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Posts Tagged ‘giving’

Back in 2010, at the midway point of my yearlong journey of giving away $10 a day to strangers while I was unemployed, I named June 15th the Worldwide Day of Giving. It’s a day I encourage others to try what I did day in and day out for my Year of Giving: give a stranger ten bucks! Now, I later broadened the scope of the day to include making a $10 donation to a nonprofit or volunteering for part of the day. Some people just aren’t comfortable going up to strangers and giving them money – much less taking a little time to get to know them.

William Jeffrey's Tavern. Photo: arlnow.com

William Jeffrey’s Tavern. Photo: arlnow.com

Well today I found myself over off of Columbia Pike in Arlington. I was having lunch with my friend Patricia. You may remember Patricia was the rock star who put my year-end celebration together on December 14th, 2010. It was an amazing night where I brought as many of the $10 recipients and followers of the blog together to celebrate the 365 day journey. Everything that night ran so smoothly thanks to Patricia who managed all the logistics.

So…back to the sunny sidewalks of Arlington. Patricia and I walked up to William Jeffrey’s Tavern for lunch. On the way up there, we passed an adorable young boy out playing in front of his house. The scene took me back to my own childhood and I was jealous of his day of playing with Transformers on the cool shaded front steps of what I assumed was his home.

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Patricia, Alfonso, his son Aaron and me.

After lunch we walked up to the Columbia Pike Blues Festival. When we got there we ran into Alfonso Lopez, a charming and charismatic 42-year-old who I learn is running for reelection as the Representative of the 49th District of the Virginia House of Delegates. We chat a bit and I shared with him that today was the Worldwide Day of Giving and explained a bit about the Year of Giving. “You’re THAT guy?” he blurted out. “I totally remember your story!” He then grabs the attention of the other half-dozen people who were nearby working the Democrat tent at the fair, “Hey guys, this is the guy who was unemployed and went around every day giving strangers ten dollars, remember him?” I wish I had a photograph of his colleagues and the quizzical looks that came over them. It was as if Alfonso had just spoke to them in Klingon. One guy looked down a bit and murmured sheepishly something like he was sorry that he didn’t know what he was talking about. The others, frozen in the confusion, kind of shrugged and then went back to their conversations. It’s no big deal…I don’t expect people to have heard of my project. But it is fun when they do!

At about this time his son Aaron shows up. It was the same youngster I had seen earlier that day playing. Something just seemed right at that moment and I handed Alfonso my ten spot for the day. “I’ll put five toward my campaign and give the other five to the democratic party of Virginia to help other delegates,” he said. I thought it was pretty cool that he wanted part of the money to go to help someone other than himself.

Alfonso was in high demand at the event. A constituent had stopped by to speak to him about an issue and I didn’t want to take more of his time. He gave me a firm handshake and shot me a smile and thanked me again. “Move to my district,” he said half kidding but half serious as we walked away. Let me tell you, if I moved to Virgina I’d be honored to have Alfonso represent me. Good luck in the election this fall!

If you also participated in the Worldwide Day of Giving today – go to the Facebook Page and share your story.

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Jeff displaying his $10 after the show. And yes, I know. My camera phone sucks. Photo: Reed Sandridge

So last Sunday we did a matinée show. It went really well and we had a good crowd for a Sunday afternoon. Celia Wren from the Washington Post was there and did a very nice review on A Year of Giving – check it out!

So at the show…I gave my $10 away to Jeff M. He’s a program analyst with the government – he told me which (more…)

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Happy Worldwide Day of Giving!!!

I spent the day at Nonprofit 2.0 unconference conference sharing ideas and strategies for nonprofits in a social networking world. On my way home I cut through Dupont Circle – one of my old haunts when I did my year-long commitment to giving ten dollars a day away in 2010.
I made a lap around the circle looking for my recipient and spotted Dave K. rooting through a garbage can. Although he never said it, I believe the 45-year-old former science teacher from New York is homeless right now. His faded pants and worn sneakers were putting in overtime. His missing teeth didn’t stop him from being really generous with his smile that was tucked away under a thick cotton-white beard.
“Nothing in particular…just looking,” he said when I asked him what he was looking for. I had seen him open up some food containers from the lunch-goers from nearby offices that pepper the grassy respite in Northwest DC. “I think I’ll get me some coffee from Starbucks,” he told me looking down at the $10 in his hand. “I’m gonna get a venti dark roast!”

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The sunlight shifted back and forth on his face as the leaves above waved in the wind. I asked him why he was no longer working and he placed his index finger over his pursed lips. “There are some things that I prefer not to talk about,” he said.
We chatted a bit more…from quantum physics to garbage. “I once found a hundred-dollar bill,” Dave said causing his eyebrows to come out from beneath the white Virgin Atlantic sunglasses he was sporting. “Yep, it was sitting right on top of a public garbage can in New York City.”
I could sense that he was satisfied with our talk and was ready to move on. I asked a guy walking by to snap our picture, invited him to small happy hour celebration for the Worldwide Day of Giving tonight at L’Enfant Cafe and Bar. He smiled again and we shook hands goodbye. He wandered over to another garbage can and leaned in to sift through the refuse.
It felt great to give away the $10. I still do it from time to time but I don’t write about it…so this was kind of special as I enjoy sharing the stories of the amazing people I meet.
Click here to check out other stories of people participating in the Worldwide Day of Giving.

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-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, D.C.

Merry Christmas everyone! It seemed rather appropriate to make a post today – on a day that many of us associate with the spirit of giving. So now that your family room looks like a tornado went through it and destroyed an entire city built of wrapping paper, take a moment to enjoy a little update some holiday kindness investing.

At the end of December 2010 I stopped my year-long journey of giving away $10 a day. Well, sorta. I’ve found myself on many occasions giving a ten-spot away this year, I just chose not to write up the stories every day like I did last year. But this last week I did a little extra kindness investing.

I went out to meet up with a former colleague of mine, Jess, for lunch. I laugh because she say’s that I am one of two “famous” people she knows – the other is her brother who is an elementary school principal who is also a local legend singer/song-writer in Rochester, MN. Anyway, on my way over to meet her I decided to go run a few errands and I bumped into Kenneth B. from Day 30.

Normally I find him pacing back and forth hawking the Street Sense paper but this day he sat deep in a folding chair barking his familiar cadence, “Street Sense! … Street Sense!” I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t want to be late to my lunch meeting but I did want to stop and wish Kenneth a happy holiday and give him a few dollars. As I left, I placed a twenty in his hand – $10 from a Year of Giving supporter in Havertown, PA which I matched with a ten of my own.

I then hopped on the Metro and headed downtown. On the train I started thinking that maybe it would be fun to do a little extra giving and I decided that I would give $10 to each person I passed that day who was asking for money. How much money would that add up to? I mean there are days that I feel like I am surrounded by panhandlers in this town.

As I reached the top of the escalators at Metro Center I saw a man with a plastic cup extended toward those exiting the station. I reached into my wallet, found a ten-dollar bill and handed it to him. “Thank you very much!” he said quickly as he tucked it into his cup.

Photo: Reed

After lunch I headed over to Macy’s to look for a gift I still needed to get. I was sure that I would give $10 to the Salvation Army bell-ringer – but to my surprise there was no bell-ringer in sight. But I did pass plenty of other people and before the day had ended I had passed nine more. One of those was Tommy B. – a Street Sense vendor who ended up being my $10 recipient on Day 155. He was doing well and was planning to head down to South Carolina the next day to spend Christmas with his sister. Like Kenneth, I gave him $20. This time I paid forward a $10 donation I had received from Marcio from New Zealand matched with $10 of my own. He was thankful and gave me a warm hug when I said goodbye.

It was a bit nostalgic giving away ten-spots for the day. Somehow it felt right given the holiday season – but as I have said before, it’s not just the holidays that people need help. They need it even on sunny days in June. So as we approach a new year I hope you will take a moment to think about how you might be able to help others and make a plan, even if it is just in your head, about what you will do. Nobody else needs to know, but it will help you stick with it. Drop me a note if you need some help.

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-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, D.C.

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Registration at Philanthropy Day 2011

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to volunteer at the National Capital Philanthropy Day here in Washington, D.C. It’s an annual celebration of the region’s individuals, nonprofits, volunteers, businesses, and fundraising professionals whose philanthropic contributions have made significant impacts on our community.

On my way over to the JW Marriott, I ran into Bill Davis who was my 100th $10 recipient last year. He was filling the corridors of Metro Center with the beautiful sounds of his alto saxophone.

I arrived at the hotel around 9:00 a.m. – a few minutes early for our scheduled 9:15 arrival time. I grabbed some pastries that were offered for us while waiting to get our assignment for the day. At my table I met some great people who were also volunteering. One of them (and her family!) ended up coming to my farewell party for David! She’s got a great blog too that you should check out.

Anyway, I was asked to be a greeter at one of the hotel entrances. It was an easy enough job but you do get a newfound respect for security guards and hosts who stand all day in the hotel. After a couple of hours it starts to take a toll on your feet.

Another great volunteering experience chalked up! If you know an outstanding individual or group who you believe to be worthy of recognition of their philanthropic efforts, please consider nominating them for your local Philanthropy Day! To find one in your area, check out the Association of Fundraising Professionals website to find your local chapter.

To see more photos from the event, click here.

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-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, DC

Good morning!  Today is the second annual Worldwide Day of Giving!

This all began as part of my Year of Giving project last year.  Today is a day to focus on others by giving or volunteering.

There are three simple ways to support this kindness movement.

1. VOLUNTEERING

You can volunteer with any organization.  For those of you who are busy and can’t take off work, consider micro-volunteering on www.sparked.com.  This is one of the coolest websites I have seen.  I did a project this morning while I ate my breakfast!  What are you waiting for?  Go tackle one of the 3,493 projects!

2. GIVE A STRANGER $10

So you’re old school?  You want to celebrate the Worldwide Day of Giving by paying it forward like I did last year for 365 days.  It’s easy.  Find a complete stranger. Approach them and tell them that you are participating in the Worldwide Day of Giving and would like to give them $10. The only rules are that you may not know the person and you may not receive anything in return for the $10 (aside from the rush of goodness you will feel).

Ideally you will take some time to speak with the recipient, find out what they will do with the $10 as well as a little bit about who they are. If you can take a picture or video, that would be even better – we would love to have you post that here or on the Year of Giving Facebook Page.

3. DONATE $10 TO THE YEAR OF GIVING

Your $10 will be used to help those listed on the Lend a Hand section of theYear of Giving website.  Donations accepted at http://www.yearofgiving.org.

Whatever you choose to do I hope that you will share your experience here or on the Year of Giving Facebook Page.

I’m off now to do my second volunteer project of the day at the IMPACT Summit – a forum that convenes leaders from the business, education, government and nonprofit sectors that leverages volunteerism, service and philanthropy to address critical issues facing our community.

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Sammy (Day 113) and Ashley (Day 181) at last year's Worldwide Day of Giving (photo: Reed Sandridge)

Later in the day I will be celebrating the Worldwide Day of Giving at One Lounge in Dupont from 6-8pm.  Come join us!

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-Blog post by Reed Sandridge from Washington, DC

Tomorrow is the 2nd annual Worldwide Day of Giving.

Be a part of this grass-roots effort to inspire giving and volunteerism around the world.  There are three simple ways to support this kindness movement.

1. VOLUNTEERING

You can volunteer with any organization.  For those of you who are busy and can’t take off work, consider micro-volunteering on www.sparked.com.  This is one of the coolest websites I have seen.  You can volunteer in the time it takes to eat lunch.  So grab a sandwich and knock out a volunteer project!

2. GIVE A STRANGER $10

So you’re old school?  You want to celebrate the Worldwide Day of Giving by paying forward like Reed did for 365 days.  It’s easy.  Find a complete stranger. Approach them and tell them that you are participating in the Worldwide Day of Giving and would like to give them $10. The only rules are that you may not know the person and you may not receive anything in return for the $10 (aside from the rush of goodness you will feel).

Ideally you will take some time to speak with the recipient, find out what they will do with the $10 as well as a little bit about who they are. If you can take a picture or video, that would be even better – we would love to have you post that here or on the Year of Giving Facebook Page.

 

3. DONATE $10 TO THE YEAR OF GIVING

Your $10 will be used to help those listed on the Lend a Hand section of theYear of Giving website.  Donations accepted at http://www.yearofgiving.org.

I hope that you will share your experience on the Year of Giving Facebook Page

Then sit back and start to watch the phenomenon begin.  Stories trickling in from all around the world. Imagine the different reactions and stories that we will collectively have from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Raahe, Finland to Montevideo, Uruguay!

I encourage you to harness the power of social networking to help us get reach thousands of people.  We can do it!

Use #WDoG on Twitter.

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I’m starting to think that this city has too many law students.  Ok, I guess it makes sense since Washington is our government’s central nervous system.  But Molly was applying to law schools, Sarah from yesterday was in her third year of law school and today’s recipient is currently applying to law schools.

Matt and I were seated in the two chairs just under the Starbucks sign.

It was one of the coldest days of the year and my exposed face and hands were stinging from the frigid wind.  I ducked into a Starbucks to get a cup of coffee and warm up a little.  I sunk into a big comfy chair by the window and found myself sitting next to Matt; a young professional dressed in a sweatshirt over a t-shirt that had the Rolling Stones written on it.  He was buried in his computer until I interrupted his concentration.  “I’m applying to law schools,” he said in response to my question of what he was up to that evening.  “I am genuinely interested in philosophy and believe that laws serve as agents for social change.”  He told me that his interest to go to law school is similar to the interest expressed by Franz Kafka’s character Fräulein Bürstner in the

The Trial.  She says, “I am fascinated with court matters.  The court has a strange attraction, doesn’t it?”

We talked about the Year of Giving and how people react to my offer.  Matt told me about a study that measured people’s willingness to help based on them having recently found a small amount of money.  He later emailed me this:

According to one experiment conducted by Isen and Levin, experimenters looked for helping behavior in unaware subjects after they left a public phone-booth. Whether or not the individuals helped a person in need was found significantly influenced by whether or not one had just found a dime in the phone-booth. In the initial experiment, the results for the 41 subjects are as follows (Doris 2002, 30):

Found Dime: (14 exhibited helping behavior, 2 did not exhibit helping behavior)
Didn’t Find Dime: (1 exhibited helping behavior, 24 did not exhibit helping behavior)

These results suggest that morally significant behavior such as helping another in need depends largely on minute factors of the situation that are not in the control of the agent.”

I found this fascinating.  The fact that finding a dime could influence people’s behavior so much.  Here I’ve been giving ten spots away, when people apparently would have been happy just getting a dime.  It would have saved me $3,613.50 too!  

He told me about another study where if a subject was asked to donate money to a cause that they were much more likely to give if there was another person in the room.  Now here is the fascinating part.  The study also showed that the subjects were equally more likely to give if instead of the other person there was a poster of a robot prominently placed in the room.  Weird.  It’s like we do the “right thing” if we think others are watching.  Even robots…painted on a poster!  Interesting.

Matt is originally from Michigan and plans to be here for about two years until he leaves for law school.  “I like DC but I think I am going to go someplace else,” he told me.  

The 24-year-old works for the government right now and preferred that I not use his last initial or be photographed.  Hmmm.  CIA?  Who knows?  He was a nice guy though, smart too.  I enjoyed chatting with him.

In his follow-up email to me he told me that he gave his $10 to a guy who plays trumpet in the morning near the World Bank offices at 18th and G or K Streets.  “He’s got a good heart,” he went on to write.  My ex-girlfriend used to always talk about this guy.  I went looking for him one morning but I couldn’t find him.  Maybe I will try to find him in these remaining 9 days.

Matt inspired me to do something too.  He suggested I try to go talk to Arlen again.  “Give her a second chance,” he suggested.  I have seen her from time to time but have never talked to her again since our meeting when she was bitter and confused.  I will try to approach her again.  Thanks Matt for the encouragement.

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Happy Thanksgiving!!!

There is SO much to be thankful for today.  Here’s just a few things…

the last 36 years 327 days ■ my amazing family ■ loyal friends ■ love that I feel ■ my job ■ my home ■ my sight ■ my hearing ■ my sense of taste ■ my sense of touch ■ my sense of smell  ■  asymptotes  ■   the ability to run  ■ our differences ■ our similarities ■ sleep ■ spell check ■ rain ■ nature ■ sun, moon and the stars ■ mornings ■  evenings in San Gimignano ■  laughter ■ children ■ gardens  ■  trust  ■   history  ■ spices  ■  caipirinhas  ■   tacos  ■   hugs  ■   music  ■   the 33 Chilean miners  ■   language  ■   my mother’s recipes – especially stuffing …

I could go on…but I if I did, we would never get to know about Meghan…and her friend John!

She looks sweet and innocent, but Meghan was ready to club me with her 1/2 steel bike lock had I been an attacker.

So on a cool evening I wandered over to Dupont Circle to see who I would find.  I immediately saw Meghan sitting next to a bicycle on the east side of the circle but I decided to make a lap around the fountain to see if I found someone who caught my attention.  Nope.  It was Meghan.

The 28-year-old from Richmond has been in DC for almost six years.  She has a government job which she says that she doesn’t enjoy very much.  “I’m waiting for a friend and where going to go for dinner,” she told me when I asked what brought her to the circle that night. She said she would probably put the ten dollars toward the evening.

As we were talking her friend John showed up.  It’s cool how they met.  They both worked for years for the same agency on the same floor but didn’t know each other.  Then on a trip to Spain Meghan found herself in a cozy little tapas joint in Sevilla.  John, who also happened to be in Sevilla on vacation, happened to come over and talk to her and it turned out they worked together!  Now they are great friends.

“She’s one of the funniest people I know,” John told me.

Meghan, who lives in the Shaw neighborhood, changed her mind and decided to give John half of her ten dollars…who knows, maybe that compliment literally paid off!  “He’s great,” she told me.  So then something happened that had never happened so far this year.  John said he wanted to give me his five dollars!  What could I do but accept it.  I’ve put that five dollars toward covering my costs for the Year-End celebration on  December 14th!

“I saw you walk around the fountain twice and then come over toward me,” Meghan began saying, “I was ready to hurt you with my ½ inch steel bike lock!”  Phew…good thing I made a good impression!

Me, Meghan and John. Meghan holding her $5, me holding the $5 that Meghan gave to John and he passed on to me!

Here is a quick story to make you feel good on Thanksgiving!  John told me that he was at the American Museum of Natural History New York City this summer when he found $70 on the ground.  “I turned it in to the information desk figuring someone had dropped it,” he explained.  He gave them his information as well and would you believe four months later they called John and told him that since nobody had claimed it that they were going to send it to him.  Wow…can you believe it?  It gets better.  “I told them to keep it and consider it a donation,” John said humbly.  I love it!

We’re getting ready to sit down for dinner now.  I was in charge of making two stuffings…one a regular bread stuffing full of celery, sausage and sage that my mother used to make…it’s my favorite.  The other is a cornbread stuffing that my grandmother (Dad’s mom) used to make.  I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving, but do take a moment to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for.

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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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The Old Post Office Pavilion (photo: Reed)

How the Old Post Office Pavilion looked in 1911. Free tours of the 315 ft. tower are available daily.

I was strolling along Pennsylvania Avenue taking photographs when I was struck by the beautiful flowing flags in front of the majestic Old Post Office Pavilion.  Built in 1899, it houses a little known gem: the view from the clock tower.  Take a free tour of the tower and get an unparalleled 360 degree view. 

After snapping a few photographs, I continued on Pennsylvania Avenue where I found Dave enjoying an afternoon cigar break from his job in IT at the EPA.  He’s a ten-year veteran of the agency and walks the talk of technology.  “That’s an Archos,” he told me pointing at a handheld device he was browsing.  I hadn’t heard about them, but here is a picture of one of the models.

I offered Dave the ten bucks and he refused and suggested that I give it to someone more deserving.  “I’ve actually read about you I think in the Washington Post,” Dave said.  “Or somebody doing the same thing here in DC.”  I am pretty sure it’s just me doing it every day in DC.  If there is someone else out there…drop me a note!  We should meet up and exchange $10!

Dave enjoying a cigar on a beautiful autumn day. (photo: Reed)

I sat down next to Dave and let my back have a break from the weight I was carrying around in my backpack.  It was a gorgeous day and I was thrilled to take a minute and just soak in the serenity from Dave’s shaded vantage point along Pennsylvania Avenue.  

I talked to him a little more and convinced him to take the $10.  I’m getting better at this!  He said that he wouldn’t keep the money though; he preferred to give it someone else.

This is the handheld device Dave was using.

I found out that he’s married and a father to two boys.  One is in high school and the other is away at college.  “He claims it is going fine,” he says about the college freshman.

About this time a beggar walked up and asked for some money.  We were both silent and I was wondering if Dave would give him the $10.  Would I reach into my pocket and give him a few dollars.  But we both somewhat automatically shook our heads no and said that we were unable to help and he walked away.  Actually we were both able to help, but we didn’t.  This has happened before and I think it is interesting from a psychological point of view.  It’s a challenge to analyze this issue fairly in a city like Washington where you get asked probably two or three times a day minimum for money.

Dave could give George A. from Day 201 a run for the money in a Santa Claus beard competition. (photo: Reed)

After he left Dave explained that he was going to give his $10 to a homeless man that was usually at the corner of Constitution and 12

th.  “He always has a friendly hello,” Dave said.  “Every time I walk by him for almost two years; and he only ever asked for money once.  He just says hello.” 

I knew Dave needed to get back to work so I headed on my way.  Later that evening I went for a run and visited with John, the man who holds the signs in front of the Vatican’s embassy here in Washington.  He was doing well.  He has a new banner that he is holding and somebody hacked his website too he told me.  It was good to see him.  All in all, a great day.

UPDATE: 10/28/2010

Check out the comment below from Dave sharing what happened to the $10.  I got a very nice email from him as well today where he said something that I want to share: “I’ve said it to many people on many occasions but I don’t think I’ve ever meant it quite as much: keep up the good work.”  That means a lot to me.  Thanks Dave!

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Abraham sits in the background near his flower stand (photo: Reed)

I wandered over to the benches near the Dupont Circle North entrance/exit…hoping to maybe find Johnnie, but he wasn’t there.  Near the benches I saw some guys selling flowers, I walked over and met Abraham and Moses.  Nice guys, but they both refused the $10.  

Larry shows his $10 at the north entrance of Dupont Circle's Metro stop (photo: Reed)

Then I spotted Larry back over on the bench where I had met Johnnie.  I walked over and handed him one of my cards and asked him to be recipient number 244.  After a little discussion he said, “I will accept the $10 but I will not keep it, I will find someone else to give it to who needs it more than I do.”   

Larry, a 55-year-old resident of DC, was enjoying a Starbucks coffee before catching the Metro home.  He has worked in housekeeping at a nearby hotel for the past 17 years.  “It’s a very good place to work,” he says.  But as you can imagine, as someone who goes into guests rooms, he has seen some crazy things over the years.  “I’ve seen grown men fist-fighting.  I have seen rooms completely destroyed.  I’ve probably seen it all.”  

One of twelve children, Larry has grown up in this city.  All twelve of the children and his parents still live here.  He is married and has a daughter.  

Larry was very committed to giving the $10 away.  He tried several times while I was there with him, but was not successful.  Some teenagers walked by and he tried to give it to them but they kept walking.  A father walked by with his child and Larry jumped up to try to give it to them, but they didn’t even stop to talk to Larry…they just kept walking.  Here he explains his rationale about his decision to pass the $10 along to someone else.  

Finally I thought Larry was going to find someone.  He found a student, Mike, who was sitting nearby on a bench.  Mike said that as a student he didn’t have much money himself but that he was sure there were people more deserving than him, so he politely refused.  Larry was struggling and becoming very anxious to give it to someone.  When we parted ways, he said, “Call me tomorrow and I will tell you what happened to the money because I guarantee you that I am going to find someone to give it to today, I ain’t going to keep it.”  

(photo: Reed)

The next day I called Larry and said that he found a guy and took him to Subway and bought him a sandwich.  “I still have $5 left though.”  I am going to give Larry a call this week and meet him for coffee and see if he did something with the other $5.  

By the way, I was able to deliver some clothes and other items to Garrett that Deb from Illinois sent.  You can see the video of him receiving the items here.

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Yab with all of his belongings (photo: Reed)

Today is my brother’s 39th birthday! Happy birthday Ryan. He has helped me in so many ways with my Year of Giving; from suggesting that I start on the anniversary of my mother’s passing to countless hours of computer and camera support to reading every blog post and pointing out mispelled words that I missed. He has been there with me the entire journey. Thanks LB! I love you.

Often times when I speak to someone about the Year of Giving and the conversation turns to the homeless people who I have given to people assume that they use the money for alcohol or drugs.  Of course that has happened.  However, sometimes you would be surprised what a homeless person does when they are offered $10.  I was certainly surprised with Yab’s response.

On this particular day I was walking along 23rd Street near Rock Creek Park in northwest DC.  I saw Yab lying on some cardboard on the side of the road.  He was sleeping.  I took a chance and went over and spoke to him.  He took a second to wake up and I introduced myself.  I explained what I was doing and we started talking.

Yab hasn’t shaved since 1997 (photo: Reed)

Originally from Ethiopia, Yab told me an amazing story about his life.  He patiently invited me back to the year 1943 when he was seven years old living in Ethiopia.  It was July, the cold season, when one morning he volunteered to take some of his family’s cattle up the mountain to graze.  When he got to the top of the mountain, he came across a man standing outside a cave.  “There’s a hyena inside there” the man told young Yab.  He walked cautiously over to the entrance of the cave and peered inside.  Sure enough, there was a massive hyena lying inside.  The man suggested that they build a fire to drive the hyena out.  Yab started to gather sticks and small logs to build the fire and the man came close to Yab and touched his arm and out of nowhere the wood caught fire and the hyena fled the cave.  It wasn’t until 50 years later on President Clinton’s inauguration day on January 20th, 1993 that he realized who that man was.  “I didn’t know it then, but that was God there with me.”  Ever since this realization he has lived a deeply spiritual life.  He shares his message asking everyone to accept Jesus into their life in this short clip.

So how did Yab get to the US from that mountainside in Ethiopia?  Well, in the 1980s Yab was in Somalia working on some oil ventures when he was captured and taken hostage by terrorists who were against the country’s leader Siad Barre, who was later overthrown in 1991.  When the UN and the Red Cross got involved he asked for political asylum to the United States.  Since he had lived in the US briefly in 1958 he was given priority and offered asylum in Minnesota.  He said he didn’t really want to go to Minnesota but they promised him free housing, free education, food, a Pell Grant, etc.  However, when he arrived, he said that the assistance only lasted for about a month and then he was asked to leave the Mayflower Church where he was staying and told that he would have to go. 

He eventually got them to give him $1,600 and a ticket to Washington, DC where he even got to meet with then Mayor Marion Barry before Barry went to prison in 1991.

Later that year Yab became homeless and has been so ever since.

The former electrical engineer now carries signs around with him with messages on them that definitely make you look twice.  I asked him to explain some of the signs; most of which seemed too bizarre to be true.  One said:

Monster Obama must stop cuttin’ human throats at the expense of:

1. Dupont Circle chess players 

2. Oprah Winfrey – Arsenio Hall – Horton – Barry   

3. Odinga PM of Kenya.

One of Yab’s signs (photo: Reed)

Probably the most extreme thing he shared with me was that he believed that President Obama was with the CIA and tried to kill him when he was in the concentration camp in Somalia.  “I know it was him, I saw him.”  I tried to understand his thoughts and messages but it was difficult to follow his logic.  It reminded me a little bit of John from Day 121.  Both men are extremely nice.  Both have turned to signs to spread their message.  And I think both are greatly misunderstood because their choice of messages.

photo: Reed

I finally asked the bearded 74-year-old what he planned to do with the $10.  Would you believe that he gave it back to me and said that he wanted me to have it.  He said that he hasn’t accepted money from anyone since he became homeless in 1991.  “God will take care of me,” he assured me.  I tried to convince him to keep it or give it to someone else, but he said he wanted me to have it.  Faith and dignity are strong stubborn things. 

I’ve walked by that place several times since I met Yab but haven’t seen him again.

Update 12/Oct/2010

I ran into Yab on the streets of DC today.  He was doing well, seemed in good health and good spirits.  He recognized me and remembered our conversation well.  Pushing a cart full of personal items, he was walking south on Columbia Rd. toward Dupont.

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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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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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So I went out to Safeway last night and bought a copy (actually two) of the bright pink Woman’s World Magazine.  It was the only thing I bought and I got a couple strange looks from the cashier.  Anyway, on the back inside cover there is really good article on the Year of Giving and a picture of me in a shirt that looks really green in the photo!

On Day 199 I ventured out looking for a recipient. It was one of those sweltering hot days and I didn’t a bit more get three blocks away and my forehead looked like I had just finished a spicy plate of lamb vindaloo.  Speaking of Indian food, which I love, have you heard of the Karma Kitchen?  There is one in Berkeley, Chicago and here in DC.  The website says, “Imagine a restaurant where there are no prices on the menu and where the check reads $0.00 with only this footnote: Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those dine after you.”  Now they don’t do this every day, but I think here in DC it is every Sunday at the Polo India Club (1736 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC).  I haven’t been there on a Sunday yet to check it out, but I have exchanged a few emails with one of people behind the idea.  Apparently the Year of Giving inspired them to share the stories of their guests and also give $10 away to a stranger every Sunday!  Read what Stephanie did with her $10!  Very cool.  I hope to check it out very soon!  Thanks to the folks at Karma Kitchen for believing in kindness of others!

Ok, sorry, I got sidetracked…so as I walked around the corner of a Starbucks I saw a man with what looked to be hundreds of envelopes that he was furiously licking shut.  I thought I would go in and meet him and see if he would accept my $10 or even just some help finishing off those envelopes.  You can do them pretty fast with a wet napkin or paper towel.

He was a bald pudgy man probably in his late 50s or early 60s.  He peered at me through his heavy framed glasses and in a thick accent said he didn’t have time.  I started to offer to help him with the envelopes and he barked something else at me that I didn’t understand but in fact I did understand that he didn’t want to continue the conversation.  So I left.

I walked around some more.  Up to Dupont Circle down Connecticut Avenue.  Maybe the guy smoking the pipe on the bench or the man who appeared to be homeless shouting at people walking by or why not mom holding her daughter’s tiny hand waiting for an ice cream?  For some reason, none seemed right that night.  I ended up strolling through some more residential streets and found Valerie (whose name I have changed her on her request) and Katie sitting on their front patio enjoying the subtle breeze that attempted to counter the thick omnipresent heat and humidity of the first day of July.

After graduating from the University of Arizona, they decided to move to DC and get some work experience.  Now they were relaxing on the eve of their last day in the apartment.  Katie is moving back to Arizona to attend law school in the fall and Valerie is staying in DC but moving to a new apartment in Georgetown.

When I approached them Valerie was talking about a young guy that works at the Subway near her office.  He is from Nepal and “exudes kindness” she says.  Every time she goes in she learns a little more about him.  Apparently he moved here and wants to go to college but doesn’t have the funds to do so.  “I just feel so bad that here is a guy who works so hard and is so nice to people and he can’t afford to get an education.”  Oh, and on a totally different note, Valerie highly recommends the new Subway special: an egg-white sandwich with veggies and cheese on whole wheat with a coffee for $2.50.

So at some point Valerie asked if I wanted something to drink.  “We’re having watermelon juice and vodka.”  That seemed like a strange combination.  “We have moved literally everything out of our place.  The only thing we have left in there is half a bottle of wine, watermelon juice and a handle of vodka.”  A handle?  Hadn’t ever heard it called that.  Anyway, let’s try this watermelon and vodka, I hope they still have ice!  You know what, the drink wasn’t bad either.

They told me a pretty funny story too.  Apparently they needed newspaper to pack some of their items so they swiped their landlord’s New York Times off the porch – he lives upstairs from them.  “We didn’t think he would miss one day’s paper.”  Well, he did.  He came down and asked them if they had “borrowed” it.  Caught off guard they denied it.  As we were talking about this, he and his wife arrived home.  He seemed like such a nice man.  I think they felt a little bad about it.  Maybe they will use the $10 to buy a back issue copy of that day’s paper and send it to him!

Speaking of the $10, I asked them what they were going to do with it.  They decided to split the $10 evenly.  Valerie said she was going to take her $5 and add her own $10 to it and give it to the young man at Subway to help him with his savings.  Katie said that she was going to take the $5 and add her own money to sign Valerie up to take the GRE exam.  By the way, I checked and the exam costs $140 so that is really nice gift!  That’s ok she said though, “If I had to invest in any person in the world it would be her.”

Pretty cool.

It was dark and I needed to get home.  I thanked them for the hospitality and wished them luck.  I actually think I might have seen Katie the next day sitting out on the terrace at the Front Page in Dupont.  Still proudly wearing my Brazil shirt on the day that they lost to The Netherlands, I passed a table full of football fans and one of them waived to me.  I walked over to the table only to be unsure of who it was.  I came up with some awkward things to say I guess and then went on my way.  Well, I guess we’ll find out if it was her when she reads this!

Update July 11, 2012: I received a request from the woman I have called Valerie here requesting to change her name and remove photos of them.

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Charlie (foreground) plays harmonica while Kevin handles the guitar (Photo: Reed)

On Day 195 I thought about heading over to the Adams Morgan neighborhood to find someone interesting to give my $10 to.

I walked north along 18th Street, dodging the bar-goers coming in and out of the various bars and clubs that hug the road until I reached Columbia Road.  As I stood on the corner, I noticed two musicians starting to play on the corner across the street.  I decided to head over and listen to them for a while. 

As it turns out I decide to give them my $10.  Kevin plays guitar and Charlie plays harmonica, percussion and sings.  I approached them and told them what I was doing.  They agreed to participate.  Charlie didn’t say much to me but gave me a business card that says, “The Legendary Charlie Sayles” and has his contact information.   “You can read all about me on the website,” Charlie says.

Photo: Reed

Kevin tells me that they often play there at the corner of 18th and Columbia Road in front of the Sun Trust Bank and also at Dupont Circle Metro near the Krispy Kreme.  “Charlie’s in the Who’s Who in Harmonica Players and has something like three blues albums.” 

As for the $10, Kevin says they will use the money to get some food.

As they got ready to start up playing again, Kevin shared that he was looking for a job.  I didn’t get any more details on what exactly he was looking for, but once I do I will post it on the Lend a Hand section…maybe someone out there can help him out!

Charlie starts to make his harmonica sing and they continue playing.  They play mostly blues numbers.  The melody seems to naturally dance back and forth between Charlie’s harmonica, Kevin’s guitar licks and Charlies vocals.  Here is a short taste of their performance.

When I got home, I did take a look at Charlie’s website.   The 62-year-old has an extensive musical career that followed an upbringing in various foster homes and a three-year tour of duty in Vietnam.  You can find out more about Charlie here or take a listen to his music on his MySpace page.

Jay, me and Lumumba

While I was photographing these two talented musicians, a man named Jay from Atlanta came over to me and inquired about what kind of camera I was shooting with.  We began talking and I found out that they were here putting on a large trade show and conference.  When he and his colleague, Lumumba, heard about what I was doing, they got excited.  “We’re going to give you $10 each man!” said Jay.  They insisted.  Thank you guys so much! 

Pretty cool that they felt so inspired to do that.  I used $5 to buy a sandwich for Carl, a homeless guy that I met the next day in Dupont Circle.  I donated $5 of it to the family of Javier Lopez-Cruz, a 26-year-old from Oaxaca, Mexico who was killed in an auto accident.  They are trying to raise enough money to send his remains back to Mexico.  The last $10 I donated toward those who are out of work in the Gulf region.  If you would like to help me in these efforts, you can send $10 of your own by clicking here!

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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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Before I introduce you to Andrew, I have two updates.  The first one is a big one.  After 285 days of unemployment I have accepted a position with the World Wildlife Fund and will begin next week!  Don’t worry though, the Year of Giving will continue!  Perhaps this will give me a new perspective on giving.  Thanks to so many of you who have given me encouragement throughout the past 9 months.

The other update is that I delivered some items for Phillip from Day 75.  Click here to see him receiving some of the items that you have sent!

Day 191 was one of the days that I was struggling with my dying laptop.  I had been over at my brother and his wife’s house all day trying to rescue it.  It was nearing the midnight hour and I rushed out of the house in pursuit of a recipient.

Andrew (Photo: Reed)

I saw a man walking along North Lynn Street in Arlington and stopped to see if he would accept my $10.  I tried hard to convince him to participate, but he stuck to his guns and said he didn’t want to “get involved.”  Strike one.  Back in my car and across the Key Bridge into DC.  I headed over to the “Social Safeway” on Wisconsin Avenue where I found Andrew studying the contact lense solution at 11:40pm.  The 22-year-old is in DC for the summer doing an internship for his master’s degree program in international affairs at Georgia Tech.  I asked him if he always does his shopping around midnight.  “No, I just happened to have time now,” he responded.  

When Andrew is not studying and working he is training for his first marathon.  I have never had a desire to run a marathon.  I could see trying to do a 10-miler, but I have no interest whatsoever in running 26 miles!

The grandson of Eastern European immigrants, he has lived abroad in Bulgaria for four months.  He talks about his grandmother fondly.  “She is 86 and still going strong!”  Maybe his grandmother and his time in Bulgaria

Photo: Reed

have fueled his interest to get grant money to go to the Black Sea region and study the relationship between highly bureaucratic governments and the degree of development that has occurred within the country.  If you can offer any suggestions on how Andrew can secure grant funding for this specific project, please leave a comment here.    

“So what are you going to do with the $10,” I ask.  He says that he will put it toward an outing with his “Little.”  That’s right.  Somehow Andrew finds time to be a Big Brother to a six-year-old in Atlanta.  “I feel that the best way to help those who are disadvantaged is to volunteer my time and be a positive role model for them.”  I couldn’t agree more.  “Somehow you got to break the cycle,” he concludes.

Andrew (Photo: Reed)

At the end of our conversation, I learn that Andrew will be joining the Air Force upon his graduation from grad school.  “I just got my bars pinned on,” he tells me.  With his international interest I am not surprised when he tells me that he plans to serve in the Intelligence Division.  I am sure he will go far.  Thanks in advance for your service to our country.

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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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My father, Manny (blog follower), and Sammy (Day 113) at the WWDoG DC Get-Together (Photo: Ryan Sandridge)

Thanks to all of you who participated in the Worldwide Day of Giving!  It was amazing.  So many great stories from all over…pictures and even video from some people!  I received a lot of emails from people who said that they tried, but just couldn’t do it.  It was too far out of their comfort zone.  That’s ok.  You tried.  Keep trying. 

I also received lots of emails from people who want to continue doing this every 15th of the month…what a great idea.  Feel free to continue to post your stories here or on Facebook WHENEVER you pay it forward.  I will remind everyone on July 15th for those who want to give it another try!

A lot of you have asked how the DC Meet-Up went.  I was so happy to see so many former recipients, followers of the blog, people I only knew from their comments, and even people who had received $10 from someone on the Worldwide Day of Giving that then joined us at the happy hour.  All the local news stations were also there.  I will try to get links for all the media from that day, including the two earlier interviews I did that day on News Channel 8 and CNN.

I am excited to write about my recipients for today’s post.  As my trip was winding down in Manizales, I started to get sad as the trip was coming to an end.  The day before I left I was in the Guacas area where I was staying getting ready for a barbecue that Roberto Gonzalo was organizing.  About 10 minutes up (literarily up the mountain) there is a small store that has some billiard tables and a TV for neighborhood people to come together.  Roberto Gonzalo and I had stopped by there on a few occasions and bought items we needed or enjoyed a beer at the end of the day.  This night I thought I would go and get to know them and see what they would do with my $10.

I left the gated area of the plantation and started to ascend up the mountain.  I can’t convey to you how steep this hill is.  The store is only about 200-250 yards away, but it is a workout to get there.  Pinto the dog escaped and was at my side as I lift one leg in front of the other.  My heart starts to pound and sweat is rolling off my forehead.  I stop for about a minute to catch my breath.  The altitude adds another level of complexity at 7,000 feet.  Pinto knows the way and he runs on ahead of me as I crest the incline and see the store off to the left.. 

Adriana, Augusto, and Pamela

The store is owned by Adriana and Augusto who live upstairs with their seven-year-old daughter.  I had seen them a few times while I was on my trip.  Augusto was always out front working on something; cutting wood on the lathe, welding some metal, working on a car, etc.  Adriana tends to the store and their daughter. 

It is a holiday weekend and many people have traveled leaving the store void of the usually two or three locals chatting about the election or the upcoming World Cup.  I find Augusto leaning over a table that has a large metal door laying flat on top of it.  Clad with goggles he wields a welding torch with his right hand along one of the edges of the metal door.  He gives me a wave and I walk toward Adriana who is sitting outside at a table with her daughter. 

View from Augusto/Adriana's store (Photo: Reed)

By this time Augusto had retired the blow torch and had walked over to the table.  We made some small talk and then I told them about my project.    I sat down and shared with them the journey that has become my passion over the past six months.

Adriana, who is 28, tells me that the store has been there for as long as she can remember.  It has been in the family for years.  She manages the store and also makes homemade morcilla which she sells in the city.  Morcilla is a type of sausage that is made by cooking blood from pigs, cows, goats, etc then adding a filler such as rice until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled.  I was introduced to morcilla when I lived in Valladolid, Spain.  Although it is quite tasty, I usually try not to think about what goes into it.

Augusto is the Colombia version of MacGyver.  Every time I would see him he was fixing something.  He is an industrial mechanic by trade, but he is a skilled woodworker, metalworker, carpenter, plumber, auto mechanic, etc.  He even likes to do car detailing.  The 32-year-old builds more in a week than I have in my entire life.  I asked him what the door was for and he said that the local prison had contracted him to make 12 doors for them.  I would think they would contract those sort of things with large companies, but “MacGyver” has a good reputation and the work flows his way.

A former police officer, he made the career change after being sent to the tension stricken border area between neighboring Ecuador.  “It was too dangerous for me,” he states “and I like to work with my hands.”

Adriana said something to her daughter and she disappeared into the store.  Pamela had been sitting patiently at the table the entire time that we spoke.  She reappeared minutes later and walked over to me and placed a cold bottle of the local beer, Poker, on the table next to me.  That is just the kind of hospitality that people grow up with here.  She smiled and went back to her chair.

I wanted to find out more about how Adriana and Auguto met.  Adriana told me about how they had actually known each other almost all their lives.  In fact, they even dated when they were teenagers, but later separated.  They reconnected years later and married.

Augusto had several questions about the Year of Giving.  We talked about how it got started, my family, and some of the other people I have met along the way.  I explained that they could look up the blog online, but they didn’t have internet access.  There is another small store about 100 yards away that has a computer where you can pay to surf the web.  I mentioned that they could go and look it up there.  Maybe they will do that.

I offered them either dollars or pesos.  Augusto said he would prefer dollars.  “For now I think I’ll  keep it as a reminder of us meeting each other.”  I only had one ten dollar bill with me and it was really beat up.  I placed it in his hand and told him that I would stop by the next day on my way to the airport and give him one in a little better shape.  He nodded as if to say that was ok, but not necessary. 

We wrapped up our conversation.  I paid for the beer and bought a few more to take to the barbecue.  As I headed down the driveway and turned onto the dirt road to make the journey down the mountain, Pinto appeared out of nowhere.  I had completely forgotten that he had accompanied me on the journey.  It was now pitch dark out and the lack of street lighting makes the walk down the mountain slightly challenging, although I’ll take walking down the mountain in the dark over walking up the mountain any day.  Especially with Pinto by my side, he knows the way.

The next day as we left for the airport, I hopped out of the jeep to make good on my word about exchanging the ten dollar bill.  Augusto and his family were sitting at a table eating lunch.   “I have been thinking a lot about your project today” he said.  “It’s really amazing.”  We switched the $10 and said “until the next time.”

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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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For those of you who have not seen the CNN report, check it out.  Reporter David Banks put together a really nice piece.

Last Saturday I met up with a journalism student from the University of Maryland who was doing a story on the Year of Giving.  Ruben and I met her near the Dupont Circle Metro stop and walked over to the circle.  It was pretty busy and Ruben was excited to see all the people and fellow dogs out enjoying the day.  I ran into Danny Harris from Day 64 in the center of the circle.  

Shortly thereafter I spotted Peter under a shaded tree reading a biography of the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock.  Peter is an Actor living in the East Village of NYC.  Originally from Louisville, KY, he studied at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and then moved to The Big Apple.

Originally drawn to the stage by Shakespearean plays, now Peter is focusing most of his energy on some short films.  He shared with me a the link to a rough cut of one that he recently finished…he’s very good in it, check it out!

So you may be wondering why the heck Peter is 250 miles away from his home sitting under a tree reading about Hitchcock.  As it turns out his sister lives in DC and was performing one of the lead roles in The Marriage of Figaro at the Kennedy Center this week and he came down to watch her.  She was working during the day, so he was just relaxing seeing a bit of the city.  

Peter contemplated the $10.  He said that it would probably get spent on some bourbon, beers, or maybe some food.  Later he told me, “Maybe I’ll do something else with it…all these other people have done something amazing with it, so who knows.”

He had more time to kill and I probably didn’t help the chances of my money being passed forward as I showed him where the Brickskeller Pub was.  We said our goodbyes and thanked one another.

Here is some footage of him being interviewed by the University of Maryland journalist as well as a few of my own questions.  The wind is really bad…sorry.  It actually blew over my Flip camera at one point!

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Last Wednesday I met up with Danny Harris, the creative mind behind The People’s District blog who I met on Day 64.  If you haven’t checked out Danny’s website, please do.  I love it. 

Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Photo: Reed)

Anyway, we just met up to have a coffee and share some conversation.  At some point, Danny looked at me and asked, “What are you doing this afternoon?” In the spirit of unemployment, I responded that I was pretty busy but that I might be able to squeeze something in.  I asked him what he had in mind and he shared that he was teaching a Media and Communications course at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in the afternoons and asked if I would be a special guest in one of the classes.  I happily accepted the invitation. 

Danny picked me up on his scooter around 1:30.  Yep, I was strapped on the back of his scooter heading through Upper Georgetown.  Thank goodness nobody caught a picture of me looking ridiculous trying to figure out where to put my hands and feet.

The school is very different than the school that I attended.  Students seemed to be treated much more like adults.  The far wall was covered in books.  The chairs were set up in the shape of a circle.  The room itself was rather different.  Picture a room that has an opening to another room on one side and along the other side a wall that didn’t go all the way to the ceiling allowing discussion in the adjacent room to be heard. 

(Photo: Reed)

The ninth graders started trickling in and several came in and politely introduced themselves to me.  

Danny started his class and later introduced me.  I took a ten dollar bill out of my Moleskine notebook and showed it to the class and asked, “What would you do if I gave you $10.”  Ideas started spewing forth, but most of the ideas were focused on what they would buy for themselves.  Then I asked, “What about doing something for someone else?”  Most students then started brainstorming ideas that involved others, many of the ideas focused on how to help a teacher at the school who recently suffered a miscarriage.  It was amazing to see these young minds at work.  Sure there were the occasional moments of pure chaos, but mostly it was controlled chaos.

Danny and I posed several questions like:

“Does it matter what the person does with the money?”

“Does the giver’s intentions matter?”

“How would you feel if you gave money to someone who said they needed it and you later found out they had lied about their situation and didn’t really need the money as much as they said they did?”

“When you give, do you make any conditions on your kindness or do you do it unconditionally?”

The debate was fantastic. 

9th Grade Media & Communications Class (Photo: Reed)

The time seemed to fly by and we were getting very close to the end of the class and the sound of the bell signaling the change of class.  I told the students that I was going to give my $10 to them as a group and they had to agree on what to do with it.  There was no shortage of ideas.  Many of them involved helping the aforementioned teacher, others involved raising money for various causes.  They settled on the idea of using my $10 as the foundation of a fund that they would themselves contribute to in order to host an open mic night to raise money for their class.  

This was an amazing opportunity to interact with the students.  I hope that they consider doing something on June 15th as part of the Worldwide Day of Giving and share their experiences here with all of us.

I walked home, it’s about a mile or two.  On the way home I started getting really sick.  It was the beginning of a 36 hour stomach flu that wiped me out last week.  I have since fully recovered!

Tonight I am doing an interview with a Korean radio station…should be interesting!  I will let you know how it goes.

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Technology is just not being my friend these days.  First last week the display on my point and shoot Canon camera died.  Then that little ball that you use like a mouse on the Blackberry decided it didn’t want to roll to the left.  The WiFi switch on my laptop is starting to fail.  It constantly says that it has been switched to off…causing me to lose my connection.  This is really annoying when you have a daily blog!  What’s next?  Maybe I need to go back to low tech.  I could write up my daily adventures by hand, make drawings of the people I meet, get a mimeograph (now that is old school!) and make copies of everything and then mail them out to you via the post office!

Anyway, last Friday I tried to give my $10 away near Dupont Cirlce to a Hispanic woman who was carrying some bags.  She just looked like she could use ten bucks, but she didn’t want to talk to me at all.  She just kept saying, “Sorry, sorry, sorry.”  I tried in Spanish, but she just kept on going.

Later I found Jona (pronounced Yona) pushing a scooter over to a place to lock it up by the Metro entrance.

The 27-year-old hails from Tirana, the capital and largest city in Albania, but has been living in the US since 2000.  She is a Finance Manager so she probably has some interesting opinions on my Year of Giving.

She says that she likes living in the US, but makes a point to visit Albania every year.  In fact she plans to return to live there some day.

We chatted for a while.  I asked her if there was anything we could help her with.  She said that she herself didn’t need anything but would like for everyone to start doing their part to help conserve our environment.  I asked her what specifically and she said, “Just the little things.  I mean just do it.  People know what the right thing to do is.”  She herself was participating in a very interesting conference that day called, Creating Climate Wealth.

The two-day conference convened respected entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and corporate leaders to provide their insights and expertise on the policies, market frameworks, and programs that will clear the barriers to deliver emission reductions and promote job creation.

She said that Virgin’s Richard Branson was there launching his new venture the Carbon War Room.   I found a statement from Branson on Tonic that said, “Almost 50 percent of emissions can be eliminated without adding any burdens to consumers through improved market structures and enhanced policies.  Climate change solutions represent the largest wealth creating opportunity for our generation. It is also the biggest win for governments with respect to economic development, job creation, increased property values, etc.”

Jona said former Costa Rican President José Maria Figueres was on the panel with Branson and had a great comment.  He was talking about how in business and our personal lives we make a plan b in case things don’t go the way we hope.  “There is no planet B!” he said.  Figueres was able to pass a carbon tax in Costa Rica in the 1990s!  He credits this to Costa Rica having a single term presidency and not being sidetracked by re-election efforts.  Commenting on the importance of carbon taxing, he went on to say, “As long as the price of a tree standing is less than the price of a tree cut for timber, we won’t save the forests.”

I wish I had known about this summit. I would have loved to have participated.

Jona didn't want her picture taken, but said I could take a picture of her scooter! (Photo: Reed)

At the end of our conversation, Jona gave me the money back.  She said, “I am going to give $10 of my own money to the guy who sits in front of the Johnny Rockets on Connecticut Avenue.”  She asked me to use that $10 to help someone else out.  I did not give it away that night.

On Sunday I saw the man she was talking about.  His name is Travis.  I used that extra $10 that I had to buy him dinner: Cheese Steak sandwich platter with everything on it and french fries.  I let him know that Jona would be by to see him one day too.

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Happy Earth Day!  It’s a shame that many people only think about caring for our planet once a year, but I guess that is better than nothing.  I will be posting Day 126 later today about a man who has dedicated his life to saving our country and planet.  His story tonight.

Many people ask how they can help me.  This week I received a check from a friend of mine and four gift certificates from a follower named Tawanna.  A few weeks ago a man from California sent me a donation via PayPal to sponsor ten days of giving.  Although all of these efforts are greatly appreciated, I would encourage you to think about how you can help those on the Lend a Hand page or individuals and organizations in your local community.  I promise to put the donations that I receive to good use, although, I can not accept money for my $10 daily commitment.  I made the $3,650 commitment myself and I don’t feel that it is fair to accept donations for my own personal commitment.  I am in the process of studying the possibility of creating a nonprofit that would help manage and distribute funds that I receive in a responsible manner.  I hope you don’t take this the wrong way.  Call me stubborn!  Larry and Kelly from California told me yesterday that, “to be a great giver, you also have to be a good receiver.”  What do you think?

Gravett playing the EWI4000s (Photo: Reed)

On Day 125 I was walking by Starbucks at Dupont Circle and saw a man playing a clarinet-like instrument inside the coffee shop.  I had seen him playing there before, but didn’t have time to stop.  I went inside and saw that the instrument is connected to a small electronic device that connects to earphones.  He was deep in concentration.  I nervously walked around pretending to be interested in anything but him.  Finally I just bit the bullet and walked up to him and asked if I could talk to him for a minute.

AKAI EWI4000s

That minute turned into two hours.  Gravett is a musician who is practicing on a EWI4000s.  It’s an electronic saxophone.  I used to play saxophone.  My band instructor, Mr. Snyder, I am sure would agree that the saxophone was not my calling in life.

The real benefit of the EWI4000s is that it has an internal sound module that stores the sounds/tones that the instrument produces rather than relying on an external modulator.  This allows Gravett to not have to carry around bulky equipment to hear the sound he is producing.  Pretty cool.

I asked him how he makes a living and he said he played the saxophone and worked as a pedicab driver in DC.  Pedicabs are bicycle powered cabs.  Very timely that I should write about him and his pedicab on Earth Day.  Gravett has returned to Washington DC last year after spending time living in Mexico City, the Czech Republic, and Jamaica.  I told him that I had given $10 to another saxophone player on Day 100 (Bill).  He nodded his head and said he knew him.  “Bill is really talented” he said.

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806)

I asked Gravett what he thought he would use the $10 for and he said he was going to save it for his next stint overseas.  “I have been thinking about going back to Mexico City.  I really like it there … or maybe Guatemala.”  Although Gravett said he likes Washington quite a bit, he prefers to live outside of the United States.  He feels that he doesn’t necessarily know or share in the history of the city and prefers to be somewhere that this is not expected of him.  In his work operating the pedicab he gets asked questions about the city quite a bit.  He impressed me though when he told me the story of Benjamin Banneker.  Banneker worked closely with Andrew Ellicott on finalizing the city plans for the District of Columbia.  I always thought it was the Frenchman Pierre Le’Enfant who was responsible for the entire plans, but George Washington supposedly dismissed Le’Enfant and left

Ellicott and Banneker to salvage the plans.

By the way, for those of you in Maryland, Ellicott and his two brothers established Ellicott Mills, later renamed Ellicott City.

Gravett is someone who lives in the present.  He believes that communication is only real when it is live and spoken.  Sounds are only real when they are produced live from their original source.  We spoke philosophically about these and many items.  Some things we agreed upon.  Others we did not.  But that is ok.  In the spirit of the legendary newscaster Ron Burgundy, we agreed to disagree.  I enjoyed chatting with him so much that soon we were being asked to leave as the coffee shop was closing.  

We gathered our things and headed to the West entrance that boarders Connecticut Avenue.  We said our goodbyes as he put a helmet on and got on his scooter (his legs are probably tired from all the pedaling!)  As I started to leave he said something that I have found myself telling others.  “Thanks for sharing.”

Because that is what we were really doing.  We were both sharing; sharing our time, our ideas, our questions, etc.  Had I not been doing this project, I don’t think I would have ever stopped to talk to Gravett.  I probably would have lived the rest of my life never knowing about Benjamin Banneker.  

Gravett did tell me something that you could help him with.  He would like information on living in Guatemala.  In particular, he is interested in extremely low-cost housing information as well as general safety issues.  He hopes to move there this summer.  If you have information or know where he can research this better, please leave a comment.

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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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Last Wednesday was absolutely beautiful here in DC.  I found Nicole relaxing in her military uniform on a park bench.

Nicole is an active duty officer in the United States Army.  A product of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) program, Nicole is an Army nurse stationed at a nearby medical center.  The soon to be First Lieutenant said that she chose a career in the military to “travel and see the world.”  I chuckled a little bit when she said that because I swear I recall a commercial for the army that said exactly that.

Photo: Reed

Nicole was waiting to meet up with someone that she found on Craigslist who was selling some tickets to the Nationals vs. Brewers baseball game on Saturday.  The Wisconsin native not only used the free online marketplace to find baseball tickets, but also found her apartment on Craigslist.  

Nicole’s phone rang and the man selling her the tickets, Don, informed her that he had arrived with the tickets.  She walked over to meet him and I followed her over hoping to still ask her a few more questions (I’m persistent).  Don, who had also served in the military, was unable to go to Saturday’s baseball game because he had tickets to game 2 of the Capitals playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens. 

Nicole paid Don and he handed over the tickets and then gave her $20 and said, “The first beers are on me.  Enjoy the game!”  I thought that was a really nice gesture.  I told Don about my kindness project and gave him my card.

He left and Nicole and I spoke for a few more minutes.  I was interested in her own giving habits and how those ideas were formed.  Like me, she suspected that her values on giving were probably shaped by her parents.  Given her current financial situation, she is limited in how much she can donate to organizations, however, sometimes she gives money to people she encounters on the streets of DC.  “It’s more of a spontaneous decision,” she tells me as she explains why she gives.  Coincidentally while we were talking a woman walked by asking for money and we both refused to give to her.

Nicole plans to use the $10 to buy some food at the ball game.  I asked her if there was anything that she needed help with that I could post on the Lend a Hand page.  She thought for a minute and said that she needed someone to buy her fish tank.  “It’s a 10 gallon fish tank in good shape.  I just want to get a bigger one.  It comes with the stand, pump, heater, some rocks, and plants.”  If you are in the DC Metro Area and are interested in a fish tank, drop me a note and I’ll connect you with Nicole.

We walked toward the metro where we said goodbye to one another and she thanked me.  I nodded and thanked her for her military service.

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Last Monday was absolutely beautiful.  I met up with a journalist who wanted to follow me around while I gave out my $10.

We met at Union Station and walked over to the Capitol.  I answered questions on camera while we walked around the Capitol grounds.  As we were walking I saw a woman about 50 yards off the path who had an easel set up and was drawing the dome of the Capitol Rotunda.  I made my way across the grass and introduced myself to Janet.

Janet sketching the Capitol (Photo: Reed)

David, the journalist, stayed about 30 yards away and filmed the interaction.  

Janet welcomed me with her calm voice.  I explained what I was doing and she agreed to participate.  She is extremely talented and passionate about her work.

Janet started her artistic career doing pottery.  She took up drawing and painting about nine years ago while living in Israel due to the minimal equipment needed to draw and paint compared to sculpting.  Janet and her husband lived in Israel for about five years and in Italy for a year. 

She said she would love to go back to live in Jerusalem.  It tops her list of cities to live in.  New York and Rome make up second and third respectively.  Originally from Houston, Janet clearly enjoys traveling and visiting new places and cultures.

She and her husband are no strangers to giving.  From helping refugees in Gaza to donating items for women imprisoned in Juarez, Mexico, they have made a clear choice to help others.  Janet also went into areas of Sri Lanka where media were not even given access and provided art supplies to orphans of their civil war.

Photo: Reed

The sun’s position in the sky was changing.  Janet was studying how the light and shadows fall upon the marble and white slathered limestone of the Capitol walls.  She was gracious and polite; however, I tried to wrap up things quickly.

I took some pictures and came back to the question of what she was going to do with the $10.  She told me that she had recently found $20 on the street and her husband decided to put it in an olive oil jar.  So she said that she would add the $10 to the jar.  I asked her what she intended to use the money for in the end and she said that she didn’t know yet.  “My husband says he will break it open some day though.”  Well, maybe she will remember me when that day comes and drop me a note about what they do with it.

David and I walked to a near-by bench and sat down and talked some more.  It wasn’t five minutes after we had sat down before another person walked up the grassy knoll and started up a conversation with Janet.  Despite all the interruptions she is certain to have, she manages to create beautiful work

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