There’s so much bad news right now. Russia threatens to use its nuclear arsenal to hold on to its slipping territorial gains in Ukraine. A landslide in Venezuela has killed at least 25 people with another 50 missing. Economists continue to worry about inflation and if you listen closely, they even talk in hushed tones about the market being in or near a recession.
Finally, where I live in Pennsylvania, an election battleground state, we’re knee-deep in the political BS season. I love Autumn, but I’m starting to tire of a new tradition, nasty political commercial after nasty political commercial, and we’re still four weeks away from Election Day.
I’m saddened by what I’m seeing on TV and social media, but if you look closely, there’s still good news out there. Here’s two stories that made my day.
Making a difference
Teacher Daniel Gill has been teaching for the past 52 years at Glenfield Middle School in Montclair, New Jersey and will retire at the end of the year. He may be hanging up his teacher’s badge, but he has plans to keep busy.
He’s writing a book called “No More Chairs” which comes from an act of bias he experienced as a nine-year-old, when he and his friend, Archie, who is African American, went to a birthday party, and the mother turned Archie away, saying there were no more chairs.
“And she said it again, ‘you can come in, Archie can’t,’ my friend was humiliated,” Gill told a local CBS news station in New York.
It stayed with him and helped shape how he has taught, nurtured, and led in his classroom. Gill has kept an empty chair in his class and has always explained the reason to his students. “It’s an anchor to show kids there is room for everyone. There’s always a chair,” Gill said.
Yes, there’s room for everyone.
Giving until it hurts
The media is full of upsetting news, but we don’t hear often enough that Americans are charitable. Americans gave $484.85 billion in 2021, a 4% increase from the previous year, according to a report from the National Philanthropic Trust a public charity dedicated to providing philanthropic expertise to donors, foundations and financial institutions, enabling them to realize their philanthropic aspirations.
In 2021, the majority of charitable dollars went to education, religious, human services, grantmaking foundations, and public-society causes. People give for many different reasons. Most studies suggest that first and foremost is an altruistic impulse that people want to help. Other reasons include the warm feeling they get giving. People contribute too for quid pro quo reasons, such as earning a tax deduction.
Americans give of their time too. An estimated 30% of US adults, 77.9 million Americans, volunteered in 2019, contributing an estimated 5.8 billion hours, valued at approximately $147 billion, according to the AmeriCorps’ Office of Research and Evaluation.
The two stories remind me that the world may be a tough, cold place, but my heart doesn’t have to be, it can be full of hope and optimism.