Everyday Hero Stories

Where did your values come from?

We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.

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CARING
STRANDED NULL In June of 1999 I had taken my father (76 years old, I was 45 and a sedentary software tester) out for a trip in the Utah west desert. In the early evening on a dirt road to a fossil quarry we hit a rock and punctured our transmission pan. Without fluid, the car came to a stop and we were stranded. After...
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TEACHING BY EXAMPLE
A CUP OF COFFEE NULL My life began similarly to most of the kids in my family, with a mother who did the best she could before the father screwed up enough times and she left. That's the way it is in my family, you grow up not knowing what a father is and no one is there to teach you. Consequently, I developed the usual problems...
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HELPING OTHERS
THE ESCALATOR NULL I was returning from another business trip, heading to my car. A five-year-old boy stood at the top of the escalator. At first, I thought he was just playing, but as I got closer, I realized his Mom was half-way down the escalator. She thought he was right behind her and his little sister. When she turned around...
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REACHING OUT
TOUCHING ONE LIFE NULL I volunteered with the Challenger League, a baseball team for young adults with physical disabilities. One day, a young man hit a home run and we ran around the bases - nothing unusual. However, it was unusually quiet in the stands. Later, I was told that this young man was autistic and didn't like people...
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MAKING A DIFFERENCE
A THANKSGIVING REMEMBRANCE NULL My paternal grandmother lived with us. She would sit in the porch swing and I would stand behind her and brush her beautiful long gray hair. As I brushed her hair she would tell me her two favorite stories from the Bible. The only thing better was when she would have me snuggle up close to her in the swing as she...
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HELPING OTHERS
THE ALOOF FAMILY NULL We were standing next to my old car, out of gas and out of money. It was three miles to home and five miles to the nearest gas station; the temperature was over 100 degrees. My ten-year-old daughter was trying to tell me not to worry, we can take the groceries and walk home, but after the walk through the store,...
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REACHING OUT
THE DAY WE BECAME FRIENDS NULL She was new to my school and we despised each other for the first year. Looking back on it now, I think it was only because we were so alike. After a horrible day, I sat on the ground crying when I saw someone sit down next to me. I wasn't sure of who it was at first. It was the girl that I hated. But, she held...
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GRATITUDE
UNWILLING STUDENT NULL I love it at night. It's peaceful. And when it cools down I sometimes do some ironing. I don't really care for it. I work full time and too busy for most housework. I remember the old woman who taught me to iron. I was about 15 and somehow got a live-in job taking care of a woman who had been an able-bodied,...
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GRATITUDE
THE STRANGERS WHO CARED NULL It was to be our second Christmas in Germany and we decided to avoid the naked tree problem that we had the year before. We tried ordering an artificial tree from the States, only to learn that the packaging was too big to send through the A.P.O. mail system. We then wrote to my father, and he agreed to purchase...
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HELPING OTHERS
DO UNTO OTHERS NULL My mother through her fine example instilled within me the desire to help others. She taught me to notice those who others ignore. She was compassionate. The railroad tracks were within a mile of our house. "Beggers" and "Bums" (as they were known) frequently would knock on the doors in our neighborhood in the...
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REACHING OUT
LEARNING A VALUABLE LESSON NULL From my seat in the van, the rows of tomato plants looked like neatly laid pick-up-sticks. It was harvest time near Quincy, Florida, picking season for hundreds of migrant workers. With a team of youth, I was ready to spend a week renovating an old church and community center. Yet after that week of labor, my...
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GRATITUDE
MY LITTLE DETERMINATION NULL I was seventeen, pregnant and scared there was no help that was going to come from the father. And I still had to graduate high school. My mother and father had lost all hope in me in graduating or even being a mother. That year I found my strength through my child. After 15 hours of labor she was here and I...
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TEACHING BY EXAMPLE
TURN THE CORNER NULL When I was twenty, I won a statewide pageant. Along with the scholarship came the opportunity to be a guest in other pageants and parades, and also to compete for the national title. I felt so happy and blessed each time I read another news clipping about my reign. I was so proud of the gown I'd designed and I...
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HELPING OTHERS
ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT NULL In 1969 I was a young girl working in the big city. I was from a small town in Ontario and had just moved to Toronto about five weeks earlier. It was one week before Christmas and I was going home on the streetcar, the last one of the evening. I remember looking at my paycheque and asking myself how it was...
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OVERCOMING
DIALYSIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE END NULL Twenty years ago I was treated with an antibiotic that damaged my kidneys. Within a couple of years of the antibiotics it was necessary for me to have dialysis treatments. After a couple of years my husband and I were trained to do the hemodialysis treatments and were able to perform them every other night at...
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COURAGE
FDNY HERO NULL Al F. was born in Guayaquil, Equidor in 1951. He emigrated to New York in 1960, he started in the 3rd grade and spoke no English. He was appointed to the New York City Fire Department in 1977 and assigned to Engine 1 in midtown Manhattan. He transferred to Ladder 24 and then Rescue 1 both in Manhattan. In 1986...
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INTEGRITY
HELPING ANOTHER IN NEED NULL My parents always raised me to have strong values and hold firm to my convictions in life, and this was never more exemplified than when a situation arose when it would be easy for most people to ignore it. A gentleman at my father's work began to come into work smelling continually of body odor and personal...
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FRIENDSHIP
NEW KID ON THE WARD NULL I was a scared 10-year-old girl in the hospital having reconstructive surgery. This was back when you checked into the hospital the day before your procedure. I was shy but met some of the kids in the ward. I was pleased and surprised when they walked me to the elevator as I was being wheeled down for...
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COMMON GROUND
THANKFULNESS NULL As a World War II veteran, I served as a dental assistant in hospital that went to Japan a week or so after the bomb was dropped. After visiting a family and having dinner with them and not understanding much of the conversation, I was impressed with their hospitality and friendliness because I was (in reality) a...
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LEARNING
WHAT I LEARNED FROM CARL NULL My mind seems always to return to the day that I met Carl. The city bus, with its mechanical hiss and its slightly dizzying engine-exhaust fumes, stopped at the corner of 31st and Centennial Drive to pick up the daily commuters, a group in which I was included. Boarding the bus, I looked, seemingly in vain, for a...
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AMBITION
I CAN'T NULL I was the quintessential "I can't" child - the poster child for the advancement of the word "can't." Whatever my mother told or asked me to do was immediately followed by my whining, "I caaaaan't." Consequently, very few tasks or goals that I set out to accomplish were ever completed. One evening, my mother...
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HELPING OTHERS
MANY THANKS! NULL A few years ago I was walking to pick my son up from school. We unfortunately lived too close for a bus pick-up but also too far from the school for my 1st grader to walk home alone. It had become a ritual for my young daughter, infant son and I to walk the 6 blocks every afternoon. On one of those afternoons...
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COURAGE
EIGHT BIRDS, TWO MOUNTAINS, AND ONE BIG CHEVY MALIBU NULL "I am convinced my life belongs to the whole community; and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I got hold of for a moment, and I want to...
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COMPASSION
I CAN'T FORGET AND I WON'T IGNORE NULL Every day is a learning process. Seven months ago I spent three days learning about a problem that has no clear, definite solution. The problem still waits; I have not solved it — yet. I say "yet" because of what those three days taught me. The apparent insolubility of a problem is not a comfortable excuse to...
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RIGHT CHOICES
FAITH NULL My sister had failed out of school and was making very unwise decisions with her life. She chose to spend her time with people who were lost as she was. They all chose to ignore their responsibilities and supported one another in a life which involved drinking and partying. Sadly, they were all losing time. They...
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GENEROSITY
THE JUDGE NULL Back in the mid to late 80's I had just finished up a 1 year program at a local Technical School. I soon began interviewing for a job. I was hired after my very first interview. I would be wearing a suit and tie every day. Well, I was flat broke and had no clothes suitable. A good friend's father was a retired US...
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APPRECIATION
SOMETHING TO LOSE NULL It was the summer before my freshman year of college. I was at my internship when I got the 911 page from my mom and a message saying, "Come home immediately after work." A bit anxious, I packed up my things and left for the day beating both my folks home. When they walked in the door my mom began to speak but...
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TRUST
THE ONLY "ENABLER" IN MY LIFE NULL As a child, I learned at a very early age, to project hatred with a passion, on everyone around me, and also as a means of survival and staying safe from pain and suffering. The end result of this distorted belief system, was that for the next 30 years, I kept myself in bondage to addictions and long-term...
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ENCOURAGEMENT
YOU ARE GOING PLACES NULL It was another dreary and gloomy day. I had come home from school, changed my clothes and gotten ready for work. I work at a local restaurant in town as a cashier, seater and busser. I went to work feeling down and out. And to make matters worse I was busing that evening. It's the same thing over and over again....
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