5 Inspiring Stories To Remind Us Social Good Still Exists

In a world still rife with the pandemic and conflicts of all kinds, it can be hard to remember that social good exists. But by doing a little digging, it’s clear to see: people are still banding together every day to change the world for the better with new causes to support, existing nonprofits to help champion, fundraisers to join, or volunteer opportunities to get involved with.

At UncommonGood, we stand by those seeking to make the world a better place, and we love finding new and uncommonly good ways to support them in their efforts along the way. 

Whether you’re a seasoned social good advocate or someone looking for new volunteer opportunities to be inspired by, here’s a list of five recent viral stories of people changing the world to motivate and inspire you (and make you smile!).

New Jersey Volunteers Rescue Over 800 Baby Sea Turtles from Storm Drains

Animal lovers in Ocean City, NJ rose to the occasion when locals discovered more than 800 baby terrapins swimming in storm drains. But this rescue was no easy task, leading volunteers to get creative to find a solution.

According to a Stockton University Facebook post, “[volunteers] crafted a custom scooper from a telescopic aquarium net attached to a bamboo pole, and are pleased with how their invention works.” Volunteers rescued the tiny turtles and delivered them to the University to be a part of their “Head Start” program, where staff care for and rehabilitate the turtles before returning them to the wild. Even better? One of the volunteers began to train local kids in the neighborhood to expand the number of animals able to be rescued in the future — and amplify the amount of good accomplished.

Jaden Smith To Open Free Vegan Restaurant for Homeless

Working for social good is something celebrity Jaden Smith is no stranger to doing. In 2019, Smith launched the “I Love You” food truck initiative, which offers “healthy vegan for free” to the homeless in Los Angeles’ Skid Row area. But now, Smith is kicking his initiative up a notch by planning the launch of an “I Love You” restaurant. Anyone can eat at the restaurant, but if you’re not homeless, you’re expected to pay more to cover the cost of someone else who needs it more.

This is only one of Jaden Smith’s social good initiatives in the works; UncommonGood shares his belief in and drive to make the world a better place. “At any moment, we can create a new version of the world,” Jaden said in a quote on Complex.com. “The next thing that changes everything for everyone can be around the corner.”

Group That “Mocks” Boomers Raise $50,000 Toward Liver Transplant for Boomer

This viral story illuminates the importance of social media in making a quick and powerful impact. When Uniontown, Pennsylvania resident Gary Rider posted a misspelled Facebook Marketplace ad about an old air compressor, it garnered a lot of attention, particularly from a Facebook group called “a car club where everyone acts like boomers.”

Rider’s ad read, “Older air compressor, working as it should.i need a liver transplant.procedes go twords it.” While usually the group pokes fun at posts from boomers using the internet, they decided to step up and use their platform to do something life-changing for Rider.

In a matter of days, the group raised $50,000 for his procedure. “People came together and did something out of the kindness of their hearts for somebody they don’t even know,” member Patrick Thompson said in an interview with Jalopnik.com. “It’s amazing. There’s a lot of good people out there.”

And, of course, in jokester fashion, the group left their same boomer-roasting comments on Rider’s GoFundMe page. Rider told Jalopnik.com that he didn’t mind the jokes, and has been blown away by all the support he’s been shown. 

“There’s nothing wrong with silliness here and there, and I also see that there’s a lot of love there,” he said.

Here at UncommonGood, we celebrate the power of social media as a vehicle to create incredible social good across large audiences. This feel-good story is an example of how spreading the word can connect unlikely people to a cause they care about. 

High School Senior Donates College Savings to Start Local Scholarship 

When 18-year-old Joshua Nelson found out he’d receive a full-ride scholarship to attend Southeast Missouri State University, he knew he wanted to pay it forward.

The St. Charles West High School senior donated the $1,000 he had saved for college to another fellow high school senior in need. But he didn’t stop there. Joshua decided to turn his initial donation into The Joshua Nelson in Action Scholarship, which aims “to help multicultural students who are showing leadership, community service, and just have great qualities in and out of the classroom.”

“I feel like it’s important to be involved in your community and leaving a legacy,” Nelson said in an interview with We Love St. Charles, a local nonprofit community outreach organization. 

Nelson, who will be enrolled in Southeast Missouri State University’s biomedical sciences program, hopes local businesses and others will match his starting donation so more students can benefit. To support The Joshua Nelson in Action Scholarship fund, donate through St. Charles West High School here. 

Nelson is certainly proof that you’re never too young to make a lasting impact. Kickstarting new nonprofits and fundraisers geared towards social good can seem like daunting tasks, but it’s possible to create a lasting impact on your community with today’s technology and minimal resources. Like Joshua, you just need to make a commitment and take that first step! 

Wrongfully-Convicted Man and His Former Prison Guard Open Barber College To Give Others a Second Chance at a Career

After nearly 20 years behind bars due to a wrongful conviction, Juan Rivera is a free man who is dedicating his life to giving others a second chance, too. 

Rivera received a $20 million settlement from the state and Lake County municipalities, after his tragic wrongful conviction of raping and murdering 11-year-old Holly Staker — a crime DNA evidence proved he did not commit. This settlement is one of the largest wrongful conviction settlements in history, and Rivera has turned it into a remarkable opportunity to do good for others.

Rivera took his settlement and invested it in Legacy Barber College, the cosmetology school he opened with his former prison guard Bobby Mattinson. The two met and connected at the prison barbershop, where Rivera got haircuts before court appearances and Mattinson acted as barbershop coordinator. Mattinson helped Rivera obtain his barber license, and the two discussed the possibility of opening a barber school together once Rivera was free.

Now business partners, Rivera and Mattinson aim for Legacy Barber College to give others caught in the justice system a chance towards a successful career and life,” according to Tanks Good News. 

Rivera and Mattinson are proof that social good can come even out of the failings of our systems of justice, of the worst of circumstances — and that it’s never too late to change the world.

Take Your First Step to Create Your Own Social Good Story

There’s nothing quite as inspiring as reading the everyday stories of social good heroes within our communities. But know what’s even better? Creating your own!

These are only a few examples of social good being accomplished and shared today, from saving animals to fundraising for causes to establishing new organizations that leave a lasting legacy. 

Interested in creating your own social good or spreading awareness about volunteer opportunities in your community for others to do the same? Team up with UncommonGood and discover how we can help support your quest to effect lasting change in the world. Let’s create good together!

Make a Difference

By UncommonGood

November 30, 2023

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