Three Acts of Kindness That Saved A Life

Three Acts of Kindness That Saved A Life

“I was just waiting for someone to turn their back on me.” 16 year old Eddie stood on stage and poured his heart out (not easy for anyone, let alone a teenager to do).  He talked about the father with PTSD who was off his meds, abusive, and out of control.   The mother who disappeared from his life.  The uncle who was a raging alcoholic. By 8th grade, Eddie had bounced from one home to another.  When his father got remarried, there was a glimmer of hope that things would get better, but that hope faded fast.  As things progressively got worse,  Eddie was forced to sleep outside without food.  He was starving and scared.  Until the day a stranger reached out to him. This was the first act of kindness Eddie says saved his life. A man saw him wandering on the street and stopped to ask a simple question, “Are you okay?”  He took the boy into his home, fed him, and called for help. It was a sign that someone cared. After that, Eddie moved from relative to relative.  He ended up back under the same roof as his alcoholic uncle.  Eddie says at that point he began spinning out of control.  He was both using and selling marijuana.  He said that he expected, in a few years, he would either be in a group home, locked up, or as he put it, a ‘blood stain on the sidewalk.’ Then came the second act of kindness. A neighbor offered to open his home to Eddie.  After all of these years, he finally had a stable place...
The Plastic Bottle Project

The Plastic Bottle Project

Every great movement starts with a simple idea. For Desirae Rocha, the idea came in the form of a plastic bottle. Rocha is not your average 27 year old. She represents the best of what it is to be young, ambitious and full of light-the-world-on-fire spirit. She is the West Valley College-Going Counselor for a non-profit called Be A Leader. They provide FREE resources to get high school students into college — let’s just start there. This is a crucial, grass-roots effort. They give students the tools they need so they are not intimidated by the process. College should be available to all who want to go, and who are willing to put forth the effort. What she does day-to-day is help teenagers plan a future. But Rocha, being the ambitious young woman she is, wanted to do more. She set her sights on cleaning up campuses around Phoenix. She came up with a community service project that ties together clean-up, recycling, and feeding the hungry: The Plastic Bottle Project. Rocha put her contacts to use, enlisting the help of high-school and elementary students to collect and recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans.   Students from Phoenix Union High School District, Tolleson, Aqua Fria and Peoria all agreed to help (yes, there are a lot of great kids out there). ASU also signed on with an assist from the Hispanic Business Student Association and El Concilio — a Chicana, Latina leadership organization. After all, this is what leadership looks like. Money raised will feed the hungry and homeless at an event in Phoenix on March 28th. Rocha is putting together lunch bags with sandwiches, snacks,...
What I learned from Elizabeth Smart.

What I learned from Elizabeth Smart.

My day started early — meeting Elizabeth Smart at the Arizona Biltmore for an interview.  We tucked into a corner booth.  She was not the little girl I remember from media coverage of her kidnapping.  In walked a beautiful, poised young woman.  She was soft spoken but very confident as she talked about her journey from victim to advocate.  From powerless to powerful. Hers was a story that captivated the nation back in 2002 and for years to follow.  Held by two depraved human beings for 9 months after being snatched from her bedroom at age 14, Elizabeth told me that at one point during the ordeal she made the mental decision that she wanted to survive.  And she would do whatever was necessary to make sure that happened. That included, sadly, being a submissive slave to her captor.  She spoke rather matter of fact about repeatedly being raped; being treated as some sort of second wife to this man who proclaimed to be a religious superior.  He talked constantly about himself, Elizabeth told me.  She said it was excruciating to listen to him hour after hour.  Self absorbed and delusional. She seems to have come to terms with her past.  There are bad days, of course.  She’s only human (as she put it).  But Elizabeth made the point of saying that this was 9 horrible months out of her beautiful 26 years. Perspective. Elizabeth was in town to be the keynote speaker at the Florence Crittenton Teaming up for Girls luncheon.  This is an organization I love.  They take in young girls who have been abused or are in danger and help them turn their...
As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says, Lean In.

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says, Lean In.

From very early on, I had it in my mind that I wanted to go out into the world and make my mark.  I was ambitious and curious.  And then I had a lightbulb moment about the perfect career path.  After catching part of a political convention during my sophomore or junior year in high school, I realized I wanted to become a broadcaster.  Being from LA, a lot of people I knew and grew up with were in — or seeking — show business. That wasn’t what I wanted long term.  But when I saw that young woman, reporting from the convention, I thought — perfect.  I’m in. I was ready to Lean In. I moved to Arizona to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.  I wish this for every single person who goes to college: The feeling of joy when I walked on campus.  Entering the broadcasting department, seeing the cameras, the equipment — I loved it all.  And I dedicated myself 100% to this career. With a little good fortune and a lot of ambition, I scored an internship with 3TV in Phoenix while attending ASU.  I remember the day I first walked into the newsroom — a real working newsroom — where people were all in a hurry, there was always another deadline.  I loved it.  Every crazy, frantic moment. This career has been interesting and challenging.  It has made me a smarter person with a broader view of the world.  What a blessed life. And then came my babies. The gift of motherhood is better than I ever expected.  I come from a...