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Posts Tagged ‘amazing’

David’s farewell party

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, DC

I wanted to update you on the latest news about David Ger – the charismatic young man from Kenya that has touched the hearts of so many followers of the Year of Giving.

You can read a more detailed chronological narrative of the sequence of events leading up to now, but basically David was my $10 recipient on Day 258. Through getting to know him I discovered that he wanted to try to find a cousin of his who was last known to be living in Poland. I Googled his name and posted it on the Year of Giving hoping that someone would know him, but no luck.

I snapped this photo of David on a recent visit we took to the Kenyan Embassy to make arrangements for his travel.

But then six months later I got a call from David’s cousin in Poland! I connected him with David and now they are closer to being reunited. After months of discussions and raising money to help pay for the costs, the day has finally come where he will be flying back to his home near Lake Victoria. It’s been nearly 15 years and along with the excitement must come a lot of anxiety too.

I will be sad to see my friend leave, but I think this is an amazing opportunity for him. I am throwing a little going away party for David this Monday night at One Lounge (1606 20th Street, NW) in DC. It’s right near the Dupont Circle Metro stop. Please stop by between 5:30 and 8pm to meet David if you haven’t already met him and wish him luck on his journey. Here’s a link to the invitation. We will also be accepting donations if you would like to help cover some of the costs. I’m hoping to raise $1,000.  If you can’t attend but still want to donate – just click here!

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Giving is the theme of this post!

Click on the link below and help Maggie reach her goal! (photo: Reed)

I found myself swallowed up in a sea of pink on Connecticut Avenue.  I ended up walking south forced by the inertia of the mass of walkers in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, a 60 mile trek that begins in Maryland and finishes with a spectacular view of the monuments of our nation’s capital.

I found myself next to Maggie, a 46-year-old mother of two who hails from Clarksville, TN.  “I’ve come up here the past three years to join my sister in the 3-Day,” Maggie tells me as she nears the 60 mile marker and the end of her journey.  “My grandmother and a couple of aunts battled breast cancer, but this year I am walking for my friend and coworker who had a double-mastectomy last week.”  She said that her friend was recovering well.

She didn’t hesitate a second and told me, “I’m going to donate the ten dollars to the Komen 3-Day.”  She could use the help too.  She is about $900 shy of the minimum pledge amount that walkers agree to which is $2,300.  She has a few more days to get donations…why don’t you donate $10 today toward Maggie’s goal!  Click here to donate.  I just donated another $10 online to her and it only took a couple of seconds.  And you’ll love her team name too: One TaTa at a Time.

Back home she works with the Wounded Warrior program at Fort Campbell. 

Maggie (right) poses for a photo with her sister who lives in the DC area. (photo: Reed)

She shared with me that she was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1991.  She and two other women worked along side 300 Sri Lankan men washing all the clothes for the soldiers stationed there.  “It was a scary experience,” she said.  “There was not a night that I didn’t cry myself to sleep,” as a result of the Scud attacks.  

We arrived at the rest station and she got some water and a little rest before making the final steps to the finish line.  We hugged and I congratulated her for her walk and commitment to help find a cure for breast cancer.  She is a giver.  She’s a mother, she serves our country and even finds time to pursue worthy causes like the Komen 3-Day.  Let Maggie serve as a role model for all of us.  

Can you say hero? (photo: Reed)

As I left I saw a man doing the walk with the help of a prosthetic leg.  Tell me that’s not inspiring!  Way to go!

On my way home I saw Tommy from Day 230.  He seemed to be doing ok but was suffering from depression.  He is on medication and is hopeful that he will improve.

By the way, this was 10-10-10 Give a Stranger 10 Bucks Day.  I totally forgot to tell Maggie about this. I was so wrapped up in the mobs of marchers that it totally slipped my mind!  I do do this every day, so sometimes I kind of shift over to auto-pilot.  However, my I met my friend Tricia for lunch and afterwards she gave $10 to my neighbor Howard who walked by!

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Today is 10-10-10!  Hopefully you will join me and Howard Wu in giving away $10 today.  Howard came up with this idea and created a Facebook page for people to share their stories.

The fact that today is a special date, 10-10-10, seems very appropriate for today’s recipient.  You will see why later, but Joey has some absolutely brilliant abilities when it comes to dates.

Joey (left) and his brother Rick before entering Nationals Park (photo: Reed)

I was headed to the National’s baseball game and got a ride over from my friend and former colleague Rick.  He was joined by his brother Joey, who was visiting Rick here in the DC area.

I soon learn that Joey is a remarkable man.  The 52-year-old from New Hampshire is autistic.  His parents were told to institutionalize Joey, but they never did.  He has lived with his parents, who are now in their 70s, all his life.

Despite Joey’s disability he lives a full life.  He is a tremendous help to his parents around the house.  Rick tells me that he keeps his room and himself meticulously clean, and makes his own breakfast and lunch.

Joey told me that I was born on a Tuesday, he was right too! (photo: Reed)

He is a very gentle man.  He keeps to himself and doesn’t say much.  In fact, he didn’t speak at all until he was about nine.  When he does it is usually to answer a question.  And he is very decisive in his answer.  I often find myself trying to recall things and taking a few seconds or minutes to determine whether I know the answer or not.  Not Joey.    He either knows the answer or he doesn’t, there isn’t much in between.  

For more than twenty years, the Easter Seals have provided a tremendous amount of care for Joey.  During the week they provide transportation for him to and from different locations where he works.  Usually he sets up tables at local restaurants and has also worked at the library alphabetizing periodicals.  When his day is done, he returns to the comfort of his parent’s loving home.

 Joey has some incredible abilities.  Like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man, he has savantism.  When I got in the car Joey quickly asked me my name.  I told him and he asked me to repeat my last name for him.  I got the feeling that this information was being stored away for future use.  He then asked, “When were you born?”  I told him that my birth date was January 22, 1974.  He took a few seconds and then said, “Tuesday.”  Rick told me that he knows the day of the week for every date. WOW!  I had no idea if he was right or not, but after checking this when I got home, I discovered he was right!  He also told me that my father, who turns 70 this Friday, was born on a Tuesday.  He was right again.  Rick tells me that if he ever meets me again he will surely remember my name and birth date.

Me at the game (photo: Kimon Kanelakis)

Joey wasn’t done yet.  Nope, not by a long shot.  He also has a knack for telling you the song name and artist for almost any song from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.  Rick had on an oldies station and every song that came on Joey would tell us the name of the song and the artist.  “I Saw Linda Yesterday by Dickey Lee,” he says.  A few minutes later he enlightened us with, “Traces by the Classics IV.”  I’ve never heard of either of the artists much less would I have known who they were by listening to them.  And I would have never known if he was right or not either but Rick’s radio will display that information if you press some buttons.  We repeated this exercise about a half-dozen times on the way to the game and he was spot on.

Joey really likes to swim.  Rick told me that he had gone swimming almost every day while he was in DC.  Unfortunately, his time in DC was coming to an end.  After the game Rick and Joey were driving north to meet their parents half way between New Hampshire and DC.  Joey was going back home. 

I caught a photo of brothers Joey and Rick before the left to get Joey's gelato. (photo: Reed)

I wish each and every one of you could have met him.  Joey is pretty amazing.  I almost forgot to tell you what he did with his $10.  On their way out of the stadium he bought some gelato.  I believe it was chocolate…he apparently eats chocolate every day.  He still has the other $4 carefully tucked away in a box where he keeps his spending money.  I’ll let you know if I hear what happens to the other $4.

By the way, Joey was born 52 years to the day before I started the Year of Giving: December 15th, 1957 – it was a Sunday.

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Chilean president Sebastián Piñera holds up a message from the trapped miners. (photo: Hector Retamal/AP)

Have you been following the 33 miners trapped in a mine in Chile.  Well, yesterday after 17 days trapped 4.5 miles inside the winding mine, rescuers received a note written in red paint that all 33 were alive!  VIVA CHILE!  That is awesome.  Now the challenge.  It will take up to four months to get them out…but they are able to send some supplies down to them.  Read more about this here.

This is the same shot I took the yesterday but at night (photo: Reed)

Back here in the US, I was on my third day in Manassas when I decided to go to the historic downtown and find my recipient of the day.  I had gone to dinner down in Springfield with some old work colleagues and then drove back and stopped downtown.  It’s a charming quaint looking place where you see the same police car driving around the town a couple of times during the same evening (either that or they were suspicious of the “guy from out of town walking around giving money away and taking pictures.”)  The flag lined streets are nestled with small shops, restaurants, bars, a hotel and even a barber shop.  It’s in front of the Royal Cuts Barber Shop on Center Street that I found Alex and Breanna sitting on a bench.

I am not sure how well they knew each other.  At first I figured they were a couple, but then it turned out that they were just friends, or maybe even acquaintances, who had attended the same high school.

Alex and Breanna chilling in front of Royal Cuts Barber Shop (photo: Reed)

I asked them what someone should see or do in Manassas and they said that they really didn’t have a good answer.  “There’s not much to do here except go around town and look at the plaques,” they said referring to the historical markers that are peppered around the city center.  Alex said to check out a place called Tommy’s.  “It’s pretty good and they got some pool tables,” he added.  I looked them up later on the internet and it seems to be an interesting place.  They describe the atmosphere as a “sports bar” that is also “family friendly” and welcomes cowboy hats! 

I asked them what they liked to do and they both said they enjoyed writing.  “I have a freakish imagination,” Alex says.  “I write short stories, sci-fi and fantasy but it’s not very good.”  Breanna says she also likes to write and is equally self-deprecating of her talent.  Alex also admitted to a severe music addiction saying that he likes all kinds of music, “80s, 90s up to today.”

We chat some more and before too long before a friend of Breanna’s who just got off work stopped by.  I’m going to take the liberty to change his name and call him Mike…I think you will understand once I explain more. Anyway, I had asked Alex and Breanna to share with me something interesting or funny about them so when Mike arrived I thought better yet, I’ll ask Mike to give me some funny story about the two.  Mike thinks for a second and then says, “Ok, well, I guess I could share this with you but it’s pretty embarrassing.”  Mike proceeds to tell me a story that had nothing to do with Alex and Breanna at all.  It was story about him that had to do with masturbation! 

I was looking at Breanna and Alex and they were looking at me and none of us knew quite what to say.  “I don’t think he understood your question,” Breanna said.  Yeah, I’d say that was a safe assumption.

Anyway, it was a bit awkward for a minute or two and then Breanna left with Mike and I stayed behind with Alex. 

Intersection of Main and Center Streets at night (photo: Reed)

I’m glad I decided to hang out a little longer and chat with Alex because he shared his own personal struggle getting a job.  That meant a lot to me given my own 285 day search for employment that I had gone through since being laid off last year. Alex didn’t graduate when he should have because he failed a civics class.  It started off ok but then the teacher had a stroke and they had a slew of substitute teachers in and out of the classroom and he just didn’t do well and ended up failing.  Until he finished the class and got his diploma it was really hard to find a job that would pay anything decent. 

Alex found himself graduating as the country slipped into a depression.  The job market turned south and he was left knocking on doors, literally.  “I walked door to door at one point looking for a job,” he told me.  I asked him if he could share the story on video and he agreed.  His heartfelt story shows how determination on a rainy day can lead to opportunity. Anyone who has thought about giving up on finding a job should watch this!

So, what the heck happened to the $10, right!  Well, I asked Alex what he was going to do with the money and we realized that Breanna had ended up with the money!  Somehow I must have missed that when she left.  Perhaps I was distracted by the masturbation story.  Anyway, I have emailed Breanna and hope to get an update on the $10 soon.

We said goodbye and I walked through the streets of Manassas passed dozens of dark storefronts until I arrived at my car.  I went back and took Sweetie for a walk before going to bed.

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It’s day 69 of the oil spill and day 6 of me sans computer. No solution has worked for either the spill or my computer, not that they are anywhere close to being on equal levels of importance. By the way, I have put this Donate option up on the right side of the screen here last week to add donations to what we raised at the DC Get-Together and not a single person has donated to help those out of work in the Gulf. I am surprised given that so many people offer to directly help me or help the recipients whose stories are here. Please help, I want to send the money down there asap.  Imagine if half of the readers of the blog would give $10…that would be amazing!

As for my computer issues…I mentioned a guy who volunteered his time to help me, however, he went MIA on Saturday and he has not answered my emails or voice mails. I hope he is OK.  My brother Ryan was nice enough to help me run hours of tests and try different solutions, but still no luck. So no pictures or video for a while. Sorry. For now I am using an old Acer computer that my sister-in-law let me borrow. It is a very basic machine that can’t handle large files and doesn’t have Windows or Microsoft Office, etc. It runs on Linux. On a positive note, it is good to get some experience using a different operating system. I bought a new hard drive today thinking that that was the problem. I installed it and still no change, so I am back to square one. Anyway…back to meeting the amazing people from my journey!

Day 183 was the Worldwide Day of Giving. I did some media interviews that day. In the morning I was on News Channel 8′s Let’s Talk Live and then in the afternoon I was on CNN with Ali Velshi. Both went well. My dad went with me to CNN’s studios. I think he enjoyed that. On our way home he gave away his $10 for the day to a nice guy named Tony. His story is on Facebook here.

Later I went to the DC Get-Together for the Worldwide Day of Giving. A lot of people were able to come and we had a great time. Several TV stations came to cover the event. A nice surprise was seeing Jay Korff and Mark Bautista from ABC and Kate Michael from KstreetKate.net. They have shared my story with their viewers over the last couple months. Some past recipients who attended were: Anthony, Tommy, Sammy, Danny, Molly, Ashley, Mark to name a few.

So, as the celebration began to wind down, I headed over to the bar area and found Mark chatting with a friend at the bar. About the same time I realized that with all the excitement of the day, I had not given away my $10 yet! I didn’t recognize the guy Mark was talking to so I thought, let’s see if he is willing to accept my $10!

It turns out that Alan is actually staying on Mark’s couch this week. They met through www.couchsurfing.org, a worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit. Originally from Reading, England, Alan came over here for his brother’s wedding in Denver and plans to stay for a bit and open a subsidiary office for the geothermal energy company he works for back in England. Then he plans to go to Ushuaia, Argentina and bike 11,000 miles to the US. If such a journey sounds familiar, you might recall that an earlier recipient was planning to make almost the exact trip only in reverse from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. Here is the wild part of this story. That previous recipient was Mark! That’s right, without knowing it, Alan ended up staying on Mark’s couch, neither of them previously knowing that the other one was planning to make a very similar journey. Not only do they share this same dream, Alan has already made a similar trip that is absolutely incredible. He bicycled 13,000 miles from London, England to Cape Town, South Africa. It took him only 348 days to complete the journey. That is a hell of a trip! Check out the details here.

I place a beat-up $10 bill in Alan’s hand and he readily tells me what he will use it for. “I need a new chain for my bike and ten bucks will buy a decent chain.”

We spoke very casually for some time. I enjoyed learning more about Alan and his cycling. He was also interested in my project and I learned that he is no stranger to giving and charitable ventures. During his London-Capetown trip he raised 10,000 British pounds for an organization called Child Reach International. He also says that biking has served as a catalyst for giving as well. “Cycling people are really friendly and people are always giving. You get so much from others while you are cycling that you save up and then help someone else out in the future.”

Alan told me about a website that I had never heard of too: www.warmshowers.org. “It’s a website that shows you where you can get free warm showers.” He takes a sip of his beer and fires laughs as he says, “That’s rather important when you are cycling for months!”

The English are known for their beer so I thought I would ask him if he had a favorite English beer. He didn’t show any strong favoritism to any one in particular but offered up Newcastle Brown.

Other tidbits about Alan that I found interesting are that he has met the Queen of England, thinks Philadelphia is the best city in the US that he has visited and thinks that newly elected Prime Minister, David Cameron, looks like the twin of the new Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

I took some video of Alan which I hope to post when I get my computer problems resolved. We said goodbye and parted ways. He was leaving in two days to go to New York. I just found out on his blog that he has had to return to England to get the proper visa to stay here and work to help set up the subsidiary office for his employer.

Note: Here is a blog entry that Alan posted which includes our encounter where he received the $10.

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