Stories Of Hope (Part 1)

Positive change very frequently comes from the bottom up.

Individuals and small groups experience a problem in their own lives and among the people they know.

They put up with it for a while, but somewhere along the way,

they decide that things have to change for the better,

not only for themselves,

but also for their friends, their neighbors, their city, their state, and/or their country.

In this section of the website, we will share successful stories of hope from the bottom up.

I will start with some of my stories,
but I invite you to share your success stories.

Share Your Thoughts


669 Children Saved From the Nazi’s by Nicholas Winton of Great Britain


                                          Jewish Children Waiting to Board a train          Nicholas Winton, then a 28 year old stockbroker

Nicholas Winton (1909-2015) was a stockbroker born in London. His parents were of German-Jewish ancestry but chose to have their son baptized in the Anglican Church. Between December 1938 and September 1939, Winton worked with friends and colleagues in Prague and London to organize the transport and reception of children threatened by the Nazi racial laws which applied in Czechoslovakia after the German invasion of March 1939.

Winton was asked to come to Prague by his friend Martin Blake, a teacher and a member of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia. Blake introduced Winton to Doreen Wariner, who showed Winton the overcrowded refugee camps. Working from his hotel room – often hearing petitions while he shaved – Winton collected applications. He returned to London with the names of children and spent his evenings and weekends raising money and recruiting foster parents. He believed that the time was running out before the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia, breaking the Munich Agreement of September 1938.

The first transport of children from Prague left by air on 14 March 1939, just a day before the Third Reich invaded Czechoslovakia. Between March and August, Winton and his colleagues organized a further seven transports departing by rail. The last transport left Prague on 2 August 1939, a month before the outbreak of WW2.

Winton’s work was largely unknown until the late 1980s, when his wife Grete found a scrapbook with details of 664 children he had helped. In 1988, an episode of the BBC magazine program That’s Life introduced Winton to just some of those he had helped, as well as to British public attention. Winton was knighted in 2002 for services to humanity. Asked to explain his decision to rescue so many, he claimed that something simply had to be done. He quoted Doreen Wariner’s words to him in Prague in 1938: ‘Look, if anything can be done, perhaps you’d like to try and do it.’ Winton died in 2015, aged 106. To view a 2 minute video of this inspiring story, click on this link:

‘This is really the shot in the arm that we needed.’ Five CPS schools partner with Hope Chicago to help send roughly 4,000 students to college debt-free.

By Tatyana Turner  Chicago Tribune Feb 25, 2022 

Morgan Park H.S. seniors react upon hearing will receive debt-free college scholarships from Hope Chicago during their assembly at Morgan Park H.S. in Chicago on Feb. 23, 2022. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

Tonya Hammaker, the principal of Farragut Career Academy high school, had been hearing students make comments like " Can you believe it?” and “I wish that was us” in the hallways all throughout the week.

The young scholars were referring to the Chicago Public School students who got the news that their college education has been paid for with the help of Hope Chicago, a citywide, multigeneration scholarship program that covers tuition, room and board, books, fees and surcharges for CPS students and one of their parents or guardians.

This past week the Hope Chicago team, led by former CPS CEO Janice Jackson and Pete Kadens and Ted Koenig, Hope Chicago’s co-founders and co-chairmen, visited high schools — including Benito Juarez High School, Al Raby High School, Morgan Park High School and Noble-Johnson College Prep — that are part of their inaugural cohort to announce to 4,000 students that their postsecondary education will be fully funded.

The last stop for Hope Chicago was Farragut in the Little Village neighborhood.

“I had to play it up so they wouldn’t know,” Hammaker said. “I’m nervous of course, because I want it to all go really well.”

Hammaker planned on having all of her students in the auditorium for a school assembly, but none knew what the event was for. The news is something Hammaker believes her students will view as life-changing.

To read the full article, click on this link: Five CPS schools to help send 4,000 students to college debt-free - Chicago Tribune 

At Shepherd Inn, Women Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence Get A Chance To Heal

Victoria Shepherd, who founded the nonprofit, knows their stories all too well.

Because it happened to her, too.

Victoria Shepherd poses for a portrait at Shepherd Inn in Dallas. Shepherd Inn is temporary housing and programming from women ages 18-28 who have experienced sexual trauma or domestic violence and need assistance getting back on their feet. By  Sriya Reddy, Published 1/11/22

When Victoria Shepherd learned that the teenagers she worked with at Cafe Momentum often didn’t have a safe place to sleep at night, she was angry. She was angry not only because of the lack of stability in their lives, but also because she knew what it felt like to feel unsafe.

When she was in her early 20s, Shepherd was drugged, raped on a beach and left in the ocean in Thailand. If two men from her hostel hadn’t found her, she believes she would have died. She has no memory of the attack beyond what was told to her.

For years, Shepherd’s experience led to her struggle with addiction. She said every time she closed her eyes, her mind would try to imagine what had happened to her on that beach. When she was under the influence, she didn’t need to think about it.

“It took going therapy to realize that that’s why I was drinking and doing drugs every night,” Shepherd said. “Because I just either didn’t want to go to sleep at all, or I wanted to black out so I could go to sleep.”

All she wanted then was a safe place to be. And now, she dedicates her life to building exactly that. Shepherd started Shepherd Inn in 2019 for women between 18 to 28 who have experienced sexual trauma or domestic abuse. Shepherd Inn has an outreach program and transitional housing, and it has supported almost 20 women.

“It is a safe haven for women who have experienced sexual trauma,” Shepherd said. “A safe place for them to recover and get back on their feet. It’s a place where you’ll feel love and security every single day.”

She said that their stories are her story, but she hopes they won’t have to go through all that she went through.

To read the full story, click on this link: At Shepherd Inn, women who have experienced sexual violence get a chance to heal - I Messenger (

“My mom came home in 2001 and that’s when my healing started.”

Carmella Glenn | Madison, WI

My mother and biological father separated at a very young age. There was a lot of domestic violence in my home while growing up, which I believe led my mother to self-medicate with drugs.

When the crack cocaine era hit both of them were highly addicted. It took them years to separate; I was fifteen. We moved down to Florida and to Northern Wisconsin. My mom was always trying to geographically relocate, but the trauma comes with you.

My mom eventually went to prison for drugs in the 1990s. I was twenty-two when she was sent to prison. She left me her house and her younger children, but at this point I was a pretty stone cold alcoholic. I was in my own domestic violence relationship with my child’s father. I kind of spiraled. I eventually got arrested for drunk driving in my 20s. 

My mom came home in 2001, and that’s when my healing started. She was working with Asha Family Service, a domestic violence program that led workshops in women’s prisons. To read more about Asha Family Service, click on this link: The Collective (     She took me to Milwaukee to meet Antonia, the founder of Asha, and I fell in love with this work. Since then, I have worked for Antonia in any possible way, going inside the women’s prisons and doing Sister Circles. Any time there was a gap in my life of needing employment and re-centering myself, I always reached back out to her. I’ve been sober now for 18 years. And since my mother came home, for the last 15 years, she has been a chaplain within the prison system.

I’m the coordinator of a program called Just Bakery, a twelve-week educational and vocational training program. I have a culinary degree and a criminal justice degree. Who would have thought these two would go together? It’s just been my sweet spot. To read more of Carmella' story, click on this link:  To learn more about Just Bakery, click on this link:

A Heartfelt Donation to Special Olympics of Western Racine County

“When I received this year’s staff email for #Gift2Giving I knew exactly where I wanted to donate my funds. A woman who lives down the street from me, Donna McKusker is the Agency Director for the Special Olympics of Western Racine County. Donna has been a driving force for the Western Racine County agency for many years. She donates so much time and her very own money to make sure her team members are cared for and able to participate in as many sporting programs possible. Her passion to serve the special needs community is genuine and sincere. I thought that #Gift2Giving may be a great opportunity to give back to her agency and team. I sent out an email to Community State Bank (CSB) staff about where I was donating my funds and an additional 10 CSB employees also hopped on board. Our donation to the Special Olympics of Western Racine County will cover a variety of travel expenses for helping get athletes to practices and competitions. Thank you, Donna, for all that you do!”   To watch a 2 and a half minute video about this donation and to meet Donna McKusker, click on this link: 

Invest, Dream, Achieve Program Changing Lives One Student at a Time

By Sara Rae Lancaster, Peninsula Pulse – September 3rd, 2021

Invest, Dream, Achieve alumna Cora Doumouras, pictured here with her husband, Jake Bastian;

and sons, Lukas and Finn. Photo by Artemis Photography.

School was never Victoria Jacquart’s thing. A self-described rough childhood led her down a rocky path into her teen years, and eventually she dropped out of high school, believing she didn’t have much of a future. Now, as she inches closer to earning an associate degree in business management from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), she’s looking beyond that to getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology and, eventually, earning a PhD in psychology and opening a private counseling practice.

Jacquart credits the Invest, Dream, Achieve program – a community-grant program that’s a collaboration between the Women’s Fund of Door County and NWTC – for her shift in mindset. 

“When I moved to Door County from Manitowoc, I decided to get my life together,” Jacquart said. 

She earned a high school equivalency diploma before enrolling in the business-management program at NWTC-Sturgeon Bay. She knew she was on a better path, “but I still had this fear of not being able to pay for college since I was working a low-wage job at the time,” she said.

Being new to the Door County area, she also lacked a support network – especially one that understood her situation as a nontraditional student. Enter the Invest, Dream, Achieve program. It began in fall 2018 to help Door County women achieve their goals through education, financial stability and career exploration. 

A $200,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of Door County made the program possible. But instead of focusing on scholarships alone, the Invest, Dream, Achieve program takes a holistic approach, supporting women in the various challenges that can affect their educational goals. 

“These women are juggling a lot on top of wanting to better themselves,” said Karen Peterson, a member of the Women’s Fund’s board of advisers. “From the beginning, it felt like if we could just give them a chance – not by giving them a crazy amount of financial assistance, but the tools they need to help them flourish – they could succeed.” To read more, click on this link:  To learn more about the Women’s Fund of Door County, read about them below under Hope-Filled Organizations section.

A former ambassador finds optimism at a high school debate contest in Indiana