NPR StoryCorps

Heeding his own advice, Anthony Fauci and his wife, Christine Grady, will be spending Thanksgiving this year apart from their loved ones. It's the first time none of their three adult daughters will be home for the holiday.

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

As an Army chaplain, Maj. Ivan Arreguin has seen many overseas deployments during his military career. But earlier this year, his medical unit, along with others, were deployed to New York City during the height of the area's coronavirus pandemic.

For more than three decades, Scott Macaulay, a vacuum repairman in Melrose, Mass., has been hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for people who have nowhere else to go — a situation he found himself in after his parents' acrimonious divorce.

His tradition started in 1985, when he put an ad in the local paper, offering to cook Thanksgiving dinner for a dozen guests. Macaulay, 59, realized his family most likely wouldn't get together for Thanksgiving that year, and he doesn't like to eat alone.

This episode of StoryCorps originally aired in 2011.

When she was 16, Ella Raino, who goes by "Ellaraino," met her great-grandmother, Silvia, for the first time. And Silvia had plenty of stories to tell. She described being a teenager, much like Ellaraino — and seeing the Civil War, and slavery, come to an end. At StoryCorps in 2011, Ellaraino spoke with her friend Baki AnNur, about her visit with Silvia, who was 106-years old at the time.

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

Former Army Spc. Garett Reppenhagen has always loved Halloween. Even during his year-long deployment to Iraq in 2004, he still found a way to celebrate.

Cherie DeBrest, 50, cast her first ballot nearly 30 years ago and has voted in every election since.

But last year, she decided to take it a step further, and started working at the polls in her North Philadelphia neighborhood.

Cherie's 18-year-old daughter, Naima, will be working the polls alongside her in Philadelphia this Tuesday.

In a remote StoryCorps conversation last week, Cherie spoke with Naima about what inspired her to get more involved in the voting process.

During the 1990s, in the tiny town of Parma, Mich., Bob VanSumeren lost his way.

He dropped out of high school and started abusing drugs and alcohol. When VanSumeren turned 18, his parents got a divorce, and he became essentially homeless, mostly couch-surfing at friends' houses. It was around this time that he and his high school sweetheart, Jillian, broke up. VanSumeren had fallen in with the wrong crowd.

Eventually, he robbed a gas station and a bank. He served nearly six years in prison for those crimes.

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

During the 1918 flu pandemic, Blanche Reeves was living in rural Iowa when she got sick. Even though she was still recovering in November 1920, she managed to cast her vote in the presidential election.

Her determination to exercise her vote continues to inspire Blanche's daughter, Helen Merrill, a century later. In a remote StoryCorps conversation last week, Helen, now 91, told her granddaughter, Elizabeth Hartley, 27, how voting has become a "sacred thing" for her.

When her town of Leverett, Mass., went into lockdown, 60-year-old Jinny Savolainen wanted to do something meaningful with her time.

She lost her 32-year-old daughter the previous August from complications related to spina bifida, a condition she had since birth. Then, when the pandemic hit, Savolainen lost her job as a patient services representative in a medical office.

Lauren Magaña followed in her mother's footsteps when she became a social worker. It's been a most challenging year for both of them. They work mostly with elderly patients — those particularly vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic. But Magaña and her mom, Michelle Huston, have been able to lean on one another.

Huston, now 50, and Magaña, 26, first recorded a StoryCorps interview in 2018 — long before the pandemic had figured into their work — to talk about why they chose to enter a career in social work.

New York City Public Schools reopened part-time this week, but preparing to get more than 1 million children back to school, whether in-person or virtually, hasn't gone smoothly.

Last minute schedule changes have left parents, teachers and students frustrated and confused.

Fortunately, Emma Pelosi and Debra Fisher, who work with young children with special needs in New York City public schools, have been able to lean on each other during the chaotic moments.

When Erin Haggerty moved with her family from Northern California to Iowa, she was about to enter high school as one of the only Black teens living in her community.

She looked forward to the change in scenery. They first visited Iowa City during winter, when the small town was blanketed in snow.

"There was just so much open sky and everything was covered in white. It was really beautiful," Haggerty, now 48, told her father George Barlow, 72, during a StoryCorps interview last month.

Albert Petrocelli died from COVID-19 in April, at 73 years old. His death marked the second time the Petrocelli family was touched by unexpected tragedy.

Nearly two decades earlier, Petrocelli, a retired New York City fire chief, and his wife, Ginger, lost their youngest of two sons, Mark, in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

In a 2005 interview with StoryCorps, Albert and Ginger remembered Mark, a commodities broker who was just two days shy of his 29th birthday when he died.

Recently, Joe and Vinny Bianco have seen slow days at their tool shop in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The twin brothers took over Bianco Brothers Instruments from their father in 1992. Now, each of their own sons is working beside them, expertly sharpening knives and blades for a wide range of trades. They also manufacture instruments for a variety of different professions.

Despite the pandemic's impact on small businesses like theirs, the family looks forward to being in business well into the future.

As nationwide protests continue to inspire conversations about racial inequity in America, Ayim Darkeh is reminded of his not-so-distant past.

Darkeh, an emergency room doctor in New York City, spoke with his mother, Shirley, in June about his experiences with racism dating back to childhood.

The family moved to Westbury, Long Island, in the 1970s, where Ayim was one of the few Black students at his elementary school.

Growing up in East Los Angeles, cousins Martha Escutia and Marina Jimenez lived in awe of their grandfather, Ricardo "Papu" Ovilla.

Ovilla came from Mexico during World War II as part of the Bracero Program, which brought millions of Mexican guest workers to the U.S. to address the country's labor shortage.

Mike Rudulph was 20 years old when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He served during the era of "don't ask, don't tell," deploying to Iraq in 2003. Soon after he returned home from his first deployment, he logged onto the Internet and met Neil Rafferty.

"By the end of the week, we were saying 'I love you' over the phone," Rudulph, 40, said to his now-husband, Rafferty, 35, at StoryCorps in Birmingham, Ala.

For almost 30 years, T. Chick McClure and their father, Chas, were estranged. Then, four years ago, Chick reached out to their dad to change that. Soon after, their dad invited them on a two-week-long road trip to get to know each other again.

During a StoryCorps conversation, Chick, 49, and Chas, 73, talked about the trip that brought them back together.

For nearly a century, the Quander family has come together every year to honor and preserve their history — one that traces its roots back to the story of Nancy Carter Quander, the family matriarch, who was formerly enslaved by George and Martha Washington.

The 95th Quander family reunion was scheduled to take place just outside of Washington, D.C., this weekend. But because of COVID-19, the family decided to not gather this year.

Tomás Ybarra-Frausto grew up in the 1940s, just outside of San Antonio, on a ranch that belonged to his grandfather.

"The one thing that was instilled was traditions that were related to the land," Ybarra-Frausto, 83, told his friend Antonia Casteñeda, 78, in a StoryCorps interview from 2012.

An early memory tied to those traditions, he said, was an umbilical cord ceremony. "The umbilical cord they had taken away when you were born, it was in a little box," he said. "You got to pick where you wanted that to be buried."

Nia Cosby was just 4 years old when her mother was sent to prison.

In 2005, her mom, Chalana McFarland, was sentenced to 30 years for multiple counts of mortgage fraud. The judge in her case went on record to say he was giving her a harsh sentence as a deterrent for those wishing to commit similar crimes.

But last month — in an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in Florida prisons — Cosby got to welcome her mother back from the Federal Correctional Institution, Coleman facility in central Florida.

In the late 1950s, Kenneth Felts met a young man who became the love of his life.

Felts, now 90 years old, had not revealed that relationship to his family until a few months ago, when he finally told his daughter, Rebecca Mayes, that he is gay — a secret he'd been keeping for more than 60 years. It happened in mid-March, when Felts was quarantining because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The two spoke about Felts' first love, Phillip, during a remote StoryCorps conversation from Arvada, Colo., this month.

By the age of 4, Hadiyah-Nicole Green had lost both her mother and her grandparents.

She was sent to live with her Aunt Ora Lee Smith and Uncle General Lee Smith in St Louis, Mo. But in her early 20s, both her aunt and uncle were diagnosed with cancer.

Green, who now works as an assistant professor in the surgery department at Morehouse College's medical school, started the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation in honor of her late aunt.

Vivian Garcia Leonard studied to become a pharmacist in Cuba before coming to the U.S. in 1961.

Her daughter, also named Vivian, eventually followed in her mother's footsteps. So, too, did her daughter, Marissa Sofia Ochs. Today, the three generations of pharmacists live near each other and work in New York City.

But recently, the elder Vivian, who's 82, stopped working to limit her exposure to the virus.

In a remote StoryCorps conversation recorded last month, the women talked about living through the coronavirus pandemic.

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