Letter from the Editor: A Rising Tide

Big drops in the ocean.

Mother Teresa once said about helping those less fortunate:  “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”

In today’s increasingly confrontational climate, every drop makes a difference. I thought about that a few weeks ago when reading about Kelsey Zwick, the mom who was traveling with her ill baby daughter from Orlando to a Philadelphia hospital. She boarded an American Airlines flight, settling into the crowded coach section with baby, diaper bag and oxygen tank in tow. But she had been seated only a few minutes when a flight attendant told her that a passenger in first class wanted to switch seats so that Zwick and her daughter, Lucy, could be more comfortable.

It brought the grateful mother to tears. Her subsequent post on social media included this message to the passenger, Jason Kunselman: “Thank you. Not just for the seat itself but for noticing. For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy. For deciding you wanted to show a random act of kindness to US. It reminded me how much good there is in this world. I can't wait to tell Lucy someday. In the meantime… we will pay it forward.”

I can’t help but think a lot more passengers will be giving up their seats in the same way. Kindness and helping others is contagious after all. My favorite stories include those of individuals picking up the tab for a group of police officers or military members sitting nearby at a restaurant. Or the generous person who strolls into a department store during the holidays and pays off the layaway bills of dozens of shoppers.

Here at Orlando magazine, we can’t get enough of good-news stories. So in this issue, we once again are embracing a Good Neighbors theme and rolling out stories of community angels. Their deeds are big drops in the ocean, beyond random acts of kindness: They have dedicated themselves in some way to working for good in our city. They range from volunteers who help memory-impaired seniors connect through music to a teenager who creates blankets for Down syndrome families. There also are stories of those who have overcome abuse and poverty and now help those who risk falling victim to the same circumstances. And not all the direct beneficiaries are human, as you’ll read in one piece about a man doing his part to save the planet.

Elsewhere this month, Michael McLeod prepares you for the arrival of the musical Hamilton at the Dr. Phillips Center. If you were lucky enough to score tickets—and even if you weren’t—you’ll enjoy his fascinating primer on how Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creation came to be. Meanwhile writer Jennie Hess catches up with Central Florida’s own Denée Benton, who has a starring role in the version of Hamilton still on Broadway. This is also our semi-annual Wedding edition and we have stories on everything from special-day perfumes to out-of-this-world cakes. And in our Dine section, Joseph Hayes explores the fantastic Indian cuisine at Southern Spice, and ventures to the Milk District’s one-of-a-kind Bad As’s Sandwich shop.

Speaking of eating, you have until Feb. 1 to vote in our annual Dining Awards poll. There are dozens of categories, and we have a new, improved ballot that makes it much easier to vote, especially using your smartphone. Your favorite local restaurants are depending on you! Go to www.orlandomagazine.com/promotions to cast your votes.

BARRY GLENN
BARRY.GLENN@orlandomagazine.com

Categories: Column