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



Perspective of a Peace Officer

Salvatore Vitale Sherrif4


A Message from Sacramento Sheriff Deputy 

Salvatore “Sal” Vitale

As a Peace Officer it is not my place to form political judgment and comment publicly on affairs which are in dispute by the citizens of this great nation. Providing political respite for events which I know little or nothing about is neither professional nor responsible. As a paid employee of the people working in this great nation, to do so would be an ethical failure. Commenting on what I do know however, is entirely within my realm and to remain silent is a failure of equal proportions.

Inherently, Peace Officers across this nation are called to serve from within themselves via a virtuous soul dedicated to service. Defining the essence of one who ventures unknown dangers on behalf of others is inexplicable. Much like the professional soldier, common recognition of a greater purpose perpetuates the inner lining of motivation. Or, as it was put to me in the Academy over thirteen years ago:

“You can’t do this job without that natural fire which burns within your belly”

While police work is one of the last true professions in a country of bountiful opportunities, it is also a selfless, thankless job which most American’s know almost nothing about. Peace officers are also citizens of this nation and are composed infinitely of humanity. We do not require appreciation to do our job as this pride blooms from within by serving something greater than ourselves. Appreciation is cherished when available yet not necessary to fuel a moral, warrior resolve.

Peace officers respond to all emergencies, even where we are wanted least. Those who condemn us are often the first to call upon us and plead for our assistance. We are glad to provide the service and any “thank you” received is tertiary at best as it is not required to summon our aid. Peace officers often find themselves in the middle of a hostile battlefield where the enemy is unknown and only fractions of a second are available for decision making. As an experienced supervisor stated to me today:

“You are talking one second and fighting the next. It all happens in the blink of an eye.”

In recent months, my life and the life of my beloved partners has been increasingly threatened. As we do our jobs we continue to stare down the expanding barrel of a gun, seemingly filled with bullets carrying our names upon them. As my eyes see it, violence against peace officers has increased tenfold and a small adversarial fringe group continuously baits us into a battle which cannot possibly end. I have chosen to accept this challenge and respond the best way I know how.

At nearly the same time two New York Police Department officers were assassinated in their parked patrol vehicle on December 20th, 2014, I was in Uniform on the other side of the country giving Christmas presents to a broken, downtrodden family. The plan started with striking a promise to bring gifts to one family I had encountered during a disturbance. As this country is filled with generous souls, word spread via family members and people I do not know contributed what little they had to assist those less fortunate.

More money than I ever expected or requested came rapidly and continued to flow from those great people who truly recognized the need for assisting others. I personally know none of the people who contributed, nor did those contributing know the family in need. Two amazing women put the plan together on a whim and I am eternally grateful for the joy my Wife and her Cousin brought to the people of our communities.

As with all great acts of charity, the plan grew. Since I was scheduled to work Christmas Day this year, I brought several more wrapped toys and gifts and presented them to my partners in briefing for distribution to the public. Eager Peace Officers carried the wrapped presents with them and they were distributed to children across our area during calls for service. This was not a political move by our Department, nor was the plan approved by our leadership. It was simply humanity giving to humanity.

We have many more gifts to give and I am confident by Christmas many more will be made available to those who possess much less. Peace Officers do not despise the public, nor do they turn a blind eye to those less fortunate. We desire greatly for friends, family and community members to live their lives in peace. Removing the burden of violent criminals who pathetically prey upon those who are perceived to have “more” is our primary function. Productivity cannot survive while the threat of violence looms over a great people. Lives matter, it is true. People matter. And that is why we are here and no matter what happens; I shall never stop loving the communities I serve.

This is a private letter to those whom I consider my closest friends and family. Pictures of these events are attached so we may all see the joy of peace during a blessed season and perhaps divert somber thoughts, temporary as they may be. I desire no fame, no glory, and no thanks. It is truly I who must thank all of you for continued patriotism, ethical progression and hard work during a difficult age.

Keep faith in your communities and fellow man regardless of race, creed, sex, or religion as our forefathers intended. Give no quarter to those who threaten our freedom and seek vengeance as an answer for self-induced misery. Vengeance is reprehensible to a lawful, civilized, independent nation and we shall continue to serve under darkening skies.

It matters not to me who you are. If you need help and I recognize it I shall always do as I can. If I do not recognize it, reach out to me and I will serve until death. We all shall. May God bless all of you and this distinguished nation of free people.

Salvator Vitale Sherrif2

Salvator Vitale Sherrif 1