Nineteen-year-old, Marcela Kuzma was at her grandmother’s restaurant in Brazil when she heard a Haitian employee talk about going to the airport to pick up his wife, whom he hadn’t seen for four years. Marcela soon discovered that this employee had also left behind a son, who was now five years old. Unfortunately, it was going to take several more years for the son to join his parents in Brazil.
Hearing this family’s plight inspired Marcela to raise funds to reunite them. Marcela shares a heart-warming story of a community coming together to bring the little boy back to his mother and father.
I’m sure many of us have dreamt about what we would do if we had Google level funding. Literary agent, Kelly Thomas was asked this exact question on one of my favorite podcasts—The Manuscript Academy. It is a question the creators of the podcast often pose to guests and the answers are varied. But Kelly’s response had me beaming!
Kelly talked about the dogs she adopted from Animal Lighthouse Rescue (ALR), an organization that rescues dogs in Puerto Rico and brings them to New York City to find their forever homes.
It is a challenge to fly rescue dogs from Puerto Rico to New York City. Each dog must have a designated human escort travelling with them before they are allowed on the plane. Once this hurdle is overcome, the dogs are placed in the cargo section of the plane, which can be very loud and frightening, especially to a dog who has already suffered trauma. But for now, this is the only option available.
But if Kelly had Google level funding, she would change this. She would buy a plane specifically to fly dogs in need of help to their forever homes. Any dog that didn’t find a family, Kelly would keep as her own.
As soon as I heard Kelly’s answer, I knew I had to find out more about her. The only contact information I had was her literary agency email. This email is normally used for writers submitting material to the agency in hopes of acquiring representation. I took a chance and emailed Kelly on her agency email. I explained who I was and that I was hoping to share her story on my Kindness Is Everything blog. Within minutes, Kelly emailed back, saying she would love to! And not only that, she put me in touch with the founder of Animal Lighthouse Rescue so that I could share their story as well.
It was such a joy to speak with Kelly. Whenever she talked about her dogs, both whom she adopted from Animal Lighthouse Rescue, her voice overflowed with love.
Kelly’s love of animals came from her father and grandmother. At one time, her grandmother had fourteen cats under her care. When Kelly was growing up, dogs and cats were always a part of her family. Her dad even threw her canine sibling birthday parties.
When Kelly left home, she was saddened to discover she’d developed an allergy to dogs. This sudden onset sometimes happens when people are no longer around pets. As she was living in a small apartment in New York, having a pet wasn’t possible, so the allergy wasn’t much of an issue. However, in 2013, Kelly moved to a larger, pet-friendly place and was determined to once again have a dog in her life, even if it meant allergy shots or medication.
Her search began.
Kelly started looking for dogs in need of a home on a website called Pet Finder. This led her to connect with Julie Sinaw, the founder of ALR.
Julie had three rescue dogs in NYC at the time. Kelly met them and immediately fell in love with Lila. The feeling was clearly mutual as Lila came up to Kelly and nuzzled right into her.
Kelly’s relationship with the rescue didn’t end once she brought Lila home. Kelly was so impressed by Julie’s dedication and efforts to rescue and find forever homes for the Puerto Rican dogs, that she started to volunteer.
She spent time helping out at dog adoption events. Kelly and the other volunteers would each be partnered with one of the dogs. They would learn everything they could about the dog—their history, special needs, if the dog got along with other dogs, cats, children, and if they were an active dog.
Kelly would then meet people who were interested in adopting the dog to determine whether or not it was a good match—for dog and human. Prospective adopters are thoroughly vetted to make sure they are committed to caring for a dog.
Kelly wanted to make sure each dog she was responsible for found a loving home like her own Lila.
Sadly, Lila passed away in February of 2020. Kelly was devastated. After about a month, she contacted Julie wanting to once again adopt a dog from Puerto Rico. This time it was a dog named Daisy who won Kelly’s heart. Soon after Kelly adopted Daisy, she changed her name to Hazel.
Kelly and Hazel moved to Orlando, Florida, in November of 2020. She even found a place that not only boasts a swimming pool and gym, but also a dog park!
Though living in Orlando means it’s no longer possible for Kelly to volunteer at the adoption events, she is hoping to find other ways to help Animal Lighthouse Rescue. Perhaps one day, she’ll buy them that plane!
When asked if there was only one thing she could change in the world, what that would be—her response: “For more people to be aware of how amazing animals are and to rescue them so that they all have a loving home and enough food. No animal should have to go hungry.”
In 2012, Christian Marcello and his family adopted a dog from an animal shelter. Little did Christian know that adopting Rocky would not only change the dog’s life, but his as well.
Christian shares what it was like seeing all those dogs in the shelter, learning that not all dogs find their happily ever after, and how that inspired him to create a business dedicated to helping dogs find a loving home.
If you love dogs, you’ll definitely want to hear Christian’s story of kindness.
As a thank you for sharing his story of kindness, Anitha donated to Team Dog Rescue on behalf of Christian. This is the rescue where Christian and his family adopted their second dog, Holly.
High school senior, Vini Possobom, joins me to talk about the many initiatives and causes he’s involved in that help others.
From raising funds to reunite a young boy with his parents, to volunteering with a non-profit organization called Robotics For All— Vini is dedicated to doing whatever he can to help as many people as possible.
He manages to do all of this while keeping on top of his own school work, university applications, and participating in activities like basketball, choir, band and the drama club.
Ten-year-olds Maya and Liberty Persaud join me to share not one, but two stories of kindness.
Moving to a new country can be exciting, but it also brings on the challenge of making friends. Maya and Liberty Persaud have a lot of experience with this. When the girls were four years old, they moved from Canada to South Korea, and then at the age of eight, they moved to Brazil. Each move meant a new school, new friends, and a new language.
Familiar with being the ‘new kid’ at school and how that can often make someone feel left out, Maya and Liberty created a Buddy Bench.
This wonderful bench is there for any child who is feeling lonely. The child sits on the bench to signal they need someone to play with. Once other children see that student at the bench, they can invite him or her to be a part of their game and feel included. How lovely!
The girls’ acts of kindness didn’t end with the Buddy Bench. They also share their involvement with Nyaka Orphanage, an organization that supports the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children in rural southwestern Uganda.
As a thank you for sharing their story of kindness, I donated to the Nyaka Orphanage on behalf of Maya and Liberty.