Today was a busy day!
I had an informative meeting with a friend of a friend on how to effectively incorporate twitter into my Year of Giving. Look for this being added to the site soon. Then I had a meeting with World Neighbors, a very impressive international development organization whose focus is to eliminate hunger, poverty, and disease in the poorest, most isolated rural villages in the developing world. I urge you to check out their website and support their fantastic work. Then I met up with Jenny from Day 13 to follow up on her thoughts about being a recipient of the Year of Giving and
how her job search is going. As you might remember, several YoG blog readers commented on suggestions for her to find work in the international public health sector. Thanks to all that helped! I should have a short video posted on Facebook soon where Jenny talks about her reaction to the Year of Giving as well as her own altruistic pledge!
Finally I went to the Embassy of Haiti to volunteer my time and resources to any efforts that they may have. As I approached the embassy I was greeted by news trucks and a small memorial of candles and paintings. Inside the embassy there was a very uncomfortable vibe. Somber yet frantic if you can imagine. The hustle and bustle of people was occasionally broken up by tears and desperation. While I was there, I gave away my $10 to Gilles, a Haitian-American who lost his mother in the earthquake. It was a very moving experience. I will give a full report on Gilles tomorrow.
I have been so busy, that I have not updated the blog on yesterday’s recipient…so here goes.
On day 30 I found Kenneth selling Street Sense at the Dupont Circle Metro entrance. I bought a paper for $1.00 from the 43-year-old and asked if I could talk to him about a project I was doing. He agreed and grabbed his personal items and suggested we have a seat nearby on a bench. Kenneth is cheerful and full of energy.
Before I finish telling you about my gift to Kenneth, let me say a few more words about Street Sense. Street Sense is a great paper produced twice a month that is mostly run and written by those who are homeless or below the poverty level in DC. You might recall David from Day 5 who was also selling Street Sense. I have seen the Street Sense sales people for years, but never bought the paper. Since I bought my first copy from David, I have really become a fan. The paper is short and can be read in one sitting. The stories are great and really give you insight into the DC homeless and poverty issues. Sixty-five cents goes to the vendor and thirty-five cents goes to the paper. The next time you see a sales person, stop, say hello, and buy an issue. It’s a dollar! These people are making an honest buck and the paper is great. Here’s a little bit of trivia too. Check out their vendor ID number and you can tell how long they have been at Street Sense. They go sequentially from when they started so you might meet someone who has been there since the early days back in 2003 when it was started if they have a number under 20 for example.
Back to Kenneth. He shared with me that he suffered from various conditions (bipolar, schizoaffective, and post traumatic stress) and as a result was living in a community residence facility (CRF), which is like an assisted living situation. Although he said he wished that he could live on his own, I sensed that he understood that living in the CRF would help him get the most out of life.
He enjoys selling the paper. On good days, he sells his 20 papers within 2-3 hours. Occasionally he gets the opportunity to mentor young professionals who want to experience what it is like to work for a nonprofit organization – he says he really enjoys that.
I am mindful that my time with Kenneth is keeping him from selling his papers and wrap up our conversation. He says he will spend the money on food this week. I asked him if I could take his picture and he smiled and happily said that was fine. He quickly went back to work hawking the remaining papers. I encourage everyone who uses the Dupont Circle Metro to keep and eye out for Kenneth. He is usually at the corner of 20th and Q. Say hello, get a paper, and tell him that I sent you! If you don’t live in the DC area, check to see if your city has a newspaper dedicated to the poor and homeless, lots of urban areas have them!
One final note, I heard back from Zazzle.com about sponsoring business cards for the Year of Giving. They were delighted to help and will be shipping me 500 cards shortly! THANK YOU!!! Check out there site. They have an interesting business model and do all kinds of other personalized items (clothes, mugs, etc.).