When Good Comes From A Story

I have to share this moment with you.  Because it only reminds me why I do what I do and the power of storytelling.

Last week I introduced our viewers to Larry Hale.  He lives in the Exchange building and is confined to his wheel chair.  A car accident a few years back now makes him unable to walk.  The catch: he lives on the 10th floor of the building and the elevators were out last week following a pipe burst during the cold snap.

photo 1Hale invited me up to his apartment and allowed me to see how good management was treating him and how he gets around.  I was amazed at his attitude, stuck up in his apartment with no where to go, yet no real problem with it.  He was very understanding of the situation.  His only worry, he was missing a Grizzlies game because he couldn’t get downstairs.

The story aired and time passed, then on Friday I got an e-mail from the management company.  In it, an attached photo of Grizzlies tickets for Larry.  It turns out the elevator company saw the story and wanted to help.  After they got one elevator fixed they hooked Larry up with some sweet seats.  He was thrilled and I was happy to see good in it all.

Then I received this text from  him on Friday night: “I wouldn’t be going if you hadn’t made that 10 flight march.  Thanks again.”

It was a small act for a chance to tell what I thought would be a compelling story. What I was reminded is that when you make the best of what you’ve got, sometimes you get something even better.

So keep on telling stories, sharing stories and acting when you feel called.  It works, it really works.

One Person. One Idea. One Good Deed.

In the news business we tend to have a lot of turnover, both in people and in stories. I typically do two stories a day, sometimes more. At the end of the day, as long as I make deadline, I’m done. And I go home and do it all again tomorrow.

But every once and awhile stories keep going and last for days. Every once and awhile, more than I sometimes realize, those stories have impact.

This week I saw the impact of storytelling in Memphis. It started with a blog from Wendi Thomas about cold weather and school closings. It was my day off, but I checked my e-mail and saw that my boss, Tammy, read the blog and felt called to action. She had no idea that there were so many kids in Memphis without proper coats for the cold winter weather. In fact, a lot of people had no idea.

But it turns out, that A LOT of people want to help but just don’t know how.

So, in a few hours we had a Winter Coat Drive. Partnering with the YWCA of Greater Memphis and Common Ground, the Action News 5 Winter Coat Drive.

Wednesday I was assigned that beat. FUN FACT: I love telling stories about good things happening in the community. I love telling stories that show people doing good. And I LOVE telling stories that call others to action. It’s fitting…working for “ACTION” news 5.

So Wednesday I went to South Park Elementary and talked with students and the principal. She said 1/3 of her students didn’t come to school with proper coats. That’s 200 students in short sleeves, light jackets during FREEZING temps. WOW! Talk about a shock factor. It was hard to believe there was such a need.

Coats4KidsThursday was probably my favorite day of all three coat drive days. Thursday we went to the YWCA and picked up 12 coats, then took them to South Park to hand out to kids. They principal picked out 6 kids who didn’t come to school in proper coats. They got to pick out BRAND NEW coats. The joy they had, the smiles on their face and the reaction to a new coat was unbelievable. It brings a tear to my eye thinking about it. One kid said it felt like she was standing next to a heater. The other said it was like a bit marshmallow. I had a blast and got to see the impact the donations were making on kids in Memphis.

Friday we finished off our coverage and coat drive with a final count: 480 coats, $4000 donated to buy new coats. WOW Memphis!! You can make a difference. And you can make it by doing a small thing.


Truth is “nobody can do everything but EVERYBODY can do something” and this week YOU DID SOMETHING.

The impact will be felt across the city as the YWCA sorts through the coats and delivers them to students in need.

I just hope the spirit of giving continues. It doesn’t have to be a coat or even money.  Maybe it’s time or MAYBE it’s taking a moment to smile at a stranger or ask someone their name on the streets.  The truth is small acts can make a big impact.  It starts with one person, one idea or one good deed and can be contagious.

So keep it up Memphis.  Keep giving, keep caring and keep sharing.  Share all over media.  Not to brag about your good deed but to show others they can do it too.  To show others how easy it is to help.  And how simple it can be.

I’ll end by repeat what I said above: “Nobody can do everything but everybody can do SOMETHING.”

Go. Do. Something.

Diggin’ Up An Old Story: “Cuisine For A Cause”

“When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not none of us it.”

Late last night, or maybe it’s better to say early this morning, I was browsing through some old stories.  Stories from LCTV in college, and KWWL in Dubuque.  I was looking for a few examples and reminders of stories that left a lasting impact on me personally.

For fun, I looked at one of my old resume tapes.  That was fun to see but it was the story at the end that grabbed my attention. A few months back a friend of mine (Kate Berning) asked if I had a copy of a story I did called Cuisine For A Cause.  The story was about a woman named Marilyn who was battling breast cancer.  Her friends started a Susan G. Komen team and to raise money for her team her neighbors and friends created a cook book.  Full of dishes from the neighborhood.

I still remember shooting the story. The two woman made me pecan pies and I shot video of everything.  I walked away with food and a warm heart.  I was now fighting for Marilyn and hoping she’d overcome her battle.

A few months back she passed away.  Kate asked me if I had the story.  I could not find it anywhere.  Until last night.  Buried deep in an old resume tape I had once used to apply for a job.  And so I shared it with Kate and got this e-mail today:

Hey Bentleys! (and the rest of the clan that I don’t have email addresses for – please forward?)

A belated holiday gift and belated happy birthday gift from Marilyn to us. — Look what I got in the mail today!

Get out the tissues (at least I need quite a few)… I had tried to get a copy of our TV interview from KWWL and our angels (Kate and Lauren) just found this, albeit in an unlikely folder from Lauren. I thought you’d all like to take a look too



The story finding came at the start of a new year, a reminder for me the power of a story and for them a sign that Marilyn was shining down.  Saying hello and reminding them to keep living, cooking and loving.

Check out the story below…I story should cue up to 4:07.  If not…fast forward.