Make Someone Happy

Homeless shelterBy Judy Berman

One wintry evening in Syracuse, New York, an unlikely group gathered for a good meal and conversation.

Our companions were from all walks of life. At our table: a college student, a reporter (me), an advocate for the homeless and two homeless men. Mismatched for sure, but we had a wonderful time.

I don’t recall what we talked about or even what we ate. What I do remember is I was sad to see the evening draw to a close. Yet the afterglow of that shared experience makes me happy just thinking about it.

It brings to mind the tune, “Make Someone Happy.” Jimmy Durante’s sings: “Make just one someone happy, and you will be happy, too.”

While Durante’s singing about making someone you love happy, the song applies to all those we meet. When we reach out to others, we make their life better. That good feeling is contagious.

OK, the world might still have been the same when we stepped back on the sidewalk. But that encounter can make a difference to those we meet. I know it did for me.

The power of a smile and a kind word can be transforming.

“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.” (John Ray)

May you have many moments of joy to share this holiday season and in 2014.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Music video: Sleepless in Seattle – song “Make Someone Happy” by Jimmy Durante 

Photo: Homeless shelter – Boston (Feb. 2, 2007) – Sailors assigned to guided missile cruiser USS Mahan (DDG 72) serve lunch to homeless veterans at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans.

  1. It’s good to do things like this sometime – in fact we should all do them often. Eating with complete strangers is often very rewarding, and something I haven’t done in a while. I shall have to arrange one! 🙂 It’s lovely when a particular meal is memorable for how it was cooked or presented, but the feeling of good conversation or even just cheering someone else up who has less than you or is having a bad time, is far more memorable, and certainly makes eating out a less wasteful use of precious money!

    I hope you have some more moments like these Judy, and also that you had a enjoyable Thanksgiving! 😀

    1. There are other special moments like this one, Suzy. But this one was unique in that we got to have a one-on-one conversation.

      Thank you. We did have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrating with our family. 🙂

  2. Beautiful, Judy.
    We’ve volunteered at The Thrift House and the Misson, for helping with clothing and meals. At the Mission, in the prep kitchen and above the clean up counters, there are simple, hand-printed signs reminding us, “There, but for the grace of God, I go.”

    1. On another occasion, outside a place that provided meals to the homeless, a man, who gave his name as “Mike from the Klondike,” asked that I get a copy of a song for him: Hank Williams’ “Men With Broken Hearts.” By the time I found it, he was nowhere to be found. The gist of it is that the same God that made us also made them. Here’s a link to the song that the poster reminds us about those in the service who’ve come home from combat with broken bodies and spirits.

  3. Thank you Judy for that beautiful reminder. Your video links always stir such nostalgia!! 🙂 Rather belated Thanksgiving wishes to you. Hope you had a wonderful day.

    1. Jimmy Durante’s song does bring back many wonderful memories. Thank you for the Thanksgiving wishes. I’m sure you have a similar holiday of thanks. Whenever it is, I wish you and your family the very best as well.

  4. Dear Judy,

    Your post has left a warm feeling inside.

    I suppose it comes down to being grateful. Grateful and at peace with our own situation. Grateful for getting the opportunity to meet new folks and listening to their life stories and experiences.This mindset and attitude allows us to reach out to others. And as we reach out, we find others reciprocating and reaching back to us. It is this reaching out that creates that warmth inside.

    I can say this with some assurance as I have also gone through phases of self inflicted misery which arose when being engrossed with that “Me-Self” part ,I hesitated to reach out to others. I cocooned myself, little realising that I occurred to others as a self serving and unfriendly individual. When others changed their behaviour towards me accordingly, I was quick to blame and criticise. And emotions filled with suspicion and jealousy boiled over.

    The path that we follow between these two extremes remains our choice.

    Thank you for allowing me to muse thus.


    1. Dear Shakti …

      I’m touched by your response especially after reading your post on the “being human” organization.

      The event I wrote about happened years ago and follows an example my parents did when I was a teen. I remember my folks helping a man who had been fired from a neighboring farm and left on his own in the middle of winter. I wrote about him Nov. 12, 2011, “A Man in the Garage and Ted Williams.”

      When I see a homeless person, I often think of him. We didn’t know him, but they didn’t want to turn him away. Dad let him stay overnight in our detached garage and my Mom fixed him a hot meal. In the morning, my Dad started making calls to find help for the man. The Salvation Army offered him food, shelter and some work. It was a 30-mile drive, but it was the man’s best option and Dad drove him there.

      Caring for one another is why we are here. Like you, I am also grateful and at peace. I’d like to reach out and do more.

      I appreciate your presence.


  5. We need more posts like this during the holiday season, Judy. With all the commercialism, the message of bringing someone joy (and not with a brand new car or shiny piece of jewelry) seems to be getting lost.

  6. The world needed so much of these. Of people making other people happy. Of people seeing others for who they are as a person, as a child of God instead of what society labels them or what status they are. A post with a gift of hope, love, generosity and many more. Happy Holidays.

    1. Thank you, Island Traveler. Sometimes all any one needs is some one to just listen. In this hectic world, we need to slow down and take time to do just that. 🙂 Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  7. A beautiful post by a beautiful person.

    Oh, wait– I guess that could describe all your posts… : )

    Really enjoyed this one, Judy. It is indeed amazing, the power of a shared meal. The world does seem the same afterwards, but then you realize it’s not. It’s subtly different because you’re different: you’ve experienced the goodness of ordinary people, the joy of human bonding and understanding. We need to hold tight to those memories.

    Thanks a heap, amigo– you are The Anti-Grinch!! : )

    1. Every experience shapes you. This one – for the better. I’m glad I went. The college student who went with me is someone who I still keep in touch with. Thank you for the compliments, especially me being Tne Anti-Grinch. I just don’t look good in green. 😉

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