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Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Blog post by Rose M, a Kindness Investor from Forest Park, IL.

I decided to go do my “reverse panhandling” at Starbucks in River Forest as it is a favorite haunt for both my husband John and myself.  In the evenings it quiets down, making it a nice place to read or write.  Tonight I found out it’s also a nice place for a gathering of women who share a common hobby:  knitting.

This Starbucks has a cozy corner tucked in the back away from the fray.  A coffee table sits on a worn Persian rug and is surrounded by three burnt orange wingback chairs.  Most people covet this prime real estate, myself being one of them.  When I arrived, I headed back there immediately, only to find one chair taken by a studious young man reading a Bible.  A silver-haired woman sits knitting in another.  The third chair holds a wicker basket stuffed with yarn.
I eyed the chair and the woman eyes me.  These are the words in the cartoon balloons floating over our heads.

“You’re not taking that chair!”

“I don’t want that chair!”

“Yes you do, and you can’t have it!”

I really don’t want the chair, and besides, it’s pretty obvious she’s holding it for someone.  What I am thinking is,“Hmmm, is she the one?  I don’t know.  She’s guarding that chair like a pit bull.”  She really is a bit intimidating.  Maybe I better approach the Bible reader instead.  I mean, what could go wrong there?  A Bible reader is bound to be interested in the YOG project.

Trying to make up my mind, I once again eye the Bible reader, the chair, and the woman.

The woman eyes me back.  I think I detect a certain fierceness in the click of her knitting needles.  Suitably daunted and uncertain about bothering the young man, I decide to wander the length of Starbucks looking for someone else to draw my attention.  But I don’t want to leave my Asus unattended, so I return to home base—a table just outside the coveted cozy corner.

Well, I have two reasons for finally deciding to approach the silver-haired knitter.  One, I could’ve wasted all night looking for the right recipient.  Two, I’m overcome with an unreasonable need to reassure her I don’t want her chair!  I don’t steal parking spots either!

“Hello, excuse me,” I begin timidly, “is someone sitting here?”

“No, but they will be in less than fifteen minutes,”comes her firm reply.

“Oh, that’s ok, I don’t want the chair,” I swear, barely resisting the temptation to finish with “cross my heart and hope to die.”  She explains she meets here weekly with a group of women friends numbering from six to fifteen.  They gathered to knit, share knitting patterns and shoot the breeze.

Then I ask her if she’d be willing to hear about a project that might interest her.  I’m starting to think that’s not the best pick-up line because it seems to arouse suspicion when my goal is to inspire generosity.  I would probably feel the same way.  Whoever approaches somebody with the sole purpose of giving away money?  My assumption would be this project is probably going to cost me something.

She is gracious, though, and allows me to tell her about Reed and the Year of Giving blog.  When I finish, she tells me she’s struck by the notion anyone would be interested in what she was going to do with the money.  It seems odd to her.  She’s also adamant she doesn’t want to be involved in something she has to perpetuate, as if it were a “living chain letter” of sorts.  I assure her this is not the case.

She’s clearly ambivalent, and I don’t want her to feel pressured.  I’m on the verge of trying to find a graceful way to bow out when another member of the group shows up.

“Glenyss!  We have a project to consider,” she says, gesturing to me.  “This is right up your alley.”

Glenyss pulls up a chair and listens while I explained it again.  The silver-haired knitter is right.  It is right up her alley.

“Oh sure, we can take the money.  We can find a charitable knitting project and use the ten to buy the yarn for it.”
I actually have a friend who is involved in “competitive knitting” but I’d never heard the phrase “charitable knitting.”  I ask Glenyss to tell me more and she explained she’s been involved in a number of charitable knitting projects, both personally and through her church.  For instance, in 2008 Iowa was flooded for the entire month of June.  Her church knitted caps and mittens because, “no-one was thinking about winter coming, when they’d discovered they’d lost the caps and mittens in the flood.”  So this way, they would be prepared.  How wonderful it must have been for those families to have one less thing to worry about during that difficult time!

A few more women show up, including Marion, for whom the chair had been reserved (she tells me with a pat to the bum “I have no padding so I need a soft chair”).  The other is Lori.  Lori wants to hear about the project too.  The project brought a big smile to her face, and I sense I have finally made the sale (boy, whoever thought you’d have to go to so much effort to SELL ten dollars?).

“So, shall I give you the ten dollars,” I ask the group of four knitters.

“Sure, we’ll take it,” Glenyss speaks for the group, reaching her hand out for the money.

The silver-haired knitter—whose name I finally learned was Debbie—doesn’t want her picture on the web, so I suggest they display their knitting projects and I will take a picture of their work.

What you’re looking at here is beautiful sweater for a young child, a gorgeous woman’s white cardigan and the start of a knapsack.  Debbie is making it.  It brought back a bittersweet memory for me.  My grandmother had once made me a knitted knapsack that I adored.  I loved it because it was cool and reminded me of her.  Then, my apartment was robbed and only two items were taken—a ring which cost five dollars, and the knapsack.  It’s been over twenty years and I still miss it!

Thanking them for their time, I return to my little writing post.  The group has grown from four to nine while I write this.  I overhear conversations about knitting quickly give way to more personal stories interspersed with jokes, laughter and the occasional display of a project for the generous admiration of all.  Their words knit one, pearl two a soft, warm shawl of goodwill and friendship around them which spills out to wrap around me as well.

As the evening draws to a close the women start to leave, one by one.  A few wish me goodnight and good luck with my project and I’m tempted to say, “It’s your project, too.”  But that’s not for me to decide.  They have the ten-dollar bill.  What they do with it is up to them.  Still, I’d like to think it has added a unique stitch to their evening.  I hope it won’t get dropped. 

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Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

The Williamson County Park has a walking path that follows along a river on one side.  There’s a hopscotch design painted on the path and a little further up you’ll see three different circles with a sign that says:
Try this:

  • Stand in the circles, looking at each other. Make each other smile or laugh.
  • Hold hands, give your child a hug, a smile or a pat on the back.
  • Watch, listen and learn.  See what your child looks at, talks about and does.

As I went further up I stopped and met walking his little dog, Yachi.  Ed adopted this adorable dog and was told Yachi’s former owner was a lady from Japan who could no longer care for her.  Ed is in the process of teacher his dog to come to him in English because his first master spoke only Japanese.  One thing is for sure, she loves people and attention.  Ed was told Yachi means “good luck” in Japanese.  I don’t doubt she is.

I explained the Year of Giving to Ed and he accepted my offer of $10 dollars.  Ed told me, “for the rest of this year I’ll be working my bucket list. I’m going to travel to Vermont and check that out and I love Washington, I’m going to travel there as well.”

Ed has moved eight times in the last 17 years and he’s going to find the place where he’ll finally settle down.
I asked Ed what he might do with the $10 dollars and he said, “I’ll give it back to you so you can give it to the next person.”  I explained I couldn’t accept anything so he said, “well then I’ll probably give it to a cause, maybe the Humane Society.”

I wish Ed a safe trip and lots of fun while whittling down his bucket list.

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Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

After trying twice today and being turned down, I met Linda as she was coming out of a Borders that’s closing its doors. On this gorgeous day I asked Linda what she was doing and she shared that she was, “running errands, getting my car fixed, I saw Borders is closing and decided to get some books to read. “

Linda isn’t from this immediate area, but drove the short distance from Nashville.  I asked her what she did for a living and I was impressed when she told me she’s an engineer for a pacemaker company.

Family?  “Yes” she replied, “I have a daughter, she’s four years old, and I take care of my 81 year old mother who has Alzheimer’s.  She came to stay with me about three months ago; she moved here from Chicago.  So that is what my life is right now, taking care of a 4-year-old and an 81-year-old.  My mother goes to an adult day care while I’m at work and we have someone come in once a week, a medical aid, that helps with other stuff like bathing, housecleaning and things like that.”

I asked her what she might do with the $10 and she answered, “Interesting question.”  She thought just for a moment and answered, “I was just about to give to a college fund for one of my church member’s granddaughters so I’m going to put it in the coffers.  I was going to give $100 so now I will give $110.  So that’s what I’m going to do with it. “

I would bet that young lady will be very grateful for Linda’s generosity.

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Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.

I noticed Brian several months ago, standing on a corner selling newspapers; I even bought a paper from him once.  The paper, The Contributor, contains stories and poetry written by homeless or formerly homeless citizens.  I thought he would be a great recipient of the day’s $10.  I stopped and asked Brian what led him to sell the paper.

“I just started doing this in December.  I’d been doing ironwork, but the trade has been dwindling down and the guy I worked for was a small outfit so he was about ready to lose everything.  See that roof over there on that bank; I did that building about 20 years ago.  I’ve been an ironworker for 25 years and I hope I get called back.

“But that’s why I started selling this paper.  It got to where I’m behind, but I’m not going to lose what I’ve got.  But it’s hard; I get out 5-6 days a week, if weather permits.  I’ve got family to take care of.”

I asked Brian if he had a place to live.

“Yeah, I pay rent every week, if I don’t have it one week; I catch him (landlord) up the next week.  He’s really good like that. There’s good people out there and before I started doing this with The Contributor I also gave to everybody.  Even though I’m doing this, if I see other contributors, I give them a dollar or whatever I can spare.  We’re all in the same boat.  There’s like 400 of us.   I drive down here from Nashville because there’s so many people in downtown you can’t get a good spot.

“But doing this I have also received a lot.  One month a guy gave me $200 dollars and the next month he gave me $200 more.  I bought four brand new tires with it; I put it to good use.  He took me to lunch the other day, bought lunch, but I left the tip. I said look I know you want to do this, but I have to do something too. “

Brian waved to someone.  “There goes my mailman.  See, I got regulars out here. “While he’s sitting at the red light, the mailman hollers, “Hey there’s no telling what he’ll tell you.”  But then he laughs and says, “Just kidding, it’s all good.”  I wonder what other drivers were thinking, seeing us standing on a street corner laughing, waving, and having a good time.

Brian explained that, “There’s people like me standing out here trying to make a dollar.  Like when you leave here, I’ll walk up and down this sidewalk as much as I can.  You know if you sit at home you’re not going to make any money. And in reality, it keeps me up and keeps me healthy because once you start sitting idle you can hang it up.

“Basically I’m out here trying to make a living.  And I do love being a pioneer because you ain’t gotta answer to anybody; you just have to think about what the Lord’s got you doing.  I ain’t got anything but a desire to work and help people.”

I saw the truth in that. He made my day.

As for the ten dollars, Brian said, “I’ll either get me a meal or some cigarettes.”

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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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Wow…I am still thinking about Bob from Day 251, aren’t you.  I wish you could have been there with us for the entire conversation.  He was really amazing.  Today’s recipient is equally impressive.  Read on! 

These two guys opted to decline the $10. (photo: Reed)

Day 254 started with two refusals.  First two guys who were sitting on the grass in front of an office building at the corner of 19th and O Streets said “No” because they were deep discussion.  Then I wandered down 19th Street a little further where I found William, a US Post Office mail carrier.  He was sitting in his truck grabbing a bite to eat and said that he was too busy.

I kept on walking down to the corner of 19th and M Street.  I looke across the street to see if Anthony was there, but I didn’t see his smiling face.  It was around there that I ran into Christina carrying a clear container of salad from Mixt Greens and a Netflix movie envelope.  She seemed skeptical of my motives at first, but agreed to accept the $10.  We walked west down M Street as we talked.

Christina poses for a picture with her pricey salad. (photo: Reed)

I find out that she works at a nearby NGO and is on her lunch break.  “This salad cost more than $10,” she tells me as I hand her the $10.  I asked her what she got in her salad, I mean for that price I was hoping that she at least got some truffles or Beluga caviar or a TV.  I mean I once heard of a salad at the Hemel Hotel in London that had Almas golden caviar, Beluga caviar, kreel-caught langoustines, Cornish crab and lobster, plus Florette baby leaf salad tossed in some super expensive olive oil with grated truffle placed in a basket made from courgettes, red peppers and potato and decorated with gold leaf…all for the low price of US$982! 

She was carrying a DVD so maybe they gave her that.  Nope.  Just a salad.  “I think this might be my first and last salad from there,” she says.

I asked her what about her made her unique.  She paused and thought for a moment and said, “Well, I am a brain cancer survivor.”  I swallowed and tried to think of something to say.  She told me that they removed the tumor in July and that she was currently going to chemotherapy every two weeks.  “I feel good now,” she says with a smile.

“How did you find out,” I ask trying to imagine how many things most go through your head when you learn this.  She says that there wasn’t a lot of time to think about anything.  They operated almost immediately once they had found the malignant tumor.  We arrive at her office.  I continue to ask some more questions without realizing that I was now completely focused on her bout with cancer and there is a lot more about Christina and I only probably have a few minutes more before she needs to go up to her office.

Christina loves to travel – especially internationally.  She has a passport full of stamps to prove it too.  Croatia, Thailand and Italy as some of her favorite places.  “Did you go to San Gimignano in Italy,” I ask.  It’s one of my favorite places on the planet.  She had in fact visited the tiny hilltop village.  She fondly recalls some of her memories from her trip.  The small town where there was only one phone booth with a line of people wrapping around it outside.  “We also saw this woman who had this really nice flower garden.  She ended up inviting us in and made us try all these different types of homemade grappa.  One was made with oregano, another with thyme…”  As she is telling me about her trip I can’t help but slip into the memory of my own trip there and how much I enjoyed it.

photo: Reed

She also tells me that she loves movies, hence the DVD in her hand.  “Shoot,” she says looking down at the red and white Netflix envelope.  “We got talking and I totally forgot to drop this off at the post office.”  I had already taken a good chunk of her lunch break so I offered to go and drop it off.

We say goodbye and I start walking back toward the post office when I shout back, “What movie did you get?”  “It’s True Blood,” she says referring to the hit HBO series starring Anna Paquin. 

I got an email a few days later from Christina letting me know that she had donated the $10 to Mercy Corps for their Pakistan flood relief efforts. 

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Day 188 was Father’s Day.  My dad came down from Pennsylvania for the day.  My brother and his wife met us at Guapo’s in Shirlington, VA for lunch.  After getting our Mexican fill, we went over to watch City Island.  I had never heard of this movie, but it is quite good.  Then we went over to my brother and his wife’s house and played bridge.  I really enjoy playing bridge, however, I don’t know hardly anyone who plays and I am not that good.  It is probably the most dynamic card game that I know. 

For dinner we decided to take our father to Ray’s the Steaks (2300 Wilson Blvd.) in Arlington, VA. I had not been there before and was very impressed….well I shouldn’t be surprised, their sister restaurant, Ray’s Hell Burger (1725 Wilson Blvd, Arlingtong, VA), serves up the best burger I have ever sunk my teeth into.  I asked our server, a young lady who was working her last shift before taking a leave of absence from Ray’s, if there were any staff members who were fathers.  She went to check.

Daren (Photo: Reed)Meanwhile we enjoyed a delicious dinner.  They have a special that runs Sun-Tues that consists of a salad, two 5-oz filet mignons, two family style side orders and dessert for $24.99.  For the quality you get, it is a pretty good deal.  We didn’t have anything to drink, but their wines and beers seemed reasonably priced.

Our server returned with Daren.  He’s a proud father of two girls, 5 and 8 years old.  A product of growing up in both Ocala, FL and the Bronx, NY, he considers himself more of a Bronx guy.  “I’m definitely more Bronx when I’m angry,” he says laughing.

He’s been working at Ray’s for about a year and a half.  “It’s a great place to work.  Management is very respectful to the employees.”  He goes on to say that, “Michael, the owner, comes in almost every day.”  

I asked Daren what his favorite item from the menu was.  Check out this video for his answer as well as a little bit about one of Michael Landrum’s newest ventures, Ray’s Hell Burger II  (1713 Wilson Blvd, Alrington, VA).  Caution, you may be mouth-watering hungry after watching:

I learned that Ray’s has no website and does no marketing.  Anyone who has eaten there understands why.  The food is so good that you don’t need to do marketing.  Another interesting thing they do there is on Sundays they donate 10% of their sales to the Boys and Girls Clubs of NE Washington, DC and Arlington, VA.  “I’m going to donate your $10 to the Boys & Girls Club,” Daren shares with me with great excitement.

Although polite, Daren’s supervisor seemed a little bothered that I was potentially keeping Daren from his tables, so I wished him a happy Father’s Day and said goodbye.

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