You meet a lot of fascinating people when you write three columns a week. Here are a few from 2013 I won't soon forget:
He credits his turnaround to a judge who favored rehabilitation over incarceration and the counseling he received at the Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmond, where lessons in anger management, codependence and forgiveness are part of a 10-month recovery program. But the hero is Dikes, who seized an opportunity to reclaim his life and now works at the mission helping others.
What makes him special is that Johnson has been blind since age 14. He senses wood grain with his fingertips and makes measurements with a "click-rule" that has notches spaced 1/16 inch apart.
"The smell of fresh-cut wood, the sound of a sharp saw whisking across a board, the sound of a drill -- all those things really touch my soul," he said.
The students raised money for materials and worked around the clock to make over the interior of the Nuris' condominium. "Everywhere I look, it's love to me," Stoorai said, "because I know how much love went into everything around me."
His background in forensics taught him that illnesses produce a distinctive smell in human perspiration and breath because of the reaction of internal organs. Who better to recognize that scent than man's best friend?
Thus was born Dogs for Diabetics, a Concord-based nonprofit that trains and places canines who can alert owners to the onset of hypoglycemia. The organization has placed about 100 canines, valued at $25,000 apiece, in its nine years.
Today, through hard work and good fortune, she is the owner of Salute e Vita Ristorante in Richmond, where she annually feeds the homeless on Thanksgiving. This year, she served up 1,000 meals.
She lives by the words of a man who helped her when she was in need: "He said, 'Pass it along. Do for others.' I'll never forget that."
Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayarea- newsgroup.com.