Humility: Short People Got Good Reason to Serve

Season 2, Episode 2

Turns out: Randy Newman had it wrong. Short people have lots of good reasons to live! In this episode, focused on volunteering with Humility, we ask: Do you have to be big to do great things? We met with the shortest members of the Short family (the kids) to find out, and to ask them about their experiences and insights from serving. And along the way, we also meet their parents and other families from the core team of Serve the City South Jersey in the USA and find out what they think. Turns out, there’s a lot of reasons to want those short people round here!

These interviews, made in 2020, are from our unpublished archives. But even though the Short kids are taller now, we think their insights at the time have something to teach some of us tall people about serving with humility. Above, you can see Paul Short in a picture from that time (note the masks!). With him are the Murdock family and the three Short kids, Jadon, Selah and Hannah (in grey), along with two of their friends. The group was serving by cleaning up a municipal park in the town of Medford, New Jersey.

For this episode, Parker Deal, our sound engineer and musician extraordinaire, made us a new positive version of Randy Newman’s song “Short People.” You can listen to the full version of his cover below!


If you haven’t yet listened to the episode, you can find it on Spotify or Apple podcasts — or right here! 

The first “short people” we interviewed in this episode were the Short kids, pictured at left with their mom and a friend: Jadon Short, Deborah Ruilova, Trisha Short (their mom), Hannah Short, and Selah Short. In this picture, they are collecting materials for the “Foster the Family” project they described to us: clothes, diapers and stuffed animals to help the transition of foster children into a new family.

At right is Hannah Short when she was only 12 years old, participating in the Big Volunteer Week in Brussels, Belgium… a long way from home! Her mom told us that she had hoped to play with kids, not spend most of her time painting walls in hot refugee centers as she is doing here. But her smile seems to indicate a pretty good attitude about it!

In addition to the Shorts, we met Michelle Murdock in this episode, pictured at left with here two kids, Maddie and Ewan. You can also see some of the “chalk art” that the kids talked about in the episode, drawn to cheer up the residents of an elderly home confined to their rooms by Covid. They also held parades outside their windows, with music and waving and big smiles!

We also met the Vagen family; at right you will see Lauren Vagen with her son Samuel (so cute in his too-big T-shirt!) Behind them is daughter Annabelle with a friend.  We heard how their children were integral in welcoming lonely families to their monthly STC Community Dinners.

Below you will find the Kindness Bingo card that Lauren Vagen created during Covid… but this idea can be used even without a pandemic! Note some of the squares referred to in the episode: “Leave a thank-you not for your mail carrier” or “Send someone flowers”… You might want to adapt this for your own values-based volunteering project!

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