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Archive for the ‘Gave the money to someone else’ Category

Kathryn's car. (photo: Reed)

What are the chances that I come across two people with broken down vehicles two days in a row?  Well, apparently pretty high.

You will recall that yesterday I told you about Vincenzo and his “ghetto dealership” purchase that resulted in a $700 trip to the mechanic.  Well, today I want you to meet Kathryn.

I was a few blocks from home when I passed a car with the hood up and the door wide open parked on 20th Street in front of a small park.  As I walked by I scanned the surrounding area but didn’t see anyone who looked like they owned the car.  Perhaps someone was unloading something and just left the door ajar.  I decided to walk back and take a seat on a nearby bench and just observe the car for a few minutes.  As I got to the bench I noticed a woman sitting in the park who was occasionally looking over her shoulder toward the abandoned Audi. 

“Is that your car?” I asked

“Yes it is.  I can’t get it to start,” Kathryn told me.

Wearing a floral sleeveless blouse and white pants, Kathryn explains that she thinks her battery is dead.  “It just goes tick, tick, tick.”  I offered to go get my car, which was a few blocks away, and try to give her a jump.

 “Oh, that’s ok.  I’ve already called my husband as well as a mechanic, so one of them should be here soon.”

The fifty-something year old DC resident is married and has two step-daughters.  She explains that she often drives to the Dupont Circle Metro and leaves her car there and takes the subway to where she needs to go.  “I came back and it wouldn’t start.”

About this time the mechanic called Kathryn.  He was nearby but was having difficulty navigating some of the tricky streets near our location.  Since I knew the area quite well, I offered to talk to him.  She handed me the phone and I guided him through about a half-dozen streets until he arrived.

By that time her husband was also there. 

The mechanic quickly got Kathryn's car started. (photo: Reed)

The mechanic grabbed a large yellow portable battery charger and within seconds had it connected to Kathryn’s battery and she was able to start the car.

Kathryn was reluctant to take the $10, but in the end accepted it and told me that she would pass it on to someone else.  I hope that she checks the website and shares with us what she did with the ten spot.

UPDATE: 10/25/2010

I got the following email from Kathryn…

Hi Reed,
It is Kathryn and I met you on a very hot Sept. 17 at Dupont circle
when the battery of my car went dead.

I wanted to let you know that on Oct. 9 at Union Station I met and had a conversation with a homeless man named Fred.  He hangs out on Mass. Ave 1/2 block from Union Station.  I sat and spoke with him while I was waiting to pick up a friend.

He was so happy to have the $10.00 (Pay it Forward) and I told him to please buy some good food to eat.  We also talked about the possibility of him learning to cook so that he might help out in a restaurant.  It is a small world because when I dropped my friend at Union Station on Oct. 11 Fred was in the same spot.  He was having some lunch and that made me smile. He seemed in a good way.

Thanks again for stopping to help me when I was in need.  It felt so good to pass the money on to Fred.  Keep him in your prayers.  There are a lot like him out there.

Blessings.
Kathryn

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Located about 1,000 miles southeast of Florida, the Dominican Republic is home to about 10 million people, about twice the population of the Greater Washington, DC area.

Yudith sat on a wooden bench in a small park near the Dupont Metro.  This is the very same area where I met Alex on Day 109, John on Day 115 and the forthcoming story of Kathryn on Day 260.  Originally from the Dominican Republic’s capital city of Santo Domingo, the 34-year-old now lives in Maryland with her parents.  She was waiting for her mother and agreed to take my $10 which she says she will give to a friend.  “My situation is not the best, but at least I have a job, she doesn’t have a job.”

“Life here hasn’t turned out to be what I hoped for,” she tells me in Spanish.  “I came here looking for a better job, but in some respects life was better back home.”  Yudith, a single mom, left her three daughters with her aunt five years ago and moved to Boston in an effort to earn enough money to provide for her family.  She later moved to DC where she at least has the stability of having her parents near by.  “My plan is uncertain right now.  I sometimes think of going back to Boston.  Finding a job there was difficult before but here has even been worse,” she says adding that she currently works in a beauty salon.  “I make between $300 and $600 a week here whereas back home I would only make about 4,000 pesos a month,” which was equal to about $135 at the time.  She wires money home every 15 days to help support her children.  What makes things even more complicated is the fact that her visa expired years ago and she is now here illegally.

She says that although things have been difficult here and she misses her daughters and many things about her life in Santo Domingo, there are many great things about the US as well.  “One thing that I really like about the United States is that there is less difference in how people treat others based on their economic status.  Back home there is a much bigger difference in how rich and poor people are treated.”  

Yudith’s mother arrived and I introduced myself to her.  She was friendly and smiled warmly at me.  I said goodbye and continued on my way.

I have lived many places.  In the US I have lived in California, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.  Outside of the US I have lived in Mexico, Spain and Brazil.  I have an idea for what it is like to live far from home; to adapt to new cultures and foreign languages.  One thing that I have always taken with me from the training that I received as a Rotary Youth Exchange student is that things are neither better nor worse in another country, they are just different.

I felt that Yudith understands this and is trying to make the best of it.  It must be really hard though.  She has a much more challenging situation than I had in any of my experiences in other countries.  I wish her lots luck.

By the way, I guess the Year of Giving was featured in a Chinese newspaper.  I have received so many nice emails and comments from readers in China.  Xie xie!  I think that is thank you in Mandarin.

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I met a friend for lunch over near Union Station and then decided to walk back home. It’s about 30 blocks so I knew I would find somebody! I stopped by So Others Might Eat (SOME) and picked up some information and then kept on snaking my way over to Dupont Circle. I came across a nice guy who was originally from Mexico out walking a couple of dogs. He took my card but said he preferred that I find someone else…so on I went.

 

Tent City DC at Parcel 42 (photo: Reed)

I decided to stop by Tent City DC.  When I arrived at the abandoned lot at 7th and R Streets I didn’t find anyone there.  I walked around, yelled “hello, anybody home” but no voices came from any of the tents. Just then two young girls yelled over to me from outside the fenced in area where I was standing. “Hey, why are you guys staying in these tents?” I walked over and explained to them that I was not one of the people staying in the tents, but that they were protesting the fact that Parcel 42 was being earmarked for development into luxury condos instead of affordable housing like what was promised by the mayor’s office a few years ago.

I told them about my project and asked if I could give them my $10 for the day.

Shaquan and Cierra next to Tent City DC in the Shaw neighborhood (photo: Reed)

 Cierra is 17 and Shaquan is almost 16.  They are high school students who are working this summer at a youth camp.  They are also two of the 463,000 children living in foster care in the US.

Shaquan has been in the system since she was three and has been in and out of group homes and families all of her life. “The system has got a lot of problems,” Shaquan says. “Every time you go to a new place you got to go through the whole screening process again.” Cierra has only been in foster care for about five years but even in that relatively short amount of time she has been shuffled between 6-8 families. Right now they are both living with Cierra’s sister for the summer, but soon they will go back to a foster family or group house.

They say that some foster families are only in it for the money. “They get a lot of money from the government and we don’t see any of it,” according to Shaquan. I played devil’s advocate a little and reminded them that the families also have a lot of costs that they may not see directly. The agreed that that was probably true, but they still felt like there were some inequities there.

I was deeply sadden as I talked to these smart, articulate young women. They have been forced to grow up much faster than others. They have felt unloved and unwanted at times and suffered through the pain that accompanies those emotions. “It’s hard,” Shaquan starts to say, “I used to blame other people for my actions, but I can’t blame nobody but myself. You got to keep your head up!” She went on to say that she was adopted by a family years ago and she “messed it all up.” She was referring to a woman named Ms. Theresa. I learned that in addition to adopting Shaquan, Ms. Theresa had also opened her home to Cierra. “Man, I wish I was back there now. I didn’t know how good I had it, but I messed up again,” Shaquan says.

I asked them what they were going to do with the $5 that each of them had in their hand. “Probably give it to someone else,” they said. “If I see a homeless person and I got money in my pocket, I give something,” Shaquan says.

photo: Reed

This was one of those days that I couldn’t stop thinking about the people who I had met for a long time after the goodbyes. Both of these girls have so much to offer the world. They are smart. They are charismatic. They are strong yet sensitive and thoughtful at the same time. They are beautiful young women who have not had the easiest path to get to where they are today and admitted to having made some poor choices themselves. What impressed me most was their attitude. They could have said “poor me, why me?” But they didn’t. They accepted responsibility for their actions and their lives and were living in the present making the best out of the cards that they have been dealt.  Keep your head up!

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Tommy and Loni pose for me at Dupont Circle (photo: Reed)

I was walking through Dupont Circle at dusk when I passed a man and woman sitting on a bench.  As I got passed the couple I heard them both make some sexually suggestive comments to me.  Flattering ones, but still it’s awkward to hear.  I kept walking for about 30 yards and stopped and thought, this could be interesting.  So, I turned around and decided to walk back and give my $10 to them.  “He’s coming back” Tommy said a bit nervously perhaps as I headed back toward the bench where they were seated.

I spent the next hour talking to Tommy and Loni.  I soon learned that Loni was a transgender.  She told me that she had the full surgery and was completely operational.  “Wanna take a look” she said with a demonic smile.  Hmmm, I think I’ll pass.  

They went back and forth a little deciding who was going to accept $10 until they finally agreed that Tommy would.  “You have no idea how many times I have really needed $10″ he says.

Although now he has a place to stay, Tommy used to live right here in Dupont Circle.  “I love the park, but the problem with this place is that there are too many people sharing my room” he says as he gives way to a hearty laugh.  I laughed as well.  He shared that one time he was sleeping on the edge of the fountain at the circle when he rolled off into the water. (Hey, I’ve been in that fountain too!)

When Tommy came to DC last October, he said he “jumped right into the gay community.”  He explains that back in Detroit there is not a strong gay community any more.  “There used to be like 60 gay bars there, now there is maybe six!”  Although he says that Detroit gets a bad reputation, there are some really beautiful parts.  “The architecture is amazing” he says as he explains that Detroit has the largest collection of art deco architecture in the US (I always thought it was more of a Miami Beach thing.) 

Tommy says that he will use the money to help someone else out.  “I try to help people all the time” he says.  “What comes around goes around – I live off the kindness of others.” 

Tommy showed me some of his dance moves (photo: Reed)

I asked him what he was doing for money and he replied, “Tomorrow I am starting a stripper job – I need a wig though, know anywhere I can get one?”  I actually don’t have a lot of knowledge of wigs surprisingly.  He also told me that he uses a pseudonym for his dancing.  “I go by Gordon – it’s my brother and dad’s name.”  Wow…that just seems wrong.  If I found out my brother was stripping and using my Dad’s name, I think I would be more upset that he was using Dad’s name than I would be that he was stripping. 

Tommy told me that he used to be a designer until he was laid off three years ago.  And before that – 27 years ago to be exact – he used to do modeling.  In fact he said that he was the first male model for Calvin Klein.

We exchanged contact information and I said goodbye.  Just then Loni started talking to a guy who approached her.  This guy seemed really strange, like he was under the influence of something or had some mental illness.  Tommy was quick to make sure that she was ok.  Once the other guy left, Loni went on her way and I started heading home.  Tommy and I walked a short ways together and chatted a little more.   He told me that some times he writes phrases with chalk on the sidewalk at Dupont Circle.  “I like this one thing I wrote, Speak without doubt!”  I like that too.

I actually saw Tommy again today in Dupont Circle, but he was busy talking with someone.  I have a feeling I will see him some more.

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When my good friend Kim recently turned 40 she threw a tremendous celebration.  She is someone who always thinks about others first.  Her birthday was no exception.  When guests arrived they were greeted by a woman who gave them two small rectangular pieces of paper and informed them that they were to write two things that they were going to start doing the next day that would positively impact their life.  Then they were to use those pieces of paper as free drink coupons at the bar.  We then had put a name tag on and on that tag we had to described how we knew Kim and when we first met her.  I wrote down that I was her personal sangria maker (which is sorta true) but actually we met in 2008 while working at a non-profit health organization focused on reducing childhood obesity.  

We were told that there was also a video room where we were encouraged to go and leave a video message for Kim.  Her daughter was in charge of the filming and did a terrific job. 

Kay and her husband Marion (photo: Reed)

 

So there I am at the entrance trying to figure out what I would do that would change my life starting tomorrow.  That is a really difficult question.  Think about it, what would you do starting tomorrow to positively change your life forever.  I had no idea I would have so much responsibility bestowed upon my shoulders when I told Kim that I would be there to celebrate with her.  Most other people had written something down rather quickly and went inside.  I had flashbacks to my algebra final in the 10th grade when other students were finishing their tests and leaving me all alone sweating through the problems.  It was about this time that I thought I overheard the woman who was explaining to us what we were to do with the papers say that she was Kim’s mom.  I asked her again just to make sure that I heard correctly to which she said, “Yes, I’m Kay, Kim’s mother.”  I stopped what I was doing and went straight to her and gave her a giant hug.  She was probably a little startled but it was just my instinct.  She must be a pretty phenomenal woman herself to raise such an amazing woman like Kim. 

I decided to give Kay my $10 for the day!  She said she didn’t know what she would do with it, but she would “pass it on to someone else.”  

Cake being delivered to Kim (photo: Reed)

 

Kay, who lives in California, was in DC for her daughter’s birthday celebration.  She is a supervisor for an organization that investigates welfare fraud.  “It’s rampant, people do all kinds of things” she tells me.  Apparently people go buy groceries with a type of food stamps debit card and then report that it was stolen or something and that it wasn’t them who used the card and then they get reimbursed cash for the amount of the card.
Kim is such a giving person, I thought I would ask Kay about her giving habits.  “I give, but not as much financially as maybe I should, but I do give of my time.”  As I have said many times here, simple gifts of your time and conversation are often much more valuable than monetary gifts.  

I didn’t want to hold up Kay more; after all it was her daughter’s 40th birthday party!  I snapped a quick photo of her and joined the party. 

  

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child [as you age], which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley

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I’m heading over to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic later today.  Should be a good day of tennis, both Andy Roddick and John Isner are playing tonight!  They play up at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park.  If you are not familiar with Rock Creek Park, it is a beautiful sanctuary of green space in Washington, DC that is twice the size of New York’s Central Park. 

On my way home from work I walk right by the lower part of the park.  One evening after work I noticed that there were only two people in the park near the entrance of the park at 23rd and O Streets.  One was a young man who was sitting by himself in the middle of the park.  The other was a man who was walking around in a slightly crazed manner.  I watched as the wandering man got closer and closer to the guy sitting by himself. 

By the time I got close to the guy sitting on the grass, the other man had wandered over to the edge of the woods.  I decided to approach the young man sitting by himself.

Raoul preferred not to be photographed, but he was sitting just over the hill to the right (photo: Reed)

I introduced myself and took a seat next to Raoul.  He’s a 32-year-old professional who works here in DC for a non-profit focused on energy sustainability.  “I came out here just to relax a little and catch up on some emails,” he told me as he lifted his right hand to reveal a cell phone.

There are some tennis courts and a swimming pool adjacent to where we were sitting and Raoul told me that he had actually just came from a swim over at the pool.  I have never been to the Francis Swimming Pool (2500 N. Street).  In fact I didn’t even know it was there until a few weeks ago.  Given how hot it has been this summer I am considering making a visit over there though.  It’s walking distance from my place and it’s free for DC residents!

Originally from Mumbai (Bombay), India, Raoul moved to the US about 15 years ago.  His parents are diplomats and they were posted here in DC.  He grew up speaking Hindi and five other local dialects in addition to English.  I asked him how somebody learns five dialects!  “You just sort of pick them up informally by talking with your friends” he shared.  Now he also speaks some Spanish, French and Italian.  It probably won’t come as any surprise to you that Raoul is well traveled and has visited 37 countries.

I love Indian food and never miss an opportunity to ask someone who I think might have a good tip about finding the ultimate in Indian cuisine.  “I like the Bombay Club” he said about the Farragut North locale.  I haven’t been there but will definitely check it out.  He says that he really misses some of the simple street foods from India. 

View of Connecticut Avenue crossing Rock Creek Park

Raoul says that he will give the $10 to somebody else or some organization.  “Maybe I’ll give it to Bread for the City” he says.  That’s odd…because I was planning to go to a Bread for the City event later that week.  It’s a great organization that I will talk about later this week.

Since Raoul is working for a sustainable energy organization I thought I would ask if he had any advice for people on how they could do their part on conserving energy.  He looked over at me and said “Turn the lights off and take the metro.”  Sounds so simple but most of us could do better about reducing the electricity we use and taking public transportation.

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DC Trader Joe's at 1101 25th Street, NW (photo: Reed)

Joe has been working for Trader Joe’s for six years.  He started in Michigan and was then transferred to Rockville before finally accepting a move to the downtown Washington, DC location.  “I do all the signage you see around here,” he explains.  I did a bit of a panoramic scan of the store and realized that every sign whether it be for apples or for frozen entres of chicken masala. 

A former NYC resident, Joe started out as a graphic designer.  When he moved to Michigan he realized that he could apply his background as a graphic designer to be an in-store artist for the privately held Californian grocer.  It was odd to call them Californian, because you feel like you are in your neighborhood store.  Maybe it’s the hand written signs or the goofy Hawaiian shirts.  By the way, I am all for fun shirts, but I think it might be time to change the shirts.  Or maybe it’s just how everyone seems happy there!  

When the 36-year-old artist isn’t working, he enjoys biking, painting, and sports.  He was following the World Cup when we met and was pulling for the Netherlands after his favorite team, Italy, was disqualified. 

Taken at a Trader Joe's in San Luis Obispo, CA. (photo Shawn Thorpe)

“I’ll probably give the $10 to a homeless person.  I see some regularly not too far from here,” he says.  “Or maybe I will give it to the guy who sells the homeless newspaper (Street Sense) in front of the store.”   I didn’t see anyone outside the day I was there. 

I wanted to take a photo of Joe or some of his art work but he preferred not to be photographed and advised me of their policy that forbids photographs to be taken inside the store.  I always try to respect people’s privacy. 

By the way, if you are wondering if Joe is the “Trader Joe.”  He’s not…that would be the founder Joe Coulombe who turns 80 this year.   Coincidentally he says that his wife worked for a company that had the same name as her first name….I don’t remember exactly, but it was like her name was Anne and she worked for Anne Klein.

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So, don’t forget Thursday is the 15th and if you want another shot at giving your $10 away, give it a try and leave a comment here to let us know how it went. 

Maria and Karel (photo: Reed)

 

Day 200 was a Friday and Brazil was playing the Netherlands in the World Cup.  I slipped on my jersey that my friends Keila and Gilson got for me and headed downtown with a neighbor to cheer on Brazil.  

We found a table at the James Hoban pub on the circle.  In our section, I think we were in the minority.  There were several Dutch fans passionately cheering on their country.  Two of them were Maria and Karel.  My neighbor used to live in Holland so she seemed to change who she was rooting for as the Dutch pulled ahead.  She ended up chatting with Maria and Karel about something and then I ended up helping  Karel with some directions to Dulles airport. 

As it turns out the couple the city of Bergen was here for some business meetings and they were leaving for the airport in a couple of hours.  I drew a little map for him on the back of a print-out of the food and drink specials the bar was promoting during the world cup games.  

From L-R, Maria, Karel, Kees and Farren watch nervously before the Netherlands took the lead (photo: Reed)

 

After 90 minutes of play Brazil’s dreams of becoming the first team to ever win six World Cup championships were quashed; at least for another four years.  Our new Dutch friends were ecstatic.  I went over congratulated them and asked if they would share their joy and participate in a milestone day the Year of Giving: Day 200.  They accepted. 

Karel is the managing director of a Dutch industrial company.  Maria works for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.  I have flown KLM before.  I remember it well.  I was in business class from Sao Paulo to Amsterdam.  The service was excellent, much better than Lufthansa or BA which is what I usually flew to Europe when I was living in Brazil.  The captain came on the intercom alerting us that we were landing in about 45 minutes and I brought my seat to the dreaded “upright position” and noticed that in my lap was a small ceramic house that was painted the colors of Dutch flag and inside it seemed to be some liquid.  I asked the person sitting next to me if it was theirs and they informed me that all KLM business class passengers received this token of appreciation and that it was filled with rum.  I tucked it away in my carry-on bag, exited the plane and headed for my connecting flight only to get stopped by security and told that I would have to surrender my new found gift because it had liquid in it, even though it was just two or three ounces at most.  For some reason I felt a little indignant about the situation and just to spite the security officer I opened it and drank it on the spot!  

photo: Reed

 

Anyway Maria and Karel were such a nice couple.  They seemed rather impressed with Washington…well then again they were really in a good mood after watching their team pass on to the next round.  “There’s more green than we expected,” said Karel.  “It’s quite relaxed and comfortable here.  Safer than I expected too!”  I asked them where I should visit if I go to their country and Karel and Maria thought about it for a second and said that Rotterdam would be a good choice. 

I found out that they were newlyweds having just gotten married on 09.09.09 after a whirlwind courtship of just about a month (well to be exact they had corresponded for much longer but had only met in person for about a month.)  You know what they say.  When you know, you just know.  I guess this year there will be some people tying the knot on 10.10.10. 

Maria said that she was going to give the $10 to someone else.  She enjoys helping others.  Just recently she volunteered for a program that KLM did for the homeless; part of their Wings of Support program.  Later Karel asked if he could give me $10…a different $10 as they wanted to hold on to the one I gave them so they could pass it on to someone else.  I tried to remember that I too need to be gracious when people offer me gifts and accepted their $10 which I will save and use to start a fundraising effort that I will begin in a few weeks to help a small bilingual performing arts school in Manizales, Colombia.  More to come on how you can help in some upcoming posts! 

Kees, Farren, Maria and Karel (photo: Reed)

 

Right before they left, they introduced me to their Dutch friends Farren(?) and Kees.  Kees said that I had inspired him to give five different people 10 euros each when he got back to Holland.  Yes!  Way to go Kees! 

Despite Brazil losing the game, I felt like a winner.  In fact as I walked home wearing my Brazil shirt, four different people stopped me to tell me how sorry they were that Brazil lost.  One Brazilian woman hung her head out of a stopped car and just shook her head in a mixture of disbelief and sorrow.  I tilted my head to one side and shrugged my shoulders.  “De aqui a quatro anos,” I told her. 

Oh, by the way, I got a text message later that day that Maria and Karel made it to the airport!  Stay in touch.

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Today is the first day of my new job at the World Wildlife Fund.  It’s ironic that I am starting on the same day that I write the blog for Day 197.  Read more and you’ll see why.

The progression of these signs show how people's moods have changed toward BP and the oil spill (Photo: Dr. Darron Collins)

So you know that I am raising money for those who have lost their jobs due to the oil crisis in the Gulf.  I have received very few donations so if you are able to spare just $10 I encourage you to click here and make a donation to help someone out.  When I make the donations I will post photos and videos of the people that you have helped!

Dr. Darron Collins (photo courtesy of http://www.worldwildlife.org)

I have been following a blog that is written by Dr. Darron Collins, a scientist for the WWF and former resident of the Gulf region.  Dr. Collins has been in the Gulf region after the oil spill supporting the work of some of the WWF’s local partners who have actively involved in front-line efforts to protect and restore the wildlife and wildlife habitats in affected areas.  Through his writing you meet some of the people directly affected by this catastrophe.  His blog is part of what inspired me to try to help some of the individuals who are out of work there due to the spill.  To be clear, my efforts to help the Gulf are in no way related to the work that I am doing at WWF.  I wrote Dr. Collins a note one day to congratulate him on his work and find out a little more about the situation of the residents of the Gulf shore.

To my surprise, Dr. Collins responded to my email a few minutes after I sent it to him and said he would be delighted to talk to me.  We tried to connect on Thursday and Friday of that week but weren’t able to.  He then wrote to me saying he was going to be here in DC the following week and offered to meet me for breakfast one morning.

Dr. Collins in Georgetown after our breakfast meeting (photo: Reed)

I met him on Tuesday, the same day I let the WWF know that I was accepting their offer (Again, I hadn’t mentioned to Dr. Collins that I was also applying for a position with the WWF because they were completely separate issues).  I walked in Le Pain Quotidien in Georgetown and found Dr. Collins already there enjoying some coffee.  We shook hands and I sat down at the long wooden communal table where he was sitting.  Before we began talking, I said, “Hey, I got to tell you something.”  I explained how I was accepting a position with the WWF and he looked at me and said, “I know.”  Apparently he was so impressed with my project that he shared it with colleagues at the WWF.  As it turns out someone he shared it with reported back and informed him that I was joining the organization.  What a coincidence that I end up posting this day’s blog on the very day that I finally start my job there! 

So you have got to check out Dr. Collins’ blog.  It is amazing.  He is a great writer and includes stunning photographs with each post.  Some of the images of this oil disaster will blow you away. 

Dr. Collins gave his $10 to Joey T, an out of work shrimper due to the oil spill (photo: Dr. Darron Collins)

I asked Dr. Collins if he would be my 197th recipient and he gladly accepted.  He tells me immediately what he plans to do with the $10.  “I am going to give it to a guy named Joey down in Grand Island, Louisiana who is an ex-shrimper who lost his job due to the oil spill,” he recounts.  “He took me out on his boat while I was there.”  I remember reading about “Joey T” in Dr. Collins’ fifth blog entry.  Joey has faced some unbelievable challenges.  He lost his left leg due to a staff infection that spread as a result of mackerel attack. Then a year later he lost his right leg in a car accident.  On the blog Dr. Collins writes, “Joey T was one of the best guides I ever had.  He had fished every corner of those waters for flounder, redfish and speckled trout and named and loved every tiny inlet and every bend in the land.”

Dr. Collins received a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic and a PhD in anthropology from Tulane University.  His studies and his professional work with the WWF all have focused on the relationship between people and the environment; helping society answer the question: “How can we meet the needs of human communities while improving the ecological integrity of the surrounding ecosystem?”

The ten-year veteran of the WWF tells me that he started out his career with the organization in Latin America.  He shares an absolutely amazing and hilarious story with me here:

Among his many projects right now, Dr. Collins is working on a special 50th anniversary film for the WWF which celebrates this landmark occasion on December 1, 2011.

Oil-covered marsh grass (photo: Dr. Darron Collins)

I want to share with you one of the stories that Dr. Collins shared with me.  Back in February he was working with a gentleman from Namibia named John Kasaona.  Mr. Kasaona is the deputy director for Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation in his country.  It’s a group that turned poachers into the very people who now protect the environment.  He gives a great speech at TEDx and it almost didn’t happen as they came very close to being stranded here because of the snowpocalypse.  He said Mr. Kasaona had never seen snow before and his first experience was a three-foot blanket of the stuff that brought DC to a standstill!

When he is not working, Dr. Collins enjoys fly fishing, mountain biking, adventure racing and of course spending time with his wife of nearly 12 years and two daughters; one nine and the other seven.

Well, I am off to work now!  It’s been 285 days since I last spoke those words and it feels awesome!

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Piola, 1550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA (Photo: Reed)

I met Ryan and Mandy, my brother and sister-in-law, to watch the Brazil – Chile match at a restaurant called Piola in Arlington.  Despite it’s origins in Treviso, Italy, I always think about Piola as a Brazilian Pizzeria.  When I lived in Brazil there were several Piolas.  I used to go to one in Jardins neighborhood quite often.  Brazil has great pizza and although Piola is good, it’s not the best there.  For me the best pizzerias in Sao Paulo are Speranza, 1900 and Braz

Anyway, for the options we have here in the DC area, Piola makes a good pie.  When they opened up a few years ago in Arlington, I noticed a lot of Brazilians working and dining there.  So, that is how we ended up watching the Brazil game there.

A pizza maker prepares the dough before placing it in the wood-fired oven (Photo: Reed)

There were not that many people at the restaurant watching the game.  Granted it was being played at 2:30pm on a Monday, so perhaps people were at work.  Of the handful of fans there cheering on the game, most were clad in Brazilian shirts like myself.  When the satellite connection failed for nearly a half hour due to a thunder-storm, the table next to us pulled out their laptops, connected to a WiFi network and continued watching the game.  I migrated over to their table to watch the game and discovered that three of the four of them were from Brazil.  I decided to give them my $10 for the day!

Daniela, Reed, Antonella, Amina and Steve at Piola (Photo: Ryan Sandridge)

The game ended with Brazil eliminating Chile’s participation in the World Cup by a score of 3-0.  Although everyone in the bar was celebrating, part of me felt a little sad for Cecilia from Day 151.  As the game came to a close and people started to rush back to work, I tried to quickly take some notes about my new friends.  Unfortunately Steve had to leave immediately and the others only had a few minutes before they too had to leave too, so I had to work fast.

When the satellite connection failed for 30 minutes, Piola's manager sent everyone in the bar a caipirinha on the house! (Photo: Reed)

I asked them what they thought of Washington.  “I love DC,” says Daniela, “Rio is not as safe as Washington.  This is a very safe, cultured, cosmopolitan city.”  Antonella agrees and adds that “Sao Paulo’s traffic is crazy!”  She’s right about that.  I don’t miss the traffic in Sao Paulo at all.  As I was furiously writing down notes in my Moleskine notebook, I heard somebody else say, “We’re in the most important place in the US.”  It’s positive to hear them say such nice things about DC.  I loved my three years in their country too! 

The conversation shifts to what they plan to do with the $10.  I was very impressed by how they approached this opportunity.  After a good five or ten minutes of back and forth discussion amongst themselves in Portuguese they told me that they had decided.  “We’re going to pick a random address in the phone book and send the $10 to them with a note explaining about your project.”  That was pretty cool.  Nobody has done that before!  “And if they don’t want to keep it we’re going to tell them to give it to somebody else.”  “Parabens” to them for a creative and thoughtful idea.

It’s only fitting that I post this blog entry today as the world watches the final chapter of the 2010 World Cup.  Brazil didn’t make it unfortunately.  Will it be Spain?  Or will it be The Netherlands.  Whoever wins, history will be made as neither team has ever won the World Cup.  I have to root for Spain having lived there and developed a strong friendship with many Spaniards.  I can’t forget Carlos from Day 118 who hails from Spain or the Dutch recipients of the Year of Giving: Pieter from Day 140 and Karel and Maria from Day 200 – look out for their blog posting this week! 

Note: I am sitting here at home watching the game as I write up this blog entry.  It’s 0-0 in the first over-time period.  Viva España! 

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Rigatoni with “Sunday gravy” at Potenza. (Photo: Scott Suchman)

I recently had the chance to meet with some friends that were visiting from Toronto.  We decided to meet for dinner with another friend of ours who lives in DC at a relatively new Italian restaurant called Potenza that is just a block or two from the White House.  The food was good.  They are known for their oval pizzas, but none of us ordered pizza.

After dinner, I decided to walk around the neighborhood downtown and see if I could find a recipient for my $10.  I walked for about 20 minutes, not really seeing anyone that I felt was right, until I spotted Valerie.  And boy was I ever right.  This one is amazing, wait until you see the video!

It was about 10:30pm and Valerie was carrying three bags and walking with a pronounced limp north on 11th Street.  When she got to H Street I gathered the courage to stop her and ask her to accept my $10.  The 55-year-old mother of four, grandmother of 12, told me she liked what I was doing but preferred not to participate.  She put her bags down and we started to talk.  I wasn’t going to let her get away!

Washington, DC, April 5, 1968 (photo: unknown)

She told me that she was born here in the nation’s capital.  Valerie remembers the riots that erupted in Washington after the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  “They burnt down this jewelry store over on H and 8th Streets in Northeast.  There was a black man walking around where the jewelry store used to be throwing diamonds up in the air!”  Things are better now though she says.

She talks to me about her 89-year-old mother.  “She moved here from Ohio and she’s still here.  Sharp and in good health.”  I bet she is a good woman because she certainly raised a good woman. 

Valerie was on her way home from work where she cleans offices.  “Where were you when I needed you…when I was broke!” she says.  Her laughter quickly subsides and she goes back to telling me that I should just give it to somebody else.  We go back and forth on this and she says, I could use it to take a cab home instead of a bus, but I can’t do that.  I asked her why not and she said, “I need [the ten dollars], but I don’t need that bad.” 

There was a point when I thought that I had convinced her to take the money.  Then she really started getting anxious, almost panicking a little bit.  Her eyes darted back and forth behind her large frame glasses sweeping the streets for someone to give it to.  She just wanted to get rid of it as fast as possible so she wasn’t tempted to use it on herself. 

Well, take a look at what happens when she finds who she is going to give it to and then gives it to them right before my eyes!  Her face lights up so much when she decides what to do with it, it’s great.  Check it out!

I waited with Valerie until her bus came.  The S2 pulled up and she got on and headed toward her home in Southeast.

Wow…what a great night.  I only wish she would have given me her contact information so that I could keep in touch with her and make sure she comes to the year-end celebration in December!  If anyone knows her, let me know.

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Two quick updates!  I have finally got some video together from my first delivery of items for Tommy from Day 155.  You can see the video here.  He was so thankful!  Thanks to all who continue to send items for those on the Lend a Hand list.  Also, I recovered some video for Alex on Day 180 and posted it.

On Day 190, I went out to Dulles to meet up with my friend Alex for coffee.  He did his MBA at Vanderbilt with some friends of mine a few years ago and had a long layover at the airport on his way back from the west coast to Europe.  It was a short visit, but always good to catch up with old friends.  He keeps telling me that I should come to see him in Riga, Latvia…it would be fun and interesting to see how Latvians respond to the Year of Giving!  

Later I found myself sitting in Tina’s chair at the Hair Cuttery at Connecticut and R in NW.  I have had this idea before to give my $10 to the person that cuts my hair.  Since you sit there and talk to them for a good while, I have always thought that they make for a perfect person to meet and give $10 to.  I have tried a few times, Day 60 for example, but have not been successful yet.  

Today I would change that streak.  I asked Tina if she would be a part of the Year of Giving.  “I think I have heard of this.  Are you that guy?”  This is always a weird moment.  Part of me is excited when people have heard of the Year of Giving but another part of me is somehow shy to affirm their suspicion.  A bit sheepishly I told her, “Yeah, I’m the guy.”  

I wasn’t sure until the end of my hair cut when she actually took my $10 if she would participate or not.  She seemed a bit hesitant the entire time, but I did learn a little bit about her…but not much.  She seems to be a pretty private person.  

Photo: Reed

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she moved here some 30+ years ago after meeting an American man.  She has been working at the Dupont Hair Cuttery for about 15 years.  By the way, if you live downtown this is one of the most economical places to get your hair cut.  For men, cuts are $18.  Depending on where you live, this might not sound like a good deal, but almost everywhere else here charges more than $30.  I have always had good experiences there and I always get a different person.   

I asked her what was the craziest hair cut she has ever given.  Wouldn’t you know it, she said the “M” word….yeah, I won’t write the word, I already get hundreds of people every day coming to my website looking for this type of hairstyle.  See this post/comments to learn more about this odd relationship the website has with people surfing for these kinds of haircuts.  

Tina didn’t tell me much more (and I definitely wasn’t allowed to take her picture!)  We talked about the weather and trivial things like that.  I did learn that she likes Sci-Fi movies and has always wondered if there was intelligent life in another universe.  I believe that there is.  

She finished up, I gave her the $10 which she plans to pass along, paid the bill, tipped her and went on my way.  

A question for you readers.  I am writing an article about giving and whether intentions matter.  What do you think?  Does it matter what someone’s intentions are when they practice giving?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  

The Hair Cuttery in Dupont is located at 1645 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009-1054 – (202) 232-9685.  Open Weekdays 9am-9pm; Sat 9am-7pm; Sun 11am-5pm.  Walk-ins welcome.

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OK, I am really behind now on my blog posts. My computer is dead. My brother and I spent all day trying to fix it yesterday. I think the hard drive is shot. It might take me a couple of days to confirm that and then get the problem completely fixed or get another computer. Thanks to all who offered to lend me laptops. Maybe some company out there will be inspired to give and help me out with a new one! Feel free to send letters to your favorite laptop manufacturer!

Before I share with you Day 181’s recipient, I would like to update you on Kenneth B (Day 30). Kenneth has been selling the Street Sense newspaper at the north entrance to the Dupont Circle Metro for two years. Unfortunately I recently learned that Kenneth will have to miss about a month or two due to some medical problems. I see him all the time and he loves serving his customers. I went to visit him the last day before he took time off and he shared with me some financial concerns that he had due to the month or two that he will be out of work. If you would like to help Kenneth out (or any Street Sense vendor out for that matter) you can send a donation to him via Street Sense’s website. In the special instructions field, please indicate what percentage of your donation you would like to go directly to Kenneth and the great team over at Street Sense will make sure he receives it. Thanks for keeping Kenneth in your thoughts.

Ashley at Starbucks at the corner of Connecticut Ave. and R Street (photo: Reed)

So Day 181 was the Sunday before the Worldwide Day of Giving. As I passed the Starbucks near my house I saw a young lady sitting on their patio studying flash cards. I haven’t seen somebody using flash cards for years. Full of intrigue I stopped and introduced myself.

Ashley is a 22-year-old recent graduate of the George Washington University and is studying to take the GRE exam. Tonight she is focusing on her vocabulary by studying words like “dirge,” disabuse” and “dissemble.” I took a shot at about a half-dozen words and was embarrassed at how dreadful my vocabulary knowledge was.

Ashley is quite smart. Although she plans to leave for a Peace Corps assignment this fall, she wants to take the test now while her education from GWU is still fresh in her mind and then use that score to apply for graduate study upon her return from her stint overseas. I think the test results are valid for five years.

I asked her what interested her about the Peace Corps. “I love exploring. I want to serve my country and be a good diplomat of the United States.” Ashley was actually supposed to have already left for her tour however her plans got delayed several months after a less than perfect Lasik eye surgery. She explained that she very well may have to have additional procedures to correct the situation. “I think I am going to opt for “PRK” which is much more painful.” Sorry to hear that Ashley!

In the mean time she picked up a second job at a restaurant. I asked which one and would you believe it was the same place I had chose to hold the Worldwide Day of Giving celebration two days later! Small world.

When she is not working, this native of Rapid City, South Dakota likes reading, good food, good wine, coffee, dancing and exploring other places. She has traveled extensively and tells me a little about her trips to Syria, UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Thailand. With all the travel it’s no surprise that she has picked up some Arabic and even some Spanish.

I asked her what she was going to do with the $10 and she said that she was going to give it to somebody on the Worldwide Day of Giving. And she did! Not only did she give her $10 to a young man named Aziz on June 15th, but she invited him to join her at the Get-Together we had in DC that evening. Aziz came and I got to meet him as well!

Update July 30, 2010: I finally was able to upload the video that I shot when I met Ashley.

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First of all, happy father’s day!

From time to time I look up some of the statistics of the blog.  What would you guess is the number one word searched upon that leads people to the website?  Giving?  $10?  Reed Sandridge?  Nope, the number one word for weeks now is “Mohawk!”  I have no idea why.  I went to Google and typed in Mohawk and the Year of Giving doesn’t come up.  I did mention mohawks on Day 13 when I was sharing that Davie from Day 5 offered to give me a haircut to thank me for helping him out…that was one style that he said he was good at.

Anyway, today’s story is slightly different from most.  I grabbed a cab over to the Courthouse area of Arlington.  I thought I might give the cab driver my $10.  His name was Ismael.  A 54-year-old immigrant from Ethiopia, he has lived in Virginia for the last 21 years.

He tells me that he likes driving a cab because “I get to meet nice people like you.”  Despite his kindness, people are not always nice to him.  “It can be risky and even dangerous.”  Although nothing really bad has happened to Ismael, he says that some people have threatened him and occasionally customers quickly jump out of his cab without paying.  “Ninety percent of the people are good decent people though.”

I asked Ismael if he would accept my $10, but he said that he couldn’t.  I asked him to humor me though and tell me what he would do if he found $10 or somebody randomly gave him $10.  “I would pass it along.  If I don’t earn the money then I don’t think I should keep it,” he said.  

I really wanted to give Ismael my $10 and figured that he couldn’t stop me from giving him the money.  We arrived at my destination and the meter read $10.  I would have normally given him $12, but decided to give him $22 and include my $10.  I thanked him, wished him good luck, and handed over the money and my Year of Giving card.  Then I quickly jumped out of the cab probably like those individuals he had told me about and entered the restaurant where I was meeting some friends for dinner.

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As I pack my bags to leave for Colombia tomorrow, I started to think that I should publish the blogs in Spanish while I am there. That way if the person I give to doesn’t read English they can at least read their own blog entry! Any volunteers to translate the blogs for those days

I am interested to find out how my project is received there; a mixture of nervousness and excitement is brewing. Tell all of your friends in Colombia to keep a look out for me!

Photo: Reed

So last week I was walking through Dupont Circle when I saw a bunch of people hula hooping. There was just no way to walk by this and not stop! So I did and asked a woman there if she would accept my $10. She said yes on one condition: I had to do some hula hooping first!

Let me just tell you that the last time I did any hooping (they prefer hooping over hula hooping) I was probably in Mr. Montgomery’s gym class in the 7th grade! Anyway, if you check out the video you will see me attempting to hoop.

Eileen has been hooping for about two years now and recently received her Hoopnotica certification and has started teaching hooping classes. She recommends that if anyone would like more information about hooping in the DC area that they check out www.hoopdancedc.com or www.hoopnotica.com. Or you can just go down to Dupont Circle any Wednesday night at 7:30 pm and hoop away! Eileen also mentioned that there is free yoga at Dupont Circle starting at 6:30…so you can come for hours of relaxation and entertainment FOR FREE

Now, hooping does not come without risk. Eileen told me she has busted up her lip and sprained an ankle in her hooping pursuits. So if you are not up for the risks, this is not a sport for you. Thankfully there is no waiver that you need to sign to hoop with Eileen and her friends though. Unlike my past experiences with skydiving where you sign your life away pretty much.

Photo: Reed

When Eileen is not hooping, she is making a tremendous contribution to society by teaching. She is a special education teacher in a local school. Other than that she claims that she lives a boring life. “I have a cat and I belong to a book club…that’s about it.” She fails to mention that she is also a fire eater…fire breather…or fire spitter…I don’t know what you call it but someone who puts something flammable in their mouth and then releases it into flames. How do you forget to mention this! I mean this is really interesting! Hey, want to spruce up your next office party? Get Eileen and her friends to do a hoop dance and spit fire! Ok, speaking of fire, you might get fired…but trust me it will be a hell of a good time!

Anyway…I am not going to bore you any more with my feeble attempt to convey the friendliness and talent of these hoopers…check them out for yourselves in this video! Better yet, go and join them Wednesday nights at 7:30 at Dupont Circle! You will also see Eileen giving her $10 away!

For more information on hooping:

www.hoopdancedc.com

www.Hoopnotica.com

Hoop Mama’s blog

Hoopalicious Baxter

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Remember Mike from Day 146?  You may recall that he works as a Physical Therapist at a Rockville, MD PT clinic.  He shared my story with his boss Bill.  They graciously offered for me to come in to their clinic at no cost for some PT sessions on my neck and back to see if I can improve the pain that I have.  Isnt’that incredibly nice of them!  It means a lot to me.  Thank you guys!  I look forward to the day when I no longer have pain and numbness in my neck, arm, and hand.

After my first session, I was feeling good.  I went out that day with a little more pep in my step and my posture a little better.  

Photo: Reed

Some days I find myself walking around the city…seeing potential recipients but never thinking that they are the right person for that day.  I passed all kinds of people who I debated giving my $10 to, but for some reason I kept on walking.  I walked all over the city, 67 blocks in total.  The light rain was just enough to keep my umbrella up the entire time, but I didn’t mind.  I started to get hungry though and decided to make my way over to John’s burrito stand.  On my way over my cousin Cheryl called and we talked until I came face to face with a large protest that had taken over the intersection of 15th and K Street.  The mix of angry cries for justice and police bullhorns trying to control the situation was making it difficult to talk on the phone, so we hung up and I went to find out what was going on.  This is when I ran into Joan.

Joan, a retired small business owner living in DC, was holding one end of a banner that read, “WE WANT OUR $$$ BACK!”  Although I hadn’t taken her money, in fact, I didn’t even know Joan, I hoped that my offer to give her $10 back might help her and her colleagues out.  Thankfully Joan wasn’t mad at me.  She was fed up with big businesses and lobbyists owning our government.  She feels that they have taken all the power away from the people.

Photo: Reed

As a CODEPINK activist , Joan actively participates in protests that the grassroots peace and social justice organization puts on.  The organization emerged out of a desperate desire by a group of American women to stop the Bush administration from invading Iraq.  On November 17, 2002 CODEPINK was launched when a group of women set up for a 4-month all-day vigil in front of the White House during the cold of winter. I wonder if they went over and spoke with Connie and Thomas at the Peace Vigil.  Anyway, they inspired people (mostly women) from all walks of life, and from all over the country, to stand for peace.  Now the organization has grown international.

Photo: Reed

On this specific day she was a little disappointed because CODEPINK received information about the protest very late which limits their ability to mobilize and produce a large turnout.  She cites messaging and timing as areas that need improvement in these types of protests.  Despite falling short of her expectations, the protest still managed to attract an estimated 1,000-1,500 people.  Plus it shut down a major corridor of transportation.  Their location at 15th and K was no coincidence given that K Street has long been home to a sea of lobbyist offices. 

As Joan and I started to talk, the mass of people began to march South on 15th Street.  I tagged along and pulled my video camera out and started to record.

Photo: CBS News

The march came to a halt near the White House and I parted ways.  Later they went on to Capitol Hill to voice their disapproval of BP at the Homeland Security Committee Senate hearing where BP America President Lamar McKay testified.  CBS News later reported that “only three Senators – Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins, and Mark Pryor – of the 17-member Homeland Security Committee showed up to ask any questions at all.” In fact, Lieberman and Collins reportedly praised McKay for his cooperation and dismissed him in less than 45 minutes.

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Before telling you about the amazing woman I met last Saturday, I wanted to remind you to tell your friends and family about the Worldwide Day of Giving on June 15th! If they are on Facebook, they can sign up for the event here, you can also use this link: http://tiny.cc/WWDoG.

We have about 500 people officially signed up on Facebook right now, but I am still hopeful that together we can reach 10,000 people worldwide! Details about how to participate can also be found on the Facebook Page.

There has been some confusion about the event. This is a virtual event that you can do anywhere in the world!  In addition, I am planning an in-person event here in DC.  It would be fun to meet in person, share your stories and meet some of the previous recipients of the Year of Giving $10 who will be there! I would like to get an idea of how many people would attend an event in the Dupont Circle area at around 7pm on the 15th. You can sign up for the in-person event on Facebook or here.

For those of you in other parts of the world who want to organize an event in your region, I encourage you to do so. If you need help or ideas on how to organize this, send me an email.

Photo: Reed

Last Saturday I was at the Goodwill on Glebe Road off of Route 50. I found Trish, a 37-year-old registered nurse.  After 12 years in the profession, she decided to go back to school to pursue a career in nurse anesthesia.  It sounds like life is not so easy right now juggling the demands of school while trying to make ends meet and pay her tuition at Georgetown University.

“I used to do a lot of stuff outdoors like biking, skiing, snowboarding, but lately I haven’t done much. I am pretty much studying all the time.”  She went on to say, “I would even play golf at this point, I’m pretty desperate.”
Trish said that she really liked the Year of Giving concept.  “I think I might have heard about this,” she told me.  “Even though money is tight right now, I think I might give the $10 to my sister. She just lost her job.”  Trish said she would update us all when she decides for sure what she is going to do with the money.

Photo: Reed

Trish told me that there was nothing very interesting about her and then she remembered a small “boring” detail, “I climbed to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro a few years ago and watched the sun rise over Tanzania.”  I was like, oh my God! Wow.  That is amazing! Trish had a friend who got let go from their job (I know the feeling) and was given six months severance (I don’t know that feeling…I only got one month!) and decided to travel the world.  She had some time off and decided to meet up with her friend some place along his journey.   They agreed to meet in Tanzania and climb the world’s fourth tallest peak.  Crazy!
Fast forward and Trish is in Tanzania with two friends and 19 Sherpas scaling the tallest mountain in Africa.  They made it up the stratovolcano in three days.  “We could have never done it without the local guys who helped carry so much of our equipment and had meals ready when we arrived at camp.” We laughed over a story she shared about losing one of her jackets at base camp only to see it again a few days later on their way down the mountain being worn by a guy twice her size.  “I just let him keep it…the sleeves came to his elbows!”

Trish hopes to graduate in December and would like to move to Colorado and find work as a CRNA.  If anyone has some contacts, please let me know and I will pass them along to Trish!

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Have you ever wondered how your life would have turned out if you had dropped out of school your freshman year of high school?  Well today’s recipient Kylie knows the answer to that question first-hand.  She did it.

Kylie in front of the fountain at Dupont Circle (Photo: Reed)

Kylie, who turned 21 on Friday, decided half way through her freshman year of high school that she didn’t want to go any more.  Probably we have all thought about dropping out, but she actually did it.  Then she visited three or four other schools to see if she liked them any more, but didn’t find what she was looking for.  She tried home schooling for a while, but that didn’t work out either.  So what did she do?  She says she ended up hanging out with some friends that were freshmen at a Delaware college.  They too were not going to class much either.  She “experimented with lots of things” she said and wound up finding herself.  She discovered that she really liked to write.

Today, she is taking classes at American University and hopes to open creative writing centers in youth correctional facilities.  She has already started the process but has a way to go to launch her first center.

I asked Kylie to describe herself and she said, “I am empathetic to a fault.  I’m maybe a little lost…but definitely passionate.” I felt her passion when we spoke about our mothers.  “I love her more than anything,” she said about her mother.  She asked about my mother and I shared with her what a wonderful person my mother was.  She started to cry.  “I don’t know what I would do if I lost my mom” she said fighting away a tear.

Photo: Reed

I was interested in Kylie’s tattoos.  She has seven “professional” tattoos and one “prison” tattoo.  I call it a “prison” tattoo because it was one that a friend did with a BIC pen.  Ouch!  That one didn’t look so good either.  On her right arm she has a large tattoo that says “Love Killer.”  It hurts me just to look at it as I imagine the tattoo needle hammering into the veins that ran along her forearm.  She got this tattoo because of an ex-boyfriend she had.  She shared with me the details of a couple of past relationships.  “Who was the Love Killer,” I asked.  “Maybe I was” she answered.  

Something she said about two former boyfriends stayed with me.  “The one guy I loved, but I never told him that I loved him.  The other one I never loved, but I told him that I did.”  Ironic isn’t it.  “I sometimes regret not telling him that I loved him.”  I asked her if she thought that things would have ended up different if she had told him that she loved him and she shook her head to tell me “no.”  “In that case” I said, “it doesn’t really matter, does it?”

Kylie told me that she was going to give the $10 to somebody else.  As for ways that you can help Kylie, she said she would give that some thought and see if she came up with something.

Photo: Reed

We were heading in the same direction, so we walked through Dupont Circle and headed toward the Metro entrance.  On the way over we passed a woman sitting on a crate panhandling.  Kylie pulled the $10 out of her pocket and dropped it in the woman’s bucket and kept on walking.  “I had to get rid of it!  I didn’t want to be tempted to spend it.”  I sneaked a peak back at the woman…her face was pleasantly shocked.

Happy 21st birthday Kylie!

By the way, check out what Start from Day 126 did with the $10 I gave him…he posted his experience today on his website!

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Meghan with Chief (Photo: Reed)

Last Friday I went for a walk around DC with Ruben, the dog that I have been taking care of while my friends Chris and Karrin are traveling.  I thought I would let Ruben help me pick the recipient of the day.  We walked around for a while and made our way over to Dupont Circle.  He spotted another dog and started to lunge forward toward Chief, his new canine buddy.

Chief’s owner Meghan accepted the $10 on their behalf.  Meghan is from Philadelphia and splits her time between the City of Brotherly Love and the Nation’s Capital where she is working toward her masters’ degree at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies (SAIS) where she is focusing on International Public Health.  Coincidentally through the Year of Giving I have met four or five people who are studying or recent graduates in this field.

Meghan was taking a much needed break from writing her remaining three papers and studying for her last exam.  Despite being in the eye of the storm, she seemed rather relaxed.  Perhaps that is because she is graduating in two weeks and will be done with all of her studies.  As we get close to those momentous occasions our brains seem to somehow remind ourselves that we only have to suffer a little bit more before things improve.

With no job lined up after graduation, Meghan’s life after school is up in the air right now.  She has decided what area she wants to work in though.  Meghan is passionate about maternal health, particularly the areas of child survival and vaccinations.

As the 27-year-old finishes her school and internship at UNICEF, she would love to find a job in Philadelphia or possibly Baltimore.  If you know of any positions in Public Health in or around Philadelphia, please leave a comment here or send me a note and I will forward that to Meghan.

So where did this $10 go?  Well, Meghan said the actual bill would probably get spent on lunch that day, but she would most likely think of some way to “pay it forward or donate it” and let us know where it ends up.  I heard from Meghan today and she said:

I ended up giving the $10 to someone who is usually asking for money near my house and always hangs out with and pets Chief when we walk by.  I hope this helps.  Thanks again for making my day of studying a little more enjoyable and social!

Watch this video to meet Meghan, Chief, and Ruben for yourself.  Let’s just say that trying to conduct and film an interview with two dogs was a new experience.  

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Thanks to all of those who have become Facebook Fans and especially those who have signed up to give on June 15th, the Worldwide Day of Giving.  So far there are only a little over 300 people who have committed to giving in their own community on June 15th…so pass the word along.  My goal is to get 10,000 people around the world to do this and then have them share their experiences, pictures, etc. here with the rest of the world.  It should be amazing, but I need your help to make it happen!

Will and Matthew (Photo: Reed)

Last Thursday I found Will with his skateboard at the north end of Dupont Circle.  Will is an 18-year-old who lives in the Fort Totten area.  He was reluctant to accept my $10 because he felt there were others who were more deserving of the money, but then he decided to accept it and pass the money on.

He describes himself as a “furry artist, tattoo apprentice, capoeira student, skateboarder, traceur (person who performs parkour), film editor, and musician.”  I have to say that I felt like a huge under-achiever after learning all about his interests.  I had never even heard of parkour for example.  It is a non-competitive, physical discipline of French origin in which participants run along a route, attempting to negotiate obstacles in the most efficient way possible.  

Will said that he was going to give $5 to his mom who “could really use the money right now.”  He is going to break the other $5 into singles and give out a $1 to 5 random people.  I asked him if there was anything that people reading the blog could do to help him.  He shook his head “no” and said, “I feel that I can give more than I can receive.”  I definitely understand his thinking.

About this time, Will’s friend Matthew came along.  Matthew and Will met at the same capoeira training center.  They both share a lot of the same interests.  Matthew also trains in Japanese sword play and Japanese staff fighting.

Here is a small portion of our conversation.

If you would like to check out some of Will’s artwork, click here.

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This blog entry was supposed to be posted yesterday.  It was Mother’s Day and I was just not motivated to do much.  Sorry.  Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

I have been dog-sitting for a few days, so I got up yesterday around 7am and took my new best friend Ruben for a walk.   Meandering around Washington early in the morning was so peaceful.  There was very little traffic and I had some time to reflect on my Mom.  I wish that I could put into words how much I miss her.  I know that she would have loved  the Year of Giving.

After a long walk, I grabbed a copy of El Tiempo Latino newspaper and made our way over to Dupont Circle.  I played with Ruben in the shaded grass for a while and then we found a sunny bench to relax on.  I read through the paper and Ruben slipped in and out of a slumber.

Photo: Reed

Last Wednesday I had an opportunity to participate in the Gala Celebration of the re-opening of the Safeway grocery store located at 1855 Wisconsin Avenue.  My friend Patricia works for Dufour and Company, one of the nation’s most respected event management firms that was hired to make the Gala a spectacular experience.  She invited me to help with the reopening.  It was incredible.  I have never seen a grocery store turn into such an elegant locale.  Props to the Dufour team!

Photo: Reed

This Safeway is amazing too!  The produce section was flawless, every pepper and bean was in it’s place.  I could go into detail about how phenomenal this grocery store is, but check out Bonnie Benwick’s write-up in the Washington Post.

While I was there, I met Angie who was also there helping out with the event.  She is a 26-year-old District of Columbia resident who, like me, is currently unemployed.  She has a background in nonprofits and marketing.  I really liked Angie’s answer when I asked her what she wanted to do professionaly.  “I recently did my 10 year plan.  During the next 10 years I want to start my own marketing firm that focuses on the needs of nonprofits, schools, and small businesses.”

Angie (Photo: Reed)

I asked Angie to tell me a little about herself and she said, “I love traveling, laughing, and great ideas.  And I love cheese…Gouda and other soft cheeses!”  We talked about some of her favorite places she has visited.  “I really like San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The people are so welcoming.”  She went on to say, “I love that you can get a delicious meal, a drink, and dessert for $12 there!”

She came to Washington five years ago and enjoys every minute of living here.  “There is so much to do in DC.  There isn’t a monotonous culture here like some places.”

In response to my question about what she would do about with the $10, Angie said, “Well, I’m a pedestrian.  There are a lot of times that I haven’t had enough money to go from point A to point B.  So, I am going to keep the money until I find someone who needs help getting someplace.”

Angie allowed me to take speak with her on camera for a few minutes.  She talks about the most influential person in her life; her mother.  As I said earlier, this was supposed to be posted yesterday.  It would have been a perfect tribute to Mother’s Day.  Angie also talks about Rwanda, where she was born, and how the genocide there has affected her life.

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On Monday morning I was enjoying a chat with my friend David on the sun-drenched patio of Kramerbooks.  David was in town from New York City, where people are apparently accustomed to seeing famous people all the time. 

We hadn’t been seated for more than a few minutes and David said, “The guy who plays McNulty on The Wire just walked in.”  I don’t watch The Wire, so I wouldn’t have recognized actor Dominic West even if I had seen him.  About two weeks ago I walked out of the Asian restaurant RICE here in DC and didn’t notice actor Kal Penn holding the door for me.  I am simply lousy at recognizing actors – I once got frustrated with Sir Anthony Hopkins and elbowed him.  I had no idea it was the famed English actor.  I guess I just don’t watch enough television and movies, or perhaps I just don’t pay enough attention.  Who knows?

Anyway, I suggested to David that I give my $10 to the hit HBO series actor.  David got up and did a quick sweep of the store and said that he had already left out another door.

We went back to talking.

About 30 minutes later David says to me, “You are not going to believe this, but Peter Ustinov is sitting behind you.”  Ok, what is the chance of David seeing two famous actors in the span of about 30 minutes…4 blocks from my home in Washington, DC no less!  I found myself repeating his name in an effort to draw a connection to who Peter Ustinov was.  Spartacus is the only thing that came to mind…but I couldn’t recall the details of his appearance.  Both of us showing our geek side quickly Googled the actor’s name on our phones and sure enough, the man behind me looked a lot like him.  The man sitting behind me looked a little younger than the image on my phone, but was pretty similar.

I decided to offer him my $10 and see if we were right.  David reminded me, “If he has a British accent, then it’s definitely him.”

I approached the man and explained my giving project.  In an English accent, he politely replied, “I would love to but actually I have to be leaving to take a flight.” 

I asked for his name just to track in my records which is my common practice. 

He replied, “Peter.”

This is him!  Wow, this is kind of exciting.  I had to ask him if he was the famed English actor of Spartacus, many Agatha Christie movies, Lorenzo’s Oil, etc.  “No,” he said shaking his head side to side.  “I get that a lot, but I am much younger and not nearly as fat as him!” he said with a grin. 

My first thought was that he was politely denying being the real Peter Ustinov…I mean what are the chances that they look similar, have British accents, and are both named Peter!

Peter Ustinov

Pieter Ariaans (Photo: Reed)

As it turns out, I was speaking with Pieter Adriaans, an accomplished Dutch professor, scientist, and painter.  He was sitting by himself reading Programming the Universe by MIT professor Seth Lloyd.  “It’s interesting, however, I disagree with some fundamental points that he makes in the book.”

Pieter probably can make a good case for his arguments too!  He studied philosophy and mathematics in Leiden, The Netherlands and has been active in research in the areas of artificial intelligence and relational database systems since the mid 1980s.  He later cofounded a company called Syllogic that he sold to little company out of Plano, TX called Perot Systems.  Since then, he has focused mostly his research, sailing, and painting.

Pieter was part of a very interesting sailing project to make a state-of-the-art sailing vessel that had superior auto-piloting.  You can find out more here at the Robosail Sailing Lab’s website.

I don’t know when he has time to do his painting, but apparently he does.  He has hundreds of impressive works.  You can browse through his paintings on his website which has paintings that date back to the 1960s.

Pieter was such an interesting person that every answer triggered a new question, but I was ever mindful of his time, so I thanked him for sharing a few minutes with me and said goodbye. 

David says he will leave the $10 as an extra tip for someone working in the service industry while he is here in the US.

As we were leaving, David said he saw Harrison Ford walking into the bookstore.  Ok, I just made that up!

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I am kind of bummed today.  I have been using a large SLR camera to take pictures for my Website.  Sometimes though it is not convenient to carry such a large item around and my back has been having some issues with carrying around all of this gear everywhere I go.  How do parents do it?!  

Anyway, I own a small digital camera, a Canon PowerShot SD400, however, I haven’t been using it because the battery wasn’t staying charged for more than a minute or two.  So, I broke down and bought the $40 battery (a good one so it wouldn’t die in a few months).  It arrived yesterday and I took it with me last evening to try it out.  It worked fine.  Today I took the camera out to use it and the display is all messed up.  It’s as if I dropped it or got water in it, but I didn’t.  It’s really weird.  If anyone knows what might be wrong with it, I would love to hear from you.  I shouldn’t let it get to me, I don’t really need it anyway. 

I think today’s recipient would probably agree with that statement.  He goes by the name Start Loving. 

Those of you who have been to Washington, DC  have probably visited this place right? 

White House

But how many of you have visited this place? 

Start Loving at the Anti-Nuclear Peace Vigil (Photo: Reed)

Well it’s right in front of the White House.  The Anti Nuclear Peace Vigil was started in 1981 by Concepción and Thomas.  Sadly Thomas passed away last year and now Start has taken his place.  It’s hard for me to fully comprehend that when Concepción and Thomas started the vigil I was only seven!  

As I approached Start he greeted me, “Hello friend!”  He was seated in a low chair with a laptop literally on his lap with a WiFi card plugged in giving him Internet access.  I plopped down on the sidewalk next to him and we talked for about an hour.  I asked him why he was doing this and he cleverly responded, “Because I’m too greedy to do anything else.”  I told Start that I did not get too involved with political issues.  Start shared an analogy for why I should be more active that went something like this.  “Imagine you come home to find your house engulfed in flames and your loved ones and your worldly possessions trapped inside.  Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to save your loved ones and put that fire out?  Well our planet is on fire!”  

Check out this video of me talking to Start.  I think you will be shocked to learn about the life Start left behind to follow his heart. 

You might disagree with some of his views, but what is unquestionable is his conviction and passion.  

Start Loving (Photo: Reed)

In case you are wondering, yes the tattoos on his face are real.  Did you try to stop the video and enlarge it to read what they said?  Well, I will save you the work.  From left to right on his forehea are: “STOP STARVING” ‘START LOVING” “STOP KILLING.”  Below that it reads “WAGE LOVE OR DIE.” 

You can visit Start’s Facebook Page and the Anti-Nuclear Peace Vigil website to find out some of the specific items that he feels are in desperate need of immediate action. 

Here is something that I took from his page: 

MY RELIGION (same as Jesus, King, Gandhi, Teresa, Romero, Eleanor, Obamas…): Universal Love. 

PEACE:  is the presence of Universal Love. 

WAR: HOSTILITY is the presence of Conditional Love. 

MY FAMILY (same as Jesus, King, Gandhi, Teresa, Romero, Eleanor…): All people born and unborn. 

QUOTE: “The greatest madness of all is to see things as they are, and not as they should be.” Cervantes, Man of La Mancha. 

It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with him.  “Millions of people visit the White House every year, but only a few come over here to visit,” Start tells me.  I encourage everyone to stop by and talk to Start.  If you are near the White House between 6am-10:30am and most evenings from 7pm-10pm (sometimes he is not there in the evening when he delivers bread to local shelters) stop by and talk with Start.  Concepción, who I didn’t meet, is usually at the vigil other times.  Sometimes when neither can be there a friend will man the vigil. 

Start is going to give the $10 to a hero of humanity.  Maybe someone doing a hunger strike.  I asked him if I could help him with anything on the Lend a Hand page.  He said he couldn’t think of anything, not even a new pair of shoes to replace his sandals that are held together with tape.  He later did think of something.  He said that Concepción needs a working laptop to use for email and Internet browsing.  If someone has a computer please reach out to me or Start. 

I asked Start if he would do this for the rest of his life.  “I will, unless I find something that benefits humanity more than this.”  He gave me a big hug and we shook hands and I walked home.

UPDATE: May 17, 2010

Start shared his experience giving my $10 away on his blog today!

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I am still working on responding to so many of your truly inspiring emails and comments.  Thanks so much.  So many of you are planning to participate in June 15th’s Worldwide Day of Giving.  I can’t wait.  The more people you tell the more amazing this could be.  Imagine if this goes completely viral and people all over the world are doing this.  I will tape a short video explaining the Worldwide Day of Giving and post it on YouTube.  Several of you have asked for tips on how to approach someone successfully; I will post some tips and other helpful information on www.yearofgiving.org and on my Facebook page.

Last Saturday I took a walk around the city and spent some time in front of the White House.  I often take it for granted, but it is pretty amazing to be able to walk 10 blocks and sit and relax in front of our President’s home (ok, so sometimes it’s not all that relaxing with thousands of people taking photos).  I found a man sitting on a bench and I approached him to participate in the Year of Giving.  He was with a few other people and said he had to go.  I was disappointed, because he was from Canada and I don’t have any Canadian recipients yet!  (That’s ok, the Caps beat his team in hockey that night!)

Javier and Lindsay with their $10 in front of the White House (Photo: Reed)

Then I found Lindsay and Javier.  If they didn’t know better they would have thought I was stalking them because we later found out that I almost ate lunch at the same place they did, instead I ate across the street.  Anyway, the couple is from Portland and Javier was here attending a geography conference and brought his wife along and made a mini-vacation out of it while grandma and grandpa helped them out by watching their two children.  They went to the National’s baseball game (I was also there…seriously I was not stalking them), toured the US Capitol, took a river cruise on the Potomac (I was also on the river boat…ok, not really, I just made that up), visited several museums, and then ended up sitting on a bench in front of the Obama’s pad at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This couple made me appreciate the city I live in so much.  They were so impressed with how nice people were to them here.  They talk about their impressions of the people of our nation’s capital on this video…which could almost be a commercial for Destination DC!

As for the $10, they plan to give it to one of the nice people that have helped them during their stay.  I walked with them to look for a woman they told me about, “C. Thomas”, who works for DC’s Safety and Maintenance organization.  She was no longer there, but they told me how she helped them earlier in the day and even gave them a hug when they left!  I am going to write to that organization and tell them what an impression Ms. Thomas made on Lindsay and Javier! 

We then walked over to the Metro station where we said goodbye and they headed back to their hotel in upper Northwest, DC.  What a nice couple.  I wish they lived here so they could be my friends.

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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.  

Jen relaxing in Dupont Circle (Photo: Reed)

 

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 :) 

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Last week I met with about a dozen former colleagues of mine from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for dinner at Lauriol Plaza.  I like this place, but I don’t understand the mania around it.  If the weather is nice, everyone goes there and it is not unusual to be told that there will be a two hour wait.  We were lucky that we didn’t have to wait two hours.  After dinner a few of us went over to Kramerbooks for dessert.

After we finished I asked our waiter if he would participate in the Year of Giving, but he said he was slammed and didn’t have time.  So I wandered inside and through a small door that leads to a cozy café / bar where I found John sitting by himself fidgeting with his phone.

John at Kramerbooks in DC (Photo: Reed)A patent litigation lawyer from Irvine, CA, John is in town for a law conference.  He started his own practice with some partners in 2006.  He handles all kinds of cases, although the examples he mentions are mostly in the area of technology and biotech.

When he is not practicing law, the 35-year-old says he enjoys sports, movies, and photography.  In fact he had a nice Nikon camera placed in front of him at the bar.

John and his wife also are involved in giving.  They help the Teen Leadership Foundation.  Specifically he tells me about one set of kids that are with a foster family where the mother has cancer.  In fact he says that he is going to give the $10 to her.

I asked John if there was anything you could help him with for the Lend a Hand section.  He said no, but then thought for a minute and said, “Actually I really could use a responsible, hard-working personal assistant that I can trust to handle confidential materials.”  So if that sounds like you or someone you know and you are in Irvine area, let me know and I will connect you with John.

We shook hands and thanked one another and I started walking home.  About half way home I realized that I never gave John the $10!  Oh no!  I hustled back to the café hoping to find him still there.  Sure enough he was there and was totally cool about it.

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Last Wednesday I met a friend for lunch out near the Ballston Metro stop in Virginia.  After lunch I saw Ivory sitting on a bench in front of a large office complex.  His story is one that really touched me. 

The 26-year-old Dallas, TX native now lives in Virginia and is an Iraq veteran.  Ivory’s story is all too common unfortunately.  A man or woman goes into the military and comes out a different person.  Ivory joined the Army in April of 2004.  After returning from serving in Iraq from 2005-2006 his life took a dark turn.  He was discharged from the military in 2008, however he was no longer the role model sergeant with letters of recommendation that he once was.     

Ivory sat down with me and opened up and shared how he has coped with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  It’s hard to watch this video and not feel compassionate for Ivory and the thousands of other soldiers in similar situations.

Ivory currently is working temp jobs and helping a friend launch Capital Custom, a custom apparel shop.

He seems like a really good guy who has got his act together again.  Ivory openly admits that he is still taking it one day at a time and trying to get his life back on track.  If there is anyone out there that has went through a similar situation and has some advice for him, I can put you in touch with Ivory or you can leave a comment here.  

Stay strong Ivory.  Please know that I, and millions of other Americans, have the greatest amount of respect for you and the other men and women serving in our armed forces.  Thank you for your service.

UPDATE (April 7, 2010)

I received the following email from Ivory today.

To give you an update on the $10. I decided to give $5 to a church I went to on Easter and am waiting to give the other $5 to someone I’m led to that might really need it.

Also, an update on the job situation. They decided to bring me back for this week. I also got a call from another job opportunity, in which I have an interview next Monday.

How are your ventures going? I’m pretty sure you’ve met some more interested people. Hope to hear from you soon.

Ivory

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On Friday I came home to my apartment to find a package full of items for Gregory of Day 71

Thanks again Darnell!

So Day 98 was an interesting day.  I actually met up with a local news reporter and cameraman and they followed me around while I gave away my $10.  I also ran into Phillip from Day 75.  He was doing great.  He always makes me smile.

It was raining so I took cover at the top of the escalators at the Tenleytown Metro. 

The first woman I approached said that she didn’t have time as she was on her way to exercise class.  I then approached a couple, but they were looking for a ZipCar location and were late to pick up their car.  Then saw a woman walking into the Best Buy and tried to speak with her but she refused.  

Chris - Day 98 (Photo: Reed)

It was my fourth attempt of the day when I approached Chris.  He kindly stopped and said that he would accept my $10.  It turns out Chris is on his way to work.  He lives in Maryland and takes the Metro down to Tenleytown and then hops on a bus that takes him down to his job in Upper Georgetown.

Chris works in the mortgage business.  

We talked a little bit about giving.  He thinks that giving is mostly spontaneous.  That the decision of whether he gives to someone on the street or not is triggered in the seconds before he gives or decides not to.  As it relates to giving to people on the street, I think this is the case for most individuals.  You might have a preconceived notion about giving in these situations, but that may change in the moment if for example the person says something to you that sparks your desire to help them.

When Chris isn’t putting in insane hours at the mortgage firm, he enjoys going out and “enjoying life.” He also likes to cook…me too!  I can’t remember if he said he had taken some classes or he wanted to.  I recently took two courses at the Sur La Table store at Pentagon City.  They were great.  Chris has actually got some practical experience from when he worked as a cook in college.

Chris thought a minute about what he would do with the $10 and decided to give it to a homeless person.  “There are a couple of guys right outside my office…I will give it to one of them.”

We parted ways and I saw his bus a few hundred feet away getting ready to pull away.  He hustled over and thankfully made his bus…I would have felt bad had he missed it because he took time to speak with me.

UPDATE: I met up with Chris again on Friday and he hadn’t given away the $10 yet as the guys who are usually outside his office had not been there all week.  He hopes that he sees them this week.

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I have gotten way behind…all the wonderful emails, comments, media and speaking requests, etc…added to being out of town for a couple days has taken its toll.  Thankfully I got a good night’s sleep last night and am recharged and ready to get caught up!

On Wednesday I headed to Dupont Circle to meet with Katherine Frey and Susan Kinzie of the Washington Post.  Susan had tagged along with me the day before and today Katherine joined to photograph my Year of Giving.

We ran into Bill from Day 36…he was playing an original song he wrote called “Made as One” at the South end of the circle (click here for a pic of us talking).  We chatted briefly…he seems like he is doing well. He is still looking for some places to play.  He used to play at Potbelly’s some evenings, but they have stopped that.  If anyone would be interested in having Bill play at their establishment, let me know.

It was a little after 5pm and the sun’s shadows were growing longer.  I wanted to walk over to the area where the chess players hang out.  It was there I met Sean.

Sean waits his turn to play chess (Photo: Reed)

Sean is a telecommunications engineer with the US Army.  I asked him what he did more specifically and he responded, “I like to tell people that I used to be the guy that you would see in the movies carrying that bag…well, now I try to destroy the other guy’s network!”  When he is not serving our country, the father of three daughters likes spoken word poetry and playing chess.

Sean had made his way up to Dupont Circle after finishing work for the day.  He stands carrying a chess set that he says belongs to his daughter.  In fact he has taught all three daughters to play chess.  Although this is the first time he has been to the circle since winter and snow blanketed Washington, he tries to play as much as possible.

“This is like crack” he says, “although I have never tried it, it’s gotta be something like this.”  “I wake up in the morning thinking about it.  It’s sick!” he says with a grin. 

Today all the chess tables are taken.  Sean waits his turn.  “That’s ok though.  I like to watch.  There are some really good guys here and I always learn something.”

It was about this time that I learned something that I never knew before.  Sean tells me that he played chess for the Army for 4 or 5 years.  I figured he meant that he was in like a chess club at the different locations he was stationed at, but I was wrong.  In fact Sean’s job for the Army was to play chess.  He was on the Army chess team and that was his job.  I had no the military had chess players on the payroll! 

I had a lot of great video of Sean, but for some reason it was not saved on my camera.  I did have some other quick video clips that I had taken later that I have put together here.  Sean talks a little bit about playing chess for the Army, donating his time, and teaches me a little chess lingo.

As for the $10 he said that he was going to give it to his daughters.

Well, that’s it for today.  I am going to go start practicing my chess game.  Maybe the Army will hire me!

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Today has been incredible!

There were two beautiful stories on the Year of Giving today.  One by Rebecca Sheir of NPR and the other by Susan Kinzie of the Washington Post.  Please check out their respective links…they are amazing!  Their terrific reporting has driven more people to the Year of Giving website today than all the other days combined!  20,000+ hits

I have been inundated with emails, comments, requests to follow me on twitter and requests to be a fan of the Facebook Page.  People have written to me telling me that the Year of Giving project brought them to tears!  I am speechless and so appreciative of the support that I have received from so many of you!

I shot a little video of me tonight.  Keep in mind that in the last 48 hours I have driven over 500 miles, attended my cousin’s funeral, slept in two different Comfort Inns, and tried to respond to over 350 messages and comments that I have received.  If I seem a little out of it…it’s the lack of sleep ;) 

Earlier this week I met Carlos at the Eastern Market.  Carlos is the person I gave money to on one of the days that Susan Kinzie tagged along with me.  He has been working at the family run butcher shop for 18 years…since he was 10!  He used to cook samples for hungry patrons when he was a kid.  

Carlos at Canales Quality Meats, Eastern Market (Photo: Reed)

Carlos is very knowledgeable about the meats that they have…showing me the pork from Pennsylvania and Virginia and the beef from various parts of the US and Canada.  “You want to look for good marbling in the meat…like little ‘lightening bolts’” he tells me.  Filet mignon is his favorite!

Rather than me write more about Carlos…go read Susan’s wonderful article!  It’s apparently the most read article from Friday’s edition!  Amazing.

By the way…I got an email from Carlos today telling me that he gave his $10 to his wife, Gale.  “She just found out that she will most likely be laid off this July 3rd because of Montgomery County budget cut backs.  It made her feel nice. Thank you.”

Carlos with his father, Emilio (Photo: Reed)

Go say hello to Carlos and his father Emilio at Canales Quality Meats at Eastern Market!

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