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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The elation, the painful setbacks, the paperwork...but most of all, the unconditional love and hope for a child's future.
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.
After burying a growing number of young people killed by gang violence, a Jesuit Priest took matters into his own hands.
By breaking down walls, we can give a voice to the voiceless and inspire redemption and hope.
Connecting the dots with a text. Learn how one young entrepreneur is leveraging technology and human kindness to create an army of philanthropists.
A story of love, loss and gratitude to a community that takes care of its own.
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.
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.
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.
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.