Amy Bleuel is the founder of Project Semicolon. Project Semicolon is a global non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire.
After overcoming many obstacles in her life including bullying, rejection, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, Amy has found strength and a love for others. Amy struggled with mental illness for 20+ years and has experienced many stigmas associated with it. She now shares her stories around the nation giving hope to others struggling with mental illness.
After making a few online ukulele tutorials to amuse a friend a few years ago, I've since managed to parlay it into a career as a full-time YouTube who has given up his office job in IT and travelled across the USA to meet several of my viewers in person. For a mini animated version of the story, check out my Draw My Life video here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqspxvJB9LI.
I had actually considered my story in the context of 'hope' even before you'd contacted me. Before I started making the videos I was incredibly depressed with my life - stuck in a dead end job, overweight, unhealthy, no social life etc. With the confidence I gained from the feedback I received from making the videos I ended up losing a lot of weight, getting a better job (which I was later able to quit entirely!) travel across the States and make lots of new friends. It's genuinely changed my life in ways that I never could have dared imagine when I first started. On top of that, I receive comments frequently from people who say that my lessons have helped them through difficult times and that is also hugely gratifying.
Best mates Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett built a free mobile laundry in their old van to help the homeless and Orange Sky Laundry began. Aiming to connect the community and spark conversations, Orange Sky Laundry started helping people in September 2014. Since then, this world first idea has rapidly grown to eight vans in Brisbane, Melbourne, south-east Victoria, Gold Coast, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and the Sunshine Coast– and they plan to expand their services Australia-wide. With the help of 250-plus volunteers, the custom fitted vans – each with two commercial washing machines and two dryers – service 22 locations and wash more than 200 loads each week. Orange Sky encourages people of all walks of life to come together. In February 2015, they took their mobile laundry to North Queensland to wash clothes in cyclone- ravaged communities. Nic and Lucas have found a way to treat others the way they want to be treated by restoring respect, while raising health standards and reducing the strain on resources.
A man with one leg rides his bicycle and tries to change the world.
Emmanuel is an athlete with a humble goal: to help people with disabilities in Africa, and eventually all over the world.
He was born in Ghana, with only one good leg. In Africa, people born with a disability are shunned, left for dead or even poisoned. If they live, they are not accepted into schools or society in general. Fortunately, he had a mother who wouldn't bend to the pressure from the community to abandon him because he was a bad omen. Instead, his mother taught him that everyone is a child of God and every person deserves love and a chance to contribute to society.
In his youth, he was determined to show his community that he could do what other kids did. He shined shoes to buy a soccer ball and learned to play on crutches. People saw him playing and it began changing their hearts. As he grew up, he started to ride a bicycle. And ride. And ride. He became an athlete and rode across the whole country— showing communities all over Africa something they had never dreamed possible. People in each village and town saw how a man with only one leg could do the same or better than a man with two. If this were true for riding a bicycle, perhaps it was true for other areas of life... Emmanuel’s determination began to change more hearts.
Then, to his surprise, he became the most famous athlete that no one had ever heard of. ESPN called to tell him that he was going to receive its ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage Award with Jim Mac Laren. Oprah Winfrey presented the award on national television at the famous ESPY Award ceremony. He also received Nike’s Casey Martin Award for courage in sports. A documentary was released entitled Emmanuel’s Gift. He helped lead the way to get national legislation passed for people with disabilities in Ghana. And it was a success! But legislation alone does not always change hearts.
Today, He dreams...to build the first school and Sports Academy in Ghana for people with disabilities— both students and staff. A school that will provide a place for people with disabilities to flourish and have a chance to contribute to society. And, ultimately to create a movement for justice and human equality across Africa.
Gene (88) and Martha (84) Finney share their story of hope from the 1950s.
Gene is a World War II veteran who served the navy for about two years. After the war ended, Gene took the option of taking a course under the GI bill which offered a cosmetology course and a sheet metal course. Gene did not have a chance to go to school before joining the navy. In the interview, he relates how he started making money by the age of 8 by selling gum and taking on different jobs, constantly hoping to do better, until he joined the navy at age 17. Having the eye of an entrepreneur, Gene took on the cosmetology class (which he knew would pay better) and later became a hairstylist for Gould’s Salon Spa where he retired from just last year at the age of 87. He was a hairstylist there for 63 years. He’s done the hair of Elvis and Cybill Shepherd. Gene is also an avid harmonica player. He’s played individually, with a band and lately with his eldest son, Rick. Gene uses his gift of music to share hope to a lot of people – he plays in retirement homes and churches and wherever his music takes him! Click the links below to watch Gene Finney play harmonica and make wonderful music.
Martha is a nurse and is an accomplished bowler. She is a city and state champion for bowling. Martha and Gene met when Martha was 15 and Gene was 19 in a dance and met again after a year where they’ve decided to get married. Martha fondly recalls how Gene had sent her out every morning from 11th to 12th grade to finish high school. When their last child went to school, Martha then took up nursing and later worked as a nurse for 25 years.
Gene and Martha have been married for 67 years and are the proud parents of three children, Ricky, a pilot/crop duster, Sharon a teacher and Jeannie a caregiver. Gene and Martha believes that in life, we shouldn’t give up and that we should know that there’s always a way to make it through.