KindWorld

Stories of kindness and the profound effect that one act can have on our lives.

December 25, 2013

Opening The Door To A Different Life

Postcard Share Tweet

How far would you go to a help a person in need? That’s a question at the heart of a WBUR radio series, Kind World, featuring stories of kindness and the profound effect an act can have. When Ron Jones, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, got to know a young couple who were struggling and learned about their background, he made the decision that money alone would not be enough to truly make a difference in their lives.

RON JONES: I met Samantha and Joe a few years back, they were regulars at a coffee house that I go to work in every now and then. But about a month or so ago, we decided to really just sort of have a night and hang out. And when I heard their story, I could see their trajectory.

SAMANTHA TURNER: I was diagnosed with a couple of mental disorders growing up. My parents got divorced and my dad said he didn’t want me anymore because of the issues with my mental disorders; he said I was a problem child.

I was working at McDonald’s. When I lost that job, my mom told me that I had 30 days to find another job or find another place to live. I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I asked her why she didn’t want me there anymore, she says, “Because I don’t want you anymore.” I lost it. I took a knife to my wrist over the kitchen sink.

JOSEPH ANDERS: Most of the traumatic experiences she’s dealt with, I’ve dealt with. I was a toddler in a homeless shelter with my mother and my father. My father wasn’t really much of a father towards me; he left 11 times during the time I was born to the time I was 18.

JONES: I could see in my mind that these would be the type of people who would get long term if not permanently plugged into the social work system. I had to do something. And so I said, “Do you want to stay in my house? If you do, you have to do certain things, because I want to see you grow, I want to see you be people who are contributing, who are living up to their potential.”

Samantha Turner and Joseph Anders have been living with Ron Jones for a few weeks . Since moving in, Turner has started learning to play the bass.

Samantha Turner and Joseph Anders have been living with Ron Jones for a few weeks. Since moving in, Turner has started learning to play the bass.

TURNER: I was very apprehensive. I was like, “Okay, is he for real? Or is this another one of those, you know, ‘I’m going to do this for as long as it benefits me and then whenever it doesn’t anymore I’m going to just drop you like old socks’?”

ANDERS: I’m like, “I’m up for it.”

TURNER: Every day we wake up early, which has never happened, and we do something every day to better our lives and he makes sure of that. So far I’ve applied for college and I’ve applied for multiple jobs. He’s helped us with our resume, which nobody has done. That was amazing. And, I mean, yeah, sometimes it’s tedious and sometimes it drives our emotions wild, but we feel it’s good for us, we feel that this is the right thing that we need.

JONES: I can maybe offer them a place that’s safe, so that they can change that trajectory or get off that bad path and get on a much more healthy path, for all the wonderful things that they have and that they do. I mean, Samantha’s very talented, as is Joe. But, you know, we’ve had our dropouts, we’ve had our learning moments.

TURNER: Yesterday, whenever you told us, you know, “Hey, get dressed, we’re going somewhere,” I was afraid that you were, like, going to take us a to homeless shelter, “It’s been nice seeing you, bye.” You know?

JONES: Oh God, oh my God. You don’t have anything to worry about on that front. So let that fear go.

TURNER: You know, this is the beginning of the rest of my life. I’m actually having a positive outlook on life, and I’m looking forward to different parts of the day—things that I’ll learn, things that I’ll do. I feel so much better, being here, than I have before.

ANDERS: Living here is completely different than anything we’ve ever known. We’re doing something with our lives.

JONES: What I hope will happen is that they’ll get their associate’s, they’ll go on and get, maybe, bachelor’s degrees, they’ll get jobs that they can make better than a basic wage. And at some point they might just say, “Ron, you know, we love you, we care about you, but we got to go.” I know I’ll be happy, not that they’re gone but because hopefully that will be the point when they feel like they believe they can do it. I’ve told them, I believe in them. I really do.

Kind World is produced for radio by Michael May and Lisa Tobin. It was created by Nate Goldman.

  • arusticat

    We might be generous with our money but many need our guidance and hands-on help. I thought this story illustrated so well another kind of philanthropy. This guy is parenting two kids, and much later than is the norm who didn’t get parenting from their biological families.

  • Leo3

    Beautiful story of magnanimity in action.

  • peaceiseverystep

    Wonderful story and an amazing act of love. I googled Ron Jones and he’s apparently an Emmy award winning actor who’s done a series of anti-racisms performances in schools throughout the country. Clearly a very special person and someone who’s guided by his heart. Thanks, Ron and thanks Samantha and Joseph. Best of luck to you all.

  • Valerie Frank

    Ron, what an amazing wonderful mitzvah. So glad to see you are doing well yourself, and doing such good for others.

  • BevyCY

    Best of luck to all of you! Happy New Year!

  • Larry Jay Tish

    Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man a fish, feed him for life. Feed and teach him, you’re Mr. Jones.

  • Christopher Vegan-Murphy

    This is tremendous. What a great wonder thing!!

Share your story

Do you have a story about an act of kindness that affected your own life? We’d love to hear it.

Join Kind World

Explore our Tumblr for more acts of kindness, bonus audio, and stories from our community.

More stories

January 8, 2014

Examining An Ordinary, Beautiful Life

Share Tweet

Shelagh Gordon was another name in the obituaries, an ordinary woman who had died suddenly of a massive brain aneurysm at the age of 55. But something in her obituary stood out to a journalist at the Toronto Star. For weeks, Catherine Porter had been combing the paper, looking to profile an ordinary person through the perspectives of the family and friends he or she had left behind. What emerged was an extraordinary portrait. Full story

December 17, 2013

Letters For Scotty: Reddit Sends Its Love

Share Tweet

Scott Widak had a smile for everyone and an open heart. When he became terminally ill, his nephew took to Reddit, asking the online community to send letters to his uncle with Down syndrome and listing some of his eclectic interests. Scott's story resonated around the world, with hundreds and hundreds of letters coming in, each recognizing something special about Scott that had resonated with the sender. Full story

December 11, 2013

Remembering Karim: A Lifetime Of Kindness

Share Tweet

Karim Alagha worked for 25 years at a gas station in Cambridge. He was immensely loving and deeply empathetic; he asked people how they felt and truly listened to their answers. Over time, a community formed around Karim and the station. An invisible community that was not even aware of itself until Karim fell sick. Full story

December 3, 2013

A Minister’s Challenge: ‘Use This Gift For Good’

Share Tweet

Reverend Nathan Detering is minister at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Area Church in Sherborn, Massachusetts. Last holiday season, he tried an experiment with his congregation — "reverse offering," where instead of members donating money to the church, they were given money instead. Full story

November 26, 2013

When The Parachute Failed, A True Sacrifice

Share Tweet

A skydiving instructor in Texas, David Hartsock, was making his last jump for the day. His student was Shirley Dygert, a 54-year-old wife and grandmother who was jumping for the first time. When everything went wrong, Hartsock determined that there was no way they could both survive the fall, and there was only one way for either of them to survive. Full story