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On January 6, 2018, Michael Kristof, an editorial writer from The New York Times, proclaimed 2017 “the best year ever.” Here are some of the impressive list of accomplishments affecting human welfare in 2017 that he brought to our attention as proof:
- A smaller share of the world’s people were impoverished, illiterate, or hungry
- A smaller number of children died
- Every day more people have access to electricity
- More people gained access to drinking water
- More children’s lives were saved by vaccinations
- Fewer people have been blinded by diseases such as trachoma, disfigured by leprosy or suffer from other ailments in general
Did I miss something?
While impressive, there must be more to this story. Let’s balance this view with a look at some other, quite different, events of 2017:
- President Trump took office
- Las Vegas Strip shooting
- Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting
- Hurricane Irma
- Bombing at UK Ariana Grande Concert
- Hurricane Harvey
- Texas Church Shooting
- Orlando Police Shooting
- San Bernardino shooting
- Hurricane Maria
- Southern California wildfires
- Death of Tom Petty
…and many more
So what’s up here? Your list may be different, but it’s clear that 2017 may have been great in some ways, but certainly not in others.
It turns out that, in 2017, Mr. Kristof also wrote about positive life changing achievements in 2016, against the backdrop of the world’s negative news stories. He will probably do so again in 2019 about 2018. His real message this year, and in all years, is that our progress should empower us to battle the world’s “moral threats.” There are certainly many of them to attack.
At The Make Life Good Company, each day we see far too many people who appear to have missed the train of success, who received the “bad hand,” or who simply need a friend. We are saddened by our observations. That’s why we strive to “remind, encourage and inspire” people to make life good for others.
It would be wrong for all of us to think we are done now because of our achievements in 2017, no matter how impressive they may have been.
But we don’t think you will.
Together, let’s make 2019 the “best year ever!”
The Make Life Good Team
The Make Life Good Company Contributes to the Recently-Dedicated Station Nightclub Fire Memorial Park
The Make Life Good Company, a social good lifestyle products company, was one of many individual and corporate contributors to the construction of the Station Fire Memorial Park in West Warwick, R.I., which was dedicated recently (5/21/17) to honor the 100 music fans who perished in the Station Nightclub fire on February 20, 2003.
The Make Life Good Company donated one of hundreds of bricks used for pathways throughout the memorial park. It is inscribed with the words "The Make Life Good Company" with an emphasis on the words "Make Life Good."
"The park is a lasting memorial to all those who were killed and injured as a result of the fire and we wanted to contribute in our own small way to all of those who were affected by the fire," says David J. Wudyka, president of The Make Life Good Company. "Our contribution of a brick represents our hope that all of those who visit the memorial park in the decades to come will be always mindful of taking actions that do, in fact, Make Life Good for others, including protecting people from an event like this from ever happening again."
The fire on Thursday evening, February 20, 2003, was caused by pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager of the band Great White, which ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage of the Station Nightclub. A fast-moving fire with intense black smoke engulfed the club in less than six minutes. Video footage of the fire shows its ignition, rapid growth, the billowing smoke that quickly made escape impossible, and the exit blockage that further hindered evacuation. The toxic smoke, heat and the stampede of people toward the exits killed 100; 230 were injured and another 132 escaped uninjured.
The dedication ceremony was attended by hundreds of family and friends of those who died and many of the more of the injured survivors of the fire, including Rhode Island native, recording artist and NBC “The Voice” season 11 runner-up in 2016, Billy Gilman, who performed his song “There’s A Hero” (written by Don Cook and John Jarvis) at the dedication ceremony. Rhode Island dignitaries also spoke at the ceremony, including Gina Russo, chairwoman of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation and a survivor of the fire, Rhode Island U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Congressman Jim Langevin, Governor Gina Raimondo, and former Governor Donald Carcieri, who was the governor of the state at the time of the fire and its aftermath.
The mission of The Make Life Good Company is to remind, encourage and inspire people to “Make Life Good!” for others through positive, pro-active messages on the products the company offers on its website (MakeLifeGood.co), The company is based in Wrentham, Mass.
Rhode Island native, recording artist and NBC “The Voice” season 11 runner-up in 2016, Billy Gilman, sings his song “There’s A Hero” (written by Don Cook and John Jarvis) at the dedication ceremony of the Station Fire Memorial Park, West Warwick, R.I., which was held recently (5/21/17) to honor the 100 music fans who perished in the Station Nightclub Fire on February 20, 2003. The event was attended by hundreds of family and friends of those who died as well as many survivors of the fire. In the background (l - r) are Congressman Jim Langevin (RI), Senator Jack Reed (RI), Gina Russo, chairperson of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation and a survivor of the fire, Gene Valicenti, dedication master of ceremonies and news anchor at WJAR-TV and WPRO-AM, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, and former Governor Donald Carcieri and his wife Suzanne.
In this new age of technology, we've become connected seamlessly to happenings in our hometowns, states, countries, and around the globe that touch us. The Internet is at our disposal every day, providing us with stories just minutes old.
Though these stories are varied, many are uplifting accounts of kindness: a waitress gets a large tip, many times greater than the bill, because a patron overhears she's a single mom struggling to pay rent; a woman takes care of an elderly couple's home and pets while one of them is in the hospital; a kid grows his hair out and cuts it to give to his friend who is sick and losing his.
These are exceptional examples of kindness and empathy with an important layer to it: none of the people above expect anything in return for their actions. Selflessness is the concern for the well being of others and the action that comes with it. The concept of pay it forward is rooted in this selflessness, with hope that once we receive or benefit from a kind gesture, it's then rewarded with a gesture of its own.
With world Pay it Forward day upon us, we at The Make Life Good Company encourage everyone to participate not just on this one day but everyday in any small way possible.
We are connected to each other in such a way today that our reach is not limited to our immediate circles. Our reach is worldwide. And it is our gesture that is remembered by those who are touched.
Pay It Forward.
"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." - Aesop
To buy this t-shirt, please click on it.
Here at The Make Life Good Company, we try to “remind, encourage and inspire” people to make life good for others every day. With this in mind, my wife and I visit a tavern in Scituate, RI for occasional food and libations. We occasionally commit a random act of kindness by buying a drink for someone we don’t know. We rely on the wait staff to identify someone who might appreciate the gesture. We expect nothing in return, and we expect, in fact we ask, that the transaction will be anonymous.
But as we have written in our earlier blogs, once again it seems impossible for such gestures to be accomplished anonymously. The wait staff person is pressured to identify who offered to pay for the drink, she relents, and a very happy and appreciative patron visits our table to thank us. The result? We have made a new friend at the tavern! Committing random acts of kindness can be good for everyone involved.
Like the tavern patron, sometimes one can be the recipient of a random act of kindness at the most surprising of times. Pastor Joel Osteen of the Lakewood Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, tells a story to illustrate this point. He will occasionally visit members of his Congregation when they are hospitalized. However, he privately dreads driving to the hospital because of the difficulty of finding parking.
On one such visit, he drove to the hospital to gladly find a parking space right in front! It was so unusual, he suspected that there had to be a Godly reason for it. As he walked toward the front door, a woman was walking in the opposite direction. She stopped him and asked if he was Joel Osteen? He replied that he was, and she proceeded to tell him how much his ministry had meant to her and her life. Pastor Osteen joyfully accepted the complement! He knew that this must have been the reason why the parking space was available on that day. An unexpected, but appreciated, random act of kindness by an unknown passerby.
The Make Life Good Team is pleased to see the efforts of others who are trying to commit and encourage random acts of kindness. A good place to start for examples of this is Random Acts of Kindness, the website (www.randomactsofkindness.org), with stories of ways in which we all can make the world better through kindness in our schools, homes and communities. This site is one of our faves.
Also, let’s note that even the major television networks have gotten in on a very good act. Lester Holt of NBC News features weekly stories that describe the ways that people are making life good for other people. Please check out these motivational stories called “Inspiring America” at www.nbcnews.com.
If you’re not in the habit of committing random acts of kindness, please give it a try! You may be surprised at what you find while making the world a better place.
Remember, the official Random Acts of Kindness Day this year is Friday, February 17th. That’s a great day for all of us to commit a random acts of kindness and continue the practice throughout the year.
Adam Bradley, of Hardwood Hustle, and Mike, a co-founder of The Make Life Good Company, met through a mutual friend Mike went to college with at James Madison University and with whom Adam grew up. Though Mike and Adam had met while they were in college together, it wasn't until Adam and Mike were in New Orleans for the same friend's bachelor party that they had the chance to have a meaningful conversation and get to know one another.
Adam, it turns out, had some major life challenges since we were at college together. Much of Adam's personal transformation, which you will read about in his blog below, had come to fruition once he began working in the community with people of various backgrounds and disadvantages.
Adam and Mike really connected when they spoke about the meaning behind the work. Most importantly, through, Adam realized that if you help others and do good for people in your life and communities, life is bound to pay forward your good deeds and produce more meaning in everyone's lives.
After experiencing many bumps and curves on the road to his new attitude, Adam came through with a tremendous outlook on life. He now makes life good for many people all across the country.
Adam is a founder of Hardwood Hustle, a podcast platform designed to educate, empower and encourage basketball coaches, players and parents, and recently launched the nationally recognized leadership program “Lead ‘Em Up,” which provides coaches an engaging and cutting edge curriculum they can use with their players.
Here’s his story that we would like to share.
One of my favorite themes in our leadership program, Lead 'Em Up, comes in our "Rebounding from Adversity" session. It’s a theme that discusses "making your story greater."
I Iove that theme for a couple reasons. First, it's easy to understand and secondly it’s applicable for everyone no matter how good or challenging your life may be.
Today, I’m still in the process of trying to make my story greater because it was far from pretty at one point. I often say I'm not where I want to be, but I'm happy not to be where I could be.
Fifteen years ago I went on a 12-month streak that consisted of the following series of events:
- crashed my car drinking and driving
- got a DUI
- lost my license for 6-months
- had to take alcohol-awareness classes
- assigned to probation
- dropped out of college
- incurred more than $3K in legal fees
- required to perform 300 hours of community service
During this time period, I not only sold drugs, but I took advantage of whatever drug I could get my hands on.
And I violated my probation not once but twice. After the second violation, my probation officer looked at me and sternly said, “One more violation of any kind, you're doing 90 days in jail. Period. No questions asked."
That was the eye opener this stubborn young man needed to hear.
Bold changes needed to be made. At no fault of my mom, I decided a change of scenery was needed so I moved in with my Dad. My Dad was a strong man of faith and had spent years doing prison ministry. I knew the change in my home culture and the change in the proximity to my current influences were going to create a change in me.
As quickly as things spiraled down in my life, they reversed course just as fast. Within the next year I enrolled back in college, getting straight A's for the first time in my life, got promoted at my job, started coaching a high school basketball team, began mentoring a group of young people, met my future wife, and committed to my faith.
My story was slowly becoming greater.
The largest accelerator in my professional journey came through the creation and launch of my online sports network: Ball Hogs Radio Network. Everything changes when you get tasked with an opportunity of creating something out of nothing. My partners and I took a small internet radio show that consisted of five guys in a basement and turned it into a network with nine shows, more than fifty contributors, corporate sponsors and an affiliate deal signed with Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals.
That doesn’t just happen without a willingness to learn… and a lot of help from others.
My efforts taught me how to engage a community, lead a group of people, work through interpersonal conflict and build a business. I recently spoke to a military captain about how they create such strong leaders in the Marines and he pointed to a concept called “situational training.” He added, “We put our leaders in situations where they are forced to perform and through those situations, we evaluate, teach and get better.” Building my podcast network and business forced me to perform through various situations. The process generated a maturity and confidence in me that changed my life.
The network began to open doors all around me. It connected me to Alan Stein and together we launched a dynamic podcast platform for coaches and players called the Hardwood Hustle. The Hustle is a platform that allowed us to educate, empower and encourage the basketball community. Stepping into that community inspired me to want to do more.
Both the Ball Hogs network and the Hardwood Hustle opened doors to various speaking engagements around the country, which helped continue my journey and make a shift in my heart to serve young people and pushed the launch another podcast called Lead ‘Em Up leadership curriculum for basketball coaches.
As I sit here today, I look around and feel my biggest social impact is through the Lead ‘Em Up program. This leadership curriculum we created in 2014 is now being used by high schools all across the United States and in five countries around the world.
Coaches are using the program, but so am I.
For me, I have the opportunity to work with two different schools in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area every season. I try my best to share my experiences with all the players and coaches I work with. I get to know these young men and women and I do my best to influence them. As I often tell my players, my goal is very simple - to make you shine.
What I enjoy most, though is that Lead ‘Em Up is a double-bottom line business for me, which is the best kind because the program generates revenue and at the same time positively impacts the lives of the coaches and players I reach every day.
When you live life the right way, it naturally produces a wave of momentum that you can continue to ride. And I’m going to continue riding this wave that’s built on serving others, which also just so happens to “make life good” for so many others.
Cheers! Adam Bradley