On this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we’re exploring hope: where it comes from, what it feels like, and how it changes people.

We start with a conversation between Ellen Hughes and Keith Miller. Ellen and Keith first met in December 2018, at the Loyola University Medical Center, outside of Chicago, Illinois. 

Ellen had just arrived at the emergency room with her 33-year old son, Walker, who has autism. She brought him in after he had a bad reaction to a new medication—instead of calming him down, the medication did the opposite. Walker, who is minimally verbal, was becoming more agitated, and subsequently bit Ellen. That’s when Public Safety Sergeant Keith Miller offered a creative and unexpected solution. 

Photo: Keith Miller and Ellen Hughes at the Chicago StoryBooth in February 2019. Photo by Rocio Santos for StoryCorps.

Next, we meet Derrick and Raymond Storms. Anyone with siblings will tell you that fighting is par for the course, but the fights between Derrick and his younger brother Raymond were intense. “There’s still probably a hole where you threw me through the wall, right by the TV, and Dad never fixed years later,” Raymond said to Derrick during their StoryCorps interview in New York.

The brothers grew up in an unstable home in Florida, and dealt with experience in vastly different ways. Derrick became angry, and directed a lot of his anger towards Raymond. 

After high school, the brothers continued to drift in two different directions. Derrick joined the military, and Raymond became a professional opera singer and reiki practitioner. It wasn’t until Derrick was deployed to Iraq that their relationship started to show some promise. At StoryCorps, they talked about how they reclaimed their brotherhood.

Photo: Raymond Storms and Derrick Storms at their StoryCorps interview on January 10, 2020. By Rochelle Kwan for StoryCorps

Next, we hear from Lisa Garzone and Megan Smith. Lisa and Megan were both in love with the same man, John Joyce, but at very different times in his life.

Lisa married John in 1994. They had 4 children together, but their marriage ended as a result of John’s struggle with alcoholism. After they divorced, John also struggled with homelessness, but eventually got back on his feet. It was during this time that he met Megan.

In 2013, John died from cancer. Lisa and Megan were both at the funeral—meeting each other for the first time. A year later, they came to StoryCorps to talk about the unlikely friendship that developed between them.

Photo: Lisa Garzone and Megan Smith at their StoryCorps interview in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 2014. By Christina Stanton for StoryCorps.

Finally, we hear from social worker Robert Sanchez and Fred Davie. 

Robert and Fred first met in 1998. At the time, Robert was serving a 15 year sentence for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense at New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility. 

Fred, a Presbyterian minister, was visiting the prison—sitting in on a class that was part of their Master’s Program. Robert was in that same class, working towards his degree in theology.

At StoryCorps, Robert and Fred remember their first meeting, and how their friendship continued to grow, especially after Robert’s release.

Photo: Fred Davie and Robert Sanchez in 2016 at their StoryCorps interview in New York City. Photo by Jud Esty-Kendall for StoryCorps.
Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.

Released on February 2, 2021.