tv NBC Bay Area We Investigate NBC November 20, 2021 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
a little bit brighter for others. now, it's true that sometimes a remarkable act of kindness only happens to fix an unkind act, and that's the case with our first story which played out on the streets of one of san francisco's most iconic neighborhoods. ♪♪♪ garvin: san francisco's chinatown likes to boast it's the biggest one there is outside of asia-- officer william ma: hello, ling lei. garvin: --but spend just a little time walking the beat with officer william ma, and suddenly chinatown seems very small-- william: hello, lee ho. garvin: --as in small-town small. every few feet, william runs into someone he knows. william: so, every time we walk, when we talk to people, they always say, "hi." we talk to people, greet them by their first names. william: [speaking chinese] garvin: this is, william says, his dream job, the kind of policing that's not just catching the bad guys but making sure their victims feel taken care of. william: if they're not getting treated right,
they get re-victimized. garvin: and there could be no better example of that than what happened around here in early july. officers answering a call found a 62-year-old chinese-speaking woman who had apparently been abandoned there by her family. knowing william speaks both cantonese and mandarin, they called him on his day off to help. william: it was actually really sad 'cause the moment we facetimed and i was talking to her, she didn't even know she was abandoned. she asked me, "hey, when can i go home?" how can someone do that? and when that happens, that grandma becomes everyone's grandma. garvin: at that point, it seems all of central station and many others in the community sprang into action. william says close to 100 phone calls were placed in just a few hours to try and find housing for the woman. william: well, it almost went to that point where the last resort was to bring her to a homeless shelter, and for an old chinese grandma that doesn't speak english, has all her belongings in a garbage bag,
has to use a walker, that is the very last place we wanna put her. william: [speaking chinese] garvin: and thanks to all that effort, they didn't have to. a local nonprofit found a room where the woman is now staying. what's more, william and his partner, loren chu, stopped by almost every day to make sure she has what she needs. it's the kind of thing people do in a small town, no matter how big it is. william: i like to think of all the chinatown grandmas as my grandmother. garvin: now, since our story first aired, things have only gotten better for the woman they call "grandma." on her birthday, officer ma arranged a motorcycle parade for her. they've also found her an apartment, a permanent place to live in chinatown to be closer to the community that cares for her. garvin: now, with "bay area proud" stories, we normally save the lesson we learn until after we've shared the details. but this next story, though, i'll start with it. it's simple, really. if you're in a tough spot and need help, ask for it.
it's what one single mom, new to an east bay neighborhood, did with amazing results. garvin: this is a story that both begins and ends with a woman crying but, as you'll see, for two very different reasons. the first cry happened this summer in this parked car, christina sellers in the driver's seat. christina sellers: i told myself-- i'm gonna try to say this without crying, but i told myself, "i'm gonna give you ten minutes to cry." garvin: it was the culmination of a very rough year for the 33-year-old mother of two. she's going through a divorce, moved to a new city, martinez, and lost her brother in a motorcycle accident, crushing, really, both emotionally and financially. christina: i had a lot of bills to pay, a lot of debt that i'm working off, and i had found myself in a position financially where i had $50 in my account. garvin: and that is what led christina to allow herself
ten minutes of tears in the 2004 pontiac vibe, but that was it. christina: i also told myself, after ten minutes, you're gonna do something about it. garvin: that something was a soul-bearing post to the "martinez raves and rants" facebook page. spelling out her situation in detail, christina asked her new community for help, particularly people willing to hire her to clean their homes. she expected maybe one or two jobs out of it. christina: i never expected what happened to happen. i never expected--i got so many job offers not just for cleaning. garvin: and not just job offers but donations of supplies for her and her children and countless words of welcome, support, and encouragement, exactly when christina needed them the most. christina: i have been sobbing every day since, so i did not expect the generosity, the love, the support that i've received. garvin: and every moment since, when christina is not with her kids, she is busy cleaning for her new client,
busy getting her life back on track. it can take a lot of bravery to ask complete strangers, particularly on the internet, for help, but for christina, those strangers were nothing more than her new neighbors happy to welcome her to town. christina: martinez has really blown me away. i'm here for the long haul. garvin: our next story is also about a community coming together to help someone in need, not with a job or even money but something, at least to one boy, much more valuable. garvin: our story begins with a scene i'm sure we've all witnessed once or twice, a child in tears at the local grocery store, but one day in july at scotts valley market, something looked a bit different, not so much with the child but his mother, at least that's how lisa brown saw it. lisa brown: i saw this look on her face that, as a parent,
you really connect with when your child's in distress, and this little boy was in full tears, inconsolable. bradley downing: really bad. garvin: the boy was six-year-old bradley downing, and the tears were because a binder with some of his most rare pokemon cards was missing. bradley: i was gonna sell 'em one day. garvin: they're worth a lot, bradley says. bradley: like, maybe like $10 million each. garvin: what had happened was bradley's mom, kelly, had put the binder on top of the car as they were about to leave the shopping center, then drove off. a mile later, they realized what had happened. frantically, they searched the road, looked into bushes and under parked cars, but nothing. they returned to the market to see if anyone there had seen the binder, which is when lisa encountered them. lisa: i asked her if she had thought about reaching out on the local facebook groups which i've watched people extend themselves beyond measure to help out in any way possible, and she told me she didn't really utilize
social media much. garvin: so lisa decided to make the post. she asked on a local facebook group if anyone had seen the binder. sadly, no one had, but then person after person chimed in, offering to replace the little boy's lost cards. erin buchla: i'm erin. this is my cafe. come on in. garvin: erin buchla, owner of cruise coffee cafe, saw the posts and the responses and offered to host a party where everyone could get together-- bradley: i lost my crayon. garvin: --which is why dozens of children and adults gathered to deliver hundreds of pokemon cards-- [bradley gasps] bradley: perfect pikachu. garvin: --to a very grateful boy and his even more grateful mother. kelly: it's awesome. it's unbelievable. so blessed. bradley: whoa, shiny, holographic. garvin: now, to be honest, many of the cards donated weren't as valuable as the ones bradley lost-- bradley: this is first edition. garvin: --at least not to their former owners, but right now, you'd have to call them priceless.
something still greatly appreciated. marie bernard: what we're doing today is we're actually-- got bags of food that are ready to go, pre-packed. garvin: of all the things sunnyvale community services does to help local families in need-- marie: go boxes are over here. garvin: --executive director marie bernard says the yearly school supply giveaway is one of her favorites. marie: this is one of our most important and most joyful events of the whole year. garvin: so when nearly 2,000 boxes of school supplies were ordered well ahead of this year's giveaway, all looked good. it looked even better when the boxes were shipped from the supplier in indiana, pennsylvania, to a warehouse in memphis, tennessee, but then-- marie: they were sitting there and sitting there and sitting there, and the shipping company was clearly overcome with orders and lack of drivers. garvin: suddenly, this one delivery became marie's full-time obsession-- marie: i said, "we've gotta get this out of memphis. i'm not taking 'no' for an answer."
barry vickrey: we need to start now. garvin: --which is why, less than a week before the event, when it was becoming clear the supplies might not make it in time, marie turned for help to people she knew could get things done: members of her local rotary club. barry vickrey: today we have the pleasure-- garvin: it turned out rotary president barry vickrey used to live in tennessee and knew people who knew people. marie: it was just this incredible network, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, and one person said, "well, i don't know what it is, but i'm gonna go call this person, and you'll get a call from somebody, and you may get an e-mail from this person, and we're gonna do this." garvin: three memphis rotary clubs sprang into action, and even executives at fedex got involved, arranging for a lone driver to make the mad 2,000-mile dash across country, pulling up just hours ahead of the children and their families. "walter" was the driver's name. marie: i don't know how he was still standing. he must have been exhausted, but he had a big grin,
and what he said was "i heard you really needed this by tomorrow." it was--i still-- it's overwhelming. garvin: so the 2021 grade-school supply rescue mission was a success, and hundreds of children in need entered this school year a little better prepared, thanks to a network of strangers across the country, who really delivered. garvin: there are so many people in our communities that have hidden talents. the barista who served your coffee might be a talented musician, or your neighbor, an aspiring writer. or maybe it's your bus driver who has a hidden talent, one that's not so hidden anymore. garvin: if you ever find yourself hopping on a vta bus, route 522, in particular, and discover danny quintana behind the wheel, well, here are a few things to know about danny. first is that he loves driving that bus.
danny quintana: absolutely zero stress while i'm driving that bus--zero. so it's like a vacation. like, when i'm drivin' the bus, it's like a vacation. garvin: danny says his bus driving dreams go way, way back to his childhood-- danny: six years old. six years old. garvin: --when he was growing up poor in san francisco. and the bus? well, that was his escape. danny: it was just a way to get away and talkin' to the bus drivers who were always nice, and, you know, you spend hours with them. garvin: now, the second thing you should know about danny is that bus driving isn't the only thing he loves and, apparently, not the only thing he's good at. just check out vta's customer service center in downtown san jose these days, and that art on the wall? well, that's danny's. danny: i'll look at one of my photos, and i'll say, "did i take that photo?" like, you know, like, surprised at what you took. this is a photo of the salesforce building in the back.
garvin: danny says he's always loved taking pictures but only got serious about street photography as an art form a few years ago. under his artist name, dannyboy4one5, danny is getting more and more recognition for and sales of his work. danny: it took a life of its own. like, a lot of my friends were like, "dude, do you know what you're doin'?" i was like, "i didn't really know." and, yeah, it just took a life of its own. garvin: the final thing to know about danny is that you will find a lot of buses in his artwork-- danny: so everything here i'm workin' on. garvin: --and doing in the process something, honestly, any of us would be fortunate to accomplish. he loves to combine the things he loves and is doing it to great success. danny: i mean, it's my life. you know, like, i grew up on a bus, ridin' around on a bus, i drive for the bus--why not? i mean, and they're are pretty vehicles, you know?
garvin: as students return to los gatos high school, there are sure to be lots of stories about what friends did over the pandemic, about tiktok dances learned and sourdough bread baked. emerson morely: we're nominee at san francisco indie short festival. garvin: but emerson morely has a very different story to share in more ways than one. emerson made a movie and, in the process, found herself. emerson: when i was on set, filming that movie, that was the first time in my life that i felt like, "this is right." garvin: things, you see, had been feeling wrong for emerson since she was a little girl. it was in first grade that a learning disability began to make school a struggle. emerson: all my friends are moving on, and i can't, so then it became a super-anxious kind of nervous situation. garvin: it got so bad over the years that
on emerson's very first day at los gatos high, she didn't make it through the day. emerson: i walked outside and just completely lost it. had, like, a full-blown panic attack. garvin: emerson kept coming back though until, of course, the pandemic started, and students everywhere were ordered to stay home. it was surprisingly freeing for emerson. emerson: there was nothing telling me, "you're not good enough," "you're not smart enough," "you're not gonna make it," "you're not--" whatever. that didn't exist. garvin: it was a realization emerson wanted to share, so she sat down to write. in seven days, she had a screenplay for a movie loosely based on her life. she searched out professionals to help her make it, and then use crowdfunding to raise the $15,000 needed to pay for it all. male: all right, action, guys. garvin: she and her crew shot over four days in february, edited for months after that-- male: this is the filmmaker. garvin: --and premiered her short film called "the valley"
at campbell's pruneyard cinema earlier this month. female: maybe then, i would be right. garvin: it's about a young woman growing up in high-pressure silicon valley, who realizes there is more to life than good grades, prestigious colleges, and high salaries. emerson: i'm just saying maybe our kids can be enough without having to prove that they're perfect and intelligent and wealthy and successful. garvin: a young woman not just saying she is enough but showing it for the whole world to see. garvin: still ahead, a man, his dogs, and an eight-year journey supporting others across the country, the challenges they're now up against, and what it means for their mission. ♪♪♪
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covered california. this way to health insurance. what looks like the end of a journey, one that has spanned thousands of miles over the course of a decade, bringing hope and healing to those who need it. garvin: in the lobby of a sunnyvale hotel-- daniel sievert: she can say, "hi." garvin: --daniel sievert is doing what he does best-- daniel: he's really gentle. garvin: --which is letting his dogs, emerson and cooper, do what they do best-- daniel: it's just me and these two guys. yes, we are the team. garvin: --giving comfort to anyone they meet but, most often, to those in difficult circumstances. daniel: we show up after traumatic things
that happen across the nation. garvin: it's a journey daniel and his dogs have been on for nine years but one, honestly, that started well before that. daniel: this was the adventure of a lifetime. garvin: when daniel was just 20, he made what he calls a poor choice. he climbed a power pole and got too close to the power. daniel: twelve thousand volts went through my body three times, thirty seconds each. garvin: daniel did go on to raise a family, but the accident lingered with him physically, emotionally, and financially. in 2013, daniel was living out of his car in san luis obispo with his two service dogs. it was then, though, the daniel heard the news about the boston marathon bombings. daniel says he also heard a voice telling him to go there and comfort the victims. daniel: pillows, blankets, luggage, waters, maps, dogs,
dog food, and we were on our way to boston, and that was a one-time journey, so i thought. garvin: they have been on the road ever since, more than 150,000 miles, traveling wherever a disaster, either natural or man-made, has left people needing comfort, and using his dogs to heal those people, helped heal daniel-- daniel: yes, i was saved for such a time as this. garvin: --which all explains why, in may, in the wake of the vta shooting, daniel and his golden mission came to the south bay-- daniel: so i got one that pulls like a sled and one i have to drag. garvin: --but that was months ago, and they are still here. well, it turns out health challenges for both daniel and his dogs are what stopped them at first, but staying in one spot, daniel has discovered there are people who could use the comfort of cooper and emerson, even without
a disaster, and so even if their traveling may finally be done, their mission is not. daniel: wherever i am at the moment, if we can infuse some hope in people, that's why i keep doing it. garvin: after watching these stories of people doing good for others, did it remind you of someone in your life? if so, i'd love to hear about them. send me a message on twitter, instagram, or facebook. just search "garvin thomas," or send me an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. you can catch new "bay area proud" stories every tuesdays and thursdays on "nbc bay area news" at 5. thanks for joining us. ♪♪♪