INTRODUCTION

From Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make a Difference

Introduction

The second most destructive hurricane in history, surpassed only by Katrina in 2005, was Andrew, which made landfall as a category 5 storm in Dade County, Florida, on August 24, 1992. Essentially, that’s my backyard.

However, just a few miles away from the storm’s narrow path, it was nearly impossible to surmise that a catastrophic event had happened—except, of course, for the continuous drone of low-flying Hueys and C130s, and the endless convoys of National Guard and Army trucks streaming southbound down the turnpike to the epicenter. Clearly, now we all understood what the term “natural disaster” meant: life had changed. For some it would never be the same.

In times such as those, we couldn’t afford to concentrate on the negative. In times such as those we craved—we absolutely needed—good news. We needed it shouted from podiums, rooftops, front pages, and breaking news bulletins; but that seldom happened. Instead, we saw sensational images of disaster or turmoil, and we read more about the worst actions of a few than we ever did of the many good and kind. In times such as those we needed an antidote to the six o’clock news. I didn’t know it in 1992, but that was the beginning of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Celebrating People Who Make a Difference.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Think about that. Chances are you often see where change is needed, but do nothing. Why not? Perhaps, individually, we seldom feel empowered or effective to create change. But what if we didn’t focus on the larger, daunting picture? What if we weren’t dealing with natural disaster on a grand scale, but with the person in need next door? What if we simply did what Gandhi suggested and became the change we want to see? What might happen then?

Something that sounds so simple but with so much potential just can’t be simple or easy, right? Well, the people you are about to meet in this book will prove it’s easier than you think. They aren’t heroes, they aren’t superhuman. But they are powerful, wealthy people who held someone else’s welfare in the palm of their hands, albeit not in the generally accepted sense of those words.

The people in this book are everyday people who performed uncommon deeds. Their actions were undertaken without thinking about what was is in it for them, or even if they were putting themselves at risk. Universally, they believed that helping others, that acknowledging another person’s value, that recognizing someone else’s potential, their challenges, or pain was as essential as taking a breath. They became the change they wanted to see. How much more powerful and wealthy would you want to be?

These are stories about the small kindnesses, the ordinary things that have extraordinary meaning for the people to whom they happened, the quintessential defining moments in life, that ripple of a butterfly wing. This book represents a thank-you to all the unknown people who should have been recognized. It’s a chance for the good news to be told. And it proves that the expression of compassion is a powerful agent for change. It is what makes us human.

What I hope you’ll discover in reading these stories is that giving makes you happier, helping someone is fulfilling, and that seeds planted early in life result in a bountiful harvest of service to others. If you are inspired to fulfill your intrinsic potential and embrace the change you want to see, this world will indeed be a better place—because of you.

Theresa Peluso

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