The holidays are a transformative time of year during which we value virtuous attributes more than ever. It seems that when the snow starts to fall, we find ourselves feeling more generous, quicker to forgive and kinder. (And we are also human, so go easy on yourself if you yell at your kid or flip off a dangerous driver in the next couple of months.)
To revel in the gloriousness of the season, OnMilwaukee wishes to identify some of the kindest folks among us, those who don't receive any money for their efforts, but keep giving anyway. These are listed in no particular order.
1. Ingrid Eubanks
Since 2007, Ingrid Eubanks aka "The Hug Lady" has given more than 10,000 hugs to strangers. She did this, in part, as a practice of forgiveness. Eubanks was obese most of her life and bullied for it by many. Although she underwent an incredible weight loss journey, she still harbored painful feelings from years of being bullied and hugging – making others feel loved and valued – helped her with her own healing. Eubanks is currently fundraising for a nationwide "Hug Tour" and you can find out more here.
2. Bjorn Nassett
Nassett has many public talents as a performer, stylist, business owner and writer, but he is quite possibly at his kindest while in his home. Nassett cares for senior dogs – many of whom have ailments from blindness to trauma – and gives them a loving, happy place to live for the last few weeks, months or years of their lives. He cares for up to five elderly dogs at a time and will even travel to other states to pick up a pup in need when he has an open spot.
3. Greg Ryan
Ryan, a retired electrical engineer, enjoys finding old or discarded snowblowers and lawn mowers, fixing them up and gifting them via social media. He hopes they go to people who need them and can’t afford to buy one outright, but he never checks up on anyone, he just trusts that all of his repaired machines are going to the right place.
4. Ruth Weill
Weill is one of Riverwest's unsung heroes. She's a single mom with a full-time job and yet that doesn’t stop her from giving 100 percent to her community. Weil has served on multitudes of associations and volunteered thousands of hours of her time. Currently, Weill is the Vice President of the Riverwest Artist Association, Vice President of 53212 Presents and is the administrator of the Riverwest Neighborhood page – for which she deserves a medal for diplomacy and patience.
5. & 6. Shannon and Kent Knapp
This Milwaukee power couple has six children, owns and operates Milwaukee Blacksmith and still finds time to help others in so many ways. They get more than 300 requests for donations from their business every year – and they always say yes. The Knapps participate in many charity events including fundraisers for Local First Milwaukee, Courage House, WMSE fundraisers, Pink Possible, Fire Up Ball and so many more. They also run Project Home that helps people recently off the streets to fill their apartments with furniture and household items.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.