In last week’s episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we presented selections from our newest book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, as well as insights into the process of putting it together. This week, we’re bringing you a taste of the Callings companion CD, narrated by StoryCorps founder Dave Isay. The two-CD set includes almost two hours of interviews (many of which have never been heard before) from our archives featuring people describing how they found their callings.

dde000183_g4Included on the CD (and in this podcast) are a few revealing stories from Dave’s own personal life. As a young man, he knew what his calling was, like others in his family, he was going to go to medical school and become a psychiatrist. But by chance, he stumbled into his first radio story and from the moment he hit “Record,” his life was changed.

Another story from early in Dave’s radio career is from the time his father revealed to his family that he was gay. Stunned by the revelation, Dave and his father had many strained conversations, and in one of their discussions, his father, Dr. Richard Isay (pictured together above), told his son about the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Inspired by his father, and wanting to learn more about this moment in history, Dave tells the story of seeking out people who were present in New York City’s Greenwich Village that evening, and compiling their interviews into his first radio documentary, “Remembering Stonewall,” which he dedicated to his father.

When she was in her early 20s, Dana Viviano’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. kogut_lgAccording to Dana, the way the doctors told her family that her mother would not survive was “cold.” While their lack of warmth angered her, it also inspired her to become an oncology nurse.

Dana came to StoryCorps with her 11-year-old daughter, Sarafina (pictured together above), to talk about why she has dedicated her life to bringing more compassion and caring to the lives of her own patients, and answers her daughter’s questions about how it feels to tell someone that they are going to die. Dana also shares valuable lessons her patients have taught her, including an awareness that we never know how long we have, so it is important to love one another.

Children are always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In our next story, Marat Kogut always dreamed of being part of the NBA, not as a player on the court, but as a referee. His father, Leon (pictured together at left), also knows something about chasing dreams; in 1979 he immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine with his wife and three children. At the time, Marat was a newborn baby and the family spent time in a homeless shelter before Leon found work as a barber. Today, Leon owns a barbershop in Brooklyn.

arredondoMarat and Leon came to StoryCorps to remember the first official NBA game Marat refereed, and how nervous he was until he looked up and saw his father in the stands leading a section full of cheering family and barbershop customers.

Our final story is from Santiago Arredondo who grew up in Southern California and struggled socially as a child. He was overweight and stuttered making him an easy target for bullies.

He came to StoryCorps with his wife, Aimee (pictured together at left), to remember his grandfather, Jose Guadalupe Enrique Sanchez, who shared with his grandson the strength and pride his work taught him. Jose began working at the age of six as a gardener. Early every Saturday morning, he would pick Santiago up and take him on his gardening route teaching him a number of skills including how to prune roses and plant the clippings to grow new roses.

Santiago recounts that he developed self-confidence from his time with his grandfather, and how it guided him to where he is today, the landscaping supervisor at the University of Southern California in charge of over 40 employees.

Click here to check out our CD companion to Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work.

Click here to order Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
Ketsa – “Dryness”
All internal music by Podington Bear