-Blog post by Mike B., a Kindness Investor from Cromwell, CT
This week was a very interesting week. Thanks Reed. The people I have met along the way in just 7 days are people I could have met sometime in my life, although it’s extremely unlikely I would have the type of conversations that I have had with them. It was the taking of time, the interest in their lives, the one-on-one conversations are all what made it special to me. I remember Reed saying something about, it’s not the $10 that he’ll remember, it was the quality time he spent with each individual he talked to. I would agree wholeheartedly. So thanks for the opportunity to do this.
I love it when I’m surprised by things in life. If it’s a TV show or a movie, I love a plot twist that I didn’t see coming at all. It really makes me appreciate that show. Same thing for a book. I love it when I’m surprised in life with people as well.
Today’s recipient, Joey, surprised me very much. I was up and out the door earlier than normal this morning, as I was at Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford again. Today was a big day as we were filming some students and tutors of the school to be put together for a video for the event in April (as I wrote in Day 23).
We were there at 8 am in Hartford, so it was almost like I was up and getting ready for work again! We filmed and interviewed a few students and tutors which kept us pretty busy for the morning. During that time, the first group came in and in the group were 2 males and a female. They all come to Literacy Volunteers for different reasons; some to learn English from scratch, some to better their English and some study and prepare to take the GED. Still others come to overcome a disability they may have when it comes to learning. Joey fit into this category, but you would never know it. When it was his turn to be interviewed, one question was asked and he proceeded to answer, but the words that came out of his mouth sounded anything like a person with a disability!
Manuel Joseph Arango (“Call me Joey”) is 68 years old, retired and now, a former student at Literacy Volunteers. When I heard him speak, I knew he had to be my recipient of the $10 for today. After his filming was done, I asked him if I could talk to him about something else, but knowing there was another group coming in to do filming, I asked him how long he could stick around. He said he could hang out till noontime, and so when the filming was on a break, I went in search for Joey.
We connected and I proceeded to tell him about the Year of Giving. “This is unbelievable,” he said as he agreed to accept the $10. If I could describe Joey in one word, it would be eloquent. He spoke very succinctly, but yet with passion. He spoke with a reverence about him that made you want to hear more. You could say he made an impression on me and he definitely surprised me.
He grew up in Hartford with parents that did not read or write, had his own learning disability and his language skills, as he put it, were deceiving. He went to a Catholic school in Hartford and became involved in Hartford schools as a swimming instructor. The federal government wanted to put him through a program at the University of Hartford, but due to the learning disability that he had hidden so far, he had to decline their offer. He would have become too embarrassed if anyone were to find out!
He became a tractor-trailer driver for 35+ years among other things in his life, and retired recently. He’s married to a woman who’s a bigger “giver” then he is, has three children, all successful and now he works part-time doing maintenance for Social Services of Manchester, CT.
He and his wife also offer cooking classes occasionally at Stonewall Kitchen in Evergreen Walk (a local shopping center) in South Windsor, CT. Those classes fill up quickly he said as they’ve been doing them for a while and they don’t get the chance to do them that often. I told him I hope to take his class one day!
We talked for quite a while on several topics and I wished everyone could hear him speak. Almost all of the time though he would revert back to the Year of Giving and give a quote I just had to write down. “The philosophy of this whole project, what we believe in life we can hold onto, there is good being done! There’s meaningful people walking right by you.” and “The element of emotion in what’s trying to be presented is larger than the element of finance”.
When asked what he would do with the $10, there was no hesitation; he said that he would pass it on. “This is the first $10 in passing it on. I want to commit myself to go even further.” He said he would tell all of his recipients about the project as well as anyone else that wanted to hear. He gets together with people from his church once a month in participating families’ homes and said he would share with them as well. He then started naming off some friends or relatives of his that he couldn’t wait to tell about the project!
I knew I had to go back to the filming and it was time to say farewell. He was anxious to read the blog and wanted to write about his experience as well, so Reed, I’m thinking he could be another Kindness Investor! We said goodbye, and the last words were had by him, “You made my day.” I couldn’t have asked for a better final recipient!
Thanks again for letting me be a Kindness Investor for a week. It surely was a memorable one and I hope to have the ability to do it again at another time. In the meantime, I would offer another blog called Things I’ve Learned Weekly to read. It’s my own and I try to keep it updated every week or so with just as it sounds – things I’ve learned about, or even re-learned about, over the past week or so. Hope you visit it!