In these disorientating times, when tossing paper towels in Puerto Rico is a president's idea of hurricane relief, football players taking a knee to protest police killings of African Americans is controversial, and the opioid crisis cuts a swath through families, it would be easy to think it may be time to retire the "nice" list. But Christmas is a time to renew our optimism that goodness prevails and kindness is more important than ever. These are the people who've tackled our problems here in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the past year with smart solutions and simple acts of kindness. Add your own in the comments section, but keep them nice!
Retired cop Saundra Fulwood couldn't let the February murder of her friend Winnie Harris, who spent a lifetime beautifying Powelton Village, go unsolved. Fulwood leafletted the neighborhood and kept up the pressure until police arrested two men in October.
People from around the world, led by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, donated $300,000 to restore headstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery on Frankford and Cheltenham Avenues which were toppled by creeps in February.
Tough budget negotiations in Washington, D.C., Trenton, and Harrisburg had people biting their nails. But it was New Jersey Advance Media photo journalist Andrew Mills who clarified the issue for all of us. His July 2 photos of Gov. Christie on a beach that was closed to the public by an impasse in budget talks brought into high resolution the difference between serious public servants and ones who think we're a joke. And, then the memes started. Christie on the beach in the last scene of Planet of the Apes, Christie with the cast of Jersey Shore, and, of course, Christie in Normandy. It reminded us that while the internet is a moist, dark environment for feral trolls, it also has a pretty good sense of humor.
Voters in New Jersey rejected racist appeals in electoral contests ranging from school board to the governorship in November. In Philadelphia, they elected Rebecca Rhynhart the first woman city controller.
Johnny Bobbitt Jr. spent his last $20 to buy gas for motorist Kate McClure, stranded at an I-95 off ramp on a cold October night. Her GoFundMe post about this act of kindness took off and the universe responded. By November, people had donated more than $300,000 to get Bobbit a new home and a new life.
As the cold weather gets colder, the city, SEPTA and Project HOME will finish a homeless day center on the concourse near Broad and Arch Streets complete with bathrooms, showers and social workers to steer our lost souls to the help they need.