Angels & Mentors Archives - StoryCorps

After Years in Foster Care, Two Sisters Found Home at the Morenos

Eight-year-old Linda Garcia entered the foster care system with her infant sister, Irene Montoya, after their mother was hospitalized for tuberculosis in 1953. Linda protected her sister from a series of neglectful families over the next few years, but they were malnourished when their social worker brought them to the home of Joe and Belen Moreno.

Joe Moreno, Belen Moreno, and Irene Montoya in Yuma, Arizona in 1964. Courtesy of Irene Montoya. 

An older couple, they took in the girls—who would come to call them Nino and Nina. At StoryCorps, Linda and Irene remembered the people who gave them the love and care they had been missing.


Top Photo: Linda Garcia and Irene Montoya at their StoryCorps interview in Yuma, Arizona on December 4, 2019. By Lea Zikmund for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired May 17, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

How A Baseball Coach Became ‘Like Family’

Ed Holley and Kanard Lewis first met on a baseball field in 2010. Ed was coaching youth baseball in New York City, and Kanard was a 14 year old third baseman.

After working with Ed, Kanard started to gain confidence, even hitting his first home run. Then, one day, Kanard’s single mom had a health scare, and asked Ed to become her son’s legal guardian should something happen to her.

Kanard Lewis and Ed Holley at Kanard’s graduation from Alfred University in Queens, New York on June 14, 2023. Courtesy of Danette Torres.

More than a decade later, Ed and Kanard sat down for StoryCorps to talk about their relationship.

Top Photo: Kanard Lewis and Ed Holley at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on May 7, 2023. By Isabella Gonzalez for StoryCorps.

 This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired March 22, 2024 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“It’s Like This Invisible Golden Lasso.” A Son Reflects on Coming Out, and His Mother’s Love

Corey Harvard has dedicated his life to advocating for LGBTQ+ youth in Mobile, Alabama through his organization Prism United

He was raised in Mobile, and grew up in a deeply religious home. But in middle school, he realized he was queer, and struggled to come out to his parents. 

Corey and Lisa Harvard at a skating rink in Columbus, Ohio in 1996. By Benjamin Harvard, courtesy of Corey Harvard.

Above all he worried it would change how much they loved him. But it didn’t.  At StoryCorps, Corey sat down with his mother, Lisa Harvard, to reflect on that time.

Lisa and Corey Harvard out to dinner together in Mobile, Alabama on May 3rd, 2016. By Jennifer Clark-Grainger, courtesy of Corey Harvard.

Top Photo: Corey and Lisa Harvard at their StoryCorps interview in Mobile, Alabama on October 29, 2023. By Chapin Montague for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired January 26, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

How a Teacher’s Act of Kindness Bound her Student and Family Together

In 1958, John’s Cruitt’s mother fell ill and passed away shortly before Christmas. His third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, gave him a kiss on the forehead after class, and told him he didn’t have to be alone.

John never forgot that moment, and 54 years later wrote a heartfelt letter telling her how much she meant to him. Not long after, they came to StoryCorps to reflect on how they became so close.


The letter John Cruitt wrote to his former third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, in 2012.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.

 

Cecile passed away in 2019. But John had also grown close to her daughter, Allison Doyle. At StoryCorps, they discussed how John’s reunion with his teacher brought them together.


John Cruitt and Allison Doyle looking through Cecile Doyle’s  scrapbook on December 10, 2023.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: John Cruitt and his third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, reuniting for the first time in 54 years in 2012. Courtesy of Allison Doyle. 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Original broadcast aired December 28, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Update aired December 22, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

At The Lesbian Switchboard, Empathy Was On The Other End of the Line

The Lesbian Switchboard was a helpline for queer women that operated from 1972 to 1997. Denise Tuite volunteered to spend hours at night sitting in the cramped offices of the Switchboard, taking calls from women with no one else to talk to about their sexuality.

Some of these calls were casual, asking where to meet women in NYC. Others were from people in need of advice and consolation.

But through all of them, Denise could recognize the same emotions she’d once felt..

At StoryCorps, Denise shared what brought her to the Lesbian Switchboard.

Originally aired December 15, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Top Photo: Denise Tuite at her StoryCorps interview in Tinton City, NJ on November 1, 2023. By James Eustace for StoryCorps.

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

The Rigano family lived just north of New York City in New Rochelle. There were five siblings: Denise, Phil, Lola, Adele, and Robbie, who grew up in a loving home in the 1960s. But Robbie held a special place in their hearts. 

Left to Right: Phil Rigano school portrait at age 6; Adele, Rob, and Phil Rigano in the 1960s; Lola, Rob, and Denise Rigano on a family vacation to Lake George, NY in 1971. Photos courtesy of Lola Rigano. 

Robbie is developmentally disabled, and from a young age was known for getting into sticky situations.  He was especially drawn to cars, which led to a number of what his brother Phil described as “shenanigans.”

Phil and Rob Rigano during a visit to California in 2014. Photo courtesy of Phil Rigano.

In 2006 Phil brought Robbie to record a conversation together when theStoryCorps Mobile Tour stopped nearby.  Knowing Robbie’s love of cars, Phil knew he’d get a kick out of recording in the iconic Airstream trailer. He came back 17 years later to reflect on that first recording.

Rob Rigano at his job at the Department of Public Works for the City of Larchmont in 1987. Photo courtesy of Lola Rigano.

 

Top Photo: Rob and Phil Rigano at their StoryCorps interview in San Diego, California on February 11, 2006. By Piya Kochhar for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired December 8, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Father and Son Locksmiths Share the Keys to Their Success

For Phil Mortillaro (above right), locksmithing was a summer job that turned into a lifelong passion. He started in the trade shortly after he left school in the 8th grade.

All five of his children spent time in his Greenwich Village shop, but only his youngest son, Philip (above left), has followed in his father’s footsteps.

Philip Jr with his grandmother, Helga Lumen, at Greenwich Locksmiths in 1987.

Father and son sat down for a conversation at StoryCorps to talk about the family business.


Philip Jr. and Phil Mortillaro at Greenwich Locksmiths in 2023. Photo by Brian Pape for The Village View.
Top Photo: Philip Jr. and Phil Mortillaro at their family business, Greenwich Locksmiths, in Manhattan in 2014. Photo by Von Diaz for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired October 17, 2014 and November 24, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Doctor Remembers The Lasting Impact Of A Small Gesture

Robert Carolla was just 11 years old when his brother, John, died of Leukemia. It was a dark and quiet time for the family as they grieved the loss of their youngest child.

Norma Carolla (left) with her sons, John (center) and Robert (right), taken in the early 1950s.
Courtesy of Robert Carolla.

Robert later went on to become an oncologist, helping many patients and their families through treatment, and sometimes loss.

During his career, Robert often reflected on a small gesture from his brother’s doctor and the impact it had on his family as they grieved.

At StoryCorps, Dr. Carolla sat down with his wife, Margaret, to remember how it shaped his own career.

Top Photo: Dr. Robert Carolla and Margaret Carolla at their StoryCorps interview in Springfield, Missouri. By Sonia Kinkhabwala for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired Friday, July 8, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“He Took Me Under His Wing”: The Father Figure Who Mentored Aspiring Black Surgeons

As a kid, Vivien Thomas had dreams of being a doctor. He enrolled in college at Tennessee A&I State College, but in 1929, the stock market crashed, and he couldn’t afford to continue. But Thomas was determined to make his dreams a reality, and he got a job working under prominent surgeon, Alfred Blalock. Eventually, Thomas became the Director of Surgical Research Laboratories at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Thomas was at the forefront of medical breakthroughs. He invented several surgical tools and methods, many of which are still used today. He is most notably credited with identifying a solution for a deadly condition known as “Blue Baby Syndrome” — a congenital heart affliction in babies.

During his over four-decade career at Hopkins, Dr. Thomas passed down the knowledge by training dozens of other aspiring surgeons, particularly Black men, like Fred Gilliam and Jerry Harris. 

Fred Gilliam and Jerry Harris at their StoryCorps interview in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Alletta Cooper for StoryCorps.

Many of the men who Dr. Thomas trained had little-to-no formal medical training before they worked for him, including Fred and Jerry.

They came to StoryCorps to remember the time they spent learning and training under Dr. Thomas, and how his mentorship changed their lives.

Dr. Vivien Thomas in his lab. Public Domain. 

Dr. Vivien Thomas never received a formal medical degree, but In 1976, he received an honorary degree from Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Thomas died in 1985.

Fred Gilliam started his work with Dr. Thomas shortly after finishing high school. Dr. Thomas encouraged and enabled Fred to continue his higher education. Fred received his Associates degree in Emergency Medical Technology, and he went on to work at the American Red Cross.

Jerry Harris had previously been in nursing school before his time with Dr. Thomas. He honed his skills in pediatric surgery during his time with Dr. Thomas, and later stayed at Johns Hopkins as a coordinator in the School of Medicine. Harris died in 2019.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired July 1st, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Remembering Dr. Tiller: 10 Years After His Murder, A Couple Reflects on His Abortion Care

On May 31, 2009, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church in Wichita, Kansas. He was one of only a handful of doctors in the United States to perform late-term abortions.

Rabbi David Young and Cantor Natalie Young had gone to see Dr. Tiller in 2006. They’d been expecting their second son, Elijah, only to learn that he’d developed a brain condition that would make it impossible for him to survive on his own.

Ten years after Dr. Tiller’s death, Natalie and David sat down at StoryCorps to remember how he helped them through the darkest time in their lives.

Dr. George Tiller addresses invited members of the Kansas legislature, at his abortion clinic, Monday, Oct. 6, 1997, in Wichita, Kan. Tiller, who was shot in both arms by a protestor in 1993, and whose clinic was bombed in 1986, as well as the site of massive demonstrations in 1991, led clinic tours for the lawmakers and the press Monday, in an effort to enable the them to understand his practice. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Rich Sugg)

Top photo: Natalie and David Young at their StoryCorps interview in May of 2019. By Kevin Oliver for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Dr. George Tiller speaking at his clinic in 1997. Credit: AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Rich Sugg.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Originally aired Friday, June 24, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.