tv NBC Bay Area News Special Bay Area Proud NBC September 22, 2018 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT
they are the people who make the bay area proud. tonight, we celebrate their stories, 500 and counting. here are nbc bay area's raj mathai and janelle wang. raj mathai: good evening and thanks for joining us for a special night here on nbc bay area. we hear this a lot, especially nowadays, right? "how come local and national news is always bad and so negative?" janelle wang: true, it's our job as a journalists to expose the news of corruption, crime, and disaster. but if that's all we did, we wouldn't be giving you an accurate view of the world around us. raj: so six years ago, we made a unique promise, not just to report all the bad news. we wanted to share more positive stories about our community. and that's how "bay area proud" series was born. janelle: it's been an incredible ride. nbc bay ar's guide on this journey into goodness. he joins us now with the look back at some of the most unforgettable from the past 500 stories. garvin thomas: janelle, raj, i've often told you guys,
leading the "bay area proud" series is the best job in all of television news. celebrating week in and week out the best in ourselves. raj: well tonight, we're happy to be launching a new series-- garvin: the very first "bay area proud" aired on january 10, 2012. he told the story of san jose's heritage home, a shelter for homeless, pregnant women. gregory: you know, here looks like a little wild. garvin: helping the homeless is a theme that would appear time and time again throughout the "bay area proud" series. gregory: this strip is real-- garvin: like our story on gregory kloehn, artist who scours the piles of illegally dumped trash in his west oakland neighborhood. then uses the materials to build, small portable homes for those living in the streets. ron powers: so what it is, i got a van-- garvin: we told you about ron powers, the apple engineer, who converted a used van into a mobile laundromat, so he can wash and dry the clothes of the homeless. ron: lord, we know that you love roger-- garvin: while he prays with them.
walter barnes: alright, here you go. garvin: but give it to walter barnes for coming up with a unique way to bring joy to those who could really use some. we shared how this formerly homeless, former minor league ballplayer was helping those who helped him. the downtown streets team, walter says, were some of those people. a nonprofit that works to get the homeless and low-income back on their feet by getting them jobs did just that for him. walter: if you have any problems, that's my number. you can call me. garvin: now housed and employed and married, walter is still with the team busy helping others get off the streets. walter: we're on a roll. we batting first. garvin: and for the first time this year-- walter: so get ready, get loose. garvin: getting them on the field. walter is now managing downtown streets' his players, homeless and low-income people, who can forget at least one night a week about their struggles and worry about their team. walter: we're only down by 12. i try to make it fun.
it's not about winning. you come out there, enjoy yourself. if you catch one, you catch one. if you don't, you don't. garvin: walter says the experience is not only doing wonders for his players' attitudes but showing other teams a side of the homeless population they might not otherwise see. and creating a playing field more level than most. walter: we're people also; we're no different. some of them they have some tough luck, some of them made some bad choices. but they're still people, and you know, they're still worth fighting for. garvin: people doing good deeds for each other has always been at the heart of what the "bay area proud" series is all about. male: thirty-three, can you hold up from the back lot? garvin: take joe garcia, the petaluma code enforcement officer who, instead of handing out a ticket, lent a hand to an 89-year-old world war ii veteran to fix up his home. or the students at san jose's branham high school setting out
every single year to grant as many of their classmates' wishes as possible. some small, many life-changing. david perez: it was hard to watch. garvin: and when david perez's elderly fremont neighbor needed help fixing his roof, he put a call out for help. and we were there to witness the response. and in the middle of it all, watching it all, a little stunned, was the homeowner, richard dubiel. richard says he'd been losing his faith in his fellow man over the years. and these folks had turned out weren't just repairing his roof, they were repairing his soul. richard dubiel: because i was getting pretty discouraged about what people want to do and what people do to each other that's not good. and now, i can see that it's not always that way. garvin: with so many hands, the work went quickly, and it was just afternoon, that the last shingle was ready to be laid. and they asked richard to finish what he had started.
all: woo! garvin: his roof now ready to handle any water that may fall. be it rain in the winter or tears today. david: it's a little emotional. just all the people that came out and helped and just got it done so quickly. it's amazing. male: now these guys will start showing in just a minute. garvin: but as often as people helped each other, we saw them just as eager to help the other creatures around them.tortses-- female: there you go. garvin: to the marin woman singlehandedly responsible for saving hundreds of rabbits' lives to chris sontag-ratti looking for a way to best honor a dog he named everything. the best friend he lost to cancer. two years later, it still hurts.
chris sontag-ratti: this is, like, my favorite picture i have of us. garvin: but if time wouldn't heal the wound, perhaps kindness might ease the pain. it's why last month chris put this post on instagram, promising to send anyone a free tennis ball if they just promise to use it to play with their dog like chris wishes he could his. he started with a 100 balls and low expectations. chris: i figured i was going to be sitting in my room with about 80 or 90 tennis balls. but it didn't happen like that. garvin: chris exhausted his initial supply practically overnight. and now has a waiting list hundreds of dogs long. people from around the country, even the world, sending in requests with notes of thanks and encouragement and then sending back proof of chris's good deed. chris: it wasn't just about everything, you know, and myself. itffecting other people and like getting them
in contact with their pets. so that maybe just a backyard dog on a chain, you know. so hopefully they'll let the dog off the chain and throw the ball or something, you know. garvin: it's a lesson all of us can learn from really. if you ever feel like you've lost everything, just throw a little love out into the world and watch it brought right back to you. male: i can't find the words to thank you all enough. garvin: no matter what the subject matter, the "bay area proud" series has always been at its best, though, when it has been there to witness some of life's most touching moment. the moment a young woman with cerebral palsy gets to enjoy a playground built for people just like her. the moment a violin player facing terminal cancer gets to share his passion one last time. male: oh man, i can't tell you-- garvin: the moment a man, his life saved by a trio of young people, gets the chance to thank them in person. male: you're a good man, thank you.
garvin: or the moment when ron "mo" molina, the ailing antioch high school choir teacher is given a surprise concert by the students who love him. male: so come on in. garvin: they got mo to the hall by telling him it was a regular music masters winter concert. male: we'll get you seated, and we'll get things going. garvin: but when old friends greeted him at the door-- ron mo molina: hey, hi guys. garvin: and more filled the seats, ♪ ♪ more familiar place and garvin: mo began to realize there was nothing regular about this event. ♪ we wish you a merry christmas ♪ garvin: still it wasn't until his old students flooded the aisles and filled the stage that the same thing happened to his heart. mo: oh, look at 'em. garvin: it is one thing to be told that your life matter. to be told that you made a difference in this world-- mo: holy mackerel-- garvin: it is quite another to have 150 voices deliver that message in perfect harmony.
♪ mo: oh, just unbelievable to look up and see 'em all. garvin: the only thing better would be to lead those voices, perhaps for the last time. ♪ ♪ the lord bless you and keep you ♪ garvin: which is just what mo did. ♪ ♪ amen mo: love you guys. [choir cheering] rvinit is only fitting to follow all that good news with some more good news. we heard from mo recently, and he tells his health has recovered.
announcer: coming up on this "bay area proud" 500th episode special. female: miracles happen every day. and sometimes they're just the small ones, like getting out of bed. announcer: the inspiring journey of the wedding planner at the center of "bay area proud's" most popular story ever. california had the worst wildfire season on record. scientists say, our weather is becoming more extreme and we all have to be better prepared. that's why pg&e is adopting new and additional safety precautions to help us monitor and respond to dro hi, i'm allison bagley, a meteorologist with pg&e's community wildfire safety program. we're working now, to enhance our weather forecasting capabilities, building a network of new weather stations to identify when and where extreme wildfire conditions may occur, so we can respond faster and better. we're installing cutting edge technology to provide real-time mapping and tracking of weather patterns.
now, i want to share a secret with you the viewers. these two people sitting next to me are my favorite "bay area proud" audience. every time a story airs, i get to watch it with them. you guys see it for the first time when you're at the anchor desk, so what happens is i get to watch your reactions to the stories. and by how you react, that's how i know if i did my job. is the message getting through? is janelle going [gasping] at the right time? raj: no, it's janelle often crying. janelle: yeah, i'm crying after every story. raj: so emotional, let's get it straight. garvin: and it's raj, it's you asking a question. and then the very next line of the story answers it. and that i know i did my job, like i answered--that's the
question viewers have, and i got to answer it. raj: we said at the top of the program we get so many times the community, "hey, what's going with the news? it's so negative." or, "hey, we love that segment where people are actually smiling or community involvement." it's a great part of the newscast, so important for us. janelle: yeah, our viewers remember your stories. that's what we get asked about when we go out. "oh, we love that story that garvin did." and it makes us feel really proud to be part of this-- garvin: you guys have been so supportive over the years, so i thank you. janelle: yeah, there's so many favorites. it's really hard to narrow it down, but one that i will always remember is about that 90-year-old, wealthy, oakland businessman who like turned down a big board seat to do this, like volunteer at a hospital. garvin: cornell meyer is his name. and yes, he was a wealthy businessman. he had given so much money to what was then oakland children's hospital that they offered him a seat on the board of directors, and he said, "no, i don't want to do that. i want to do this. i want to go to the neonatal intensive care unit and hold babies, because as you guys know,
that is one wonderful medicine for the babies. and having volunteers who can give parents a break in that time. and so here's this man, i think what i said at the time was, he sat on a lot of boards. and he knows that it's nothing like this. so, and he says having one of those babies with him cheek-to-cheek is the greatest thing in the world. raj: how do you find the stories? i know early in stories one through ten you were digging around, "hey garv, i need help." but now from 200 on, i think you're flooded, because i get flooded my inbox of, "hey, can you send this garvin? this is a great community story." garvin: social media's been great. you know, facebook and twitter, garvinthomas. just wanna let everybody know. so social media is great. so i get a lot of ideas. but just people reaching out. we've gotten the message out that if you know somebody who's done something good for somebody else. it's that simple, doesn't have to be huge. it can just be one person helping another. raj: okay, of the 500, the one that stuck out to me wasn't that long ago. maybe a year or two ago.
the rescue and they said they were going to have to amputate the guy's leg. and all of a sudden, someone said, "wait, i got an idea." and take it away. garvin: it was in san francisco, and there was a car wreck. and the car was so wrapped around this tree, they couldn't get the person out. and they had called san francisco general to surgeon come out and do an amputation in the field. but then the chief on scene looked around, and he saw two tow trucks. and although he had never heard of anybody doing this, never seen it done before, he asked the two trucks to hook up to each end of the car. they went the opposite directions, pulled the car apart. and as you can see not only saved the man's life but he's w ableo walk up and thank them as well. these have been--i always tell people that i keep 'cause i get to do the greatest variety of stories. and rescue stories are some of my favorite. there's the tugboat guys who rescued somebody in the sea a mile out from the golden gate. to alameda county deputies who, when a--they were
in a transport, prison transport, that was burning, filled with smoke, they went in and unlocked every cage in there and got everybody out. and they all survived. so i love sharing those stories as well. janelle: yeah, speaking of fires, we have suffered so many huge devastating wildfires in the past few years. and i think many of your stories are things that we feel the same way, like, "how can we help, how can we help these people?" and i remember a local teacher was helping a community in the lake county fire a few years ago. garvin: that's right, it was the valley fire. candy alcott. a livermore preschool teacher and she just felt compelled to go do something. so she put a bunch of stuff in the car and drove up and she handed out some bikes. and after all the bikes were gone, one boy came up to her and said, "do you have another bike?" and she looked at hid rose. i will come back." and boy, did she come back. she kept coming back and kept coming back. hundreds of bicycles. and now it continues, 'cause obviously fires are a continuing issue around here.
she now responds in all of these communities to help people recover. janelle: i know, she started it with just a few bikes. but then everybody jumped on board. like students were fixing up bikes, donating bikes. i mean it was like a community effort. everybody kind of joined in, and it was so successful. i mean those kids needed something. they lost so much. raj: that seems of what happens. you always do a story, and it's always like, people say, they watch it, or they see it online. and say, "you know what, we can help do it, so let's jump on board with what garvin started." that's nice. garvin: it's wonderful thwals, and people get in and help. so thank you guys again so much for being such a big part of this. raj: hey, you're not stopping the series, right? garvin: no, no-- raj: this is not the swan song. garvin: we'll be back in just a moment with more unforgettable "bay area proud" moments. announcer: still ahead, their story went viral. the stray in need of rescuing and the little girl who succeeded where all others had failed. up next, how this seven-year-old dog whisperer is handling
stories are so heartwarming. they get so much mileage on social media. but none more so than the one we're talking about now. garvin: janelle, the story of a little girl rescuing stray dog sounds simple, but it went worldwide. garvin: it was in december of 2016 that karen topping and her then six-year-old daughter, meghan, got into their pickup truck and drove from their morgan hill home to hollister. a dog, daisy, that they had fostered for a couple of weeks had run away from its new home. and in spite of the best efforts of an experienced team of animal rescuers, daisy remained on the loose for two whole months. until that is, meghan went to have a talk with her. meghan topping: she told me--' cause you can talk to dogs in your brain, and she told me that if mom stayed in the truck, she would come to me.
so and i believed it. garvin: which is exactly what happened. now, karen already knew her daughter had an uncanny knack with animals. they had worked with and trained hundreds of rescued and feral ones at home. but what karen could not have guessed that day is just how many millions of people-- karen topping: i am so proud of my kid. garvin: would end up watching the video she took. karen: it was such a fun, fun rollercoaster with that whole thing. garvin: "the ellen show" called, and meghan was offered her very own cable reality show. so where will you find meghan today? anrvin: well, right where showme ceran: i'm with the horss all day every day. will you low prat with me today? garvin: it turns out the deal wasn't right for meghan. karen: when it became really invasive in our private life and it would've sacrificed who she was in her life, i said no. meghan: and if you cluck to her she will move.
garvin: which is not to say you won't eventually see meghan on tv or in front of crowds. her family knows there is something special about this little girl. and one day, it may help them reach people and help more animals. but only when it's right for her. until then, well, she'll just keep talking to her animals. meghan: it's the same thing, little bud milk. announcer: up next, an update to the story that captured viewers across the nation. a beautiful bride with a deadly disease. and the wedding planner who helped make her dream a reality.
area proud" series, it's that the people who do good often get back way more than they give. erica: so what we're going to do with that is-- garvin: although in july of 2013, it was difficult to see how erica becks could ever possibly get back more than she was giving jen lang. jen lang: i think that it's amazing, like the generosity in her heart. garvin: in a mere two weeks, erica, a wedding planner, organized for jen, a woman she barely knew, a $50,000 wedding, for free. female: they're going to go on the-- garvin: jen, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, wanted to celebrate and not mourn the last few months of her life. and erica made that happen. erica: it was magical, truly magical. it was the best day of my life, still is. garvin: but it was from that high perch that erica's life soon began to fall apart. erica: i went from having some of the best days of my life
in that wedding and the days after to then experiencing some of the most horrific days of my life. garvin: in quick succession, not only did jen die but then erica's husband, her mother, and mother-in-law all passed away. the closest people in her life gone. erica: and i fell into the deepest, darkest depression i've ever been in my life. that was hard; that was scary, and i felt really alone. garvin: there were days erica says she could not get out of bed. erica: and thank you all so much for having me. i'm really excited to be here today. garvin: so, how did she climb out of that hole? how is she now giving talks on the subject of resilience? erica: it's just about getting back up. garvin: well, erica says, she ultimately realized she once had an amazing teacher. erica: jen showed up on the scene for a reason.
and jen was teaching me something really powerful at the time that i didn't know. erica: so the third thing that jen taught me about. garvin: the lessons jen in her dying days taught erica are the cornerstones of the talk she now gives. erica: about perseverance and about connecting and letting people in. and about dreaming, visualizing the future that's brighter than the one that you have currently in the present moment. garvin: when she thinks back on that magical day, erica knows there are some who focus on the price tag of that wedding, that gift to jen. of course, only now, does she truly understand that what she got in return was priceless. garvin: to see more "bay area proud" stories, and if you have a story idea for me, find me on facebook, twitter, or instagram. janelle: well, that's our show. thank u raj: goodnight, we look forward to 500 more.