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Crazy Good Turns

We tell inspiring stories about people who do amazing things for others.
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Crazy Good Turns
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Nov 21, 2017

How far would you go to help one of your coworkers?

For Bernie Marcus, the co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot, the answer is: farther than most would ever imagine.

In the 1980s, Marcus had a personal accountant whose 4-year-old son had autism. What started as a simple desire to help her developed into a 30-year campaign to improve the resources available to kids with autism and their families. Today the Marcus Autism Center is one of the world’s leading institutions for autism research and treatment..

In this episode, you’ll hear about the incredible personal philosophy that drove Marcus to build the Marcus Autism Center and go so far as to commit more than $100 million of his own money to the cause. All told, Bernie and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation, have donated more than $1 billion to address some of the nation’s most pressing health issues, including stem cell research, spinal cord issues and brain injuries.

But while he’s a man who’s donated richly, Marcus didn’t come from a background of wealth. In this show he also shares how he grew up poor in Newark, New Jersey and worked until his 50s before he reached his big breakthrough. He also offers insight into his personal ethical code—the one that made sure that, when he did find success, he was going to share it with others, especially the people who’d helped him succeed.

Nov 7, 2017

Some people are strong. Some are tough. Some seem unstoppable. And then there’s Travis Mills of the Travis Mills Foundation, who will redefine all of those words for you.

He’ll tell you that he’s like anyone else. He just had a bad day at work.

But Mills’s job at the time was Staff Sergeant for the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. And that bad day—April 10, 2012—took away both his arms and his legs.

Today Mills is a quadruple amputee—one of five U.S. servicemen to lose all of his limbs to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But ask and he’ll tell you that he doesn’t consider himself a wounded warrior. Why?

“I’m not wounded,” Mills says.

Instead, Mills considers himself a “recalibrated warrior” — one who’s defied all odds and surpassed every expectation on his road to recovery. He taught himself how to walk, then run, then do an incredible number of other things you might not expect: swim, fish, and do CrossFit. He completed his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center in about half the time doctors thought it would take. Along the way, he made lifting the spirits of other injured veterans  his new mission.

“I met everybody there. I was one of the first people they got to talk to when they got to the hospital,” Mills says.  “I think that was impactful because, at Walter Reed, the worst amputation you're going to see is me.

"So here’s a guy with no arms and legs who either rolls or walks into your room and is like, ‘Hey, man. What's up? How's life treating you? You're in a great spot, you're going to get better, and I can't wait to see you down there. We'll work out together one day.’ It really is uplifting.Aa lot of the guys were really thankful for that.”

Today Mills is a speaker, an author, an actor, and the head of a foundation that’s helping other critically injured vets recalibrate their own lives, the Travis Mills Foundation. This year the foundation opened a beautiful wooded retreat in Central Maine where soldiers who’ve lost limbs can spend a week with their families free of charge.

“And I can tell you right now, I'm the president [of the foundation] and I have six other wonderful board members -- we're never going to pay ourselves,” Mills says. “We don't take a dime for this, and all the money raised goes towards the project, it goes towards the Travis Mills Foundation, and the retreat, and bringing the families up so the families don't have any cost when they get up here.”

The retreat is already earning incredible praise from the servicemen and women that it’s served. And it’s going the extra mile to help even more. Initially scheduled to stay open only through the end of October, the retreat extended its inaugural season in order to help military families displaced by the Hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

In this episode, you’ll find out how Travis survived his terrible injuries, who inspired him to take on an excruciating recovery, and how he learned to walk again with some help from his young daughter, Chloe. You’ll also learn how a past guest on Crazy Good Turns, The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, helped Travis, his wife, Kelsey, and Chloe, get back to a more normal life. And you’ll hear one inspiring, incredible quote after another from a man who is truly unstoppable.

 

 

Oct 22, 2017

On paper it doesn’t make any sense. One out of every six people in the United States lack access to sufficient food, yet 40 percent of the food produced in this country goes to waste.

These statistics may be staggering, but they aren’t unique to the U.S. According to the new documentary WASTED: The Story of Food Waste, more than 1.3 billion pounds of food gets thrown away across the globe each year, while 800 million people worldwide go hungry.

But Rick Nahmias wasn’t thinking about these stunning figures while walking through his neighborhood in Valley Glen, California in January 2009. He was a photographer who’d worked extensively with the state’s migrant workers, but on that day he was just trying to get some exercise for his dog, Scout. Glancing at the citrus trees in the yards around him, he realized that most of the fruit — food that could feed otherwise hungry people — would fall to the ground and go to waste unless someone did something. So he did.

With the help of just one other person, Nahmias set to work picking tangerines from a single backyard. By the end of the day, they’d harvested more than 100 pounds of fruit. And Nahmias knew he’d stumbled onto an idea with enormous potential.

Nahmias used that idea to launch Food Forward. During the past 8 years, Food Forward has rescued more than 42 million pounds (over 140 million servings) of produce. The organization has moved beyond just harvesting backyard fruit trees and today works with public orchards and farmers markets to take food that would otherwise be wasted and use it to help hunger relief agencies across eight Southern California counties.

Each month, food recovered by Food Forward feeds more than 100,000 people. And Nahmias says it’s just the beginning. Tune in and learn more about his two-birds-one-stone solution for fighting hunger and food waste.

 

Oct 9, 2017

The numbers are staggering. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma inflicted between 150 and 200 million dollars in damage to Texas and Florida alone. That’s to say nothing of the human cost — thousands of lives disrupted, people displaced and homes destroyed.

The situation is even worse in U.S. territories in the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria essentially destroyed all of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. Recovery from all three hurricanes will take years — which is exactly why the Disaster Services Corporation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA is there to help.

While the Society of St. Vincent De Paul is a Catholic Charity focused on the needy and suffering that has been around for more than 150 years, the group’s Disaster Services Corporation was born just 12 years ago out of the crisis created by Hurricane Katrina. In this episode, you’ll hear how an unexpected announcement during that disaster caused the organization to take unprecedented steps to help evacuees in an entirely new way. You’ll also learn how a program created back then will bring comfort to the tens of thousands of people impacted by this year’s torrent of hurricanes.

Along the way, you’ll meet the leader of SVDP Disaster Services, Elizabeth Disco-Shearer. She was a successful businesswoman, but changed everything in her life after she made a deal with God — and God held up his end of the bargain.

Find out what her promise was, how it ultimately led her to lead an organization that’s helped thousands of traumatized people put their lives back together. Tune in now.

 

 

Sep 12, 2017

It’s dark, late, and cold. Of course it’s cold. This is Alaska and it’s the middle of winter. The evening temperatures are more than 30 degrees below zero—and dropping. And the boy was going outside to sleep in a car.

That scene is what broke Michelle Overstreet. Then a teacher at a high school in Wasilla, Alaska, Overstreet volunteered her time at homeless shelters to help at risk youth. The work was important, but it was never enough. Large percentages of kids are either homeless or at risk of homelessness within Wasilla and the surrounding Mat-Su Valley, so resources were always a problem. The boy—well, he was about 23 years old, Overstreet thinks, so not a boy but also not much older than one—had arrived too late that night at the shelter where Overstreet worked. There were no beds left, so he had to be turned away.

There was another shelter, workers told them. He can make it there if he drives. So Overstreet found herself handing a young man a gas card and wishing him the best of luck, sending him off to maybe drive, or maybe just sleep in the car. She couldn’t know for sure. All she knew was: This bothered her.

For weeks after, Overstreet couldn’t sleep. There has to be a better way, she thought. And the more she reflected on it, the more she realized that if there isn’t a better way available, then she had to make one.

In this episode, you’ll learn about how those sleepless nights led to the creation of MY House, an organization dedicated to providing Wasilla’s at-risk youth a path out of homelessness and into a more stable life. In just a few short years, MY House has helped hundreds of teens turn their lives around, including Brandy Kinney, who you’ll meet at the beginning of the show. The organization is also home to a successful coffee shop and clothing boutique, all staffed by formerly homeless kids. The organization also has helped launch a Task Force taking on the Mat-Su Valley’s Opioid Crisis.

Overstreet and MY House today are getting entirely different results from their work with homeless kids. Why? Because they are using entirely different tactics than the ones that used to keep her awake at night with guilt. “We’ve got to move away from the dependency model, which is, ‘I’m going to provide just what you need in this moment,’ but not ‘teach you to fish,’” Overstreet says. Tune in and find out how MY House is showing so many at-risk youth that they can escape homelessness and achieve their dreams.

 

 

Aug 27, 2017

What would it be like to go to work at a place where you always smile, people are genuinely glad to see you, and there always seems to be at least one coworker who reaches a new milestone every day?

That’s life at Bitty and Beau’s, a coffee shop in Wilmington, North Carolina that is staffed by people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) like autism or Down Syndrome. With a joyful environment that’s full of love and support, it’s no wonder that the shop’s founder, Amy Wright, finds it hard to leave.

“People ask me if I go to work every day,” Wright says. “I say, ‘No, but I wish I could.’”

Wright and her husband, Ben, are the parents of four children, including two who have Down Syndrome—Beau and his little sister, Jane Adeline, or “Bitty.” The children are the namesake of the coffee shop, which the Wrights launched in January 2016.

The family opened the shop in response to an upsetting stat: Only 20 to 30 percent of adults with disabilities are employed. Amy says she wanted to provide an opportunity for a better future not only to her children but anyone living with IDD.

In this episode, you’ll hear about the “Aha!” moment that led her to create Bitty & Beau’s—and the odds-defying young boy who inspired her to start it. You’ll also hear from an employee who says working there has changed his life for the better. By the end of the show, you'll be more able to see the often-missed gifts and talents of the disabled, and see why the fastest-growing coffee shop in the Carolinas is also the most inspiring.

Aug 19, 2017

Your car isn't just a way to go from one place to another. It symbolizes staying on the road to success.

The Lift Garage is a nonprofit aimed to move people out of poverty and homelessness by providing low-cost car repair, free pre-purchase car inspections, and honest advice that supports the community.

When longtime social worker Cathy Heying saw how transportation issues caused people to lose their jobs, which led to a loss of income and homelessness, she took action to fix the breaking point -- literally. Rather than letting cost stand in the way, she became a mechanic and built a business that would provide affordable car repair services, which kept people in their jobs and moving forward.  Heying has provided affordable car repairs to more than 300 low-income individuals, saving them more than $170,000 and keeping them on the road to success.

Heying has provided affordable car repairs to hundreds of low-income individuals and saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep them moving forward in life.

Aug 8, 2017

Cancer and fun aren't two words that normally go together. And for children with cancer, a diagnosis seems to rapidly speed up the aging process. One day you have no worries, and the next day you're fighting cancer. But for Camp Sunshine, one thing doesn't change: a kid is still a kid. And they should have just as must joy in their lives as any other child.

The story of Camp Sunshine is one of hope, but also of inspiration and will to make lives better, even in bad situations.

Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness.

Camp Sunshine goes above and beyond giving kids with cancer a wonderful place to play and be free. They offer year-round programs, which allow children with cancer and their families to share similar experiences and to participate in activities that promote normal childhood development as they cope with the challenges of childhood cancer. They are the only program in the nation that has year-round offers, while not only serving children but also their families. The program is free of charge to families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support.

Camp Sunshine was recognized by GreatNonprofits as a 2017 Top-Rated Organization. They were also were awarded a 4-Star Distinction by Charity Navigator -- the highest possible recognition -- and is ranked about the top 10% of all charities.
responsible way.

Jul 28, 2017

For many women with a history of sex trafficking, prostitution or addiction, hope can be hard to find. But Thistle Farms is using love to help empower, reinvent, and employ women around the world.

 

 

May 26, 2017

The elation, the painful setbacks, the paperwork...but most of all, the unconditional love and hope for a child's future. 

May 15, 2017

Young adults who age out of the foster system often bring with them a lifetime of trauma. One organization is determined to make them feel at home.

Apr 30, 2017

After burying a growing number of young people killed by gang violence, a Jesuit Priest took matters into his own hands.

Apr 15, 2017

By breaking down walls, we can give a voice to the voiceless and inspire redemption and hope.

Apr 2, 2017

Connecting the dots with a text. Learn how one young entrepreneur is leveraging technology and human kindness to create an army of philanthropists. 

Mar 17, 2017

A story of love, loss and gratitude to a community that takes care of its own. 

Mar 5, 2017

School supplies. May seem like a simple thing - but basic supplies like pencils, crayons and erasers might be all it takes to excite a child to learn.

Feb 16, 2017

Future generations of music lovers will thank this organization - dedicated to preserving the musical traditions of the South and ensuring musicians won't be silenced by poverty and time. 

Feb 3, 2017

Investing in the success of young people around a dining room table. It's more than just a meal, it's breaking down barriers and establishing relationships rooted in love.

Jan 22, 2017

There are Unsung Heroes among us that keep our workplace, campus, and community running smoothly and efficiently behind the scenes, but often go unrecognized and unappreciated. We just have to take the time to listen and show a level of acknowledgment.

Dec 16, 2016

A Christmas tree is a holiday tradition so many take for granted. One single mother's joy and gratitude upon receiving a donated tree inspired a group to play Santa and spread cheer by delivering trees to those who would otherwise go without.

Nov 20, 2016

The glittering neon and bustle of the Vegas strip hide a vast maze of underground flood channels that hundreds of men and women call home. Hear how journalist turned activist Matt O'Brien discovered this homeless community and what he's doing to help.

Nov 6, 2016

Feeling alone and out of place is felt by far too many of our youth. One young girl's inspiring life is helping shape a movement to make everyone feel included and celebrated, no matter their differences.

Oct 23, 2016

What happens when you email a legendary special effects school and ask for some advice on a Halloween costume? Well, in the case of this nonprofit's story, Hollywood magic ensues, families are forever transformed - and Halloween will never be the same.

Oct 9, 2016

We all like movies. But is it possible that a movie can save lives? It seems at least one did - by galvanizing the need for a vital nonprofit aimed at LGBTQ teens and young adults in crisis. Let us introduce you to a brave young man and his inspiring story of love.

Sep 25, 2016

He grew up in Uganda, and his family was lucky to survive the terror of Idi Amin. And then he came to America and discovered his life's calling in an unexpected place. Derreck Kayongo found hope in those little bars of hotel soap.

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