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Playlist: 'Angels & Mentors'

Compiled By: StoryCorps

Scout Derek Connell (C) talks with his Scoutmasters Richard (L) and Claudia. <a href="http://www.prx.org/pieces/44739-derek-connell-richard-and-claudia-coleman">Listen here</a>. Credit:
Scout Derek Connell (C) talks with his Scoutmasters Richard (L) and Claudia. Listen here.

Stories about those people who really matter in our lives.

StoryCorps Griot: Diane Kenney and Linda Kenney Miller

From StoryCorps | 01:31

Linda Kenney Miller (R) and her sister Diane Kenney (L) remember their grandfather, Dr. John A. Kenney, who founded the first hospital for African Americans in Newark, NJ.

Millerl_small In the 1920s, Dr. John A. Kenney left Tuskegee, Alabama after receiving death threats from the Ku Klux Klan. He moved to Newark, New Jersey, and helped found the city's first hospital for African-Americans.

Here, his granddaughters Linda Kenney Miller and her sister Diane Kenney remember their grandfather, and his dedication to the hospital.

StoryCorps: Lee Mottern and Linda Eldredge

From StoryCorps | 01:44

Lee Mottern tells his girlfriend, Linda Eldredge, a story about his Uncle Abe.

Mottern_small As children, Lee Mottern and his cousin would visit his Uncle Abraham and Aunt Hatti during the summer. 

Here, Lee tells his girlfriend, Linda Eldredge, one of his childhood memories of that time.

StoryCorps: George Lengel

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:31

George Lengel remembers growing up in the company town of Roebling, NJ.

Lengel_small George Lengel was born in Roebling, NJ, where his entire family made steel wire at the John A. Roebling's Sons Company.

Here, Lengel remembers growing up in Roebling and the influence his father had on his future.

StoryCorps Historias: Noe Rueda and Alex Fernandez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:30

19-year-old Noe Rueda (R) talks to his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez (L), about growing up poor in Chicago.

Rueda_small 19-year-old Noe Rueda grew up the eldest of four siblings on Chicago’s West Side.

Here he tells his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez, how he started his own business at the age of eight to help his single mother get by.

StoryCorps: Steven and Jennifer Wells

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:20

Steven Wells tells his daughter, Jennifer, how it felt to become a dad.

Wells_small Steven Wells came to StoryCorps in Macon, Geogia with his daughter, Jennifer.

Here Steven tells Jennifer how he felt about fatherhood.

StoryCorps Griot: William Anthony Cobb

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 05:08

William Anthony Cobb tells his mother, Mary, about the influence she had on him. William Anthony also talks with his sister, Valerie Foster, about their mother.

Cobb1_small William Anthony Cobb came to StoryCorps with his mother, Mary Cobb, and told her about the influence she had on him.

A few months after their interview, Mary passed away of pancreatic cancer at the age of 67. William Anthony then returned to StoryCorps with his sister, Valerie Foster, to remember their mother.

StoryCorps Griot: Mary Johnson

From StoryCorps | 03:03

Mary Johnson speaks with Oshea Israel, who killed her son in 1993.

Johnsonm_small Mary Johnson's son, Laramiun, was shot and killed by Oshea Israel in 1993. Israel served 17 years in prison.

Here, Mary talks with her son's killer.

StoryCorps NTI: John Byrne and Samantha Liebman

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:50

Teacher John Byrne talks with his former student, Samantha Liebman, about coming out to his students.

Byrne_small Early in his teaching career, John Byrne was very strict, because he feared his students would find out he was gay.

Here, Byrne tells one of his former students, Samantha Liebman, how he eventually came out to his 10th-grade class.

StoryCorps: Bob and Aimee Gerold

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:50

Aimee Gerold speaks with her father, Bob, about her adoption from China.

Gerold_small After finding out that they could not conceive children, Bob Gerold and his wife Alice decided to adopt a child from China. They were matched with a baby girl named Aimee.

Here, Aimee talks to her father, Bob, about her adoption.

StoryCorps: Betsy Brooks and John Grecsek

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:17

Betsy Brooks tells her boyfriend, John Grecsek, about her father.

Brooks_small Growing up, Betsy Brooks had a turbulent relationship with her father, Charles. He was a military man and ruled his household with a firm hand. Years later, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, their relationship took a turn.

Here, Brooks tells her boyfriend, John Grecsek, about her relationship with her father.

StoryCorps: Julian Walker and Julia Walker Jewell

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:06

75-year-old Julian Walker tells his daughter, Julia Walker Jewell, about an accident his father had as a young boy.

Walker_small Julian Walker's father, Robert Walker, grew up in a small farming town in North Carolina. At the age of 5, Robert was severely injured in a farming accident.

Here, Walker tells his daughter, Julia Walker Jewell, one of his lasting memories of his father.  

StoryCorps: Father Michael Duffy

From StoryCorps | 04:02

Father Michael Duffy remembers his friend, Father Mychal Judge, the first official victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Duffy_small Father Michael Duffy talks about how he came to give the homily at the funeral of his friend, Father Mychal Judge, the first official victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

StoryCorps: Paul Crowley and Anthony Bravo Esparza

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:50

Paul Crowley talks with his friend and fellow veteran Anthony Bravo Esparza, who calls himself "Dreamer," about the free haircuts he gives in a VA Hospital parking lot.

Esparza_small

Many veterans seek out the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Hospital in hopes of feeling better. Thanks to Anthony Bravo Esparza — known to his friends as “Dreamer” — those veterans often end up looking better, too.

Since the 1970s, Dreamer, a veteran himself, has been giving free haircuts to vets.

He can be found in a red, white, and blue painted trailer parked at the VA, where he averages about 200 haircuts a month.

Last year, Paul Crowley showed up looking for a trim. Today, he’s Dreamer’s assistant.

At StoryCorps, the pair sat down to speak about their friendship.

StoryCorps: Happy Dodson and Taz Roman

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:38

Happy Dodson and Taz Roman, members of Bikers Against Child Abuse, talk about their work.

Roman_small

If you saw Happy Dodson and Taz Roman roaring down the street on their motorcycles, you might be surprised by where they’re going.

Happy and Taz are members of an international group called Bikers Against Child Abuse.

Social workers, cops, and others refer children who have been abused to the bikers, who have to pass a federal background check. When they don’t feel safe, the kids can call Happy, Taz and their biker friends who come straight to the child’s house.

StoryCorps: Rowan Allen and Bryan Lindsay

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:32

Paramedic Rowan Allen talks to Bryan Lindsay about the day he saved his life.

Allenr_small

In the summer of 1991, Bryan Lindsay was riding his bike on a Brooklyn street when he was hit by a van and almost killed.

He was seven years old at the time.

Rowan Allen was the paramedic on the scene, and recently the two men sat down at StoryCorps to remember that day.

StoryCorps: Thomas Weller

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:51

Thomas Weller remembers how he got started helping strangers in need.

Weller_small

Thomas Weller has spent the last 50 years helping strangers who break down on the highway.

At StoryCorps he remembered the night, as a teenager in Illinois, that he discovered his calling.

StoryCorps: Thompson Williams and Kiamichi-tet Williams

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:09

Thompson Williams talks about his father's legacy with his son, Kiamichi-tet Williams.

Sc_williamsthnpr_small

Thompson Williams grew up in Oklahoma as one of eight children. His father, Melford Williams, was a tribal leader of the Caddo Nation and a World War II veteran who had a big impact on Thompson’s life.

At StoryCorps, Thompson’s son, Kiamichi-tet, sat down with his dad to learn more about his grandfather.

StoryCorps: Antero Garcia and Roger Alvarez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:00

Antero Garcia (R) talks to his former student Roger Alvarez (L) who dropped out...

Garciaa_small

Antero Garcia (R) taught Roger Alvarez (L) in his 9th grade English class at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles.

That year, the school’s graduation rate was just 42 percent, and Roger was one of the students who didn’t make it through his senior year.

Roger dropped out in 2007 and hadn’t seen his former teacher until the two of them sat down together at StoryCorps.

When they recorded this interview, Roger was working the night shift at a loading dock, and he said he hopes to get his GED one day. Antero Garcia is now an Assistant Professor of English at Colorado State University. 

StoryCorps: Kai Leigh Harriott and Aja David

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:20

Aja David and her younger sister, Kai Leigh Harriott, remember the night Kai was hit...

Harriott_small

Fourteen-year-old Kai Leigh Harriott is paralyzed from the chest down, the result of a stray bullet that hit her when she was three.

She was sitting outside on her porch in Dorchester, Massachusetts with her older sister Aja David, who was babysitting at the time.

The family is still dealing with the aftermath of the shooting a decade later.

StoryCorps: Rita Fischer and Jay Fischer

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:29

Rita Fischer (90) and Jay Fischer (65) recall the moment that Jay came out as...

Fischer_small

90-year-old Rita Fischer and her son Jay interviewed each another at a StoryCorps booth in New York City.

They recalled a conversation they had back in the 1980s, when Jay first told Rita he was gay.

Warning: This clip features senior citizens dropping ‘f’ bombs.

Rita Fischer has walked in New York’s AIDS Walk since 1986. She has raised more than $800,000 in that time. 

StoryCorps: Kenny Thompson, Gary Barber and Dakota Gibson

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:12

Kenny Thompson, a volunteer mentor, tells students Gary Barber and Dakota Gibson about discovering that...

Thompson_small

Some students in the Spring Branch Independent School District in Texas dreaded lunchtime. The school cafeteria meant humiliation because their parents couldn’t afford a hot lunch.

The alternative for these kids was a cold cheese sandwich. Anyone seen leaving the lunch line with that on their plate was marked as being poor.

But that changed when school volunteer Kenny Thompson saw it happen. Kenny recently told that story to kids he works with, 13-year-old Gary Barber and 15-year-old Dakota Gibson.

Thanks to Kenny’s efforts, two school districts in Houston have changed their lunch policy. Now all kids receive the same lunch, whether or not they can afford it. 

StoryCorps: Michelle Dynes and Anne Purfield

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:09

Epidemiologists Anne Purfield (L) and Michelle Dynes (R) talk about responding to the Ebola outbreak...

Dynes_small

Anne Purfield (L) and Michelle Dynes (R) are epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

They both volunteered to spend several weeks in Sierra Leone, responding to the Ebola outbreak there.

When they returned to the U.S., they came to StoryCorps to talk about what they saw.

StoryCorps: Tina Vasquez and Sonia Vasquez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:59

Tina Vasquez tells her mother, Sonia Vasquez, about what it was like to grow up...

Vasquez_small

Tina Vasquez grew up just outside of New York City in the 1990s.

Her mother, Sonia, raised her with little help, and money was often tight for their family.

At StoryCorps, Sonia told Tina about how she’d take on several jobs to pay the bills.

StoryCorps: Phil Mortillaro and Philip Mortillaro Jr.

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:16

Phil and Philip Mortillaro, a father-and-son locksmith team, talk about the family business.

Mortillaro_small

For Phil Mortillaro, locksmithing was a summer job that turned into a lifelong passion. He started in the trade shortly after he left school in the 8th grade.

All five of his children grew up in his shop in Greenwich Village, but it was his youngest son, Philip, who has followed in his father’s footsteps.

Father and son sat down for a conversation at StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Darius Clark Monroe and David Ned

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:41

Seventeen years after Darius Clark Monroe robbed a bank at gunpoint, he came to StoryCorps...

Monroe_small

In 1997, Darius Clark Monroe (L) was a high school honor student who had never been in serious trouble.

But soon after his 16th birthday, he robbed a bank in Stafford, Texas at gunpoint with two of his friends.

Seventeen years later, he sat down at StoryCorps with David Ned, a customer who was in the bank during the robbery.

David and Darius became acquainted while Darius was a film student making a documentary about the robbery called Evolution of a Criminal.

 

StoryCorps: Ron Riveira and Jason Deitch

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:58

Hospice nurse and Retired Navy Corpsman Ron Riveira tells his friend, retired Army Medic Jason...

Riveira_small

Ron Riveira is a hospice nurse in California.

He’s also a veteran who served as a Navy corpsman and medic for the Marines during the 1990s.

While deployed overseas, he crossed paths with Jason Deitch, who was an Army medic. They reconnected years later back in the States, and recently had a conversation for StoryCorps.

Here, Ron remembers his grandmother and grandfather -- a Korean War vet -- who helped raise him.

StoryCorps: Max Voelz and Mary Dague

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:59

Retired Army Sgt 1st Class Max Voelz first recorded in 2011 to remember his wife...

Dague_small

Retired Army Sgt 1st Class Max Voelz first recorded in 2011 to remember his wife, Staff Sgt Kim Voelz. They met on Valentine’s Day, while training to work in Explosive Ordinance Disposal–the Army’s elite bomb squad.

Both Max and Kim were sent to Iraq in 2003. One night, Max called in the location of an explosive and Kim was sent to disarm it. She did not survive the mission.

Around the time Max recorded his first interview, he turned to another bomb tech, Sgt Mary Dague, for support. Mary lost both of her arms in Iraq.

She talked Max through his lowest points, but they didn’t meet face to face until years later, when they recorded for StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:35

Miguel Alvarez (L) and Maurice Rowland (R) remember caring for residents at an assisted living home, where they were a janitor and a cook, when it closed suddenly, leaving many elderly residents abandoned.

Rowland_small

In 2013, Maurice Rowland (R) was working as a cook at Valley Springs Manor, an assisted living home for elderly residents in California. He got his friend Miguel Alvarez (L) a job there as a janitor last fall.

But in October of that year the company that managed the home suddenly shut it down, leaving many of the elderly residents with nowhere to go.

The staff stopped being paid so they all left, except for Maurice and Miguel.

At StoryCorps they remembered caring for abandoned residents until the fire department and sheriff took over three days later.

The incident led to legislation in California known as the Residential Care for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014. 

StoryCorps: Ruth Coker Burks and Paul Wineland

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:51

Ruth Coker Burks tells her friend Paul Wineland about caring for AIDS patients during the...

Burks_small

Ruth Coker Burks was in her early 20s and raising a small child when the AIDS epidemic hit Arkansas, her home state.

Although she had no formal medical training, Ruth took it upon herself to care for AIDS patients who were abandoned by their families and medical professionals who feared the disease.

Ruth estimates that she has cared for nearly 1000 people since the 1980s. One of those people was Paul Wineland’s partner.

At StoryCorps Ruth told Paul about how she got started after visiting a friend at a hospital where one of the state’s early AIDS patient was dying.

Listen to Ruth’s interview with Jim Harwood, the father of another AIDS patient she cared for during this time.

StoryCorps: Sean Fitzpatrick and John Gately

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:27

Sean Fitzpatrick and Officer John Gately remember the day back in 2003 when Sean came to school with a gun.

Fitzpatricknpr_small

Eleven years ago, Sean Fitzpatrick was a high school junior in Spokane, Washington.

He had developed paranoid schizophrenia and was hearing voices -- but he didn’t tell anyone.

One morning, Sean went to school with a gun and a plan -- to barricade himself in a classroom, pretend he had hostages, and force police to kill him.

Sean’s plan didn’t work -- but at the end of the standoff he was shot in the face and still has difficulty speaking.

John Gately of the Spokane Police Department was the officer assigned to negotiate with Sean.

They recently sat down at StoryCorps to remember that day in 2003. Sean now works to educate law enforcement on handling encounters with people in the midst of a mental health crisis.

StoryCorps: Lucille Horn and Barbara Horn

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:52

Lucille Horn, 95, tells her daughter, Barbara, about the baby incubator exhibit at Coney Island that saved her life.

Hornnpr_small

For decades, Brooklyn’s Coney Island was known for sideshows featuring tattooed ladies, sword swallowers, and Dr. Martin Couney’s incubator babies.

Dr. Couney pioneered the use of incubators to keep premature infants alive in the late 1800s. But the medical establishment initially rejected the practice. So, each summer for 40 years, Dr. Couney funded his work by setting up an exhibition of the babies and charging the public admission.

Parents didn’t have to pay for the medical care, and many children survived who would have never had a chance otherwise.

Ninety-five-year-old Lucille Horn was one of them. Here, she tells her daughter, Barbara, about spending the summer of 1920 in an incubator on Coney Island.

StoryCorps: Wilson Matthews and Jeanne Yeatman

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:08

Flight nurses Wilson Matthews and Jeanne Yeatman talk about their work aboard emergency response helicopters and their attempts to save a child who was severely injured in a bicycle accident.

Matthewsnpr_small

For more than a decade, Wilson Matthews and Jeanne Yeatman worked together as flight nurses, caring for patients being transported to hospitals on emergency response helicopters.

They came to StoryCorps to talk about their most memorable flight, which took place in 2001.

Wilson and Jeanne were called in to save a 13-year-old named Stephen Wright, who had been severely injured in a bike accident.

To learn more about Stephen Wright, visit his family’s memorial website, Help for Those Who Grieve. 

StoryCorps: Roberto Olivera and Debra Olivera

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:33

Roberto Olivera tells his wife, Debra, about growing up with an abusive stepfather and how his mother helped him escape.

Oliveranpr_small

Roberto Olivera grew up in the 1960s just outside of Los Angeles, California.

As a teenager, he worked multiple jobs to support his family, but would come home to a physically and verbally abusive stepfather.

At StoryCorps, Roberto tells his wife, Debra, about how his mother helped him escape.

StoryCorps: Tyra Treadway and Ardyn Treadway

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:06

Tyra Treadway and her daughter, Ardyn, remember their husband and father, Dr. James Kent Treadway, a beloved pediatrician in New Orleans. Dr. Treadway committed suicide three months after Hurricane Katrina.

Treadway_small

Dr. James Kent Treadway was a beloved pediatrician in New Orleans for nearly 30 years.

Children loved him for his eccentric costumes and his ability to make even the most nervous patients laugh.

But after Hurricane Katrina, hearing his patients’ grief took a toll on him. Two months after the storm, he committed suicide.

At StoryCorps, his wife, Tyra Treadway, and his daughter, Ardyn, remember him.

StoryCorps: Adam Graff and Jackie Graff

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:53

Adam Graff, a member of New Orleans' all-volunteer, mental health crisis unit, speaks with his wife, Jacqueline, about the surge in patients after Hurricane Katrina.

Graff_small

Adam Graff is a member of New Orleans’ all-volunteer, mental health crisis unit.

The group works with the New Orleans Police Department and is often described as a SWAT team for mental illness and suicide crisis situations.

After Hurricane Katrina, Adam and his colleagues helped residents cope.

At StoryCorps, he sat down with his wife, Jacqueline, to talk about his work.

StoryCorps: Paul Nilsen and Tom Graziano

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:26

Tom Graziano remembers how his son’s elementary school principal and the community responded when they learned that his son was HIV positive.

Grazianonpr_small

In the early 1980s, Tom Graziano and his wife adopted an almost 2-year-old boy named John. As a child, he was constantly sick, but doctors where never able to determine why.

In 1986, when John was in the second grade at Central Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois, his parents discovered the reason for his health problems—John was HIV positive having contracted the disease from his biological mother.

At StoryCorps, Tom sat down with John’s elementary school principal, Paul Nilsen, to discuss the reaction of other students attending the school and among members of their suburban Chicago community to John during the AIDS epidemic in America.

John died in May 1989, just days shy of his 10th birthday.

StoryCorps: Chloe Longfellow

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:22

Chloe Longfellow came to StoryCorps to remember some of the life lessons she learned as a kid, while spending time in her grandmother’s kitchen.

Longfellownpr_small

With her mother away, Chloe spent a great deal of time at her grandparents’ home becoming especially close with her grandmother, Doris Louise Rolison.

Despite living in the Arizona desert, Doris, who died in May, 1988, at the age of 67, maintained a lush garden of herbs and vegetables. Chloe would help harvest the food to make dishes from recipes found in one of her grandmother’s treasured cookbooks.

At StoryCorps, Chloe remembers the happy memories and life lessons taught to her by her grandmother, many of which took place while cooking in Doris’ kitchen.

StoryCorps: François Clemmons and Karl Lindholm

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:51

François Clemmons played Officer Clemmons on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." He came to StoryCorps to discuss the role and his life.

Clemmonsnpr_small

In February 1968, the children’s television program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” debuted nationally.
 
Besides its eponymous creator, the show also featured a cast of characters from Mister Rogers’ make--believe world (King Friday XIII, Daniel Striped Tiger, and Bob Dog), and his “real” world (Mr. and Mrs. McFeely, Lady Aberlin, and Handyman Negri).
 
François Clemmons was cast in the “real” world as Officer Clemmons.
 
Fred Rogers met François in 1968 after hearing him sing in a Pittsburgh--area church they both attended. He was so impressed with his voice that he asked him to join the show. At the time, François was a graduate student working on getting his singing career going and was reluctant to accept Fred’s offer. But after realizing he would get paid to appear on the show—enabling him to afford his rent—François accepted, becoming the first African American actor to have a recurring role on a children’s television series.
 
For 25 years François appeared on the show while maintaining a separate career as a professional singer. In 1973, his performance with the Cleveland Orchestra earned him a Grammy Award and his love of spiritual music later led him to found the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble. He also spent 16 years as an artist--in--residence at Middlebury College in Vermont until his retirement in 2013.
 
François came to StoryCorps with his friend, Karl Lindholm (pictured together above), to discuss how he became the friendly singing Officer Clemmons, and his relationship with the man known to children as Mister Rogers.

StoryCorps: Tom Houck and Angelo Fuster

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:27

Tom Houck shares memories of dropping out of high school in 1965 to fight for civil rights, and becoming Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s personal driver.

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In 1965, Tom Houck was a high school senior when he decided to drop out of school and join the fight for civil rights.

Leaving Jacksonville, Florida, and heading to Selma, Alabama, Tom, 19, eventually met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and quickly volunteered to work for Dr. King’s Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Soon after his arrival in Atlanta, Tom was invited to the King home for lunch and Dr. King’s wife—Coretta—asked him to become the family’s driver.

Tom, who has continued to spend his life fighting for civil rights, came to StoryCorps with his friend, Angelo Fuster (pictured below left), to share memories of his time with the King family.   

StoryCorps: Vito de la Cruz and Maria Sefchick-Del Paso

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:58

Civil rights lawyer Vito de la Cruz grew up in a family of migrant farmworkers. He describes his childhood and the loving aunt who raised him.

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Vito de la Cruz’s parents were already separated when he was born, and when he was 6 months old, his father left him in the care of his 19-year-old aunt, Iris de la Cruz, a woman he called Nena.

Vito’s extended family traveled the migrant trail, finding work on farms across the United States. At 5 years old, Vito joined them in the fields. He remembers the excitement of traveling in the summers with his aunts, uncles, and grandmother from tomato fields in South Texas, to cherry orchards in Ohio, and sugar beet farms in North Dakota. During the days, they worked side-by-side, and in the evenings, they gathered together for dinner.

But their family’s migrant lifestyle was not easy; it was “equal parts hardship and poverty.” When he was 13, Border Patrol agents raided the farm where Vito and his family were working and rounded up undocumented workers. Witnessing workers’ fear of law enforcement struck a “profound chord in his being” and changed the course of his life.

Vito had always excelled in school, with Nena’s encouragement. She, herself, was the first person in the de la Cruz family to graduate high school, and she later went on to college. Following Nena’s example, Vito left South Texas for Yale University and then went on to attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley.

After law school, Vito began volunteering with the United Farm Workers union and focused the early part of his legal career on immigrant and farmworker rights. Years later, he became a federal public defender in Nevada before moving to Bellevue, Washington, where he continues to practice civil rights law.

Vito came to StoryCorps with his wife, Maria Sefchick-Del Paso, to remember how his childhood and his loving Nena shaped his future.

Vito’s story is one of 53 work stories featured in our new book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Worknow available in bookstores.

StoryCorps: Ed Roy and Mary Johnson-Roy

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:00

Mary Johnson-Roy first came to StoryCorps in 2011 to talk about her bond with the young man who killed her son. Years later, she married a man who lives with a similar tragedy. StoryCorps brings an update to her story.

Roynpr_small Mary Johnson-Roy first came to StoryCorps in 2011 to talk about her bond with the young man who killed her son. Years later, she married a man who lives with a similar tragedy. StoryCorps brings an update to her story.

StoryCorps: Anthony "Tony Bees" Planakis

From StoryCorps | 01:56

When bee season in New York City begins in early spring, that means retired police detective (and unofficial NYPD beekeeper) Anthony “Tony Bees” Planakis gets busy tending to his hives and rescuing swarms.

Tony Bees didn’t always love bees. In fact, it took a long time for his beekeeper father to convince him of their beauty. Ultimately, Tony became enamored with honey bees and even has a tattoo dedicated to his affection for them. He says it’s in his blood; he’s a fourth generation beekeeper whose family hails from Crete.

At StoryCorps, Anthony talked about what drew him to working with bees, and what he’s learned from them.

Tony retired from the NYPD in 2014. He now works as a private consultant and contractor removing hives and swarms all over the New York City region.

Planakisdiptych_small When bee season in New York City begins in early spring, that means retired police detective (and unofficial NYPD beekeeper) Anthony “Tony Bees” Planakis gets busy tending to his hives and rescuing swarms. Tony Bees didn’t always love bees. In fact, it took a long time for his beekeeper father to convince him of their beauty. Ultimately, Tony became enamored with honey bees and even has a tattoo dedicated to his affection for them. He says it’s in his blood; he’s a fourth generation beekeeper whose family hails from Crete. At StoryCorps, Anthony talked about what drew him to working with bees, and what he’s learned from them. Tony retired from the NYPD in 2014. He now works as a private consultant and contractor removing hives and swarms all over the New York City region.

StoryCorps: Darrow Brown and Juan Calvo

From StoryCorps | 02:52

Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology.

In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents.

Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

Calvonpr_small Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology. In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents. Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

StoryCorps: Darrow Brown and Juan Calvo

From StoryCorps | 02:52

Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology.

In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents.

Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

Calvonpr_small Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology. In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents. Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

StoryCorps: Darrow Brown and Juan Calvo

From StoryCorps | 02:52

Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology.

In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents.

Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

Calvonpr_small Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology. In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents. Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

StoryCorps: Darrow Brown and Juan Calvo

From StoryCorps | 02:52

Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology.

In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents.

Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

Calvonpr_small Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology. In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents. Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

StoryCorps: Five Mualimm-ak and Omar Mualimmak

From StoryCorps | 02:52

StoryCorps gives people the chance to sit down together and have a conversation they’ve never had before. Five Mualimm-ak did just that with his son, Omar, who was five years old when his father was first incarcerated.

By the time Mr. Mualimm-ak was finished serving his sentence for weapons charges, he had been in prison for nearly a dozen years, many of those spent in solitary confinement. When he was released in 2012, Omar was a senior in high school. The two have had difficulty connecting since then. They came to StoryCorps together to talk about their relationship for the first time.

Mualimm-aksquare_small StoryCorps gives people the chance to sit down together and have a conversation they’ve never had before. Five Mualimm-ak did just that with his son, Omar, who was five years old when his father was first incarcerated. By the time Mr. Mualimm-ak was finished serving his sentence for weapons charges, he had been in prison for nearly a dozen years, many of those spent in solitary confinement. When he was released in 2012, Omar was a senior in high school. The two have had difficulty connecting since then. They came to StoryCorps together to talk about their relationship for the first time.

StoryCorps: Father Noel Hickie and Marcia Hilton

From StoryCorps | 02:07

Father Noel Hickie was working as a hospital chaplain when he met Marcia Hilton, a bereavement counselor, at a hospital in Eugene, Oregon. For 25 years, they often worked together on the hospice team, helping patients and their families through illness and death.

But when they first started, neither was sure if they were cut out for the work.

Marcia retired in 2013, Father Noel in 2015.

Hickiesquare_small Father Noel Hickie was working as a hospital chaplain when he met Marcia Hilton, a bereavement counselor, at a hospital in Eugene, Oregon. For 25 years, they often worked together on the hospice team, helping patients and their families through illness and death. But when they first started, neither was sure if they were cut out for the work. Marcia retired in 2013, Father Noel in 2015.

StoryCorps: Wally Funk and Mary Holsenbeck

From StoryCorps | 02:32

When Wally Funk was 8 years old, she jumped off the roof of her barn while wearing a Superman cape, hoping to fly. That desire never left her, and as an adult she became a pilot and flight instructor. But for Wally, the ultimate destination was always outer space.

She almost got the chance to go in 1961. That year, she was part of a group of female pilots who took part in tests to determine if women were fit for space travel. The project was run by the same doctor who developed tests for NASA astronauts.

The women, who became known as the Mercury 13, passed many of the same tests as the men, but never got to go to space. More than half a century later, Wally Funk hasn’t given up.

She was interviewed in Dallas by one of her flight students, Mary Holsenbeck.

Wally bought a ticket for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and hopes to be onboard its maiden voyage into space.

Funksquare-1_small When Wally Funk was 8 years old, she jumped off the roof of her barn while wearing a Superman cape, hoping to fly. That desire never left her, and as an adult she became a pilot and flight instructor. But for Wally, the ultimate destination was always outer space. She almost got the chance to go in 1961. That year, she was part of a group of female pilots who took part in tests to determine if women were fit for space travel. The project was run by the same doctor who developed tests for NASA astronauts. The women, who became known as the Mercury 13, passed many of the same tests as the men, but never got to go to space. More than half a century later, Wally Funk hasn’t given up. She was interviewed in Dallas by one of her flight students, Mary Holsenbeck. Wally bought a ticket for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and hopes to be onboard its maiden voyage into space.

StoryCorps: Johnny Holmes and Christian Picciolini

From StoryCorps | 02:19

In the 1990s, Johnny Holmes was head of security at a high school in Blue Island, Illinois, located just outside of Chicago, where he met Christian Picciolini, a teenage student who was the leader of a local neo-Nazi group.

Christian was involved for eight years before he renounced the movement’s racist principles. Today, he devotes himself to helping others leave hate groups.

He credits Johnny with being the person who helped turn him around; they came to StoryCorps to remember how it happened.

Christian founded EXIT Solutions, a global organization of former extremists with a mission to help people to leave hateful and violent ideologies.

Johnny now serves on his local school board.

Editor’s note: This story contains a quote where a racial slur is used.

Holmessquare_small In the 1990s, Johnny Holmes was head of security at a high school in Blue Island, Illinois, located just outside of Chicago, where he met Christian Picciolini, a teenage student who was the leader of a local neo-Nazi group. Christian was involved for eight years before he renounced the movement’s racist principles. Today, he devotes himself to helping others leave hate groups. He credits Johnny with being the person who helped turn him around; they came to StoryCorps to remember how it happened. Christian founded EXIT Solutions, a global organization of former extremists with a mission to help people to leave hateful and violent ideologies. Johnny now serves on his local school board. Editor’s note: This story contains a quote where a racial slur is used.