The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program is making a difference

One of the most difficult things about leaving prison is getting back on your feet and not ending up back in prison.  It is estimated that two-thirds of people released from prison in the U.S. are rearrested within three years.  After serving time, people are routinely discriminated against when trying to find housing or jobs.  They are denied fundamental rights and dignity.  In many states, after serving time for felonies, people are never again even allowed to vote or serve on juries.  The result is a devastating cycle of incarceration, homelessness, poverty, and recidivism.


The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program is making a difference.  The motivating belief is that paid work and personal responsibility can turn lives around.   To enter the program, applicants must pledge to abstain from using drugs and alcohol, and forego entitlements (with the exception of Medicaid).  Once accepted, they move into a dormitory-style residences, receive a month of counseling, and then are put to full-time work starting at $7.40 an hour, which gets raised to $8.15 after six months.  First assignments are to cleaning crews working city streets (over 150 street miles in New York City and Philadelphia!).  All participants take classes in life and computer skills, job preparation, and financial management.  After three months, they move from cleaning streets to occupational training in fields that include culinary arts, green building maintenance, and pest control.


The Doe Fund is a ground-breaking transitional work program and one of the nation’s first large-scale social undertakings.  It was founded in 1985 in memory of a homeless woman known only as “Mama” Doe.  Stressing the importance of community service and supporting those who are less fortunate, this program has made a huge difference in the lives of its participants.  Over 22,000 people have now participated, and their rate of recidivism is far below that of the general population of those released from prison.  A wonderful model for solving some of our nation’s greatest challenges: poverty, homelessness, mass incarceration, and recidivism!  We all need to be less frightened by people coming out of the prison system and more aware of the problems they face in trying to become contributing members of society again.



Let’s spread the Good News!




People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH), Bring Together Community Residents

We all need to recognize that our well-being is inextricably tied to that of other people and the planet itself.  There are no throwaway people and no throwaway places.  When communities are fully engaged in problem-solving, they can come up with holistic solutions that lift up the voices of the marginalized and regenerate forgotten places.  Buffalo NY is a wonderful example of what can be achieved.


By 2005 Buffalo had lost half of its 1950 population, and its  residents were struggling with unemployment, rampant blight, and high energy costs.  A grass roots community group, People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH), brought together community residents to craft a plan for a large, blighted area. The outcome was a 25-square-block Green Development Zone (GDZ), which is now a model of energy-efficient, affordable housing. PUSH is the organizing force behind rehabilitating homes in the GDZ, installing efficiency upgrades, like insulation and geothermal heating, and dramatically lowering residents’ utility bills.  This is also a jobs program as PUSH has cultivated a growing network of contractors who are committed to hiring locally.


Taking a step further, in other parts of the city PUSH has gone on to turn trash-strewn, vacant lots into state-of-the-art rain gardens, small urban farms, and aquaponics greenhouses.  Even more ambitiously PUSH is advocating for the “Green Jobs-Green New York” program, which seeks to create 35,000 jobs while providing energy upgrades and retrofits for 1 million homes across the state.


How about all you other community organizers across the country taking inspiration from Buffalo!


Good News Counts




11 year old gives wheelchairs to those in need

More than 300 people in developing countries who were in need of wheelchairs have all received them thanks to the efforts of one 11-year-old boy from Utah.  11-year-old Zack Francom proud owner of Zack’s Shack lemonade stand got the idea in 2010 when his school had a fundraiser to help get wheelchairs for a Morman church charity. 

"I thought, 'What if I couldn't walk or run or ride my bike? What would that be like?' " he says. "I wanted to help make life easier for somebody who couldn't walk or run and didn't have money for a wheelchair to help them get around." 

Recently, Zack sold 80 quarts of lemonade and 350 dozen cookies baked by his mom, which earned him $5,300, which bought him 37 wheelchairs that he shipped to Guatemala, Guam and 53 other countries. 


"Imagine if there were hundreds of Zack's Shacks," he says. "Nobody who needs a wheelchair should have to go without one just because they can't afford it." 

 Thank you Zack for all you have done!!!!


Have a great day and let the good news be yours,




“Pictures of Hope” project helps homeless youth's dreams come true

Most teenagers probably wouldn’t look back fondly on a year spent in a homeless shelter, but Brittnie Pemberton sees the time as a good year, a year with strong sense of family, of learning, and of hope, and her story should inspire others.


While at a living center for homeless women and their children in San Diego, Brittnie met photojournalist Linda Solomon, who had created the national “Pictures of Hope” project a year earlier to increase awareness of homeless youths. Solomon gives disposable cameras to children in the program, and the pictures they take of their life’s wishes are featured on greeting cards sold to raise money for charities helping the homeless.  “The most important for me as a photojournalist is to show children that their dreams matter,” Solomon said. “We show the children their dreams are respected and their dreams can come true.”


Brittnie, then 9, largely avoided wishing for personal possessions. She asked for world peace, an end to world hunger, happiness, an athletic life and to have her family reunited.


Near the bottom of the list, at No. 14, she also wanted a new car.


With the camera Solomon gave her, Brittnie took a photo of San Diego State University. The picture was printed on a holiday card above the words, “I hope to get a scholarship. — Brittnie, age 9.”


And then unexpected things began to happen.


San Diego State University’s Alumni Association learned about Brittnie’s dream and offered her a four-year, full scholarship on the condition that she eventually meets admissions requirements. Journalist Diane Sawyer heard about the scholarship offer and interviewed Brittnie on national television.


Hard work and compassion paid off Tuesday for a San Diego teen who used to be homeless.


A few days ago, Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet awarded 16-year-old Brittnie Pemberton a new Chevy Spark, making her the first Spark of Hope Award winner.



The Good World News


Sports for social change: School's revolutionary curriculum helps at risk kids

At this new charter school the students play seasonal sports (as well as weight training, cardio, yoga and core strengthening) for the first three hours each day!  The goal of this very unique high school is to use sports as an academic-engagement tool to drag the highest of the high-risk students back from the precipice of scholastic failure.  The school week is six days long, and all students participate in a mandatory summer program.

Urban Dove Team Charter School in Bedford-Stuyvesant is open to students who are “over-age and under-credited.”  (In New York City, there are nearly 140,000 young people between the ages of 15-21 who have either dropped out of high school or are lacking the course credits necessary for graduation.)  This charter school has three special ed teachers and a social worker, but the critical role is played by the coaches.  Students are divided into “teams”, but their coaches also play the role of adult mentors who travel with the teams through every class during the entire school day, starting with a homework period (all “homework” is done in the morning with the team), and who motivate, guide, and counsel the students.  Coaches promote communication, teamwork, and leadership to help improve students’ confidence and self-esteem, ability to focus, managing of emotions, and consideration of others.

The school’s founder, Jai Nanda, coached basketball in an urban school in the 1990s and noticed that the boys on his team did much better academically during the basketball season and would often drop out completely when the season ended.  Jai began to understand the academic and social power of sports to energize, engage, and educate, which eventually led to this academically successful charter school which uses sports to provide a structured, disciplined environment.   Jai has worked with young people his entire life, and has dedicated his career to improving and enriching their lives.

Research has long shown the health and social benefits of physical activity for young people, but there are growing studies showing that students can better focus their attention and perform better on academic tests after exercise.  Especially morning sports increases kids’ school engagement and cuts way down on truancy.



The Good World News


Jesse and Kelly Cottle: Wife carries marine husband, a double-amputee

The photo really says it all!

Jesse and Kelly Cottle, of San Diego, Calif., may look like any cute couple in love, but taking a closer look, one sees that Jesse, a marine and double-amputee, is being given a piggyback ride. Jesse, 28, lost both of his legs in Afghanistan in 2009 after stepping on an IED.  After spending months recovering in the hospital, Jesse met his future wife Kelly, 24, in San Diego at a swim meet during one of his first outings with his new prosthetic legs. “His personality and who he is just outweighs his injuries by so much that you forget about it after a while,” Kelly explained.

Jesse is not a hero for stepping on an IED, he’s a hero because of the way he has handled what was handed to him and how he chooses to continue to conduct his life with his positive attitude. The happy couple just celebrated their first wedding anniversary on Aug. 18 by eating the top layer of their red velvet wedding cake.



The Good World News


123 year old man tells his secrets of longevity

123-year-old Carmelo Flores, a Bolivian indigenous farmer, attributes his longevity to quinoa grains, riverside mushrooms and around-the-clock chewing of coca leaves.   He lives in Frasquia, a 4,000-meter high hamlet, and takes daily walks in shoes made of recycled tires, but spends most of his time laying on a blanket outside his straw-roofed hut, watching village life go by.  There are plans to award him the title of "Living Heritage of Humanity" on August 26.



Good World News


Cancer Be Glammed creates feel-good fashions for women

Battling cancer is certainly difficult, but a variety of new feel-good fashions have hit the patient market, hoping to help ease a portion of the process.  From hip sleeve garments that cover lymphedema arm swelling to chic radiation robes called Radiant Wraps, cancer and chronically ill patients can now face surgery, treatment and recovery in both comfort and style.

Cancer Be Glammed, an online portal of post-op and recovery fashion items for cancer patients, aims for emotional wellness, in particular by helping patients combat depression by looking better.   Specially designed items include mastectomy bras, hospital tote bags, headscarves, even “survivor-inspired” solutions like chemo beanies or track suits with hidden zippers for easy port access during chemotherapy.



The Good World News


Graham Hughes visits all 201 countries without flying

Many people dream of traveling the world and Graham Hughes has made those dreams come true.  By world, we mean the whole world - Graham visited all 201 countries in the world within 4 years!  To make things even more incredible, he did his entire adventure without a single flight!