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Posts Tagged ‘employment’

Meet Petra!  She’ll be sharing her adventures of giving $10 away in and around Seattle, WA for the next seven days.

Name: Petra

Age: 54 years young

Where do you live? Seattle, Washington

Where were you born? Rural, northern Minnesota (but grew up in the Twin Cities- St. Paul/Minneapolis)

What’s the highest level of education you have completed? BA with additional certificates of completion in other continuing education arenas

Do you have a family? Single, never married, but do have a wonderful life – saving family of two furry critters – a dog and a cat

How did you hear about the Year of Giving? Huffington Post article-changed my life
How long have you been unemployed?
Technically, 8 years.  However, I have had myriad contract and freelance jobs; I began my own business but really wasn’t what I wanted to do…

What happened? I was working at biotech/pharma company (an amazing, rewarding experience) which was acquired by a larger Bio/Pharma company.  Most non-scientific staff were laid-off, including me.

Do you currently volunteer? Because of some complicated health issues over the past few years, I have not for a while. However, two organizations have been top of mind for a while and I’m preparing to approach them to offer my services.

Who have been your biggest influences? A dear friend who, after battling breast cancer for 22 years, passed away three years ago; a former boss who taught me both good business skills and what a fair, inspiring supervisor/mentor looks and acts like

What is your favorite food? Caprese salad!  As long as the tomatoes are ripe and aromatic,  and the mozzarella is fresh

What is the most meaningful gift you have ever received? Unconditional love and compassion from my friends and family; when a friend spent her birthday driving me around town on a hot summer’s day to deliver important documents in an important step to help me plough through official red-tape; in the end, it/she helped save my life

Describe your ideal job:  A professional Kindness Investor; I dream of giving away – say $100  – to someone I don’t know, talking with them and then writing about what they might do with the money.  HEY!  Sounds like a full-time REED SANDRIDGE profession!  No, seriously.  I have thought about this for a long time- more than a year before reading about your endeavor, Reed.  To have the means to walk up to someone (as I follow my keen intuition) who could use – who really needs – a  C note right now, would be amazing.  And as you, Reed, have done so gracefully for more than a year, then take the time to invest in that person-to learn a bit about who they are – and then write about it/them … well, that is my heart’s desire.

Thank you for being an inspiration to me, and to so many others.  Let us hope and pray that your year-long “experiment” will become a daily practice for people like me…and many, many other Kindness Investors! Bless you, Reed!

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Ernest decided to donate his $10 to charity.

Sadly day 14 is here which means this is my last day of participating in the Year of Giving.  I met Ernest today at our local hospital.  When I walked in Ernest was mopping the floor.  A never-ending job since we have snow on the ground again.

Ernest has worked in the housekeeping department at the hospital for two years.  His favorite part of his job is that it gives him the opportunity to meet many people and he likes helping those visiting the hospital.  Ernest said he was going to donate the money to a charity.  He wasn’t sure which charity yet, he was going to think of one as he finished mopping the floor.

I chose the hospital as my place for donation today as I feel very fortunate that I was recently offered a position with Hospice of Dayton.  I start working with them next week and am really looking forward to the opportunity to not only get into the health care field but also work in the area I’m most passionate about which is helping others.

I would like to thank Reed for the opportunity to touch the lives of people in my area for the last two weeks.  Meeting the 14 people I met during this journey was extremely rewarding to me, I can only imagine how rewarding the experience was for Reed having the opportunity to meet 365 different people.

If anyone reading this is unemployed I encourage you to send an email to Reed right now and participate in a week of giving.  I’m sure you will find the experience rewarding.  You will be amazed at the people you meet and the stories of their lives they are willing to share.  It’s such a rewarding experience.  I feel very fortunate being given the opportunity to not only kick off the second Year of Giving but also having the opportunity to participate for two weeks.

-Melinda T. from Xenia, OH

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After 21 years with US Steel, drugs and alcohol have left Michael homeless. (photo: Reed)

In the early hours of October 5th I had just given my money to Alexander and Phaze.  I was talking to Alexander and getting my things together to leave because it was about 1:00am and I had to be at work in a few hours. Right then a guy pulled up on a Trek bicycle.  My initial thought was that the bike might have been stolen since it was missing the seat.  In a soft voice he approached me and said, “You want the real story?” He claimed that Alexander’s story was not representative of those facing real hardships on the streets.  “I don’t choose to be out here,” he said.  Although he was critical of Alexander’s choice to sell

StreetWise magazines, I support it.  I have seen how Street Sense here in DC has changed the lives of many individuals here in DC.  Michael was telling me that he was deserving of the $10 because of the hardships of his life.

So to give you an idea how this went down, I was filming Alexander and just let the camera running when Michael rolled up and started talking to me. Here is the raw unedited (with the exception of one part where we were interrupted) video from that conversation.

Michael said he goes daily to the labor lines in search of day work. “I get work probably once a week,” he told me.

Michael showed me the scars from where he was shot in Seattle. (photo: Reed)

He also told me that he survived a shooting in Seattle. Michael explained that it resulted from an incident where some other man pulled up the skirt of the woman he was with. He stood up for her and ended up getting shot six times. Michael pulled up his shirt to show me the wounds.

Michael's seatless bicycle (photo: Reed)

Before leaving Michael offered to give me the money back. I don’t really know why and I told him to keep it and he did. He said he was going to use it to buy food that week.
Right as I was packing up my stuff, another guy named Tim came by and also asked for money.  What is going on here?  Did someone tweet that a crazy guy was handing out money at Michigan and Randolph? Anyway, I politely told Tim no and headed home.

On my way home a filmed the following video debrief.

Tomorrow, it’s back to DC.

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Ryan hawks some beers on his first day at work at FedEx Field. (photo: Reed)

What does today’s recipient have in common with yesterday’s recipient?  They both carry things for a living.  Harold from yesterday carries the mail in DC while Ryan carries beer for thirsty sports fans at the Redskins games.

The 21-year-old, who wears a badge identifying him as Vendor #623, said that today was his first day on the job!  I asked him how it was going and he said, “The beer is heavy.  Really heavy.”  Just for that I bought one of his chilled Budweisers…you know, to help his tired arms and aching back out.  The container he is carrying around looks like it holds about a case and a half of 16 oz bottles.  Add some ice and water to that and you got a back-breaker of a load. 

He says that he has already gone back three times to pick up additional beer.  He kept moving and I followed him a little bit and talked to him between his sales. 

"The beer is heavy. Really heavy.” - Ryan (photo: Reed)

He told me that is a sophomore studying business at the University of Maryland.  I’m quite certain that in his first hours at work there at the stadium he has already learned some business skills.  I am guessing that he has learned a thing or two about the price inelasticity of demand when it comes to products like alcohol!  Maybe he can get college credit for his job.  It doesn’t matter that he is selling beers for ten times the cost that they would be sold at a supermarket, people will still buy it.  I bet they could charge $15 a beer and still have tremendous sales.  I hope owner Dan Snyder is not reading my blog and getting any ideas!

Well no surprise here what Ryan chose to do with the $10.  Yep, he’s going to buy some beer when he gets off of work.

Ryan finds some thirsty fans. (photo: Reed)

As for the game, the Redskins held a 17-point lead late in the 3rd quarter and then managed to blow it giving up 20 points to loose 27-30 to the Houston Texans.  The season is not looking good…

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The Clintons walk down Pennsylvania Avenue at the 1993 inauguration (photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute)

I left work and instead of walking home I thought that I would walk in the opposite direction and see if I could find a recipient of my daily ten-spot.  As I walked down 25th Street I passed Trader Joe’s on my left and arrived at Pennsylvania Avenue.  What a historic avenue!  This 36 mile stretch of road (about five of which are in DC) is most known for the 1.2 mile section that connects the White House to the Capitol.  I was standing about a mile west of the White House near where the avenue begins (or ends I guess) at the edge of Georgetown.  That is where I saw Rigoberto. 

I stopped Rigoberto on the sidewalk of Penn. Ave. as he left the bank on the way back to start his shift (photo: Reed)

Originally from Honduras, Rigoberto has been here for approximately ten years.  He lives in the District and works as a cook at a restaurant on the iconic Pennsylvania Avenue.  “Es una ciudad muy bonita,” he says as he talks fondly about Washington.  Although he has patiently waited nine years for his green card to be approved, he dreams of one day returning to Honduras.  “Toda mi familia está alla,” he tells me explaining that his wife and six children (ages 11-22) are there in a small town that is a two day bus trip west of the capital of Tegucigalpa. “It’s right on the border with El Salvador.” 

He looked down at the ten-dollar bill in his hand and said that he was going to send it to his daughter who is a university student in Honduras.  Every month he sends her $150.  This time he will send her $160.  It comes at a good time too.  He told me that she had just asked if he could send her some additional money this month for some other expenses she incurred. 

Rigoberto, who is legally here, has worked in the US for ten years in order to provide for his large family.  Moving thousands of miles away to a strange city with a different language would not be a choice some people would be able to do.  “This is how I support my family,” he tells me.  In his hometown, rent for a nice home for a family of his size costs about $105.  “And this includes someone to help with cooking the meals, cleaning the house and doing the laundry.”  He would not be able to make the kind of salary he has here if he were to be working there. 

Rigoberto (photo: Reed)

Rigoberto had just left the restaurant where he was working to run to the bank so I didn’t want to keep him too much longer.  The last thing I would want is for him to get in trouble for not being at work.  I told him that I would try to stop in some time and eat at the restaurant where he works.  “Well, that’s up to you,” he says with a big smile.  “It’s a pretty expensive place and I’m not that good of a cook!” 

I have listed on the Lend a Hand page two items that Rigoberto needs.  His refrigerator can not keep up with the heat and says that the freezer compartment does not work well enough to keep things frozen.  He also needs a new stove.

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MLK Jr. Avenue, Southeast DC (Photo: Wikipedia)

It was a Monday as I walked along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Anacostia, part of DC’s Southeast quadrant. My neck turning red as the sun’s heavy rays beat down on me. The bricks of many of the houses and buildings along my path no longer hold the rich red color they once did.

Isaac walked by me as he headed toward the Metro which was about five blocks away. Something about him struck me and I doubled back and caught up with him and asked him to accept my $10. He stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me as if I had just spoken to him in a foreign language. I sometimes forget how unusual this year-long commitment is. Sharing that he has heard of my project either in the Washington Post or on the local news, he agrees to be my 182nd recipient.

The 32-year-old was on his way home from a trade school where he is learning the fundamentals of carpentry, plumbing and electrical work. With less than a month left of schooling he still is unsure of what he will do when he finishes.

Our conversation takes us back in time to when Isaac was a high school student at Chamberlain High School in Southeast. As a young adult Isaac got involved in some things he shouldn’t have which culminated with him receiving a three-year sentence at the McKean Federal Correctional Institution for cocaine distribution related charges. Released in February of this year, Isaac is trying to pull his life together. “Things happen in prison you know, but you just mind your own business and try not to get in the middle of nothing,” Isaac says of his time in the Pennsylvania penitentiary. While an inmate, he tried to improve himself by completing his GED and taking computer courses. “I would like to get a job working with medical records or something like that.” He goes on to say that he has been thinking about enrolling in the University of Phoenix to further his education.

My conversation with Isaac covers the whole spectrum of life. He shares with me that he might be a father. There is a DNA test in progress to determine whether he is the father of a soon to be three-year-old girl. I did the math and determined that if he did father the child then it must have been right before he was incarcerated. “I don’t know. The test will tell,” he says.

As the weight of the world settles on his shoulders, Isaac is also faced with finding a job. Areas which he says that he would be interested in working are: food service, home or office cleaning, building maintenance, handyman and inventory restocking.

My heart literally hurt when he told me that he was going to buy cigarettes with my money. I try not to judge people on their decisions of what to do with my $10, but to buy cigarettes is a painful reminder of the heart disease that took my mother’s life. I felt the same way when Matt from Day 10 told me he was going to get some Marlboros. I have been against smoking ever since I can remember, but I have to accept his choice. I hope some day you are able to quit Isaac.

I finished asking questions and took a few photos. I walked with Isaac all the way to the Metro station. I really enjoyed talking with him. He is smart and easy to relate to. As we entered the Metro station I asked him where he was heading. “I’m gonna stop by my mother’s house.” The thundering sound of the Metro train coming into the station erased all other sounds. He shook my hand and disappeared into the crowded Green Line train headed for Branch Avenue.

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Tommy sells Street Sense and Alex panhandles in the background (Photo: Reed)

I have some bad news.  My laptop may have completely died.  I am going to make some last ditch efforts, but it doesn’t look good.

I am using a public computer right now and will try to continue posting when possible.  I will not have any pictures or videos until I get some things figured out. 

I came across Alex on a Saturday while I was delivering some donated items to Tommy from Day 155 (he was so thankful for all the love that has poured out for him).  Alex was sitting on a crate just a few feet away trying to find some relief from the sun’s sweltering rays. 

Alex (Photo: Reed)

Originally from Robertson County, North Carolina, Alex, or “Country” as some of his friends call him, moved to Washington, DC when he was 18.  Now 56, he has lived here ever since, with the exception of some time spent in federal correctional facilities in Petersburg, VA and Lorton, VA.    “It was crazy in there…I mean people would take lawn mower blades and use ‘ em as weapons.”   Anytime a recipient tells me that they have served time I am naturally curious as to what they were convicted of.  Country tells me that he broke into a Budweiser Warehouse and was caught…although he doesn’t specifically ever say that was the reason for his incarceration.  He also shares that he had a crack cocaine addiction which came between him and his wife and five children.  “My wife wouldn’t even talk to me on the phone no more.”

Alex's sign (Photo: Reed)

But this is all in the past.  Country seems to be doing ok now.  “I don’t got another run in me, not at this age,” he says pulling his lips tight together.  “I don’t do no drugs no more.  I ain’t gonna lie to you though, I have myself a beer or two in the evenings.”  He tells me that he is being extremely honest with me.  “People lose interest with ya when you lie to ‘em,” he says as he wipes the sweat beads that have formed above his brow.  It’s warm and the air is thick.  

Today he is back together with his wife living a very modest life in Southeast DC.  “At least I got a roof over my head.  It’s not ideal, but it’s something.  We don’t got furniture, or things like that.  The bed has bed bugs…I can’t seem to get rid of them. ”  

He talks about his life now compared to before.  “You get to a point where you need to find a higher power, whatever that is.”  Despite his efforts he says that he cannot find work and comes out to ask for money in front of the CVS at the corner of M Street and 29th Street in the affluent Georgetown neighborhood.  Country says that he would like to get a job doing construction, something he has done in the past.  “I need some tools though, nobody gonna hire you if you show up with nothing.”  He tells me that he needs a pair of size 10.5 wide steel toed work boot, carpenter’s tool belt, and a long steel claw hammer.  I told him that I would put that on my Lend a Hand section and see what we could do.

Country was going to use the $10 for bus fare.

Update July 7, 2010: I recovered some of the files and added pictures and the following video.  He has some great comments!

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