Archive for March 8th, 2010

I heard from Roger D. today from Day 54…he is doing well.  Still struggling but his positive attitude is inspiring.  I hope to meet up with him this week.  He is having some trouble figuring out how to get some medical/dental assistance.  He is also still looking for counseling and a used lap top…if you haven’t checked out the Lend a Hand section, please do, maybe you can help someone today.

James (Photo: Reed)

If you have driven by the corner of Calvert and Connecticut in Washington, DC in the last 8 months there is a chance that you have seen the man on the right.

This is James.  The 39-year-old works for Street Sense.  I try to find one of their salespeople each week because I just love the concept that the paper has and have really enjoyed meeting every single salesperson.

James, vendor #315, got a job after his friend Randy suggested he apply.  Randy used to work for Street Sense until he passed away in November of last year.  The opportunity to help others is what drives James to go out six days a week to sell the newspaper that helps DC’s poor and homeless.  Even on the coldest days, even in the rain, James is out there.  He doesn’t let a lot stand in his way, not even a serious life-threatening illness.

You see, James was born with spina bifida cystica (myelomeningocele).  This is the most complex and severe form of spina bifida.  In James’ case he was born with a hole in his back and part of his spinal cord and nerves were on the exterior of his body.  Doctors operated and put everything back where it belonged, but it left him with some life long challenges, mostly related to his legs.  He uses crutches to get around, but can walk small distances without them he says.

The youngest of eight children, James is very positive.  His warmth is contagious and radiates when you speak with him.  He was so happy I thought he might have been drinking, but after speaking with him for a while I realized that that is just part of the love he exudes.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and enjoys drawing, seeing movies, spending time with friends, and just “enjoying life.”  As I talk with him I can’t help but think that spina bifida might very well shorten his life.  I later researched it and found that “most individuals live well into adulthood.”

James at corner of Calvert & Conn., DC (Photo: Reed)

I asked him what he planned on doing with my gift and he said, “I am definitely going to give it to someone else…someone who needs it more than I do.”  He followed this statement up with one that I truly believe as well, “When you help others you help yourself.”

Throw away your Prozac and come down to Calvert and Connecticut Avenue in DC and say hello to James.  Repeat daily for 6 days and you will be good to go!

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So today the Year of Giving blog will most likely pass 11,000 hits thanks to all of you following along! 

That is pretty amazing I think for a site that doesn’t sell anything or give you any secret to weight loss or living a longer healthier life.  Well, maybe that is not entirely true…I do believe that making giving a priority in your life will make you a happier person and if you pick up that from the blog…that’s great! 

So my friend Melanie is in a very unique group called Machines on Vacation.  They have a very cool, refreshing sound.  It’s what you get when you put together a guy with a guitar, a string quartet, and some high tech equipment.  They were playing a show in DC and I went to see them. 

(photo courtesy of hahatonkamusic.com)

As a bonus I got to see a band called Ha Ha Tonka.  I had never heard of them, but they put on a great show.  They have a unique sound…it’s like indie rock meets the Ozarks.  After the show, I decided to give these guys my $10 for the day.  I ended up meeting all four members: Brett, Lennon, Luke, and Brian.  I asked them what they were going to do with the money and they said they were going to buy themselves a round of beers.  I felt bad, because I was pretty sure that they wouldn’t be able to get four beers for $10…but that was before I knew they had Schlitz cans available….for exactly $2.50 a piece!  Cheers!

The guys are really nice.  They have been together for five years…toured all over, never wrecked their tour van, and travel with a one-eyed pooch named He-Man!  Despite this being the final night of their tour and having driven 475 miles earlier that day to get to DC from Rochester, NY where they performed the night before, they were still going strong! 

They are taking a little rest now and then will start up on tour again.  For those in the DC area, they are not planning on stoping here but they will be opening for a show in Baltimore on April 28th.  Some of their favorite cities to play for are: Chicago, Austin, and Emporia, KS.  (They love all the cities…but you know how it is.)

Here is a little sample of them from YouTube.

And here is poorly shot clip that I took from their show in DC…

You can check their website and listen to more of their music on MySpace and YouTube…but I recommend that you go see them live.

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