Great Caring Americans Produce Welcome Good News

Americans helping Americans during the unexpected wide-spread freezing weather in Texas, which has knocked-out power (and water) to a great many residents. The Gallery Furniture Store in North Houston, thankfully with a multi-day generator (installed wisely after Hurricane Harvey in 2017), opened its doors to help shelter many of those in the area needing relief from the extreme cold, an even more special blessing for those with children.  Over 300 people camped out at the showroom’s tables, as well as in its recliners and beds.  Said the owner, Jim McIngvale: “We all have a responsibility for the well-being of the community, and we think this is our responsibility.”  He continually walked around among his “guests,” greeting each, and offering snacks and doughnuts during their day or two stay, awaiting gradual residential power restoration.

Then a restaurant in Plano, Texas, although losing power and unable to open regularly, still had natural gas for cooking.  So, the owner decided to prepare extra helpings of lasagna and spaghetti to provide free meals for anyone in need.  “We couldn’t sit back and do nothing when our community is hurting,” wrote the owner on-line, letting folks know about the available free lunches for those who might desire “some comforting hot food to get through this weather.”  On Wednesday of this past week, alone, the restaurant served lunch to more than 500 people, while also delivering 80 additional hot meals to a church shelter. Again, above and beyond to help customers and strangers alike.

And an extremely helpful Austin, Texas man, Mr. Ryan Sivley, used his four-wheel-drive vehicle to assist over 140 stranded drivers over a two-day period! “Well, put yourself in their shows,” said this humble hero. “If you were sitting on the side of the road with your wife and your kids and you’re freezing in the car, and it’s not running and you don’t have anywhere to go and you don’t have anyone to call, what do you do? If I was in that spot, I would beg and hope that somebody would help me. So, that’s what I’m doing.”  With “recovery straps and chains” he’d pull cars back onto the road if they were still operating.  Failing that, he’d give folks rides home.  Even helping nurses get to or from their hospitals.  He said that the inspiration to assist people in need resulted mainly from a car accident earlier last year in which he was seriously injured and came close to losing his life.  Another great American giving (and giving back).

A Staten Island, N.Y. Corrections Officer, Mr. Pedro Correa, went to check on his trusty 30-year old, rarely-used car parked outside his house, after a neighbor called to tell him he thought someone might be inside the car.  He’d accidently left his car unlocked after repositioning it several times due to the recent heavy snows.  As he approached the vehicle, he noticed that a side window was partially down.  Looking more closely, he discovered that, indeed, there was someone in his car!  It was a very elderly woman, clearly disoriented, who had apparently wandered out of her home just as a heavy snowstorm was beginning to hit the area.  She had sought refuge from the weather in Mr. Correa’s car and thanks to the age of the car (still had hand-cranked windows!), she had been able to wind the window down a bit.

“She was so tiny,” he remembered. “She looked up at me and said: ‘I’m cold. I’m scared.  Can you please help me?’  Mr. Correa retrieved some blankets from the house to wrap up the lady for warmth, including her bare feet!  She was later reunited with her family.  And she was lucky to be alive.  Said he: “If she didn’t have the smarts to roll the window down, I wouldn’t have gone into that car for two weeks. The angels were looking out for her.” The life of that weak, 87-year old woman was saved by an observant neighbor, a partially opened window, and the car’s owner who cared enough to get fully involved, take action, and do the right things.

Next, finally, now, with no snow involved (!), while waiting in line in the drive-thru at a Columbus, Georgia Chick-fil-A, an employee heard upsetting shouts coming from one of the cars in that line. An infant in a rear car seat was chocking, because “the seat belt had become wrapped around the child’s windpipe.”  As the seconds ticked by, the child’s father and another waiting driver tried in vain to loosen the belt, but without success. The responding Chick-fil-A employee, teenager Zack Kokenzie, shouted back to a colleague at the drive-thru window for scissors. Once in hand, he then quickly cut through the seat belt, relieving both the infant and the understandably worried father.  Zack, an Eagle Scout and a CPR certified young man, clearly saved a child in serious distress. A fine young American and most certainly an outstanding employee, as he was later duly recognized by his management.

Portland, Oregon airport TSA Agent, Martin Rios, came to the aid of a family caught up in a very bad air travel booking error.  The Spanish-speaking family of three was supposed to be flying to Portland, Maine.  Somewhere, somehow, Portland, Maine ended up being Portland, Oregon, clear across the country from their intended destination.  After spending a worried night in the ‘wrong’ Portland airport, Agent Rios came upon the family and quickly realized that they were in distress.  He also determined that they were financially unable to fully correct a very large flight mistake.  He stepped up, using some of his personal money, to help these stranded folks get properly re-booked and on the correct flight back to Maine.  Said his manager of young Mr. Rios’ selfless action: “Martin is, and has been since day one, a shining example of what it means to be a team player.  He’s the kind of officer and person any airport in the country would be proud to have as a member of their team.”  Martin Rios was later honored with the TSA’s “Make The Connection Quarterly Award” for aiding in this positive solution.

And finally, for now, even more assistance to our military veterans is about to be coming from one of the truly great and passionate supporters of America’s military, screen and music star, Gary Sinise.  Mr. Sinise has long supported our military members, at home and abroad, through the impressive financial work of The Gary Sinise Foundation.  To expand that outreach even further, he has now joined together with Home Depot co-founders, Mr. Bernie Marcus (a veteran) and Mr. Arthur Blank, who together will be contributing $20-million from their own foundations to support the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network, which will now support a new initiative to care for veterans (and, importantly, also first responders) suffering from “post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and substance abuse.”  This new Sinise-Marcus-Blank program will fund twenty treatment sites across the country to deal primarily with those injuries and issues indicated.  Said Mr. Sinise, in announcing this major new nation-wide initiative: “Invisible wounds have visible manifestations like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, which affect not only the veterans and first responders themselves, but their families as well.  These invisible wounds too often can lead to suicide.” Gary Sinise continues to be a prominent, outstanding advocate for our military members and veterans.  We wish him and his impressive partners success as they underwrite dramatic new opportunities for treatment of the “invisible wounds,” which the VA indicates have significantly increased for America’s veterans due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Great, caring individual Americans doing truly good work, and offering us some much-needed positive news, welcome rays of sunlight amidst these days of seemingly persistent cloudy skies.

(Furniture store shelter stats/quote via, Associated Press, 2-18-21; Restaurant free lunches stats/quote via, James Leggate, 2-19-21; Helping stuck drivers stats/quote via, Amy Furr, 2-18-21; Staten Island woman saved stats/quotes via, Craig McCarthy, 2-9-21; Chick-fil-A rescue stats/quote via, Ann W. Schmidt, 10-14-20; TSA Agent stats/quote via, Daniella Genovese, 2-15-21; Gary Sinise stats/quote via, Charlotte Pence Bond, 2-17-21).