Today was a very busy day for the Year of Giving blog due to Elizabeth Barr’s story that ran on AOL. I received over 100,000 hits and approximately 50,000 unique visitors to the site. In the last 10 hours I have received nearly 800 emails and comments, many of them incredibly inspiring. So many of you have shared how the Year of Giving and the people I have met have touched your lives. Thank you. Almost a hundred people today have pledged to give $10 to a stranger on the Worldwide Day of Giving (June 15th) and share their stories with us here. About a dozen people have vowed to start their own Year of Giving. Others have offered to help those on the Lend a Hand page, thank you! One gentleman even offered to help a woman who posted that she needed a computer by sending her a good used computer! This is what it is all about; watching the Year of Giving take on a life of its own.
All of that is terrific! There has been something that happened today that bothered me though. I am completely supportive of good intellectual debate and discussion, however some of the comments about Katy (Day 111) ripping up the $10 went too far in my opinion. After more than 20,000 views today, there were several slanderous comments against Katy that I feel are not in the spirit of the Year of Giving. One comment that I thought represented my feelings after reading the comments was by a poster that goes by the name Saw.
He who is without sin….cast the first stone. How is poor Katy going to feel when she reads all the unkind reviews of her action? Does she deserve such harsh judgment? How are the people leaving cruel comments any better than Katy? Aren’t they much more interested in that $10, than the pain they might cause her?
I agree with this statement completely. As a result of this I have temporarily closed the comments section for Day 111. There are more than 325 comments already on the subject and I think her decision has been thoroughly debated. I am not sure we can come up with an angle that hasn’t already been covered.
Back to Day 123. Last Friday I found Jen sitting in the grass in Dupont Circle. She was killing some time before she had to start her shift at a local restaurant. She said she was in a bit of a bad mood and thought that she would hang out in the park for a while and get herself in a better state of mind before clocking in.
Originally from Pennsylvania, she was familiar with my hometown of Mechanicsburg. The twenty-something is a graduate of the George Washington University where she studied anthropology and dance. Wow…what a combo. What direction would I go if that was what my undergradudate degree was in? Well, she might have found herself in the same predicament as she has decided to go to grad school to study Latin American and Caribbean studies. I might be going out on a limb here, but that might be influenced by the fact that her fiancée is Brazilian!
Given Jen’s current financial situation, she has given more of her time than money to others. She has volunteered as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor. She planned on volunteering two years with the Peace Corps but it looks like she won’t pursue that now that she is engaged.
I asked her what she was going to do with the $10. She said she would give it to someone else. “Maybe I will leave it as an extra tip for a waiter.” She agreed to comment here after she has given it away and share with us the fate of the $10.
Jen told me she was planning a trip to the west coast where she was going to drive the coastal highway from LA up to San Francisco. She hoped that someone reading my blog would have some good tips or links to good Websites to help her plan the route and things to do. So if you have any tips/suggestions for her, leave a comment here!
Want to know a weird coincidence…Jen knows several of my other recipients! My world is becoming smaller!!!
UPDATE [April 22, 2010]
I received the following email from Jen today and wanted to share with you:
I’ve been meaning to write you, just to give a little more feedback on what I thought/think about your project.
Honestly, it took a couple days for it to sink in. After I spoke with you, I went straight to work, worked a 7-hour shift, left, went home, slept a bit, then went back the next morning for a 15-hour double, so I honestly didn’t have time to think about it until Sunday. I was supposed to meet a friend for brunch, but she overslept, and I kinda needed some alone time, so I grabbed a book and took myself to brunch at Tonic. As I predicted, I ended up leaving the server an extra $10 on top of a normal tip.
It was funny – I felt like I had to get rid of the $10 as soon as possible. It wasn’t mine, and I had to get rid of it as soon as possible before I was tempted to keep it. Plus, being in the restaurant industry myself, I know how nice it is to feel like your time and work is appreciated when someone tips you a little extra. There were a lot of other ways I could have given away the $10 – donated it to a local charity or cause I believe in, used it to buy lunch for a homeless person, or something along those lines. I’m not really sure why I decided to give it away on the fashion I did – I guess it was just quick and easy, and I could (temporarily) brighten up someone else’s day.
Anyway, you’re trying to build community through inspiration. Stepping back, doesn’t it kinda suck that you have to give $10 a day in order to do that? Like, is that the only way to build community and inspire people? I mean, this whole thing isn’t about the money – it’s just the common thread with everyone you talk to.
All the same, if you had approached me in Dupont and just wanted to talk, I would have been more than happy to share…but probably would’ve just brushed off our interaction afterwards and never thought about it any further. You’re reaching out and giving back when you reached a juncture in your life where you should have been doing the opposite, and I think that’s a very powerful message.
Anyway, kudos on your work. I hope your project continues to grow, bring further insights to others as well as yourself, and, hopefully within the year, reach a grand final culmination. Please stop by my restaurant anytime you want to chat