Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Blog post by Reed S., a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC.

I’m looking for volunteers for four things.  Two of the items can be done anywhere in the world, so there’s something for everyone!

  1. On Saturday April 16th I am volunteering at DC Servathon, a city-wide volunteer movement.  I am leading a small team of people who will be working to make some improvements at the Maya Angelou Charter School.  We are in need of volunteers and donations.  If you are interested in volunteering making a financial contribution, click here.


    Volunteers from MLK Service Day!

  2. On Saturday April 30th I am involved in another service day called Hands-On-DC!  We’ll be tackling a DC public school and need more volunteers.  Click here to sign up or make a financial contribution to provide college scholarships for underprivileged kids in DC.
  3. We need a new Kindness Investor on Year of Giving!  If you or someone you know is unemployed or underemployed and wants to spend seven amazing days investing in kindness let me know.  Click here for more details.
  4. The Worldwide Day of Giving is back!  That’s right, this coming June 15th is the second annual Worldwide Day of Giving.  Last year over a thousand people from around the world participated by giving $10 to stranger.  This year, you have an additional option for those who would prefer to volunteer.  Both options are a lot of fun.  Details can be found here or on the Facebook Page.  I need your help in spreading the word so that we can make this another amazing day!  Use your Facebook, twitter, whatever…just spread the love!

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This morning I went down to the Washington Post’s office to volunteer with Greater DC CARES to prepare food for Martha’s Table, an organization that helps at-risk children, youth, families and individuals in the community improve their lives by providing educational programs, food, clothing, and enrichment opportunities.  I was part of a team of youth and adults from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  I used to work for the Alliance, a terrific organization started by the American Heart Association and former President Clinton’s Foundation.

We spent the morning working as a team to do several service projects.  Our group prepared over 2,000 sandwiches to be handed out by McKenna’s Wagon.  The youth that were part of our team were part of the Alliance’s Youth Advisory Board, 25 amazing kids from across the country who inspire their peers to make healthy behavior changes and to become leaders and advocates for healthy eating and physical activity.  They quickly figured out good systems that allowed them to work more productively as a team.  Despite some minor help from us adults trying minimize the amount of jelly on the carpet, they pretty much handled it all.  What an amazing group of young people.  Thanks to my friend Kim for inviting me to be a part of this special day.

In addition to the food we prepared, the other teams participating produced 600 burn kits, 1,000 first aid kits for search and rescue teams, 500 basic toiletry kits for the homeless, and hundreds of cards and letters to be sent to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Great work by everyone!

While I was volunteering I heard about a wonderful woman named Gwen who drove the bus for the Alliance’s group.  As we left the building, I found Gwen and asked her if she would accept my $10!  Her face lit up and she gladly accepted.  The 54-year-old has a face that glows with energy.  I don’t think I saw her not smiling the whole time.  Born near the RFK stadium, she now lives in Largo, MD with her mother.  She has a 32-year-old son who works for Metro and four grandchildren.  

Me giving Gwen $10. Check out the video of this on the YoG Facebook Page. Photo Credit: John Wilson

My friend Daniel told me that yesterday he had asked Gwen if she knew where they could get some food.  She didn’t hesitate and opened her bag and offered a pear that she had brought for herself.  What a nice person to offer up her own food to someone else.

So I asked Gwen what she was going to do with the $10.  “I am going to put gas in my car!” she quickly replied.

Almost everyone had loaded up on the bus at this point and I didn’t want to hold the group up, so I quickly said goodbye and headed back home to write about the experience.   I am planning to go to the Embassy of Haiti at 5pm tonight for a candlelight vigil.  If you are in the DC area and would like to attend, go to 2311 Massachusetts. Ave., N.W. or check out the Greater Washington Haiti Relief Committee’s page on Facebook.

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The end of my first month.  I have invested $310 to date in random acts of kindness.  It has been worth every penny!

Embassy of Haiti in Washington, DC

I decided to go to the Haitian Embassy to see if there was something I could do to help in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.  I arrived at the embassy to see it blanketed in camera crews and news trucks.  There was a small candle memorial in front of the embassy as well.  Apart from the news personnel, I did not see many people outside.  I saw two gentlemen walking toward the embassy and I thought I would offer them my $10.

Gilles’ mind was clearly elsewhere and I sensed that he has suffered greatly from this earthquake.  Despite this, he kindly responded to me, “You can give me money, but any money you give me is going to go directly to the efforts to help those in Haiti.”  He invited me into the embassy and said he would be with me in a minute.  I figured he worked for the embassy at this point, but I later found out that he was from Philadelphia and worked for Church & Dwight, the company that makes Arm & Hammer and several other household and personal care products.  

I waited in the lobby of the embassy for Gilles for a few minutes.  There were about 20 in the lobby.  Some looked almost lifeless, paralyzed by the tragedy and loss of this week’s earthquake.  Others were bustling around trying to resolve a myriad of questions.

Gilles appeared and explained to me that he was born and raised in Port au Prince and had left his homeland five years ago to move to Philadelphia, PA.  He had driven down from the city of brotherly love to try to get his passport in order so that he could fly to Port au Prince to help in the relief efforts.  His plan was to get a satellite phone and then help the people of Haiti get in contact with their friends and families.  “Communication is limited there right now.” He paused and continued, “There are lots of deaths.” I asked him about his family and he said he was able to contact his family to find out if everyone was ok.  I heard a tremor in his voice and saw him holding back a tidal wave of emotion.  There was a split second where I had to decide whether I push on and ask about his family or avoid the potentially painful subject.  I gathered the courage and tried to respectfully push further.

“I lost my mother,” he said.

Gilles didn’t cry, but the tears were flowing inside him.  I found it hard to swallow and really wanted to just give him a hug.  I understood that she died at home when their building collapsed.  He says the rest of his immediate family appears to be ok.

Where do I go from here?  There are so many things I want to ask him, but I also know

Earthquake devastation in Haiti

 that he has much more important things to be doing now.  I asked him how readers of my blog could help.  “They need food, water, and medicine,” he told me.  They really need on the ground volunteers he explains.  He says he will introduce me to someone from the Greater Washington Haiti Relief Committee who can give me more details on how you can help.    

But first he says, “Come with me and we are going to donate the $10 right now.”  We walk to a desk with a woman speaking on the phone.  When she hangs up, she explains that she can not accept cash.  Gilles holds the $10 out in front of him and says, “You keep it man.  Find another way to donate.” I encouraged him to hold on to the money and put it to good use while he was in Haiti.  He agreed.  I gave him a hug and said I was sorry about his mother and wished him good luck.  I wish I would have asked for his email address so that I could follow up with him later.  It was such an emotional moment that I simply forgot.  Maybe someone reading this blog can help me find him.  I did some searches but haven’t had any luck so far.

I later spoke to Fermin from the Greater Washington Haiti Relief Group.  He said the best place for information on how to help can be found at their Facebook page.  Type “Greater Washington Haiti Relief Committee” in the search field and it should come up.  There they give this information about donations:

Make checks payable to “GWHRC” and mail to:
Greater Washington Haitian Relief Committee
Embassy of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

Needless to say it was a very powerful scene to witness first hand. I gave my name and contact details to them and offered to help in any way possible.  I even offered to go to Haiti one month from now to help in reconstruction efforts.  Hopefully I can help in some way.

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Yesterday was a pretty busy day.  My father was in town, I had several errands to run, and I had some admin work to do on the blog.

My father came down to go to a Capitals hockey game with my brother on Thursday evening.  So Friday morning we met up around 10:30.  I arrived at Ryan’s house and was presented with a gift.  My birthday is January 22nd, however, my dad gave me my gift early as he thought it could help with the blog.  He got me a Flip Mino HD handheld video camera.  It’s idiot proof and shoots excellent quality from what I have seen so far.  I will try to start adding some video to the blog.

So last night I ended up at the Russia House in DC.  I hadn’t given away my $10 yet and I decided that perhaps I would meet someone interesting there to give to.  I was talking to Mike, DC’s greatest bartender, when I met Kent and Jessica.  The engaged couple have known each other since middle school.

Jessica starts telling me the entire story of their lives, and let me tell you, she didn’t leave out any details.  My goal is to keep this blog PG or PG-13 at the most…so I have had to exercise some editorial privileges.  Best friends since about 12 or 13, they used to dream that they would end up together.  That didn’t happen though when Kent dated one of Jessica’s friends in high school.  But they remained close friends up through the beginning of college when she went to George Mason and he went to James Madison.

That’s when they lost touch.

After college Jessica had spent some time in Puerto Rico (where her mother is from) and Ft. Lauderdale.  Fast forward about 8 years and Jessica decided to search for Kent on Facebook and found him.  Kent proudly informed me, “She found me around noon on a Wednesday.  I bought my ticket to Ft. Lauderdale by 7pm and flew there two days later to see her!”  Kent is the type of guy that you don’t want to dare to do something…I gotta feeling he’s got a healthy amount of craziness in him.

They got engaged and plan to get married later this year. 

So, I ask Kent if he will accept my $10.  Being the gentleman that he is, he said he would have to pass and let his fiancée receive it.  She said she was going to give it to someone else.  The time came for the young couple to leave.  They left the $10 sitting in front of them for Mike the bartender.  That was only the second time I have actually seen a recipient using the $10.  The other time, on Day 8, was when James gave me the money back!

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Today I had a job interview.  I think it went well.  You never know though.  I met with some really talented people, so hopefully I measure up.

Before I forget, thanks to all the Facebook users who have visited the Year of Giving.  Also, for those of you who have not became a “fan”, check out the Facebook page.   Take a look, I will be putting up some video there which I have not been able to add so far to my blog.  Also, become a fan…who knows who will see that you have become a fan and be inspired to incorporate more giving into their life.

On my way home from the interview, I saw a Parking Enforcement Officer walking along one of DC’s downtown streets.  I knew immediately that I had to give my $10 to him.  I walked up to the 23-year-old who was typing away on his handheld parking enforcement device.  Stephén wins the prize for the recipient who was best prepared for winter weather.  The DC native had on some serious winter gear.  He had a total of about 5 square inches of skin exposed, that’s it.  Perhaps that helps keep his identity hidden as well in case somebody gets really angry with a ticket he writes!  Anyway, I was intrigued to speak to someone with a job that puts them in a high degree of direct contact with the public…and often the interaction is not civil. 

With an average of 50 tickets written each day, Stephén says that every day is an adventure.  He has been doing this for over a year and says that he loves it.  Even upset vehicle owners don’t deter him.  “If someone is wrong, then they’re wrong.  It’s that simple.” He understands people get upset, but, he wishes they would understand that he is only doing his job of enforcing the rules.  If you break the rules, then you get a ticket he says.  Despite plenty of irate confrontations, he says nobody has physically threatened him.  I would not have been surprised to hear that he had been assaulted.  People can go a little wacko. 

So what is Stephén going to do with his $10.  He said he would buy some lunch with it.  He thanked me for calling him a parking enforcement officer and not a “meter maid.”  “You’re probably the first person I have come into contact with on the street who has got that correct.”  He is a likeable guy.  The only thing I could possibly fault him with is his love for the Dallas Cowboys!  I can’t believe we have a lifelong DC resident that is a Dallas Cowboys fan.  Unbelievable!  “There’s more Cowboys fans here in DC than Redskins fans,” he said.  Given the ‘Skins performance this year, he might be right.

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