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Archive for the ‘Savings’ Category

Blog post by Rose M, a Kindness Investor from Forest Park, IL.

I found my teens today on St. Kitts!  Our ship arrived around 11am and we disembarked an hour later.  I didn’t have an excursion today so I ended up taking a so-so tour of the island by taxi, which ended at Frigate Bay, a rock black sand beach.  I took a half-hearted dip and dried out at the bar where I had a Ting (similar to Seven Up) and a chicken roti.

I was served by an ex-pat who had left America with her husband six years ago.  She was originally from New York.  She and her husband lived on a boat for three years.  Then they decided to settle on St. Kitts, but she doesn’t think they’ll stay there forever.  She’s written a book about their adventures which is supposed to be published by McGraw Hill in May of 2012.  You never know who you’re going to meet, do you?!

She said St. Kitts was very expensive, and several times referred to financial worries.  Her husband was working construction on a nearby hotel, which afforded him health insurance.  But she had none.  She seemed like a good person to give ten dollars.  So I explained the whole deal to her, and she happily accepted the ten dollars.  Just then a few people came up to buy some beers.  While they were finishing their order, it dawned on me I had not left myself enough money to get a taxi back to the ship!

Good grief, the embarrassment!  Here I am a Year of Giving Ambassador and I had to ask for my money back!  She was good natured about it, though, and as it turned out it seemed to be for the best.

When I got back to port I hoofed it on to the boat, unloaded my stuff and grabbed a ten from the safe in our room.  Then I hoofed it back out to the port’s shopping plaza.  Someone walked by with a huge waffle bowl of ice cream.  I asked where she got it and she pointed down a certain street.  I walked in that direction when suddenly, just up ahead, I spied five teenagers walking away from me.  Perfect!

They seemed relaxed as they chatted and ambled on some distance ahead of me, so I increased my pace to catch up with them.

“Excuse me,” I blurted to their backs, “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

They all turned to look at me with surprise.  They were willing to listen as I explained to them my mission.  When I’d finished, I said I could give one of them the ten, if they wanted, or I could split it five ways.  They were fine with receiving the money split five ways.

One reason I was interested in giving to teenagers is that teens are still so idealistic and inspired.  I thought for sure they would be supportive of the Year of Giving philosophy.  Several of them commented something along the lines that what I was doing should happen more often.  So I think I was on the mark, and made sure to write down the website address for them.

I used my slightly battered digital camera to briefly film each one of them.  It was a lot of fun playing junior documentarian.  Unfortunately when I played it back later I couldn’t understand much of what they said because background noises garbled their speech.  So what you’re about to read is mostly true, some part best guess and one, and a bit pure invention.

This much is true.  All five of them are sixteen.   They all belong to the fifth form, which I took to be roughly analogous to our senior high.  They were all excited to be graduating to sixth form in two months which would allow them to move on to college or other goals.  The mix was three boys and two girls, and they all seemed to be good friends.  They were excited because their school had won the St. Kitts interschool championship for sports.  Tomorrow would be a school holiday to celebrate and there would be a “motorcade,” as one boy described it, “with lots of cars honking and people cheering.”  

I didn’t get this boy’s name.  However, I did find out he is a cheerleader and the school mascot.  The mascot is a cheeto…a large, orange cheeto.  He’s a tall, handsome boy so I’m sure he makes a very dignified cheeto.  The others in the group described him as a “natural born salesmen” and deferred to him as the leader of the group.  He responded modestly to their praise, but I could tell he was an ambitious young man.  He told me he hoped to major in electrical engineering, and was planning on saving his two dollar jackpot for the time being.  Since school is free in St. Kitts, he won’t need to save it to pay off a hefty education debt, thank goodness!

Chez, whose name I did get correctly, wants to major in IT.  I assured him that was a good choice because it was lucrative.  He agreed with a big smile. He planned on buying a soda with his two dollars “because it’s hot!” He’s a practical sort, I think.

Hasia (I think that’s his name but not certain) is going to major in economics.  He seemed the most excited about getting the money, and was clearly the spiritual one of the group.  When I started to hand out the money he said, “We have received a blessing from God!”  Later, when I gathered them as a group to take a picture, he said, “We should all be smiling because God has given us a gift!  We should have a big smile on our faces!”  He’s also the one who suggested they all shout “Ten Dollars!” when I snapped the photo, a variation on saying “Cheese.”  He planned on saving his windfall.  I have a hunch he might give it to his church or a charity.  Just a hunch.

Tahira, the smaller of the two girls, was the only one of the group who didn’t have plans to go onto college.  Well, that may be true of Tamika too.  She was too shy to be interviewed.  We all decided as a group she was speechless with joy over the two dollar boon.  Tahira, however, wants to get a job after school.  She’s interested in being a pilot because she likes to travel and would like to go to Africa.  Another career possibility is the spy business.  She sees them on TV sit-drams and thinks their lives look very exciting.  She didn’t know yet what she wanted to do with her double sawbucks.  She’s the imaginative one of the group, so I suspect she needed time to ponder the many possibilities available to her.

I asked them how it felt to receive money from a stranger for no reason at all.  They all thought it was “weird,” a word I found to be just about right, since the root of the word comes from the word “wyrd,” which means “fate” or “destiny.” And you never know what chance encounter may change your fate or destiny.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they would try to change someone’s fate or destiny for the better through the Year of Giving, or in some other way.  If I could roll these five bright kids into one, I bet I would come up with an ambitious, practical kid full of faith, hope, gratitude and imagination.  This kind soul would be speechless with joy at the way life can surprise you with grace.  What kid like that wouldn’t go out of his or her way to make someone else’s day a little brighter?

This kid would be like my cruise-mate Carol who a few minutes later treated me to a delicious waffle bowl of sour soup ice-cream.  I told her I’d pay her back on the ship, to which she replied, “No worries.  I’m good.”

They would also be like Chuck, a man on my cruise whom I’d never met before, who a half hour later saw that I didn’t have the money I needed to buy the perfect souvenir for my mother which had finally manifested at the last possible second—a coconut shell carved into the shape of a pig with ears that actually moved (no accounting for taste)— and bought it for me.

They might be like the tall, lanky fellow with waist-length dreadlocks who heaped adorable monkeys on my shoulders as I raced back to the ship moments before it was leaving and when I told him, “I’m so sorry!  I’ve absolutely no cash left on me,” insisted on taking a few pictures anyway, even though he knew with the end of the cruising season next week his opportunities to make money were about to dwindle sharply.

And I know they would be like Hasia, who tossed a “God bless you” over his shoulder to me in a lovely West Indies lilt as we parted ways.   And God—who is not outdone in generosity—did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Day 40 – Dine

-Blog post by Traci, a Kindness Investor traveling in Southeast Asia.


Dine (pronounced DNA) is a tour guide in Siem Reap. He is a coordinator for Globe Aware Volunteer Vacations and host to its participants. Dine worked his way through Tour Guide University, is married and has two children. But being a tour guide is much more than just a job for Dine. He has dreams for not only himself and his own family, but also for the people and the country he loves. One of his dreams to make a better living involves buying a jeep. If he owns a jeep, he can not only be a guide but also a driver and work for an EcoTourism company. The money I gave Dine will be used towards the purchase of his jeep. There is no doubt in my mind, that increased income to Dine will aid him in his philanthropic ways. Even without money, he gives freely of his time to many different causes including orphans, the disabled and the poor. He has hope and he has drive.

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-Blog post by Mary J., a Kindness Investor from Houston, TX

Brittany at Lavish Salon.

Having a bad hair day, I made an appointment at Lavish, a salon in Webster referred by my sister, Susan.  I didn’t plan to give my $10 kindness investment to anyone there, but after talking to colorist Brittany F., I felt she was “the one.”  When she asked what she could do for me today, I told her I wanted long hair like hers and I wanted to be as thin as she was.  “Sorry, can’t help with either of those requests,” she laughed, “but I promise to make your color look great!”  Sounded good to me.

I told Brittany about Reed’s Year of Giving projects and about being an unemployed Kindness Investor.  She was very interested and thought it was a cool idea.  She happily accepted my $10 investment and started work on my hair.

Brittany is 20 years old and originally from Canada.  Her father’s job brought the family to Texas; first Corpus Christi, then to Friendswood, just south of Houston.  It turns out Brittany attended the same high school in Friendswood that my nieces Lauren and Allison attended, though they had graduated by the time she entered high school.

Following graduation, she was deciding between college and cosmetology and opted to attend cosmetology school.  “It was only a year-long course and I figured if I didn’t like it, I could go back to school later.” Turns out she loved her career choice and plans to continue to hone her skills. She was hired by Lavish upon graduation and has been extremely happy there.  “We’re like a close family here.  We all get along really well, travel together, hang out together. I work with a great group of people – makes a big difference coming to work every day.”

If not cosmetology, Brittany was considering oceanography or marine biology. She’s always loved the ocean, is an avid swimmer and snorkeler and plans to scuba dive in the future.  “I love everything about the ocean,” she said as she layered on more color.  “Except for sharks.  I swam with dolphins at Atlantis in the Bahamas and snorkeled in Thailand. It was very cool. I just don’t want to meet up with any sharks.”

In her spare time, Brittany loves to travel and swim.  She and her boyfriend, Kevin, met in high school and have been dating about six years.  She has three dogs; a golden retriever named Harley, a brittany spaniel named Cricket and a little “weiner” (dachshund) she calls Weezi.

A few Favorites include:

Book: A Piece of Cake

Quote:  Live like there’s no tomorrow.

Movie: The Hangover (“I could watch that every day. Hilarious! And they’re making a sequel!”)

She plans to put the $10 in her savings account.  “I just bought my first new car, a Volkswagen Beetle. Red with a black top.”

“Cute car,” I said.  “You look like a VW Beetle owner, Brittany.”  Check out her picture – she does!

I told her about the Lend a Hand section on Reed’s Year of Giving website.  After she thought for a bit, she decided her one wish would be help paying off her student loans. “It would be awesome to be debt free!” she said.

You and me both, Brittany!

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I just got home from work, kicked my shoes off and scanned around my messy apartment.  This week has been crazy and I have kind of let things get out of control around here.  Well, I have blocked off this weekend to get things done, so hopefully that includes getting things straightened up.

Day 336 was November 15th which was a Monday night.  On that night a tragic murder was committed here in Washington.  The Redskins fell victim to the Eagles 59 – 28.  But before the horrific slaughter, the parking lots were full of jubilant and hopeful fans who were still gossiping about the earlier news of the day that the Redskins extended Donovan McNabb’s contract for five years.  The deal pays McNabb 78 million dollars over five years with a guaranteed amount of 40 million.  Shoot, maybe I should be asking McNabb for some financial support for my Year End Celebration!

Antoine gave $3 to his friend and said he was going to save the rest.

Anyway, I told my buddy Chris that he could choose the recipient of the day but that his wife had veto power.  Well, this didn’t go very well.  Chris kept picking people that Beth didn’t approve of.  Until Chris drug 11-year-old Antoine over in front of her to be inspected and she approved.

Antoine was a sixth-grader who was selling candy to raise money for at risk youth in the DC area according to a gentleman accompanying Antoine who didn’t identify himself.  “I’ve got caramel hearts, peanut butter crisps, peanut brittle, green tea,” Antoine began to tell me.  What would you like?  I explained that he didn’t need to give me anything in return for the $10 and that he could just add that to his collection. 

“We use the money to provide activities for the kids and keep them off the street,” the man explained to me.  “You know we go to Kings Dominion, bowling, laser tag, all kinds of things.”

About this time another kid came over, he was a little older than Antoine.  I went to go get my camera to capture a few photographs.  “We got to get going,” the adult said as I returned 30 seconds later.  “We got to leave by 8:00pm and they still have plenty of items to sell.”  

I set up my camera while I asked some more questions to Antoine.  He told me that he had sold 12 boxes and that he had 7 more to go.

That's Antoine in the middle with his crate of goodies.

I snapped a few quick shots and let them get on their way.  As he grabbed his milk crate that he carried the items in I asked what he was going to do with the money.  “I just gave him three,” he said nodding his head toward the older boy, “and I think I will save the rest.”

This was a weird exchange.  Our conversation was awkward and I didn’t feel good or bad about it, just ambivalent.  I thought about it for a while even after Antoine was long gone and I was comfortably sitting in my covered seat in the stadium.  I wondered if he had ever come inside to see a game.  Probably not. 

As I said earlier, the game went on to be a disaster.  It poured rain for all of the second half and the score looked more like a basketball game than it did a football game.  The Redskins played awful.  I think 11-year-old Antoine could have played better than several of the guys that night – he would have played his heart out just be on the field.

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