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

Two young men were wearing flashy gold suits and waving their arms at a busy intersection in Franklin, TN.  I parked my car and walked over to them.  I could see right away they were using their friendly, outgoing personalities to entice customers to come in and check out their employer’s shop, Platinum Jewelers.  I had to choose which one to give the $10 to and Michael, age 21, was the winner.

He was willing to accept the $10 after I told him I was a “kindness investor” and explained what I was doing.  He agreed that a kind word or deed goes a long way, something we could all benefit from.  In addition to his full-time job, he also works part-time at a Mapco gas station.  His financial and life situation is beginning to level out a bit at this point in his life but it wasn’t always like that.

“I spent some time in state custody because I was getting into trouble,”Micheal told me.

“After I got out of that situation I left for Mississippi and worked for a roofing company but was laid off after six months.  I headed back here and tried for eight to nine months to get a job.   A friend of mine helped me out by recommending me to his employer and I’ve been here for nine months now. “

Michael received some good news recently; he’s going to be a father.  When I asked him what he might do with the money he replied, “laundry.”

I enjoyed talking to Michael and loved that he was so open and honest.  He seemed to be a nice, appreciative young man and I wish a very bright future for him.

I’m going to have a blast doing this.  Love it!

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Name:

Sibyl W.
Age?
59 (ouch!)
 
Where do you live?
Brentwood, Tenn.
 
Where were you born?
I was born in Asheville, NC
What’s the highest level of education you have completed?
Graduated high school and took some college courses (Business & Psychology)
Do you have a family?
I’m divorced, no children.  But years ago I had a little sister through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.  She’s now grown with two boys of her own.  Her oldest is my godson.
 
How did you hear about the Year of Giving?
I believe it was a story I saw online, possibly MSN but not sure.
 
How long have you been unemployed?
I’ve been unemployed a little over two years, but part of that time I went home to NC to take care of my mother who was very ill.
 
What happened?
I was working for an entertainment marketing company in LA when the recession hit and the company had to cut way back.  We had very well-known clients but even the big guys had to cut spending.
 
Do you currently volunteer?
I currently volunteer at Saddle Up!, it’s a therapeutic horseback riding program designed for physically and mentally challenged children.  I help out with three classes and love every minute of it.

Who have been your biggest influences?

My mother has been the biggest influence in life.  She experienced some tough hardships but the only thing she was ever afraid of… was missing out on the fun with her family.  Another is my brother.  He is such a good person and received all the patience in the family.
 
What is your favorite food?
Chicken Fajitas, love, love, love. Oh, and biscuits and gravy. But not in the same meal. :)
 
What is the most meaningful gift you have ever received?
My mother had five brothers and they were all in the service at the time of World War II.  My mother was a teenager at the time and they managed to bring her back an assortment of silver bangle bracelets.  When I was a little girl I loved playing with them.  Even though they were precious to her and she was afraid I would lose them, she gave them to me.  (I still have them.)
 
Describe your ideal job:
Having my own business helping others find what they are passionate about doing and then helping them find a way to accomplish it.

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By Reed Sandridge, a Kindness Investor and Founder of Year of Giving.

Matt out of costume (courtesy of Faction of Fools)

I thought I would catch you up on a former recipient: Matt from Day 250.  Although I met up with him in February, it somehow seemed appropriate to share this update with you this week since two days ago marked the Ides of March and you might recall Matt was portraying William Shakespeare when I originally met him at an arts festival for children back in August of 2010.

My recent encounter with Matt was at a fundraiser he was throwing to try to raise money for his nonprofit theatre company called Faction of Fools, which focuses on Commedia delle’Arte.  Commedia del what?  It’s a genre of theatre characterized by its use of masks, improvisation, physical comedy, and recognizable character types – all characters are based off of four specific types of characters.  You can find more information here.

As I walked in the door of the Gala Carnavale I was greeted by one of the characters who announced in a thunderous voice to all the other guests, “Welcome Lord Sandridge.”  I thought I was special for about a minute when the front door opened and two more people came in and their names were also proudly announced as well.  I was fitted with a mask and then saw Matt, who was wearing a suit instead of a costume.  I took off my mask to say hello.  He looked a little tired which is reasonable right?  He’s been working his but off to pull this event together.

And it was not only going on here in Washington, but all over the world.  February 25th is Commedia delle’Arte day.  What the heck is that you might ask? Well, “It’s the ‘birthday’ of professional theatre,” Matt explained.  “On February 25, 1545, a troupe under the leadership of Ser Maphio signed the first contract of theatrical incorporation in Padua, Italy.”

“For the first time in history there are celebrations on every continent,” he shared with a glowing smile.  Yep, even the winter-over crew of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica was also hosting a celebration.  Matt had been busy!

That's Matt under that mask performing The Great One-Man Commedia Epic

The evening was a huge success.  There were some amazing items to bid on in the silent auction, delicious food and drink and of course, a sampling of theatrical pieces that they have been performing.  I tried pretty hard to get some of the items in the silent auction, but I ended up getting outbid.

For those of you in DC, keep a look out for Faction of Fools.  Their performances are a lot of fun.  As I was writing this up I saw that Matt is doing his signature piece, The Great One-Man Commedia Epic, this Sunday at The Corner Store.  It’s pretty wild.  Matt plays all 12 characters!

Oh, I almost forgot.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Be careful if you are out and about tonight.  It’s amateur drinking night.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when our newest Kindness Investor, Sibyl from Brentwood, TN, starts her seven days of giving.

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Blog post by Stephanie, a Kindness Investor from Mt. Laurel, NJ.

Today’s Intention ~ I am grateful.

Meet Miss Liz.  She is the hardworking friendly lunch aide and crossing guard at elementary school of my boyfriend’s son Gregory.  This mother of three daughters is always concerned about the children’s safety and was surprised by my gesture.  She showed her appreciation with a large smile.

According to Gregory, “Miss Liz is one of the nicest lunch aides! She is always happy and helps the children at the school.”

I wanted to involve Gregory in the project so I asked him why he was grateful for Miss Liz. He said, “Miss Liz cares for us, helps us when we need and is nice.”

She will be giving the money to the humanitarian efforts to help Japan.  She is so grateful for all that she has: food, clothing , shelter and feels it’s important to give back to people who have far less, especially the people of Japan.

I’m glad that today I was able to get a child involved in helping me give to someone; especially someone who offers so much help and support to children.

Today will be the last day that I will share my journey with you.  I am so grateful for having the opportunity to get involved in the Year of Giving!

It was a great joy to be part of it and I truly believe it inspires others as well.  I know today Gregory will be thinking more and more about giving.
A funny side note is that I keep finding money!  I found $6 in an old coat, $20 in the washing machine, and my mom gave me a scratch-off lottery ticket that won $50!

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Blog post by Stephanie, a Kindness Investor from Mt. Laurel, NJ.

I created an intention this morning ~ Today, I appreciate a kind heart!

Meet Tom, who not only has a very kind heart but also sells something very sweet and tasty, namely ice cream.  Tom and his wife Shari, opened The Zebra Striped-Whale in Newtown, PA several years after his wife self published her first book, which shares the same name. When I encountered Tom he was busy at work behind the counter but was still open to share his story before I even presented him the ten dollars.  I learned he used to work for years in my town (small world) and that he is the father of two daughters, Maxine (Max) and Ariele, one of which who was having her first day of work at a law firm in Philly.

When I asked Tom what was the greatest thing about his job, he answered that, “People come in excited.  They know it’s going to be a happy experience, not like going to the dentist, but when they come here they know they are going to get something good to eat.”

He says the shop was designed to delight all five senses from attracting your nose with the smell of the crepes and waffles,to the taste of his delicious ice cream.  Tom shared that his favorite flavor was the, “Sweet Cream because you can mix it with anything.”

The Zebra-Striped Whale is known for whirlwinds.  A whirlwind invites you to choose your ice cream flavor and the toppings are blended into the ice cream by hand with a flat paddle.

Tom with Colleen.

Tom was a psych major in college and worked in sales for most of his life.  He shared his dream of opening an ice cream shop with his wife and the two took it to the next level.  Tom is a creative spirit both on and off the job.  He created the artwork for The Zebra Striped Whale Alphabet Book, which is soon to be published. Tom’s motto is create a nice life, live well, and share good fortune and happiness with others.

Before we left, Tom surprised my friend Colleen and I by giving the $10 to her.  She used it to buy “The Zebra-Striped Whale” and Tom also gave both of us a book called “Cop Buddy” that was created to honor a fallen officer.  Tom and Shari not only own an ice cream shop and publish children’s books, but they also created The Zebra Striped Whale Foundation which serves the community through the art of children’s picture book publishing.  He truly has a kind heart and I enjoyed meeting him.

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Before I tell you about my amazing experience volunteering as a photographer – yep, a photographer – at a local event for individuals with multiple sclerosis, I want to do a shameless plug for two volunteering opportunities that are coming up…and I need you to come out and volunteer.

Servathon DCOn Saturday April 16th Team Year of Giving will help Greater DC Cares.  We’ll most likely be assigned to a local DC school or public park.  Click here, sign up and choose to join a team.  Then when prompted with the list of available teams, scroll down to the bottom and you should find Team Year of Giving!

Hands on DC Work-A-Thon: Similar to Servathon, this is a large city-wide initiative that focuses on improving DC Public Schools.  Click here to join…be sure to join Team Year of Giving!

 

Dr. Byrne, who turned 60 on this day, spoke to the audience on the power of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Speaking of volunteering, my most recent volunteer outing was with the National Capital Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis SocietyA Day of Healing was a half-day program that was offered, free of cost as I understand it, in conjunction with the local YMCA for people in the DC area living with MS.  An autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, MS affects approximately 300,000 people (mostly women) in this country.

 

I arrived a few minutes late, having promised earlier that I would arrive by 10am.  I somehow got stuck in the middle of a road race and couldn’t get unstuck for about 30 minutes.  Thankfully I had given myself plenty of time to get there.  When I finally did arrive I was greeted by Emily, a senior communications manager for the MS Society.

 

Adaptive yoga was a popular session

The day’s program started with a light breakfast, followed by an opening ceremony and group meditation led by Dr. Hugh Byrne who is an expert in mindfulness – the art of bringing a direct, non-judging awareness to our own experience, moment-by-moment.  I think this is mostly done through meditation, but it seems clear that you can do this throughout your day as well.

 

I was instructed to try to get some photos in the opening session of Dr. Byrne speaking and leading the group meditation.  First of all, I got to tell you that Dr. Byrne is your man if you want to meditate.  I wasn’t even really trying to meditate, remember my task was to capture images, and I was like a baby being lulled to sleep by his calm British accent.  But no time to relax, I have to get some photos.

Photographing people meditating is really awkward…second only to covering a funeral probably.  You have a sea of attendees all motionless with their eyelids closed; resting like heavy clouds.  The worst thing probably, besides the occasional hotel staffer who would make some noise, was the sound of me snapping pictures!  Anyway, I tried to be respectful and got through the session.  I don’t know if they will be able to use them though because basically it looks like an audience full of bored attendees who have fallen asleep!

 

Art proved to be a very relaxing activity.

Later the attendees had the opportunity to attend two of three break-out sessions that focused on yoga, nutrition and art therapy.  Somewhere in the mix there was a lunch too where Dr. Byrne would deliver the keynote address and talk about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and how it can positively affect those living with MS.

 

I weaved in and out of the break-out sessions trying to get good photographs despite the blah yellowish-gold colored rooms that were backdrops to the images I was to capture.  What is it about hotel conference rooms that dictate that they be painted this terrible color anyway.  All the while I have to be mindful of those with an orange circle on their badge.  That meant they didn’t want to be photographed.  Don’t tell anyone, but I’m color- blind.  But I did the best I could!

 

Some people literally rolled up their sleeves and got dirty too!

Back at the lunch I set down my Nikon for a while and enjoyed the spread of food (who says there’s no free lunch!) and concentrated on Dr. Byrne’s presentation.  Let me tell you that I am not someone who is into meditation and yoga.  The only thing worse than sitting still for me is sitting still and getting blood work or a cavity filled (sorry Dr. Robinson!)  But I will say that I really enjoyed Dr. Byrne’s presentation and did allow myself to relax some too.

 

According to our keynote speaker, subjects in a recent MBSR study reported improved memory and empathy while reducing stress.  Now what was really astonishing was that when they did MRIs of these individuals the participants in the MBSR program showed increased brain density in the areas that deal with cognitive learning, compassion and introspection.  Furthermore they experienced a thinning of the brain matter that relates to stress and anxiety.  Nobody in the control group experienced such changes.  Now that is pretty phenomenal.  You might make me a believer out of this after all.

 

Adaptive Yoga Session

There were other impressive studies as well such as one done by researchers at UCLA that showed a slowing of the progression of HIV in patients who practiced MBSR.  Dr. Byrne, who was celebrating his 60th birthday on this day, left us with one clear message:  “Attitude is everything.”  What is the attitude that we bring to our current situation?  I am a big believer in the power of positive thinking and attitude and couldn’t agree more with his emphasis on this point.

 

If you would like to help the MS Society by volunteering or making a donation, please visit www.nmss.org.  And for those of you in the DC area, come out and join them at Walk MS on April 9, 10th and 16th.  Click here for more details.

 

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Blog post by Stephanie, a Kindness Investor from Mt. Laurel, NJ.

I created an intention this morning ~ Today, I honor healthy living and well being!

I met Beth at Starbucks and we chatted over coffee.  She is a mother of four and a breast cancer survivor with a great faith and zest for healthy living.  She knew over 12 years ago she was fighting for her life against the aggressive form of cancer. With the support of her loving husband and the desire to raise her children (ages 5 to 13 at the time), she began “feeding” herself all kinds of fruits, vegetables and healthy foods while surrounding herself with positive people.  She was receiving great support through letters from other cancer survivors who openly shared their stories of what they did to win the battle.  Beth also focused on prayer and asked God to help her with the fight. The cancer itself became a catalyst in itself to live a healthier lifestyle.

With the power of veggies she was not only able to rebuild her immune system but also created a path for her family to become healthy as well.  though Beth went through chemo, radiation and surgery, she truly believes God taught her how to be healthy and in doing so led her to  become educated about whole foods.  She learned a great deal from Christine Pirello, a local food expert and studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Beth is now better known as a health coach and instructs others to eat healthy.  She works with children, teens and adults while also running her own website!  Beth believes you don’t change anyone by telling them to change; rather you give them reasons to want to change. For her, the reason to create change in her own life came from the fight to beat cancer and she now uses that passion to help others change.

I would highly recommend Beth as a health coach.  I appreciate her openness to share her knowledge. Healthy eating for her is less about a diet, and more about creating a lifestyle of choices that are easy to implement.  She says it’s easy steps that make the difference. People, she feels, should simply cook for leftovers,  create their own healthy snack packs (especially for kids) and eat more foods that grow.

I had considered myself a “healthy eater” but Beth shared a great tip for me.  I tend to like “soft” foods: yogurt, avocado, humus, etc.  I honestly I don’t love food and therefore don’t spend much time cooking, preparing or eating.   Beth shared the value of simply taking more time to chew the food I’m eating because it allows the body to release more enzymes to aid in digestion.  Speaking with Beth helped to highlight that I always seem to be eating on the go, even when I am eating healthier foods. I have a new attitude towards healthy living thanks to Beth and now value the time it takes to eat properly.

Much in the way Beth passes along great advice, she is going to give the $10 to someone else.

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Blog post by Stephanie, a Kindness Investor from Mt. Laurel, NJ.

Day 4 Intention ~ Today, I Choose Greatness

I had the great honor to meet 9 1/2 years old Stephanie E. at Indigo Moon, a yoga/massage and gift shop where her mom works.  Stephanie is great not just because she shares a great name as me, but she is truly an all around amazing kid.  As a fourth grader, she is a Safety Patrol Monitor at her school.  Her role is to help as a hallway monitor and bus buddy. Stephanie is also involved in The Circle of Giving program at her school that was created to honor a teacher’s son who passed away in the third grade.  Stephanie believes the program has been going on since the 90’s. She thinks it’s a great opportunity because over Thanksgiving she volunteered at The Ronald McDonald House.  Stephanie has also decided to give back by volunteering to help the Food Bank of New Jersey feed people, especially children.

She decided to volunteer with her mom.  I asked Stephanie, “Why is your mom great?”  Stephanie said her mom is funny and makes her laugh. She says being funny helps people to be happy.

This young girl is not only giving in many ways, but also talented.  She is a great artist, an excellent writer and loves gymnastics, even though she is now healing from a sprained ankle.  Stephanie also likes swimming in the summer and always loves playing with her dog, Brodie.

This young lady describes herself as, “crazy in my own way.”  I asked her what that meant.  She said she likes to entertain people and is usually energetic and happy. Stephanie said the greatest gift you can share each day is happiness.  I have to say, I agree!

Kids are great and so are you, Stephanie.  I love the creative person you are.  You are a leader and will continue to do great things in your life!

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Blog post by Stephanie, a Kindness Investor from Mt. Laurel, NJ.

Today’s Intention ~ Today, I Appreciate Joyful Living
I met birthday girl Liz at Border’s Bookstore.  She was working intently at her computer while listening to her iPod, the image of today’s college student.  I approached her as she was packing up and she was at first surprised and unsure about the Year of Giving.  She asked if I was going to ask her a bunch of “philosophical” questions about the meaning of life.  Being a deep thinker, I thought if we had more time I probably would have.  Instead I said I just wanted to learn a little bit more about her and her story.
Liz began sharing that she took a year off after highschool before she started community college.  She is currently undeclared, but she does harbor the idea of eventually going to law school.  She told me she would also like to take philosophy classes in college.
Liz went on to explain her passion for story telling.   She told me about a fictional love story she wrote in a blog a year ago.  She elaborated that she was contacted by a man who wants to turn the romance into a movie after Liz converts the blog into a script.  I now wonder if that is what she was working on before I approached her with the $10.  Liz also shared a ghost story with me about Ellicot City, Marlyand which I thought was funny because I have actually been there before.
Later in the conversation, I found out that it was Liz’s birthday and she was meeting up with a friend soon, but before she left I asked her what 3 things bring her joy in her life.  She said her Bichon Hagen, her family (Liz currently lives with her mom and her older brother just got married), and finally that one day she may be discovered! Hmmm, I wonder if that means joy that she will discover in herself or someone will discover her great talents as a writer.
Liz was a friendly young woman who I enjoyed speaking with!
I made an avatar of Liz because she didn’t want her picture taken.  Her hair was more blond with longer bangs, but I wanted to do something fun to honor the birthday girl/college student/writer who loves her dog and family!  Oh and she said the $10 will buy her coffee. She loves coffee and it keeps her going.  We both shared a good laugh that I was able to give her a surprise birthday gift!

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Blog post by Stephanie, a Kindness Investor from Mt. Laurel, NJ.

I created an intention this morning ~ Today, I focus on listening.

My next Year of Giving experience brought me to my local library, a place I hadn’t really been to since I was a kid.  I was motivated to sign up for a library card when I was there because I found a series of children’s books called “The Way To Be” series which interested me.

This is where I met Carl B, who can best be described as “a wealth of historical knowledge”.  We began talking and Carl shared stories about Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Milton Hershey, Da Vinci, Pearl Harbor, The Roman Empire and Ancient Greeks.

He is currently unemployed himself, but dreams about being a highschool history teacher one day. I was amazed at the “wealth of knowledge” Carl has within him and could easily share with high school seniors.   He said he was always interested in history since 5th grade and he learned a lot from books and museums.  He did say history movies sometimes fabricate the truth but documentaries are more accurate.  What fascinated me was Carl, didn’t just share historical facts and info. He talks about history like he lived it and knew the people directly.  He talked about the character of people, the stories that aren’t always in text books, and the history of objects and technology.

Carl was very friendly, talkative and is truly motivated to make a difference in teens.  He said his dream would be to teach seniors specifically because that would be the last year to motivate them to go to college and continue learning.  He believes he is a self-taught historian because of his hunger to learn about the past.

Carl plans to donate the money to PHILABUNDANCE, an organization that helps feed the hungry throughout Philly and the Delaware Valley. Every year he gives them money and shares a quote from Deuteronomy.

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Blog post by Stephanie, a Kindness Investor from Mt. Laurel, NJ.

I created an intention this morning ~ Today, I am open!

I wrote up a certificate that said “I value you & your story” to give to today’s recipient. I eagerly left my house ready to meet my $10 recipient.  I went to the bank with 4 $20 bills and asked for 8 $10 bills.  Seven bills were for my YOGI’s (Year of Giving Investment) this week and one bill was left over for me. :)

While I was at the bank, I overheard the teller next to me tell the young woman that she was in the negative.  I had been there before and bounced a check, so her situation hit home for me.  I wanted to hand her the $10 but she was with the teller, had a cell phone call on hold and her mom was waiting for her in the car.  Honestly, the scenario to give her the money at that moment didn’t seem like an open opportunity so I left the bank and ventured off.

I went to Panera for lunch, thinking this was a perfect place to meet a YOGI, but the place seemed crowded, busy and sadly the people felt closed off to making connections with a stranger.  I left and later set out to Whole Foods.  I was aware that it still seemed difficult to even make eye contact with people.  Everyone seemed to be in a hurry.  The customers seemed to be looking in their wallets, talking on their cell phones or focusing on where they were going next.

I did approach a woman shopping with her 4 year old child, and to my surprise she was not open to talk with me at all.  She quickly raced away saying, “My child is with me.”

I was let down for a moment and felt she really wanted to protect her child. I have always promoted Kindness in schools and enjoy connecting with children.  People tell me I have a natural gift for this, but I didn’t realize how challenging it is to connect with people I don’t know who are going about their everyday routines and schedules.

Feeling like I may fail myself and not find someone to connect with, I looked over at the last register and watched a middle-aged woman tap a man on the shoulder and point to a bill on the ground.  I believe it was only a dollar bill, but I observed this woman’s kind gesture.  The man was not even aware that he dropped money, but picked it up and graciously thanked the woman.  After the woman paid for her salad, I approached her smiling and gave her the $10.  I said I observed her gesture and that I would like to give her $10 as part of the Year of Giving.  She was shocked and surprised, so I started our conversation by explaining just what YOG was.

Cheryl F. accepted the $10 and told me she is the mother of four teenage girls ages 12, 14, 16 and 18. She said the hardest thing about being a mother was how close in ages her girls are and wished daily responsibilities did not get in the way of her spending more time with them. Cheryl works as a Home Health Aide and helps serve the elderly.  She shared how our elderly are a lot like children – needing lots of care and attention, too.  She said she enjoys her job and helping other people out.

When I asked how she will use the money, Cheryl said, “I will hold on to it and then pay it forward!”  She wanted to tell her daughters about what happened today.  I thanked Cheryl for sharing her story and for being so kind.  Cheryl was warm, friendly and cares about her daughters and the elderly!

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Name:  

Stephanie

Age?

35
Where do you live?

Mt. Laurel, NJ

Where were you born?

Voorhees, NJ

What’s the highest level of education you have completed?

B.S. in Elementary Ed and Special Ed.
Do you have a family?

I have an AWESOME FAMILY, GREAT FRIENDS who are like family to me and a WONDERFUL Boyfriend, Greg. His kids, Gregory & Grace are a ton of FUN too.  To tell the truth,  I feel connected to a greater global family as well!
How did you hear about the Year of Giving?

Facebook last Spring :)
How long have you been unemployed?

The beginning of Jan.
What happened?

What happened was honestly an unexpected story I could tell.  I didn’t expect to lost my job,  but in the bigger picture I believe the ending occurred in my life for something new to begin.  I valued the experience and loved working with kids, but I feel the change occurred in my life to empower me to create something more!

Do you currently volunteer?

I did volunteer the last two months to help co-create a character education curriculum for BUNNY HULL of DREAM A WORLD.   She wrote a series of awesome books called “The Young Masters Little Wisodom” series. I am now looking for a Montessori School to pilot the program at.  I have also recently volunteered to put together 15 raffle baskets for a friend’s mom who lost her home do to a house fire.

Who have been your biggest influences?

Wow, many people have influenced me throughout my life. I am inspired by my mom’s kind and giving spirit, the teachers who recognized something greater within me and helped pull it out,  and I am often influenced and inspired by children.  Since I was young I have been positively influenced by Walt Disney’s spirit because he had a vision and dream and made it come true.  I’d like to create something for kids based on my own visions and dreams.
What is your favorite food?

I ate at Planet Raw Organic Food restaurant in California once and not only did the food look like a beautiful work of art, but it felt like heaven.  By far it was the most satisfying food I have ever eaten in my life!

What is the most meaningful gift you have ever received?

I have received lots from friends in family in forms or loving supportive energy, but I also love receiving “gifts” from nature, like finding heart rocks while I am on a walk or finding a tree smiling at me. (See pic)  I find these “gifts” from nature are soooo much FUN!

I also feel it’s a “great gift from the universe” when I am driving and I find a license plate that speaks to me, like

WITHLUV, PEACEINU, LUVNLYF, HV F8TH, B-THEONE, BSTRONG, LVLIFE

(These are all license plates I have seen and when I safely can, I snap a pic)

The best one was HOPE ANN because that is the “pen name” I gave to myself for the two children’s books I wrote.  Whenever I see a license plate it’s like the perfect words for the day that often lifts my spirits!

Describe your ideal job:

Wow, I have begun to think I don’t want just another job. What I wish to do in my life would require lots of work, but I would rather be known as a creator as well as a published author who also designed products that positively influence children.  More than anything I would eventually love to be the creator of a children’s discovery play center called A MAGIC NATION!  It would be a place that brings a child’s imagination to life by focuses on the mind, body, spirit. This great space for kids would also feature a place called HEART KIDS PLAY SHOP, a creative gift shop where the products have a great value and purpose!

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Blog post by Maria D., a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC.

A 6 foot 2, mid-forties man walks around the living room, adorned in tattered army fatigues and tennis shoes.  He looks tired and antsy as his eyes quickly jet around the room.  He just finished sweeping the floor and talks to the staff person on duty.  “Yeah, okay. I’ll take out the trash.”
It’s Sunday and chore time for all the residents (about a dozen) at this house – an adult home for the mentally ill in Pacthogue on Long Island, New York.  I wanted to help, but got the feeling chores are part of the structure and not to disturb it.  I later found out that “John” (he declined to provide his name or be photographed) is a Gulf War I veteran from NY who had a breakdown and never recovered.  His parents live nearby and visit him fairly often, which isn’t always the case in the adult home.  Some residents only have each other as friends and family.
I wasn’t going to be there long, so I decided to just go for it and ask John if he’d accept the $10 for the Year of Giving project.  “Well, I dunno,” was his initial response.  But upon assurance from the staff person Rita, John agreed to accept the money. When asked what he plans to do with the money, he was reluctant.  “Well, I’m not sure yet, why, what does it matter?  Well, I might save it, might give it to my mom.”  It seemed like a lot of money to him and he didn’t want to blow it all at once.
In terms of what he needs or what people could give him, John didn’t feel comfortable with that.  So I guess what I would offer is that you don’t dismiss people right away if they seem a little different – you never know their story.  A little tolerance can go a long way.  And if you are so inclined, there are many adult homes around the states who are underfunded and in need of volunteers, not to mention various veterans’ causes.

And thanks, it’s been an interesting experience being a Kindness Investor!

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Before I share with you my amazing volunteer experience at Miriam’s Kitchen here in Washington, DC, I want to introduce you to a very important person at the Year of Giving.  His name is Kyle.

A photo of Kyle when I met him back in October of 2010.

Some of you might remember him from Day 311 last year when I gave him my $10 for the day after seeing him do a stand-up routine at a local open mic night.  He recently graduated from the University of New Hampshire and completed an internship here in Washington, DC at a talk news radio station.

The Year of Giving has grown and around the beginning of this year I realized I needed some help.  Kyle volunteered to be the Web Editor and help keep the daily blog posts coming.  In addition to volunteering with the Year of Giving, he’s currently looking for magazine or internet related journalism work in New Hampshire, Washington, DC or potentially other areas of the country.  Please reach out and let him know if you have any connections or ideas for him.  Although he has worked in news, I know that he is also very interested in music and film journalism.

DSC_0038.jpgSo back to today’s volunteer experience.  I was so impressed when I walked into Miriam’s Kitchen.  It was warm, not because of the ovens but because of the love.  I was almost immediately met by Ashley, the Development and Volunteer Manager.  She gave me, and the other 8-10 volunteers for the day, an overview of the 28-year-old organization.  “We like to bring people in through our healthy great tasting food,” she said going on to add that their guests usually stay and utilize the many other services available to their guests.  There was a station full of donated personal hygiene products, a security guard who also gives a hell of a sharp-looking haircut, case managers, legal assistance, access to healthcare, etc.  “A lot of our guests don’t have a physical address so we allow them to have mail sent here too,” she added.

I strapped on a blue or purple apron (I’m color-blind, so who knows which one it was) and was sent to help out Chef Tom.  He had me preparing some home-made chicken and duck stock.  After that I helped wash some of the items used earlier that morning and get them put away.  After the kitchen was in good shape it was time to go out and work the front side of the house.

The inviting dining room had about 25 tables, all with fresh flowers on them, some of them even had cards and games on them.  The walls were covered with art work from the guests.  “It’s a fun environment,” Ashley said as smiling staff members and volunteers started to greet guests making their way in out of the cold.  I was assigned to the personal hygiene station and got to interact with several of the guests who needed essential items such as multi vitamins, deodorant, toothpaste, shaving supplies, condoms, etc.  Everything of course is free for the guests; however, they are limited to receiving a reasonable amount of the items.

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Just one of the delicious items being prepared at Miriam's Kitchen.

Ashley then asked if I would help refill juice cups to those who were seated eating their lunch.  This got me circulating a bit more and I was able to spot some familiar faces: Jim M., Lionel and Bill C. I spent some time speaking with each of them and will update you in the coming weeks on how these 2010 YOGIs are doing.

Lunch came to an end and the dining area transformed into an art center with several of the guests busy working on projects.  Bill was working on a new painting.  “I’m not sure what it is going to be yet,” he told me as he applied some broad strokes to the canvas.  He showed me several of his pieces which were going to be highlighted in an art show being held the following day at Miriam’s.

DSC_0022.jpgMy shift ended and I cleaned up and said my goodbyes.  I walked out into the brisk afternoon, the sun warming my face as I headed north along 24th Street.  I was impressed by how well the staff seemed to know the guests.  “Yesterday we had 212 guests for breakfast,” Ashley told me earlier, “and our case managers knew all but three of them by name.”  Everyone there seemed happy.  It was almost family-like.

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Reed finishing up in the kitchen.

This appears to be a really well run operation.  That being said, they rely on support from volunteers and donations.  If you live in the DC area you can check their list of volunteer needs.  In addition to your time they need lots of items for their guests such as: gloves, socks, long johns, sleeping bags, jackets, yarn, crazy glue, Crayola markers.  If you would like to donate any of these items, reach out to me and I can see that they get there.  If you would prefer, you can also make a financial contribution.

Thanks to Ashley and everyone at Miriam’s!  You guys are awesome.

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Blog post by Maria D., a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC.

 

Say hello to the ambitious and thrifty Griffin!  He’s a young New Yorker who has called Long Island his home for eleven years of life. I got the chance to meet him while down at my Aunt’s local library and decided, why not give the $10 to a young person. Children are our future, right?? So with his mom’s approval, of course, I told Griffin about Reed’s Year of Giving, what it stands for and asked him if he’d be my recipient of the day.
Right off the bat it was clear that Griffin has a value for money and that it is important to him to save for a rainy day.  His parents have a family owned business that he hopes to be part of in the future.  As such, he decided to save the money by putting it into the bank.  “It’s important to me to put the money away so I can have money for the future.”
Griffin’s family also engages in philanthropic activities and fundraising is another value that has been instilled in him.  “When we’re making money, then we can help other people too.  That’s something my parents tell me is important to do.”
And there you have it, folks – he’s young, wise, and looking to do good in his adult years.  Good luck Griffin!

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Blog post by Maria D., a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC.

 

Greetings to Emma, from Takoma Park, MD.  She’s lived in the area her whole life and loves the community she shares with others. She had a big dose of skepticism though and declined to be photographed or exchange contact information.  She decided to give the $10 to her friend Marilyn’s business as a donation.  “She’s in financial strain and I know she could use the money.”

 

When asked if we could do anything for her, she rummaged through her bags (luckily before the bus came) to find her friend Marilyn’s flyer.  “If you could get the word out, that’d be great.  She’s a really deserving person and just needs a break right now to help her with her family expenses piling up.”

 

Marilyn sells health products through her website portal: www.MarilynCooper.FreeLife.com.  So if you have time, check it out. Maybe you’ll find something you need and can help support a mom looking to take care of her family.  Thanks for the brief but encouraging encounter, Emma!

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Blog post by Maria D., a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC.

 

Give a warm welcome to Jay. He’s a 22-year old born and raised in the District who currently works at Washington Sports Club.  Jay considers himself to be currently underemployed, like so many of us, and has aspirations of being a mechanic. “I’m going to go into the Coast Guard.  They gave me an offer to be a mechanic, which will put me on my way to pursuing my longtime dream of having my own mechanic business.”

 

Jay has been the first person I met so far who knew about the Year of Giving and Reed.  “Hey, wasn’t that guy in the newspaper, I think Street Sense? His story was really inspiring.”

 

How so, I asked. “Well here was this guy who had a great job, then lost it, and was unemployed but handing out money to people.  I especially remember the story on the tall, black homeless guy with long white dreads and a staff.  Yeah, that story was really inspirational to me.”

 

And what will Jay be doing with the $10?  “You know, Metro’s getting pretty expensive, so that’s where it’s going to go.” But Jay was also concerned with how I’d be able to give him the money. I’m budgeting for it, by giving up lunches out this week.  “Well now I feel bad, are you sure?”  Ha, YES! Somebody take the money, please!! But a sweet sentiment, nonetheless.

 

A few things I took away from this encounter are 1) It’s amazing how much money I waste all the time that I could be saving for a rainy day, giving to others, etc. and being underemployed helps put things in perspective; 2) It’s exciting to meet people like Jay who have aspirations and are finding the path and taking the steps to lead them to their goals; 3) Reed is kind of a big deal…  Looking forward to tomorrow!

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Blog post by Maria D., a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC.

Tadiyass! (that means hello in Amharic)

Well friends, I had the pleasure of meeting Asrat last weekend and would like to introduce him to you all. I have only taken a cab 3 or 4 times since moving to the DC area in October 2010. Serendipitously, out of the few times I have hailed a random cab, I’ve had the good fortune to ride with Asrat twice! Each time I was feeling low but both time we cheered each other up by chatting about topics ranging from national politics to Neti pots.  That is to me what being human is all about – connecting with one another.

 

Anyway,  Asrat is originally from Ethiopia and has resided in the DC/MD area for the past 8 years.  He has some family here but most are still in Ethiopia and it has been a long time since Asrat has seen them.  He sends money and other things home and works incredibly hard everyday as a cab driver in order to take care of himself and others.  In fact, both times I have met him, he’s just started a second shift after a brief nap at home.
Asrat’s life can be rough at times, but he did have some advice for those currently un- or underemployed, “Work hard to find a job.  You don’t have to wait, it’s not easy, but you don’t need to depend on others.”
It was this hard work ethic that may have lead him to do what he did with the $10 I handed over.  “I’ll give it back to you, thank you.”  It was a kind gesture, but not surprising coming from a kind man.  Even though Asrat thoroughly enjoys engaging with others on the job, he is often concerned for his safety.  As such, what would Asrat want or need from us?  A safer job.  Not too much, if you ask me…

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Blog post by Maria D., a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC.

Say a big hello to Mrs. Marilyn J. If you’re going to sit down and chat with her, get ready to laugh your head off because Marilyn epitomizes what it’s like to be young, flirty and fresh at ANY age.  This grandma had taken a roughly hour and a half journey by bus and Metro to get to the Kennedy Center to see the ever-shocking, totally filthy red-headed comic Kathy Griffin.  When asked why she traveled so far alone to the show, she replied, “Are you kidding me! I’m not just gonna rot at home. And this just sounded like fun! So I’m here!”  In fact, she laughs at her kids when they ask her about being older.  “I wouldn’t trade my age for any other in the world.  I’m totally satisfied.”

This beautiful Canadian gem gave me all kinds of advice on topics from career and love to life and fashion (she was sporting a very lovely dress, by the way, purchased for $5 at Burlington Coat Factory).  When she heard I was an under/unemployed lawyer, she had some ideas. “Well honey, get involved in immigration law.  That was one hell of a struggle for me and my husband when we came here. Sheesh!”
Marilyn’s husband passed away 6 years ago, but she’s still going strong in her job as a Parks and Services Manager at an RV store in Cherry Hill Park.  Marilyn fell into the job on account of her husband and she absolutely loves it.  “I love what I do, lemme tell you.  I sure get paid too much to be so happy!  But don’t tell my boss that, shhh….”
When I asked what she’d be doing with the $10, she replied, “Hmm well I tell you what.  I’m going to be giving it to a budding lawyer.  Because she needs it a heck of a lot more than I do!”  As I handed her the $10 and she promptly handed it back to me she noted, “Now you make me proud!  I want to know what happens to my investment!”
I’ll sure do my best, Marilyn.

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