Pay It Forward Weekend Begins . . . Now!

Pay It Forward Weekend Begins . . . Now!

Pay It Forward Weekend Begins . . . Now!


Did you know that today is the first day of national “Pay it Forward” weekend?

Yep, it’s true.

I’ll always remember the feeling I had the first time I was the recipient of a random act of kindness. As trite as this sounds, you could not have wiped the smile off of my face for anything the time I pulled up to pay for a Starbucks coffee, only to be told that the driver ahead of me had already taken care of it as well as the four cars behind me. It was really a thrill. Not because I didn’t have to fork over the $4.00 I held in my extended hand, but rather because experiencing the generosity of a stranger is life altering, even if it’s for something as insignificant as a cup of coffee.

That being said, I’d like to begin this weekend that’s focused on giving by introducing you to one of our friends. He’s an unsung hero who has touched so many people’s lives; he’s someone who takes offering generosity to strangers to a whole new level.



For the past 26 years, Warren Goerke and his family have passionately played guardian angel to countless children in need of cardiac-related surgeries from around the world. Warren doesn’t just talk or write about it, he actually does it. He walks the talk. As a District 726 Rotary member on Long Island, Warren participates in their “Gift of Life” program, which arranges and pays for the travel, surgery, and care during surgical recovery for children from under-privileged countries around the world such as Trinidad, Honduras, Zimbabwe, Korea, Guyana and Uganda.




In addition to raising their six adopted children, several with special needs, Warren and his wife, Karen, have generously opened their home to sick children and their guardians for the past quarter of a century. Their first floor guest room has, at times, been in almost continuous rotation. Most of the children have recovered amazingly well and have gone on to live healthy lives. As Warren puts it, “Children heal quickly, especially cardiac patients. Kids come with blue lips and fingertips, barely able to walk across the room without getting tired and out of breath. A few days after surgery, they are playing and running with other kids. The average stay is only 4 to 6 weeks.”



Here are some of the kids who have been helped by the Gift of Life program. According to Gift of Life International, “Over 5.5 million children are born each year with a congenital heart defect, while 94% of them do not have access to treatment.”


A few of his young guests, however, have been diagnosed with irreversible and inoperable damage, and two have passed away while in their care. Yet, despite the heartache that is, at times, inherent with the program, as well as their own personal trials and tribulations, the Goerkes have continued to give back.

Coming to the U.S. is a whole new reality for Warren’s visitors. The way of life these children and their parents are used to often varies vastly from our reality. “Many of these children have no electricity or running water in their homes. There is no such thing as a central vac or a toilet. Their kitchen range may be a mud brick oven in the backyard. As a host, you have to teach them how to use every device that we take for granted. One day I came home from work to find one of the mothers holding an ear of corn with both hands, roasting it over an open flame on our gas range. I laughed, asked, ‘What time is dinner?’ and went upstairs. You just need to have patience.” 

Recently, Warren and Karen had the opportunity to travel to Trinidad to visit with some of the children they had hosted over the years. Warren recalls, “I was impressed that an entire small village came out to meet and celebrate with us. One of the children that “Gift of Life” saved got married last year. Without surgical intervention, he would have never survived past his teens.”

“I am convinced that the way to world peace and understanding is through helping children.”

Truer words have never been spoken, my friend.




We don’t all have the innate ability or means to do all that Warren and Karen have done for hundreds of children, but each of us has the means to positively impact others through our words and deeds. 

Sadly, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Warren is currently housebound, suffering from the ill effects of leukemia and its treatments, but I’m happy to say that he’s getting stronger every day. He’s also a loyal PonderMomDotCom follower, so he’s bound to read this post, um, right Warren? 

I bet his day would be brightened exponentially by hearing words of thanks and encouragement from any of you reading this today, strangers and friends alike, in the message area below. Or go ahead and share Warren’s story with your friends to help celebrate the awe-inspiring person that he is.  Pass it on.

Paying it forward is simple, and it starts here and now!




Enjoy your Pay it Forward surprise, Warren!

We love you!


If you’re looking for a fun way to pay it forward, take a look at this: Pillowcase Dresses

Written by Becky


  • Erik Bouvin says:

    Thanks for writing a great story about a truly fantastic person. I had the pleasure of working with Warren and getting to know him at Allstate. he is a very kind man and obviously extremely generous. I always enjoyed talking about boating with Warren and his weekends at the island.

  • Very good! Thank You.


  • Warren Goercke says:

    Dear Becky, Jim and friends,

    Karen and I want to thank you for the article and all of your responses. We are humbled.

    The true heros of Gift of Life however are the doctors, nurses and staff who donate their professional time to save these children. In today’s world, most cardiac defects, even transposition of the great vessels, can be corrected. It is totally unacceptable that children should die due to lack of a simple surgical intervention, even as simple as a heart patch. Gift of Life’s goal is to train pediatric surgeons to perform these cardiac surgeries in their own countries and in their hospitals with equipment supplied by Rotary International. There’s a quote from probably a Gift of Life volunteer, that I will never forget; “100 years from now it will not matter what kind of car you drove, the size of your house and how much money you had in the bank. What will matter is what you did to help the life of a child”.

    Regarding my health, I had a relapse of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in April 2014 resulting in a bone marrow transplant in September. God has been good as I have a genius Chinese research oncologist and professor at Stony Brook University Hospital as my doctor. I am the 3rd person to receive a new procedure at the hospital and we are all doing well. At this point, I just need to rebuild my immune system. I should be back into the swing of things and have the boat back in the water shortly.

    I miss my friends at Allstate and hope to see you all soon when I am able to fly out. God bless all of you. Best regards, Warren

  • Maria Grimm says:

    Warren, I remember with great fondness how you joined Ellie and me for lunch on a number of occasions. I always enjoyed our conversations. I remember in one discussion you mentioned that you were interested in learning Spanish since a great number of people you helped didn’t speak English. As you once requested, I will continue to pray to Padre Pio to intercede for you. You truly are a wonderful and selfless person. This article reflects perfectly the unselfish and kind people you and your wife are. May God bless you and your family and all the best in 2015.

    Best regards and love,


  • Laura Hoyt-Staley says:

    Becky, thank you for sharing the story about Warren and Karen. You are both angels here on Earth. Thank you for your caring hearts and what you have done to make this a better place to live. What an example you are to me and I am sure many others. Wishing you wellness and peace in the days to come. God Bless you both and all the families you help!!!

    • Becky says:

      You’re welcome, Laura! Thanks for stepping up and paying it forward to someone you may never have met, but can recognize as one of the good guys in this world!

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you Becky for sharing Warren’s story. With all the madness in the world right now, it was a breath of fresh air to read about a real, unselfish hero. God bless you and your family, Warren!

    • Becky says:

      You’re welcome, Lisa! I agree that we need to focus more on people like Warren and less on those who bring our world down.

  • Smruti Sura says:

    I have never worked close to him. But I always heard about him that he is a really great person. He adopt the sick children and take care of them. All my best wishes to you and your family!

  • Kelly Turner says:

    What a remarkable man and inspiring story! God bless and glad to hear he is getting stronger each day!

  • Becky says:

    You all are wonderful for leaving such loving comments for Warren. I so appreciate it! What I don’t appreciate is that I’ve had to reapply my mascara once already this morning after reading your sentiments. I’ll get over it, though. 😉

    Carry on!

  • Sandra says:

    What an amazing story. Warren and Karen, thank you for all you have done. I wish you and your family and the children good health and a happy 2015.

  • Jim says:

    Warren is one of the most caring, humble and graceful persons it has been my pleasure to know and call a friend. In the over 20 years we have known each other, he has always been one of the first to step up and do what is right, especially when it comes to helping the less fortunate. I became a member of the Rotary Club in Arlington Heights in part on the endorsement of Warren and his memories of his involvement with the club when he was spending his work week in Illinois. I always marveled at his tales of the young people that he would host and the efforts he and his family went to in order make the world a little bit better place.

    Warren, God Bless you and your family and all the families you reach out and help. Thank you also for being an example I can look to when I feel that I am helpless and unable to give.

    You are my hero!

  • Deepak says:

    It was my pleasure to work with Warren for over 10 years at AMC. He is the kindest, cool headed guy i have ever worked with. I learnt a lot from Warren during that time. Although i had heard from several co-workers at AMC about Warren’s Charitable work and generosity, i frankly did not know that he and his wife were committed to this extent(thanks to Becky & Jim for sharing this great story about a Noble man). All my best wishes to Warren & his Family.

  • Mark Brolley says:

    I have known Warren for well over 25 years as a leader, coworker and friend. His zest for life is contagious and it has never been more evident than in the health battle he’s personally facing today. Both he and Karen have been selfless in their time and commitment to those children they have “enabled” with richer lives.

    Warren was always a well respected resource (or is it thorn?) within the towing industry and certainly it was better off for him having touched it….but what I’ll always cherish are the many laughs and priceless memories we shared in building and maintaing the Allstate towing network…none of which can be repeated here. Contunue to recover my friend and have a healthy, prosperous 2015..

  • Lori says:

    God bless you!

  • Kevin says:

    Warren has been a mentor since I got to Allstate. He provided leadership for our organization and made us the best service in the country. Warren and Karen have lead in other capacities as well especially for those who are in need the most. That is what I remember the most about their self sacrifice and balance between business and the personal aspects life throughs at us.
    Because of this Warren put together a great team who focused on excellence and putting the maximum effort in to achieve it. Just like Warren and Karen live their lives. I have always been struck by their ability to balance the personal and business aspects of thier lives. It was reflected in the team Warren built around him, no nonsense, straight talk but knew when it was time to let loose. The one story I will always remember he told me about Eddie Dowd and Doug Closs being asked to test Charlie Brakefields car cause he thought it wasn’t running right. Funniest event AMC ever saw out in the parking lot.

    Warren created a team of charecters and who through Warren’s example knew how to balance fun and family with excellence in all their activities when the time came to be serious. Humanity today could take a lesson from their examples and playbook.
    I wish he and his straight talk, action and drive were back with us today. All my best to Warren and Karen and their family.

  • Lisa Bilotti says:

    Warren the moment I met you, you graciously greeted me with your fantastic smile and genuine spirit. Although I was aware of your generosity, kindness, and love towards every child I could not have imagined to the extent you and your wife care about every human being in need. You and your wife are amazing people and we love you!!!

  • Tom Nutini says:

    Warren, My prayers are with you and your family. It was a great working with you all those years lets hope 2015 is the year you get over this hurdle and get back on the water.

  • Ray Celaya says:

    Warren, first of all, I hope this note finds your health improving. I am grateful to have worked side-by-side with you on many projects, but especially on Rescue Express. Your coaching and mentoring helped me see through my blind spots (there were many).

    We all meet people on our journey through life that have a profound impact on how we see the world going forward; you are one of those persons in my life. I hope you, Karen and your children enjoy a blessed 2015. Thank you Warren and Karen for all you have done to express, with much sacrifice, the best of humanity.

  • Jim says:

    A great story about a great person. I remember giving Warren an award at Allstate years ago where I referenced his charity work and ended by saying that he truly was the George Bailey of our time. He’s made such a wonderful difference in so many lives. It’s an honor to be able to call Warren my friend.

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About Me:

Hi! My name is Becky. I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, a writer, and a compulsive thinker. Don't invite me to a spa or to shop the day away, but rather, make me laugh, engage me in interesting conversation, play a game with me, or give me a cappuccino and homemade vanilla bean flan and I’m yours ‘til the cows come home.

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