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Archive for March, 2011

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge, a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC

Did you know arthritis affects an estimated 50 million (one in five) American adults and 300,000 children and is the nation’s most common cause of disability?  Or that there are more than 100 types of arthritis?  I didn’t until I volunteered with the Arthritis Foundation.

They held a black tie gala event called Arts for Arthritis and needed people to help with the silent auction.  I pulled up to the Marriott hotel and conference center in North Bethesda and parked my car.  I adjusted my tie in the rear view mirror and made my away across the parking lot to a door that I hoped would be open.

After making my way up a set of escalators I discovered that I indeed was in the right place.  Art work and jewelry decorated long rectangular tables that were set up in the hallways.  I took a peak inside the ballroom and found forty or fifty tables filled with men in tuxedos and women in exquisite gowns and dresses.

I couldn’t find anyone that seemed obviously in charge, so I wandered around aimlessly until I found a young woman named Mandy who said for me to sit tight until they needed me.  I took the opportunity to browse the items up for bid.  A photograph of Led Zeppelin taken by James Fortune caught my eye.  There were some impressive paintings intermingled with a few very bizarre ones as well.  I also saw a cool photograph of Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals shooting on Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during this year’s Winter Classic.

Mandy reappeared and put me to work.  There were about 125 auction items that we had to organize and get ready to process payment.  Having done a few auctions in the past, I have to tell you that these can be a disaster!  When I had my year-end event for the Year of Giving, my friend and event coordinator Patricia told me one thing, “Just don’t do a silent auction!”  I ended up doing a very small one and it went smoothly thanks to her, however, it can be a nightmare.

This one went ok, although it was stressful and we had lots of people standing in lines waiting to pay for their items.  Barefoot volunteers with aching feet were fetching purchased items and bringing them to the happy owners.  Unfortunately we didn’t have bags or boxes to give to those who purchased multiple items, but people got over it.

“What the heck did we end up winning,” one man asked his wife who was dressed in a fancy black lace outfit.

“The box says ‘Huggable Hangers,’” I told him.

“I’ve got no idea what they are,” he said shaking his head.

Either it was a very expensive box of hangers or it was something else packed in a Huggable Hangers box.  He walked away with a confused face.

At midnight all but a few stragglers had left.  Staff and volunteers collapsed into chairs and relaxed with a glass of wine.  I was exhausted too, but had to get back to my brother’s house in Virginia where I have been taking care of my father for the past week as he recuperates from a total knee replacement.

I found this volunteer opportunity on Volunteer Match.  If you would like to help out your local Arthritis Foundation chapter, check out Volunteer Match or your local chapter website.

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Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

Today I needed something to read.  I love book stores, I love perusing the different books to find the right one.  Being unemployed I try very hard to stay away from them because I know what I’ll do.  This trip I had meant to buy only one, but walked out with three.  At least I was shopping at the Book Gallery (half price books) and the three were cost less than one hardback book.

While checking out I asked the person behind the register, Judy, if she would be my recipient of the day.

She explained how she happened to be working at the book store, “My husband is retired and years ago.  I used to be an RN, then mom but now just enjoying working at the book store two days a week and I play tennis three days a week.”

It sounded like a dream schedule to me, but then I realized it would probably cost me to work there, I would probably spend more than I made.  I also admire anyone in the medical field and I told Judy she must love what she’s doing because it comes with some heavy responsibility.

“Yes,” she agreed”, and you have a lot of shifts and you weren’t home on a regular schedule. I actually retired when I had my kids.  Now my kids are raised, I have one in Chicago and one in Knoxville so any time I want to take off and see them I can, and not have to worry about my schedule.  They’re very nice here so they give me the time when I need it.“

I asked her what she might do with the ten dollars.

“I will definitely pass it on.  I have no idea right at the moment but somebody who needs it will get it.  Thank you, you’ve made my day.  Can I give you a hug?”

And with that, she made my day.

It has been so fulfilling to meet and interact with seven awesome people who used to be strangers.  It has definitely done more for me than the $10 did for them. I want to thank Reed for starting this project and continuing it in the way that he has.  Evidently I am the first one in Tennessee to be a Kindness Investor, so come on Tennessee, give it a try.

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Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

The Williamson County Park has a walking path that follows along a river on one side.  There’s a hopscotch design painted on the path and a little further up you’ll see three different circles with a sign that says:
Try this:

  • Stand in the circles, looking at each other. Make each other smile or laugh.
  • Hold hands, give your child a hug, a smile or a pat on the back.
  • Watch, listen and learn.  See what your child looks at, talks about and does.

As I went further up I stopped and met walking his little dog, Yachi.  Ed adopted this adorable dog and was told Yachi’s former owner was a lady from Japan who could no longer care for her.  Ed is in the process of teacher his dog to come to him in English because his first master spoke only Japanese.  One thing is for sure, she loves people and attention.  Ed was told Yachi means “good luck” in Japanese.  I don’t doubt she is.

I explained the Year of Giving to Ed and he accepted my offer of $10 dollars.  Ed told me, “for the rest of this year I’ll be working my bucket list. I’m going to travel to Vermont and check that out and I love Washington, I’m going to travel there as well.”

Ed has moved eight times in the last 17 years and he’s going to find the place where he’ll finally settle down.
I asked Ed what he might do with the $10 dollars and he said, “I’ll give it back to you so you can give it to the next person.”  I explained I couldn’t accept anything so he said, “well then I’ll probably give it to a cause, maybe the Humane Society.”

I wish Ed a safe trip and lots of fun while whittling down his bucket list.

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Day 61 – Pam

Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

Around lunch time, I ran out to do a bit of grocery shopping at Walmart because they seem to have the best prices.  Getting out of my car I noticed an SUV with its back hatch open and several people eating and talking inside.  Not wanting to scare anyone, I cautiously went up to the car and explained who I was and what I was doing.  I handed Pam, the adult in the group of three, a printout of the “About” page from the Year of Giving website and she said she’d be happy to be my recipient of the day.

I asked her how her day was going and she replied, “I’m here in Nashville with my granddaughters and we’re having a picnic.  Their parents are at a leadership retreat with their church and so I’m taking care of the girls and we’re just doing fun things today.  So the $10 dollars will just about cover the Bubbles I bought and the hot dogs, chips and drink.”

I handed her the ten dollars and she said, “Well God bless you.  Thank you!  My husband and I are the benevolence ministers at our church so I’m used to giving it out, not receiving it.”

That of course reminded me of a quote by St. Francis of Assisi, “For it is in giving that we receive.”

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Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

Today I met Jeannie, who is a total sweetheart.   I was just getting out of my car when I saw her and just knew she was the one to be today’s recipient.  Lucky for me she said yes.  I wasn’t even ready and had to ask her to wait just a moment to get the things I needed out of my car, including the $10 dollars.

I explained what the Year of Giving was about and asked if she would be willing to share a piece of her story with me.  Like a lot of others, she has a lot going on in her life right now.

“This week my aunt, who’s 85 years old, had open heart surgery.  She lives in Toledo, Ohio and we just got back. She’s my mom’s sister, they are the only two siblings left in that part of the family.  She’s the golden star patient and she’s doing phenomenal, better than everyone expected.  Her mind is good; everything else is good it was just her heart.  But it was miraculous.  God healed her.

“There’s just so much to say.  I was in an accident in January but all is well thank the Lord.  My Aunt, the one in the hospital, was going to give me her car but she’ll be able to get back out and drive, go back to church and enjoy the things she likes to do.  So my brother-in-law, he’s in Afghanistan, they loaned us one of their cars.  God is amazing; you just can’t stop giving Him the glory.

“And, my husband and I have been approved to be adoptive parents.  But, I just found out Monday the birth mom changed her mind.”

Worried about her disappointment I said, “Oh no.” But she responded, “Oh, that’s good, she’s going to keep her baby and my prayer is that God is going to give us our baby. We believe in adoption, there are a lot of adopted kids throughout our family.  We were doing an independent adoption over the summer, the mother was a family member, but when the baby was born she decided to keep it and that’s great too.  I always promote babies being with their natural mother.  So we’ve been dealing with this since January.”

In my opinion, Jeannie’s life consists of things that I would refer to as stressful, but I don’t think she saw it that way.  She was so positive and upbeat it totally brightened my day.  We hugged and I thanked her for sharing her story. I told Jeannie I had one more question, could I ask what she might do with the $10 dollars. She immediately replied, “Give it to somebody.  I’ll bless somebody.”

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Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

After trying twice today and being turned down, I met Linda as she was coming out of a Borders that’s closing its doors. On this gorgeous day I asked Linda what she was doing and she shared that she was, “running errands, getting my car fixed, I saw Borders is closing and decided to get some books to read. “

Linda isn’t from this immediate area, but drove the short distance from Nashville.  I asked her what she did for a living and I was impressed when she told me she’s an engineer for a pacemaker company.

Family?  “Yes” she replied, “I have a daughter, she’s four years old, and I take care of my 81 year old mother who has Alzheimer’s.  She came to stay with me about three months ago; she moved here from Chicago.  So that is what my life is right now, taking care of a 4-year-old and an 81-year-old.  My mother goes to an adult day care while I’m at work and we have someone come in once a week, a medical aid, that helps with other stuff like bathing, housecleaning and things like that.”

I asked her what she might do with the $10 and she answered, “Interesting question.”  She thought just for a moment and answered, “I was just about to give to a college fund for one of my church member’s granddaughters so I’m going to put it in the coffers.  I was going to give $100 so now I will give $110.  So that’s what I’m going to do with it. “

I would bet that young lady will be very grateful for Linda’s generosity.

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Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

I noticed Brian several months ago, standing on a corner selling newspapers; I even bought a paper from him once.  The paper, The Contributor, contains stories and poetry written by homeless or formerly homeless citizens.  I thought he would be a great recipient of the day’s $10.  I stopped and asked Brian what led him to sell the paper.

“I just started doing this in December.  I’d been doing ironwork, but the trade has been dwindling down and the guy I worked for was a small outfit so he was about ready to lose everything.  See that roof over there on that bank; I did that building about 20 years ago.  I’ve been an ironworker for 25 years and I hope I get called back.

“But that’s why I started selling this paper.  It got to where I’m behind, but I’m not going to lose what I’ve got.  But it’s hard; I get out 5-6 days a week, if weather permits.  I’ve got family to take care of.”

I asked Brian if he had a place to live.

“Yeah, I pay rent every week, if I don’t have it one week; I catch him (landlord) up the next week.  He’s really good like that. There’s good people out there and before I started doing this with The Contributor I also gave to everybody.  Even though I’m doing this, if I see other contributors, I give them a dollar or whatever I can spare.  We’re all in the same boat.  There’s like 400 of us.   I drive down here from Nashville because there’s so many people in downtown you can’t get a good spot.

“But doing this I have also received a lot.  One month a guy gave me $200 dollars and the next month he gave me $200 more.  I bought four brand new tires with it; I put it to good use.  He took me to lunch the other day, bought lunch, but I left the tip. I said look I know you want to do this, but I have to do something too. “

Brian waved to someone.  “There goes my mailman.  See, I got regulars out here. “While he’s sitting at the red light, the mailman hollers, “Hey there’s no telling what he’ll tell you.”  But then he laughs and says, “Just kidding, it’s all good.”  I wonder what other drivers were thinking, seeing us standing on a street corner laughing, waving, and having a good time.

Brian explained that, “There’s people like me standing out here trying to make a dollar.  Like when you leave here, I’ll walk up and down this sidewalk as much as I can.  You know if you sit at home you’re not going to make any money. And in reality, it keeps me up and keeps me healthy because once you start sitting idle you can hang it up.

“Basically I’m out here trying to make a living.  And I do love being a pioneer because you ain’t gotta answer to anybody; you just have to think about what the Lord’s got you doing.  I ain’t got anything but a desire to work and help people.”

I saw the truth in that. He made my day.

As for the ten dollars, Brian said, “I’ll either get me a meal or some cigarettes.”

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