Lessons in Humanity – The John Gordon Story

Meet John Gordon of Riverside California. His life got a rough start. A VERY rough start. Unfortunately, his story is told much too often. And, not many  of these story tellers overcome horrendous obstacles and make good lives for themselves. Even FEWER of them take what they learned from their obstacles to start a movement to help others- unconditionally.  This is the story of John Gordon – Rough Start – Successful Business Man – Creator of RAOK (Random Acts of Kindness). He runs this very busy FB group with 41,800 members and counting.

Here is John’s story in his own words.

At about the age 8 my mother began to abuse alcohol and drugs. For several years, me and my two siblings lived in tents, homeless shelters, motels and even parks. My mother would panhandle during the day with her boy friends, and we ate at soup kitchens and churches for most of our meals. Food stamps didn’t last long because many were sold for cash, or my mom would have us children break them by buying .5 cent candy so she could accumulate the .95 cent change to buy cigarettes, beer, alcohol and drugs.

I have many memories of the generosity of strangers. One in particular sticks out for me. We were at a Denny’s around 10:00 pm trying to figure out where we were going to say for the night; just sorta killing time in the heated restaurant. My mom had enough change left after she filled her needs to get us a hot chocolate to share at the Denny’s. We did have a little something for dinner earlier that night, but it was something like stale church bread and peanut butter; needless to stay we were HUNGRY. I remember sitting there smelling the food and my stomach hurting with hunger.

A Stranger Steps Up
The waitress walks over and said a patron in the restaurant would like to buy dinner for our family – anything we wanted!  My mother was suspicious of the intentions of the person and started to ask questions.  After reassurance that there were no strings attached, she accepted.

It Takes a Village of Strangers
For more than 20 years, I looked back on that day and wondered why a stranger would buy other strangers dinner.  For so long,  I could never figure out  why someone would do that? Why not make them buy their own food? About 4 years ago I finally got it.  It was just a random act of kindness!   Someone loved me even though they never even met me. Someone cared if my drug addicted alcoholic mother ate enough, though she chose to spend her money on drugs. Someone loved us with out condition! This happened many times throughout my childhood and without those strangers I may have turned out to be a different man.

Life Goes On
My mother is still on the streets to this day. I  bounced around during my childhood, and I lived with family members.  I was a handful, and I ended up in a boys home for trouble youth,  and I ended up going to prison for a few years for stealing dirt bikes.

From Wrong Turns to Right Turns
I got out of prison and was tired of the life, and I started my own business. I now have 40 employees and I have hired many ex convicts over the years trying to provide them a second chance and opportunity to succeed , an opportunity people didn’t want to offer me. Some of my employees started  out homeless, and through my employment, found housing and got back on their feet.   I have a kid with extreme autism that works for me now. I’ve been out of prison and self-employed for 12 years now and own three successful businesses.

I’ve over came a lot of obstacles in my life and achieved a lot of success. I became the man I am today, not because of my parents, but because of the kindness of complete strangers. I was taught the meaning of giving and kindness by strangers. I think the moral of the story here is that your small gesture can make a bigger impact then you may ever see or know. I have helped hundreds of people over the past years, and I can’t help but hope somehow- someway, I might be returning that favor to that person who bought that little boy dinner.


The Birth of RAOK
My wife and I have vowed to feed others, to help those in need and to never forget were we have come from. I feel driven by the thought that it is my duty to pay back all those people who loved me without condition or reward, to pay it forward.

RAOK has now helped thousands of members of our community.  We did a back pack and shoe drive last year collecting 1300 sets of new shoes, new back packs and school supplies for 1300 low income children in need. This is just one of hundreds of examples of our projects and events we have held over the past two years.

Thanks for reading and let’s keep the chain going.

DONATED ITEMS and Volunteers are in great need in Riverside CA.
3296 Call Drive, Riverside, CA 92503
We need infant and toddle boy clothes and shoes

  • Blankets
    Mens’ clothing
    Non-perishable foods
    Slightly used clean, preferably folded clothes.
    Socks are always needed

ROAK is not a 501(c) so your donations are NOT a write off. ROAK consists of purely community members who are the middlemen to help those in need. All donated items go DIRECTLY to the people in need.
“Our pay is the smiles on the faces of those that receive!!”


The Tower of Niceness – and the CEO is only Eight!

12376153_976932982378334_3052490075932865198_nRiver Sharp was at the ripe old age of seven when he created a highly successful fundraising campaign/community in 2015 called “The Tower of Niceness.” Now that he’s eight, he’s a veteran in the world of raising funds and helping his fellow human beings. It’s not every day that you see kid his age wanting to do ANYTHING more than play XBox, let alone create a movement that gets scores of people involved and the attention of the news media! Is he what they call an “old soul”?? Maybe! I think he’s pretty awesome!

The  Video (Tower of Cuteness)

As I was scrolling through my news feed one day on Facebook, getting past all of the political rants, the funny dog videos, and the never-ending photos of people’s meals, I see a video of a little blonde boy wearing a ball cap with an over-sized bill sitting in front of a white background looking into the camera with a HUGE smile on his face. Oh, yes, I’m turning up the volume on this one. (I’ll put the video below so you can see what I mean!) After watching the video, I immediately donated some funds to this kid! Who wouldn’t? You’d have to have the heart made of coal not to!

River’s Story

With a passion for helping others, River came up with the idea of raising money so that he could put together care packages for the homeless and hand them out on thanksgiving day in Sacramento CA. With the help of his dad Brian, River put up a crowd funding page to raise some money. Dad thought it was best to put up a “doable” goal of 500 bucks. He worried that anything over that might be a little too ambitious to start with and didn’t want his “kid” to be disappointed. River, being the savvy businessman that he is, wouldn’t have anything to do with it. He keyed in $1000.00 as the goal , loaded our social media feeds with the most ADORABLE videos EVER (Tower of CUTENESS in my book) and BAM he raised $1700.00 in just a few weeks. River was able to purchase more than he expected of the items he needed for care packages such as toiletries, socks, food, clothes, blankets…even radios!


So, on Thanksgiving morning while most of us were putting our turkeys in the oven, watching the Macy’s day parade all snuggled in our warm pajamas, River along with his 10-year-old brother Ryder and the rest of his family (and a whole bunch of Tower of Niceness Volunteers) were out bright and early in the morning handing out much-needed items to the homeless.

Oh, and a few TV stations showed up! This kid is a public relations genius!

Over Christmas, River put up a Toy Drive campaign to raise funds so that he could buy toys for kids in area hospitals. This campaign was a huge success that raised 1200.00 along with toy donations.

The Tower of Niceness is an ongoing community and River has been busy doing all sorts of community service. He hopes that ALL OF US will help build the Tower of Niceness with him!  Be on the lookout for River, Ryder and their little sister Presley as they take fundraising and community service to a whole new level!  I invite you to head on over to their site and check out what they’ve been up to and what they have planned next! Oh, and did I say their vids are AWESOME?

The Future

I was going to write something profound here about our kids being our future bla bla bla.. then it dawned on me.. somebody already wrote that!  Why reinvent the wheel?  You know the one.. It was written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and made famous by Whitney Houston..

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

The Video that Started it All!


River and Ryder talk about  the Martin Luther King Jr. Speech!




Tower of Niceness Website

Tower of Niceness Facebook Page