At the end of each episode, we give listeners a phone number to call if they have a message for someone whose story appeared in the show. Listeners leave a voicemail, which we pass on to the StoryCorps participants and feature selected messages on the podcast.

Since we set up this line in the summer of 2016, the response has been overwhelming—literally overwhelming. We received so many calls that we fell behind in sharing them back with listeners. So, we devoted this podcast extra to a voicemail round-up. At a time of massive divide and uncertainty in this country, these messages of encouragement, support, and hope have provided some small comfort for us here at StoryCorps. We hope they does the same for you.

We start with calls in response to episode 483: Where I Belong. These were stories of people trying to find their place in the world. One of these people was John Graziano, who was one of the first children in Illinois to be diagnosed as HIV positive back in 1986. We heard from his father, Tom, and his elementary school principal, Paul Nilsen.

Later in that episode we also heard from Eileen Kushner, who spoke about living with an undiagnosed learning disability well into her adult life. She remembered getting a job at a McDonald’s, in an interview with her husband, Larry.

We end with a call from a listener who responded not to a recent interview, but to something of a StoryCorps classic, the love story of horse-betting clerk Dannie Perasa and his wife, Annie.

Thank you to everyone who called in. If there is someone you have a message for, the number to call is 301-744-TALK.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
Blue Dot Sessions – “Step In Step Out”
Gillicuddy – “Ferns and Cork”
Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo – “Lightning and a Bottle”
Blue Dot Sessions – “Brass Buttons”