Boston can attract attention. But it wasn’t long before Peter discovered that the man wearing the Giants jacket was homeless. The story from here illustrates just how profound an effect being a decent and kind human being can have in this world.
This piece also appears on WBUR’s Soundcards - a new audio project we’re working on as part of our iLab initiative.
My name is Peter Resnik. I’m a lawyer downtown, and my commute every morning was to walk across the Boston Common and the Garden. In the course of that walk I started talking to two homeless men who were in the park and got to know them over a period of months. One day I commented on the fact that one of the men was wearing a Giants jacket. I was teasing him about it. He responded, “It’s not a Giants jacket, it’s a warm jacket” and where he bought his clothes they didn’t have Patriots jackets. You know, the conversations just got a little more personal as time went by and we started talking about books. And I gave him a book called Water For Elephants, then we started on another book and I asked him what he had done with Water For Elephants, and he had given it to somebody else on the Common. And I asked him what they did with it and they gave it to somebody else. And we decided we’d try to see if we could put together a book club.
Photo by Vernon Doucette/Boston University Photography
I was walking my two dogs along the Charles River in Cambridge a couple of months ago and came across a homeless man fast asleep with his dog curled up beside him. The dog lay there, tucked into his master’s hip, watchful, loyal and quiet.
Also beside the man was a bottle of water in a bucket, presumably to keep it cool during the night and his shopping cart of possessions. Something struck me about the scene. Here was a chap trying to do what he could to keep his friend with him and not abandon him to a shelter, both loyal to each other. As I walked my two spoiled dogs home I decided I couldn’t bare that homeless man’s dog going hungry. After dropping off my dogs at the house I walked to my local Whole Foods, picked up a loaf of bread, some peanut butter, a bag of apples and a bag of dog food. I walked back to where they were, the man was still asleep, the dog still beside him. I placed the bag of groceries beside his shopping cart, his dog lay quiet, still watching and sniffed the air.
I like to think that the man woke up hungry, wondering how he and his dog were going to eat that day. I hope he didn’t have a nut allergy.
Tell me which style you like better: just interview with music, or do you like the sound effects in there too?
This week’s Kind World piece is a little different from the usual ones we do. I’m experimenting with adding more sound in there. Tell me which style you like better - just interview with music, or do you like the sound effects in there too?
I’m torn between the two and would love all of your feedback!