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In Memoriam: Mary Johnson-Roy

(Left-Right) Oshea Israel, Mary Johnson-Roy, and Ed Roy.

At StoryCorps, we mourn the loss of Mary Johnson-Roy, a cherished member of our family, who passed away on March 27, 2024, at the age of 71 after a four-year battle with Lewy Body Dementia.

Mary lost her only child, Laramiun Byrd, to gun violence in 1993. A dozen years later, she went to the penitentiary to visit Oshea Israel, the man who had taken her son’s life. After serving 15 years, Oshea was released from prison, and Mary brought him to StoryCorps to talk about the remarkable friendship they’d formed.

Mary continued to spread her message of the power of forgiveness through her organization, From Death To Life, a non-profit dedicated to ending violence through healing and reconciliation between families of victims and those who have caused harm. It was through her tireless work that Mary crossed paths with her future husband, Ed Roy, who had also experienced the loss of a son to homicide. In 2017, Mary returned to StoryCorps to share her love story with Ed. In 2023, Mary, Oshea, and Ed recorded their final StoryCorps conversation, documenting Mary’s illness and providing an update on their extraordinary bond.

From the moment I met Mary in 2011, to our last phone call just days before her death, I have been in complete and utter awe of her. The warmth, the sturdiness, the grace, and the brilliance that comes through in her StoryCorps interviews was magnified in person. She was a force of a woman and it’s been the honor of a lifetime getting to know her and her loved ones over the last 13 years. It’s hard to imagine the world without her in it, and we will all miss her terribly. That being said, she created such an enormous legacy, there’s no doubt her impact will be felt for decades to come.

Photo (c) Brian Mogren. Jasmyn with Facilitator Gaspar Caro during an interview with Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel in Minneapolis in 2011.

Thank you, Mary Johnson-Roy for teaching us all about what it means to be forgiving, generous, and loving. I know she believed she would be reunited with her beloved son, Laramiun, someday. I would love to think they are together again. Rest in peace, Mother Mary. — Jasmyn Morris

Mary’s impactful journey has become a timeless StoryCorps classic, prompting subsequent follow-ups with her. In honoring Mary’s memory, we invite you to listen to the powerful conversations she has shared with us over the years.

Mary’s loved ones have created a legacy fund in her name. More information can be found here.

Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel

She lost her only son to gun violence, but she found a way to forgive and formed a friendship to last a lifetime. One night, 16-year-old Oshea Israel got into a fight at a party. It ended when he shot and killed Laramiun Byrd, the only child of Mary Johnson. 11 years after the trial, Mary spoke to Oshea face to face.

As Her Memory Dims, One Remarkable Mother Remains A Beacon of Light

In honor of our 20th anniversary, Mary and Oshea returned to StoryCorps this year to reflect on how the foundation of forgiveness in their extraordinary connection has impacted their lives, and the lives of others.

Mother Mary

StoryCorps Then and Now: Mother Mary
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Mary Johnson-Roy first came to StoryCorps in 2011 to speak with Oshea Israel, the man who murdered her son. In the latest episode from our special series celebrating StoryCorps’ 20th anniversary, we’ll share updates on a conversation none of us imagined would happen back when StoryCorps started.

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Sibling Stories

A sibling relationship is special—filled with friendship, rivalry, and love. Whether they are inseparable from the start or share a bond that grows over time, siblings have a unique connection. From shared memories to shared clothes, explore stories that capture the joys and trials of growing up together.

Do you have a cherished memory with your sibling that you want to preserve? We invite you to share your stories of siblinghood! Show your loved ones that their stories matter by connecting with them for a StoryCorps conversation, preserving their narratives for generations to come. You can record in person using the StoryCorps App, or remotely using StoryCorps Connect.

Then and Now

As kids, siblings Melissa Wilbur and Janaki Symon hated each other. At StoryCorps, the sisters get real about how they felt growing up and the turning point in their relationship.

“It’s important to look after people.” A Big Brother Reflects on What His Younger Brother Taught Him. 

“And then another time I bit a horse.”
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The Rigano siblings, Denise, Phil, Lola, Adele, and Robbie, lived in 1960s New Rochelle, New York. Robbie, who is developmentally disabled, had a fondness for cars and often found himself in unusual situations.

In 2006, Phil took Robbie to record a conversation at the StoryCorps Mobile Tour. They revisited this experience 17 years later.

Twin Mortician Brothers Look Back On A Life Of Caring For The Dead

"I said that, one day, we're going to make sure that people be buried right."
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At 69, twins Melvin and Marvin Morgan worked as mortuary technicians in NYC. They’ve worked through some of the city’s most horrific events – moments like 9/11 and the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just before Melvin’s retirement in 2023, they came to StoryCorps to look back on a life of caring for the dead.

After Half A Century Apart, These Siblings Forged an Unbreakable Bond 

“Finding you took 55 years.”
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Misunderstandings about Leprosy, for centuries, led to the isolation of thousands of people, mostly Native Hawaiians, in Kalaupapa, Molokai. The disease’s transmission misconceptions disrupted many family ties. Doug Carillo and Linda Mae Lawelawe both share a connection to this history.

They came to StoryCorps to discuss how the disease and the policy of family separation shaped their lives.

A Sister Shares A Cherished Memory That Carried Her Through Childhood

“You know, there is nothing like ice cream to a kid. But there's also nothing like an unexpected treat to a poor kid.”
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During the 1980s, Amy McNally and Emily Fortner were raised by a single mom in rural Ohio. Whenever someone did come knocking on their door, it would be a hunter asking if they could track their deer onto their property.

In July of 2022, Amy came to StoryCorps to share one special childhood memory, and why it stood out to her.

Vietnam Separated Them, But These Brothers Stand Side By Side 

“We make it together.”
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Raised in a tight-knit family in 1950s Dearborn, Michigan, Ron Amen and his brother Alan were separated when Ron was drafted for the Vietnam War in 1965. Despite the distance, they maintained their close bond.

The brothers came to StoryCorps to reflect on their relationship, and to remember the effect war had on them — and their brotherhood.

A Good Man

Bryan Wilmoth and his seven younger siblings were raised in a strict, religious home.

At StoryCorps, Bryan talks with his brother Mike about what it was like to reconnect years after their dad kicked Bryan out for being gay.

‘A Package Deal’: Two Brothers Face Mortality Together

“I have to carry the cancer but you have to carry me.”
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In a touching story, David Carles and his little brother, Mark Carles faced a major life change in 2018 when Mark was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer. A year after that diagnosis, the brothers sat down at StoryCorps in New York City to talk about the ways Mark’s illness had changed their lives.

Unfortunately, Mark died on February 24th, 2022, at the age of 27. David returned to StoryCorps just a few days after his death to remember him.

Divided By Immigration Status: Brothers Reflect On Their Bond

"I hope you know that… I have your back.”
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Growing up in Bakersfield, California, Randy Villegas and his older brother Angel lived under the same roof, but in separate realities: Randy was a U.S. citizen, but Angel was undocumented. Angel, a DACA recipient since 2012, still faces uncertainty with his residency status.

The two siblings came to StoryCorps in 2020, when they were in their twenties, to talk for the first time about the moment Angel realized he was undocumented, and how that affected their relationship.

Chicago Siblings Remember Brother Lost To COVID and the Love He Left Behind

"Mauricio was able to teach us to live in the moment... life is a party. Enjoy it."
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Jorge and Jessica Valdivia admired their older brother, Mauricio, a vibrant individual who was the family’s rock. One memorable Christmas, Mauricio gifted Jorge his first Transformer. In April 2020, Mauricio, 52, died from COVID-19, leaving a significant void in his loved ones’ lives.

Jorge and Jessica came to StoryCorps to share their favorite memories of Mauricio and what he meant to them.

2 Sisters on Enjoying Life: “Instead of a Drama or a Novela, Make It a Sitcom” 

“There was a need in our family for us to be independent.”
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Brenda Ulloa Martinez and her sister, Corina Ulloa, grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles during the 1980s. Their parents, Irma and Arnulfo, worked in a factory and as a truck driver, respectively, before opening a bridal shop together. As their parents worked, the sisters often used public transport for school and came home to an empty house.

In 2010, they came to StoryCorps to share some of their hard-earned wisdom with the next generation: Brenda’s daughters, Camila Martinez and Isabela Martinez.

Two by Two

In the summer of 1946, Hunny Feller and her identical twin sister, Bunny, were waitresses at a hotel. Another set of identical twins, Elliot and Danny Reiken, worked as musicians in a band there. By the end of the summer, the two couples had become inseparable.

Watch Hunny and Elliot reflect on 61 years of marriage.

‘You Were Walking Rage’: Reclaiming A Broken Brotherhood

“I didn’t know if I would ever be close to anybody.”
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Growing up in a troubled home in Florida, the fights between Derrick Storms and his younger brother Raymond were legendary. They would end up taking completely different paths: Derrick joined the military right out of high school, and Raymond sang opera professionally and practiced reiki.

At StoryCorps in New York, they talked about how they reclaimed their brotherhood.

Adopted Woman Finds Siblings, Learns Family Secret

“I struggled with, maybe I should have stayed away.”
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Growing up knowing that she was adopted, Lisa Bouler Daniels began searching for her birth family as an adult. By the time she found them, both her birth mother and her adoptive mother had passed away. But she did track down her biological brother: Benjamin Chambers.

At StoryCorps in 2018, she tells the story of how her adoption unearthed a family secret that had been kept quiet for decades.

An Online Search for a Father Turns Up a Sister

"I just look forward to learning how to be a sister."
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When Courtney McKinney was 16 years old, she learned that she’d been conceived through anonymous sperm donation. As an adult, Courtney discovered she had a half-sister: Alexandra Sanchez. Theirs is one of the many families that have expanded as a result of online DNA testing.

At StoryCorps, Courtney told Alex how she’d set out looking for her father, and about the moment she found a sister instead.

Want even more stories?  Explore our archive for StoryCorps voices from across the United States and around the world!

Staff Spotlight: Von Diaz, Senior Producer

About Me: Von Diaz is an Emmy Award–winning documentarian, a food historian, and the author of Islas: a Celebration of Tropical Cooking, and Coconuts & Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, she works at the intersections of food, culture, history, and social justice. She is also the founder of La Piña—a Substack newsletter covering the people, ingredients, and systems that shape global cuisine. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Atlanta, GA, she explores the intersections of food, culture, and identity. She has contributed recipes and essays to a number of cookbooks and anthologies, is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, as well as the Washington Post, NPR, StoryCorps, Food & Wine Magazine, and Bon Appétit, among many others. In addition, she taught food studies and oral history at Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and she is also an editor and radio producer at StoryCorps, where she edits broadcasts for NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Weekend Edition.”

What is your role and how long have you been at StoryCorps?

I’m a Senior Producer. I first came to StoryCorps ten years ago as a Production Assistant before becoming an Initiatives Producer, a role that no longer exists. I oversaw the Military Voices Initiative (MVI) and Outloud and about a year later, I became a Producer for our broadcasts on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” 

In 2017, I stepped away to head up documentaries for Google Brand Studio and began to teach at Duke University. At the beginning of the pandemic, I came back to StoryCorps just as we transitioned to remote recordings. In 2022, I came back full-time here and was lucky to be part of the PBS “Frontline” collaboration Un(re)solved, which won an Emmy.

What does your job entail?

As Senior Producer, I edit the “Morning Edition” broadcasts with Annie Russell and we choose which recordings to air. For each potential broadcast, we’re usually looking at three to five options. I also oversee MVI, which runs on “Weekend Edition” and contribute to other audio projects across StoryCorps, as well as supervising a few producers. 

What are the rewards of your job?

Working at StoryCorps is immensely formative and gratifying. I wrote my first cookbook while at StoryCorps, and I would have people in the office taste the different recipes I’d bring in. Part of my job is to listen to interviews that could become broadcasts and the process has made me more empathetic and a much stronger storyteller. It has also informed my writing on food.

As a producer, working with people’s stories through their recordings is such a pivotal experience and you realize how meaningful the act of listening to someone’s story can be. We have to edit recordings down quite a bit for broadcast, so when participants tell us “You got me” or “You got it all in there,” it’s so meaningful and satisfying to hear. 

What are the challenges of your job?

There is so much wonderful content but we always have a number of considerations, including ensuring that each piece is fact checked—we have to meet the level of excellence that listeners expect from StoryCorps. 

Why should everyone record a conversation with StoryCorps?

StoryCorps has the largest single collection of voices on the planet—it was created as an oral history project for our country. Our archive contains so many different voices with amazing metadata. It’s really a remarkable resource. 

What’s your favorite StoryCorps story?  

I love this oldie but goodie: an animation called “The Bookmobile” about Storm Reyes who grew up in migrant farm worker camps and whose life was changed by a bookmobile. More recently, I’ve enjoyed this interview with Stephen Quandt about his work helping the dogs of Chernobyl—it’s a great example of amazing storytelling. 

A Spotlight on Richmond Resident and OSS Participant Peter Wood

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” 

That observation from the late author and educator Steven Covey might just have been uttered by Peter Wood — that is, before his One Small Step conversation. But talking to his partner recently served to renew his faith in being able to communicate authentically — and on a human level — with someone of a different upbringing and outlook.

“One of the challenges of this conversation was to go in with an open mind and heart,” he recalls. “When you’re in a situation like that, you’re already starting to formulate your answer, so you’re not really listening.”

A native of Great Britain, having grown up in various places in England and Scotland, Peter emigrated to the U.S. in the late ‘90s to take a position in advertising where he put his artistic and design skills to work on some big accounts. 

His childhood exposed him to a variety of people and a diversity of opinions. His Austrian mother hoped he would become a priest; Peter tried, but it didn’t take. But along the way, he learned how to engage with others.

“When I was in the dining room at boarding school, you were assigned to eat with the same eight people the entire year and you learned how to get along with other people. And when you’re in an all-boys Catholic school in Scotland, you learn to navigate these good, bad, and ugly interactions,” he says.

Today, when it comes to matters of disagreement, even among long-time friends, Peter laments what he calls “fading away.” These days, young people may call it “ghosting,” but it’s basically the ending of a relationship based on differences of opinion.

“You used to be able to disagree with someone, but respect them for what they did, for who they are,” he says. “That’s missing today, and it’s not just ‘I don’t like you, sir.’ It’s like you’re disrespecting their value in society, and that bothers me, and I’ve noticed that in more and more people. The gulf is widening, and I’ve lost friends because of it.”

That “chasm,” as he calls it, created some anxiety in the days leading up to his OSS conversation. How would he get along with this complete stranger, someone he knew beforehand might not share his perspectives, at least politically? 

“I thought, ‘Is this really going to be like an interview, where it’s a bit stiff, a bit awkward?’” he remembers. “But that feeling lasted about 20 seconds, and then we had a very relaxed, comfortable conversation.” Peter’s conversation partner turned out to be younger, and of a different gender and race.

Peter was struck by her candor and the emotions attached to her words, particularly when she shared her concern for the safety of her young children, growing up Black amid a society where life is challenging for people of color.

“She was incredibly smart in a way that I’ve not experienced because she comes from a different sensibility, and I was surprised at her openness, humbleness, honesty, and sense of self-worth. She forced me to think differently, and I was very taken aback by that.”

Guess you could say that Peter Wood was listening.

A Spotlight on Richmond Resident and OSS Participant Bill Oglesby

Bill Oglesby remembers the first time he got on Facebook.  It was back in the inchoate days of the platform, when it was restricted to those with a “dot.edu” email address. As a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, he qualified, despite his daughter’s protestations that he was interloping into her generation’s space.

Even so, he recalls being excited about this new online forum where he anticipated a healthy and civil exchange of ideas and information. But it was altruism that didn’t last, and the memory now evokes a mild chuckle, as Bill reflects on his naivety. 

“I had this idea that it [Facebook] was going to bring us together, people with different opinions and different ideas — not that anything would change each other’s minds, but at least we’d be listening to each other,” he says. “I was not anticipating the vitriol that would arise out of Facebook or the idea that people would feel somehow that their very existence was being challenged by hearing different points of view.”

At one point, some exchanges among his Facebook “friends” (which included people he had never actually met in person) grew testy, and for Bill at least, uncomfortably so. That’s when a half dozen of his Facebook followers hatched an idea that, looking back, was almost a prelude to One Small Step.  Let’s call it “One Small Sip.”

“Prior to COVID, there were about six or seven of us on Facebook, and we were having exchanges that were not always positive, and certainly there was a lot of disagreement, and it got to a point where we were starting to regard one another as enemies,” he recalls.  “But we decided to get together, and we went to Capital Ale House to finally meet face-to-face over a beer.  And you know what?  There was not a single angry word uttered during that meeting, and after a beer or two, I’d say we parted as friends.  It was a very positive experience.”  

And so, when Bill heard StoryCorps Founder and President Dave Isay speak at the Richmond Forum, he could look back on a similar experience that would validate the concept.  And even without the beers, he recalls looking forward to a conversation with someone new, someone who turned out to be similar to him in many ways – white, law school educated, around the same age.  And their differences politically turned out to be less pronounced than he had anticipated.

“What stands out about our conversation was actually the number of times that each of us said, ‘I agree with you,’” recalls Bill. “Looking back on it, we were both really working so hard to find that common ground that we didn’t get too deeply into the differences.”

As if to come full circle, Bill ended up sharing a post about his OSS experience on Facebook, a post that generated interest among his friends who subsequently expressed an intention to sign up themselves.

So, a toast to Bill, and we’re glad that his daughter didn’t keep him off Facebook.

The Business of Service: Shattering Assumptions in a One Small Step Conversation

Serial entrepreneur Will Melton is more than a businessman. The owner and founder of Xponent 21, a digital marketing agency based in Richmond, believes that giving back to the community is an inherent part of citizenship.

“From a community perspective, I’ve always found it best to be involved, to be somebody who gives time to the community in various ways,” Will says. “I got more involved in Richmond in 2020 when I went through Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR), and that really opened my eyes to a lot of the challenges that we face here, both historically and culturally.”

That LMR experience has been a foundational part of his service, and he now sits on the nonprofit’s board, as well as the board of Housing Families First. He also served on the board of ChamberRVA and co-organized AI Ready RVA, a group of leaders interested in using AI to help the region’s economic development.

Will’s commitment to service grew out of his humble beginnings. His father had passed away at a young age, leaving Will and his mother to depend on support from the community—their church, neighbors, and government assistance. He grew up with an inherent understanding of the mutual reliance that sustains a nation of communities. Couple that with the influence of a mother who grew up in the free-spirited 60s and 70s, and Will’s left-leaning progressive attitudes were born.

While his views stem from his upbringing, he acknowledges that they have evolved, even moderated over time. He says he recognizes now that helping people means giving them the education they need for self-sufficiency and growth. To feed his own curiosity and interest in understanding varied points of view, Will makes it a point to engage with friends whose views differ from his own.

“It turns out that some of my favorite people kind of bend a little bit more conservative,” he says. “They have some more conservative ideals and I find conversations with those people to be sometimes the most fascinating because they tend to be pretty successful in life, and I want to learn from people who have made it.”

Given his natural willingness to reach across political divides in his own life, it’s no surprise that when Will heard StoryCorps Founder and President Dave Isay speak at a Creative Mornings event about the organization’s One Small Step initiative, it was a foregone conclusion that he’d sign up. Not only was he a long-time StoryCorps fan, but the program Dave was describing spoke to Will’s sensibility to engage with varying viewpoints.

“I think my takeaway was ‘I have to do this, and this is who I am as a contributor to the community,’’’ he says. “The cost is minimal, and the rewards are multifold.”

Will’s One Small Step conversation partner was a middle-aged woman who, like Will, has roots in the business community—she as a realtor and her husband as the owner of a construction company.

“I wanted to surprise her a little bit with the fact that I’m very involved in the community, and—as somebody who went from being kind of poor to being a business owner—is generous with my time,” he says. “There were things about me that maybe would surprise her like I still have some fiscally conservative ideas. I wasn’t thinking I was going to convince her, but I did think I could be interesting enough to make her think twice about making a judgment about someone on the left, based on what they’ve heard on right-wing media.”

Will describes the exchange as productive—a healthy exchange of questions and answers, all within a spirit of camaraderie. And he confesses to being surprised himself at her open-mindedness, not the entrenched conservative he might have been expecting. “I think she exercised and expressed some flexibility, and I hope I did too.”

A conversation with One Small Step Facilitator, Stephanie Glaros

In the OSS conversations that Stephanie has facilitated, she is struck by the commonalities between participants. “The methodology that we developed creates a space where these conversations are not only possible, but probable. They are designed to create this container of safety and trust where people feel that they can be vulnerable and speak their minds. Given the climate ‘out there,’ I’m encouraged by how well they go,” she says. “We center personal stories in the conversations; it’s not about what you believe, it’s about why you believe it.”

The conversations Stephanie facilitates begin with each partner asking the other why they wanted to participate. “It establishes positive intent, allowing them to see that the other person is there for the same reason.” They often start out nervous — afraid they’re going to get yelled at. But then they ask about their partner’s origin story: ‘Where and how did you grow up?’ “It explains so much about a person,” she notes.

Facilitator Stephanie Glaros (in white shirt) facilitates an OSS conversation at Dartmouth.

“We try to encourage people to describe their life experiences, which changes the tone, and brings the temperature down. It’s difficult for someone to be mad at the other person if you know the building blocks of their background; it shifts the energy and helps us understand the other person’s differences — and commonalities.”

As a facilitator, a big part of Stephanie’s role is managing the interaction between the two participants, watching their energy, and how it relates to the other person. “When you keep the conversation about their life experiences, it’s hard to find things to argue about. It’s the beauty of these conversations and what makes them work.”

“We create a sense of safety. It’s natural for people to initially feel discomfort at the beginning of their OSS conversation, but it’s only when people feel safe that they let their guards down. That’s my role, to create a safe space for people to open up and be vulnerable.”

“There’s also something magical about an interaction with a stranger,” adds Stephanie. “It’s a much ‘stickier’ proposition to talk about something with someone you know. With a stranger, there’s no baggage; you don’t have a history and you may not have a future with them. This allows people to go deeper in surprising ways. This is really ‘one small step’ to help people realize they’re more connected than they realized.”

“What surprises participants is that the other person is not a ‘caricature’ of the ‘other side,’ explains Stephanie. “They’re surprised when the other person is a rational, caring human being. People naturally gravitate to people who are similar to them. But, what’s most fascinating to watch is how quickly participants find their commonalities and how often each one realizes they’re not so far apart in their beliefs. We encounter nuances in the participants’ beliefs in each conversation.”

An OSS conversation is 50 minutes, and Stephanie helps manage the time the conversation partners have. “The 50-minute conversation is only the beginning, and participants are almost always shocked to realize how fast the time has gone, how deep and emotional their conversation was, and how quickly they developed a connection. Many participants exchange contact information to continue engaging with one another,” she says.

“There’s a ripple effect to the OSS conversations,” states Stephanie. “People think about how they can have a difficult conversation with others — their cousin, dad, etc. Listening to understand — instead of listening to rebut — takes practice, and OSS helps people realize it’s possible.”

Stories to Lift Your Spirit for Spring

Spring comes with the promise of renewal, the wiping away of old, and, for many of us, a revived sense of optimism. As the snow melts away this spring season, let’s embrace the warmth with a selection of our most heartening, humorous, and motivational spring stories.

Who in your life would you like to share the joy of spring with? By sitting down with someone you love for a StoryCorps conversation, you’re showing them that their stories matter and preserving them for generations. You can record in person using the StoryCorps App, or remotely using StoryCorps Connect .

Friendship in Full Bloom

Clean Streets


Sanitation workers Angelo Bruno and Eddie Nieves worked together for nearly 10 years on the same garbage route in Manhattan’s West Village. At StoryCorps, the partners remember the neighborhood and friendships that made their time together meaningful.

Separated by Time and Distance, Best Friends Reunited After More Than Three Decades

"I thought that my best friend was lost forever."
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Pak Yan and Joe Chan, childhood friends from Hong Kong, were separated when Joe’s family moved to the U.S. in 1962. Years later, after Pak also moved to the U.S., he used the internet to find Joe among 108 people with the same name. On his 104th try, Pak reached Joe, and their friendship resumed as if they’d never been apart. In 2014, they came to StoryCorps to remember their reunion.

How A Baseball Coach Became ‘Like Family’

"It was more than just hitting and catching and throwing."
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In 2010, Ed Holley, a youth baseball coach in NYC, met 14-year-old player, Kanard Lewis. After a health scare from Kanard’s mom, Ed was asked to become Kanard’s legal guardian. More than a decade later, Ed and Kanard sat down for a StoryCorps conversation to reflect on their relationship.

Budding Affection

Flower Farmers Find A Love To Outlast Anything, Including Marriage

“We weren't freaks, we were just firsts.”
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In 2010, Mimo Davis and Miranda Dushack met at work, fell in love, and pursued their shared dream of owning a flower farm. Together, they established Urban Buds in St. Louis . The couple came to StoryCorps to talk about the love they have for farming and each other.

What’s For Dinner?


After meeting, George Ju and Angela Rivas quickly started their lifelong journey together. Now, after nearly 50 years, they still share their lives, laughter, and love for cooking. At StoryCorps, George and Angela look back on how they met and continue to celebrate their love.

You Move Me


In the late 1950s Brooklyn, Jay McKnight serenaded the summer evenings. One night, his song captured the heart of a girl named Andrea. The McKnights came to StoryCorps in New York to share their childhood romance, growing up, and growing old together.

Seeds of Change

Bringing Hope and a Love of Horses to L.A. Streets

“We're respecting the animals and we're respecting each other.”
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Ghuan Featherstone is a military veteran who, after returning to L.A., ignited his passion for horses. A devastating fire consumed his local stable, but instead of accepting defeat, Ghuan took matters into his hands. He founded a new stable, Urban Saddles. Accompanied by his mentee Jordan Humphreys, Featherstone came to StoryCorps to talk about how he turned adversity into opportunity.

The Brooklyn EMT Who Saved A Life and Inspired A Nursing Career

“It takes good people to do good work, and it shows in what you do.”
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In 1991, 7-year-old Bryan Lindsay was struck by a van while riding his bike in Brooklyn, New York. Nearly two decades after the accident, Rowan Allen, the paramedic who responded to the scene, and Bryan reconnected to reflect on that fateful day and its significant impact on their lives. Most notably, Bryan’s mother, Dorothy, who was inspired to pursue a new professional journey.

Learning to Fly


Growing up on his family farm in South Carolina, Drew Lanham loved to watch the birds that would come to visit. When his father passed away and the land was clear cut, it felt like losing his father twice, leading him to leave that life behind. At StoryCorps, he spoke with his friend John Lane about his return and the childhood that helped his career take flight.

Little Bit of Me—A Father And Son Look Back On A Life Filled With Music

“When you were writing those songs, those were number one hits.”
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Jim Von Stein, a retired HVAC technician and lifelong songwriter, grew up across the U.S. before settling in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His trailer is filled with a lifetime’s worth of songbooks and homemade recordings. Few have heard his music, written since he was nine. At StoryCorps, Jim and his son, Jason, look back on a life filled with meaningful memories and a shared passion.

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Staff Spotlight: Martin Olson, Director of Technical & Digital Innovation

About Me: I was born in Saltsjö-Duvnäs, Sweden and moved to suburban New Jersey when I was a kid—which was both exciting and traumatizing, in equal measure. I grew up playing in dumb bands, going into the city for shows whenever I could, getting into computers at a really young age, and diving into early BBS and internet culture. I studied at NYU to be a high school history teacher, but a chance encounter led me to working at an early web start-up in college and I went down that route instead. After years at different digital agencies, working with clients big and small and learning a ton, I’m beyond happy to have landed at StoryCorps.

Outside of work I still play in dumb bands and love figuring out new instruments and things that go beep and blonk. I raise two super awesome young kids in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with my amazing photo editor wife.

What is your role and how long have you been at StoryCorps?

My title is Director of Technical & Digital Innovation and I’ve been at StoryCorps for five years. 

What does your job entail?

I lead the team that manages all of StoryCorps’ platforms, from our app to the Online Archive (OA). I get to work with all the other teams to figure out their needs and ideas related to all things digital and make them a reality. Ideally.

What are the rewards of your job?

My job is very rewarding. We often get to be creative and adaptable across a whole bunch of technologies. For instance, during COVID, we developed a way for people to conduct StoryCorps interviews virtually, through the StoryCorps platform, since people couldn’t talk in person. It’s also exciting to have an enormous archive to care for and I love discovering all the hidden gems in the stories of everyday people. It’s fun that we get to build tools designed for the very unique kind of work that StoryCorps does.

What are the challenges of your job?
Our ambitions are big for a nonprofit so it can be challenging to prioritize all of our great ideas. I previously spent fifteen years building apps and products and for example, if there’s an issue in e-commerce, you always offer a refund. But the recordings that StoryCorps captures are ephemeral and represent a single moment in time—nothing is more precious. So no matter what other things we may think about, my priority is to make sure we take good care of the content.

Why should everyone record a conversation with StoryCorps?

Not only will you find out things about the other person you never knew, but having a dedicated space and asking good questions can make someone feel very special and allows both participants to re-evaluate their lives. They each get something out of the experience. 

What’s your favorite StoryCorps story?  

Hard to pick! Since I spent so much time in the OA, I often look up random stories. Since I’m into music, I’ve often typed in words like  “punk” and it pulls up a lot of great stories. One I particularly enjoyed was an interview with John Maurer, the bassist from Social Distortion, and his daughter. They have an interesting conversation about the music industry, touring, and the wisdom he’d like to pass down to his grandchildren and great grandchildren. There are so many gems in there and we’re working hard to help people discover and connect with more of them.