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Reed Sabrina.jpg

Reed handing Sabrina $10 during Tuesday night’s performance of A Year of Giving.

So my unsuspecting $10 recipient on Tuesday night was Sabrina S. from Washington, DC. I picked her out of the crowd – about 5 rows deep. She was seated next to a woman who I later found out to be her mother, Patty.

Trained as an attorney, she told me that she only uses her legal prowess for good. She’s worked for a variety of international agencies and been stationed in places where most of us would think twice about accepting a post; Iraq for example. “I might be headed to Kabul later this year,” she said in the same tone as you might expect someone heading off to the beach for a long weekend.

“It’s like an early birthday gift she said,” referring that her birthday was the following day. “I’m not sure how I am going to use the $10, but I will promise you this, whatever I do with it it will get leveraged to do even more good.” – something she said she learned while working for USAID.

We snapped a photo and said our goodbyes. Happy birthday Sabrina.

Three remaining shows….

Friday July 20 7:00pm

Sunday July 22 3:00pm

Saturday July 28 6:00pm

Click here for ticket information

Also check out the reviews the show has received so far…

5/5 stars – “A Year of Giving is an extraordinary story and it makes for an extraordinary play.” – DC Metro Theatre Arts

4/5 stars – “A Year of Giving is a play you can’t not like or at least appreciate for its warm-hearted intention…This is the kind of show Oprah would love.”
-DC Theater Scene

“REAL.HONEST.TO.GOD.HUMAN.EMOTIONS.” – BrightestYoungThings.com

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Last night was the opening night of A Year of Giving – the theatrical version of my year-long journey of giving $10 away every day to strangers while unemployed back in 2010.

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Holger D. (left) was my $10 recipient on July 14th. Photo: Dave Levin

The nearly sold out show was a culmination of a lot of hard work. Melanie Papasian provided us with a terrific script. Pat Miller of Rockville Little Theatre produced the show and got the very talented Sasha Brätt to direct the production. We had some serious setbacks in the last two weeks….losing two actors to injuries (not related to the show…there’s no circus moves or acrobatics in the in the play – it is part of the Fringe Festival so you never know!), but we managed to combine those two roles into one and find the amazing Devon DuPay who took on the daunting challenge of learning the entire piece in one week. You would never believe that she hadn’t seen the script before last week! In addition to her, Pat Miller and Steve Langley were phenomenal.

Miller shines as he portrays DC Central Kitchen founder Robert Egger who I gave my $10 to on Day 225. Langley did an amazing job portraying Ivory, a Street Sense vendor who I met on Day 49. He also portrays Knox, my first $10 recipient, who by total coincidence was shinning shoes outside the theatre – a special treat for the audience and Langley who portrays Knox in the show.

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The real Knox (left) from Day 1 poses for a photo with Steve Langley who portrays Knox in A Year of Giving. Photo: Reed Sandridge

For me, seeing Knox outside was amazing. I’ve seen him a few times since our first encounter on December 15, 2010, but to run into him on the day that the show opened, that made my day! I’ve invited him to be my guest at any of the forthcoming shows….but it seems theatre is not his thing. He says he may try to show up and shine shoes outside the theatre though to make a few extra bucks.

The other highlight was giving my $10 away to an audience member. Yep, you come see the show and you might just get ten bucks! Holger, originally from Germany, helps develop environmentally and financially sustainable transport solutions with the goal of improving the quality of life of city dwellers.  He wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the $10 – but promised to follow up with me once he decided.

Four more shows to go! If you’d like to attend you can purchase tickets for the following days:

Jul 17th 9:00 PM
Jul 20th 7:00 PM
Jul 22nd 3:00 PM
Jul 28th 6:00 PM

All shows are at the Goethe Institut – a block from the Gallery Place / Chinatown Metro stop.

For more information on the show, visit our Facebook Page.

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

As I clicked Jack’s leash to his collar for our walk around the park this morning, I decided to put my card with the $10 in my pocket, anticipating a potential kindness investment.  The weather is cool and sunny this week, so there would likely be a lot of walkers today working on their New Year’s resolutions.

Across the park, I could see a lone basketball player throwing hoops. “There’s someone with a story,” I said to Jack, as we headed over to get it.  Not in my wildest dreams did I expect a teenager who is friendly, caring, deep, a recycler, athletic, technical, methodical, ambitious, an animal lover, quick, honest, dramatic, and wise?  And very, very funny.

I told the young gentleman about Reed’s Year of Giving project and asked if he would like to receive my $10 Kindness Investment.  A huge smile flashed across his face and his eyes went wide. “OF COURSE?  I’d be CRAZY not to accept $10!” He’s friendly.

Then his smile turned to concern. “But you’re not working. Don’t you need it?”  He’s caring.

I explained that part of the idea behind the giving project is to help us realize that no matter how down and out we are, we always have something to give.  “That’s very cool”, he said. “And a good lesson for everyone throughout life.” He’s deep.

Marcos D. is 14 years old, much younger than I thought, so I’m leaving off some information because of his age.  I also asked him to get his parents’ permission for me to post his story on the Year of Giving.  I was delighted when he told me they said yes, as Marcos is a very interesting guy with a great story.

Marcos lives with his mom, step-dad and little sister, and speaks English and Spanish.  He’s in the 8th grade, but was quick to point out the school shirt he was wearing was from last year in the 7th grade.  “It’s still in great condition, so why waste money?  I re-use.” He recycles.

“You know,” he continued, “I’ve been very lucky with money lately.  I found a $100 dollar bill in front of the grocery store before New Year’s.  One thing about me is that I’m not a good saver. I have slippery fingers,” he said, waving his fingers through the air. “If I have it, I gotta spend it.”  He’s a teenager.

Marcos says he’s “somewhat of a mutt” when it comes to hobbies, because he likes outdoor sports, mainly basketball, as well as indoor gaming. “Most people like one or the other, but I like it all.”  He also likes building and dismantling things. He’s athletic, technical and methodical.

When he grows up, he thinks he’d like to go into technology, maybe developing computer games. He’s ambitious. I told him I would put him in touch with my nephew, John, who works for a gaming company in Austin.  “You never know, Marcos.  John may be able to help you figure out where you want to go.”  I promised him I would give him John’s contact info.

Marcos pets Mary's dog Jack.

“Hey, don’t pee on the jacket,” he said to Jack, directing my attention to my dog, who was sniffing around Marcos’ jacket bunched up on the ground. I laughed and called Jack over to sit by us while we talked.  He gave Jack a big, genuine hug.  He told me he’s also a huge dog person and misses his dog, Coco, named by his little sister.  Marcos got a little down when he told me they had to give Coco away, but he knows where she lives and sneaks her treats when he can. “I miss Coco.  She always made me happy with those big, chocolate eyes. I wish we didn’t have to give her away.” He loves animals.

“So, you got a girlfriend, wife, kids?”, I asked to lighten the mood.

“Nope, still a bachelor,” he said, making me laugh.  He’s quick.

I asked what he was going to do with the $10.  He thought for a minute and said he might give it to his mom, who could use if for groceries, then looked down at his hands and said, “But with these spending fingers, it may not make the trip home.”  He’s honest.

A few favorites:

Class:  “I’d have to say reading.  DEFINITELY not math.  I’m NOT a math person.  I’m going bald from all the stress!” he cried as he tugged at a head full of thick, wavy hair. He’s dramatic.

Book: “I like Gender Blender from the library.  A guy and girl switch bodies and they have to figure out everything, like going to the bathroom and stuff.  It’s ridiculously funny.”

Computer Game: “Metroid.  It’s good for the mind, too.  You have to collect data, figure out weak points, and stuff.  Plus it’s fast-paced action.”

And regarding Lend a Hand…. “Any wishes?” I asked.  “Too many to count.  I see trillions of doors in my brain right now,” he told me, “and I don’t know which one to open.”  He’s creative. “Obviously I could use help with math.” He’s wise. “But more than anything, I’d like my own computer to shoot my own video blog.”  He’s a teenager.

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Day 17 – Kristin

Who can resist a sale? Especially when it’s just days after Christmas? And on this particular day, it was the last day of 2010.  So, I rushed to the nearest PetCo in hopes of finding the (promised) toys for my critters, having explained for nearly a week that Santa was lost in the East Coast blizzard. It was time to make good on my promise.

As I perused the store, a woman pushing a toddler – and a lot of dog and cat food – kept catching my eye.  After finishing my own thoroughly vetted purchase, I boldly approached this young mother and asked her if she would help me with a project. We shifted the cart, child, and critter food out of the line so others could move forward.

“Sure, I guess,” she said hesitantly as I handed the $10 to her. What I remember most of all about Kristin was that she was either quite shy or a bit confused about the entire situation.  Perhaps it was a bit of both.

I asked her what she did for a living, besides raising a cute toddler. “I’m a Vet.”  Well, “dah,” I thought. What a great place to find a veterinarian, besides an actual animal clinic.

photo courtesy of http://www.lienanimal.com

“It’s over in West Seattle. The Lien Animal Clinic.  But I’m on maternity leave.  I have a new-born at home,” she explained.  And I think I have a handful with a small dog and an indoor cat to take care of! My heart went out to this woman, who was, by every measure, in every way, a caregiver. And a giver of tender loving care to so many, regardless of how many legs they have.

“My husband is also a Vet,” she continued.  Both attended veterinary school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  She graduated in 2005. “What do we say?” she asked her son. “Go Badgers!” he shouted as he punched his fist high in the air.

She is originally from Menasha, which is about two hours north of Milwaukee. After graduating, it was work that brought both she and her husband to the great Pacific Northwest. Kristin confesses that she misses the snow, but not the mosquitoes (okay, I prompted her about the mosquitoes because I hate mosquitoes).

Kristin needed to think about what she might do with her new $10 bill on this, the last day of the decade. As I took her picture and then thanked her for her time, I secretly hoped that an orphaned animal in need would be helped because of a chance encounter at a PetCo store on New Year’s Eve.

-Petra from Seattle, WA

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Today I found myself at Speedway Gas Station; I walked in and stood near the coffee station with clear view of the front door.  I had decided the next person who walked in the door I was going to give $10 to.

Marvin and Melinda

In walked Marvin G.  He was in there to get a Sugar Free Vanilla Latte for his wife and they were out of it so he was trying to figure something else to get her.  I approached him a told him about the project I was working on and he was amazed at the generosity.

When asked what he thought he would do with the $10 he asked if he could give it back to me.  I explained he could give it back to me but I would have to give it to someone else however if he wanted to give it to someone it was his to do with as he pleased.  He said he would figure out something to do with it.  When asked if there was anything he needed he said he didn’t need anything however it would be wonderful if his grandkids that lived in Phoenix, Arizona would come visit again because he really misses them.

-Melinda T. from Xenia, OH

 

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Day 338 – Sarah B.

I’m 10 days away from the 365th recipient.  It’s hard to believe.  I have met so many amazing individuals through my daily giving as well as through the blog.  Letters and comments have poured in day after day giving me telling me how my story has inspired them in some way and offering encouragement to me to make it to the end.  That day is now in sight and I find myself reflecting a lot upon the last 12 months.  For those of you in the DC area, I hope you will join me on December 14th at Tabaq Bistro which has been so generous in helping make the year-end celebration possible.  The festivities get started at 6:30pm.

Sarah was worried her bangs were too short. I told her they looked fine...then again I'm not exactly a fashion expert.

Today I thought I would share with you a second recipient: Sarah.  I met her walking up 20th Street in DC.  She said she also lived in Dupont and we shared the next eight blocks together.  “I got my hair cut today,” she told me beaming.  “I go to a guy named William who works at Ava Salon on Capitol Hill.”  She adjusted her blue scarf so as to keep herself a little warmer, “I left my coat at happy hour…I might have had one too many!”

Sarah is a third-year law student at George Washington University.  Her anticipated graduation date is May 11 and after that she said she would like to find a job with the US government.  “I had an interview recently with a judge in Alaska, but I turned that down – it’s just too far away.”  She said she really enjoyed contract law, “and the government has contracts for everything.”  Then her mind must have slipped back a few hours to happy hour, “maybe I could practice wine law?”  Sounds interesting.

She wasn’t sure what she was going to do with the money.  “If this was money I had earned through work,” she started to say, “I’d probably just use it on food , maybe buy lunch with it, but since this came in such a unique and unexpected way, I feel as if I should do something different with it.”  I followed up with her this week but haven’t heard from her yet.

I have some other notes that say something about blue grass music and fiddles…but like so many other times, I can’t read my scribbles weeks later when I write up the blogs!

That's the Brewmasters' Castle in the background.

Sarah was so nice.  She is one of so many people that I have met through the Year of Giving who I’d like to be able to call my friend.  And we’re practically neighbors.  She lives a block or two away.

Sarah will be missing the year-end celebration unless she changes her holiday travel plans.  She’s got a ticket to Houston, TX on the 13th.

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Great news!  I am so happy to finally announce that the Year-End Celebration will be on Tuesday December 14th from 6:30-9:00pm at the well-known Tabaq Bistro on U Street.  You are welcome to join me many of the 365 recipients for a night of celebration.  Your ticket in is a donation that you deem appropriate.  All funds collected will help pay for the event and go toward some awesome charities!  If we get a sponsor for the event, EVERYTHING goes to charity!

If you use Facebook and want to RSVP, click on the Facebook Event Page

Embassy Opticians, 1330 Connecticut Ave., NW, Wash. DC

I have spent a lot of time in front of a computer over the last 333 days and I am sure it hasn’t helped my eyes at all.  The other day I went to Embassy Opticians to get a new set of glasses and ended up giving $10 away.

This entire experience sometimes can get mind numbing.  First of all the whole idea of putting frames on to see how you look when you don’t have your glasses on to help you see is a bit of challenge.  But in the end I managed to find a pair of glasses that I liked for a reasonable price.

Armando has worked there for the past two years although he has been with the company at a different location for four more years.  He is very helpful and seems to have a good eye for what type of frame works well with your facial structure.  What I personally liked about him is that I didn’t feel rushed or pressured in any way.

Armando cleaning some lenses.

He’s a very out going individual, or at least it seems that way.  “I’m very extraverted at work, but introverted at home,” Armando told me.  “I’m out of control sometimes when I’m here and then I go home and I am really chill.”  Chill except for the time that he ended up in jail on his 26th birthday!  Yeah, don’t let the soft voice and innocent face fool you…this guy has done some hard time in the slammer.  Ok, I’m exaggerating.  He had a little too much to drink and passed out in the back of a taxi on his way home.  “I woke up to an officer pulling me out of the cab!”  It reminds me a little of the story that Tekele told me on Day 310 – maybe Armando passed out in Tekele’s cab!

Armando darts around the store looking for the perfect frames for me.  U2’s Beautiful Day is playing in the background as the drizzle moistens the pavement out front.  “I once melted a pair of my Mom’s glasses trying to bend them by heating them up with the stove,” he tells me placing a pair of glasses on my face.  I think it’s best they keep Armando out front with customers and not in the back adjusting frames!

I’ve tried to follow up with Armando to find out what he ended up doing with the $10 but haven’t gotten a response.  He’s either hard at work fitting people with new glasses or passed out in a cab some place in the city.  

Here I am yesterday wearing my new glasses. I'm organizing my notes about the day's $10 recipient in my Moleskine journal.

If you need new glasses, I highly recommend you check with Armando.  Not only did he fit me with a great new set of glasses, he worked with me to make it affordable as well.  What more can you ask for?

Oh, I almost forgot, today is Pay it Forward Day…it’s got almost 500,000 people committed to paying it forward in some way today!  That’s awesome.

Embassy Opticians are located at 1330 Connecticut Ave.  ½ block south of Dupont Circle.

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