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Posts Tagged ‘georgetown’

Kyle (aka Kevin) on the left with his friend Chris. (photo: Reed)

I met two guys that totally cracked me up!  I was at the Social Safeway in Georgetown when I ran into these guys talking football.  They were hanging out at the Starbucks Café that is inside the Safeway.

After some short discussion on who was going to accept my $10 they decided on Kevin.  Kevin told me that he was 21 and lived in Maryland.  Wearing a tie, he told me that he had come from work at a DC museum.  A few days later he emailed me and confessed that his name was not really Kevin and he didn’t work at the museum he told me about.   “Frankly I don’t tend to trust strangers so I made it up,” he wrote in the email.  Now, I kind of had a feeling that Kevin wasn’t his real name because he had referred to himself in a story as Kyle, his friend Chris called him Kyle, and his email had the name Kyle in it!  Hmmm.  He’s a good guy and just not able to lie very well.  That’s a good thing!

Well, I am sure I have received plenty of false names from my recipients.  I mean be honest, would you trust a guy who walked up to you and offered you $10.  You would think that there was some sort of catch, right?

So Kyle is originally from Philadelphia and is an Eagles fan.  “I liked McNabb and I didn’t like that they traded him,” he told me referring to Donovan McNabb being traded to the Redskins.  Although an Eagles fan, he owns a Michael Westbrook jersey.  Westbrook used to be a wide receiver for the Redskins.  I found out about the jersey because apparently when the Redskins played the Eagles back on October 3rd, my man Kyle bet his buddy Chris, who was with him at the Safeway, that if the Eagles lost he would drink as many shots of Grey Goose as the Eagles lost by AND, here is the kicker, eat a portion of his Michael Westbrook jersey!  Yes!  Well, Chris says that he chickened out on the shots and eating the jersey.  Instead he wore a McNabb jersey for a day. 

So this whole thing about betting and money lead to a discussion about what Kyle was going to do with the $10 he now had in his hands.  You guessed it, he put up a $10 bet with Chris on the following Monday night gave between the Vikings and the Jets.  His buddy Chris claims to be a die-hard Jets fan but Kyle says that Chris is just jumping on the band wagon.  They are doing well…in fact they are tied for first place with a 5-1 record.  Anyway, check out this video to see these two go at it about their bet.  I love these guys!  Chris’ comment about “guys wearing a suit” is hilarious the way he delivers it.

Oh yeah and Kyle said that if they won, he was going to frame the $10.  On the day of the game he sent me an email and said, “I’ve kept the $10 stored in my house hidden from the rest of my family and Chris is going to come over today to see the game. Hopefully I get to keep this money!”  As it turns out, the Jets won 29-20 and Kyle lost the $10 and did some shots of Grey Goose.

I wonder what their bet will be for the upcoming Redskins – Eagles rematch here in Washington on November 15th!  Maybe Kyle or Chris will give us an update on here.

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Today is the first day of my new job at the World Wildlife Fund.  It’s ironic that I am starting on the same day that I write the blog for Day 197.  Read more and you’ll see why.

The progression of these signs show how people's moods have changed toward BP and the oil spill (Photo: Dr. Darron Collins)

So you know that I am raising money for those who have lost their jobs due to the oil crisis in the Gulf.  I have received very few donations so if you are able to spare just $10 I encourage you to click here and make a donation to help someone out.  When I make the donations I will post photos and videos of the people that you have helped!

Dr. Darron Collins (photo courtesy of http://www.worldwildlife.org)

I have been following a blog that is written by Dr. Darron Collins, a scientist for the WWF and former resident of the Gulf region.  Dr. Collins has been in the Gulf region after the oil spill supporting the work of some of the WWF’s local partners who have actively involved in front-line efforts to protect and restore the wildlife and wildlife habitats in affected areas.  Through his writing you meet some of the people directly affected by this catastrophe.  His blog is part of what inspired me to try to help some of the individuals who are out of work there due to the spill.  To be clear, my efforts to help the Gulf are in no way related to the work that I am doing at WWF.  I wrote Dr. Collins a note one day to congratulate him on his work and find out a little more about the situation of the residents of the Gulf shore.

To my surprise, Dr. Collins responded to my email a few minutes after I sent it to him and said he would be delighted to talk to me.  We tried to connect on Thursday and Friday of that week but weren’t able to.  He then wrote to me saying he was going to be here in DC the following week and offered to meet me for breakfast one morning.

Dr. Collins in Georgetown after our breakfast meeting (photo: Reed)

I met him on Tuesday, the same day I let the WWF know that I was accepting their offer (Again, I hadn’t mentioned to Dr. Collins that I was also applying for a position with the WWF because they were completely separate issues).  I walked in Le Pain Quotidien in Georgetown and found Dr. Collins already there enjoying some coffee.  We shook hands and I sat down at the long wooden communal table where he was sitting.  Before we began talking, I said, “Hey, I got to tell you something.”  I explained how I was accepting a position with the WWF and he looked at me and said, “I know.”  Apparently he was so impressed with my project that he shared it with colleagues at the WWF.  As it turns out someone he shared it with reported back and informed him that I was joining the organization.  What a coincidence that I end up posting this day’s blog on the very day that I finally start my job there! 

So you have got to check out Dr. Collins’ blog.  It is amazing.  He is a great writer and includes stunning photographs with each post.  Some of the images of this oil disaster will blow you away. 

Dr. Collins gave his $10 to Joey T, an out of work shrimper due to the oil spill (photo: Dr. Darron Collins)

I asked Dr. Collins if he would be my 197th recipient and he gladly accepted.  He tells me immediately what he plans to do with the $10.  “I am going to give it to a guy named Joey down in Grand Island, Louisiana who is an ex-shrimper who lost his job due to the oil spill,” he recounts.  “He took me out on his boat while I was there.”  I remember reading about “Joey T” in Dr. Collins’ fifth blog entry.  Joey has faced some unbelievable challenges.  He lost his left leg due to a staff infection that spread as a result of mackerel attack. Then a year later he lost his right leg in a car accident.  On the blog Dr. Collins writes, “Joey T was one of the best guides I ever had.  He had fished every corner of those waters for flounder, redfish and speckled trout and named and loved every tiny inlet and every bend in the land.”

Dr. Collins received a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic and a PhD in anthropology from Tulane University.  His studies and his professional work with the WWF all have focused on the relationship between people and the environment; helping society answer the question: “How can we meet the needs of human communities while improving the ecological integrity of the surrounding ecosystem?”

The ten-year veteran of the WWF tells me that he started out his career with the organization in Latin America.  He shares an absolutely amazing and hilarious story with me here:

Among his many projects right now, Dr. Collins is working on a special 50th anniversary film for the WWF which celebrates this landmark occasion on December 1, 2011.

Oil-covered marsh grass (photo: Dr. Darron Collins)

I want to share with you one of the stories that Dr. Collins shared with me.  Back in February he was working with a gentleman from Namibia named John Kasaona.  Mr. Kasaona is the deputy director for Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation in his country.  It’s a group that turned poachers into the very people who now protect the environment.  He gives a great speech at TEDx and it almost didn’t happen as they came very close to being stranded here because of the snowpocalypse.  He said Mr. Kasaona had never seen snow before and his first experience was a three-foot blanket of the stuff that brought DC to a standstill!

When he is not working, Dr. Collins enjoys fly fishing, mountain biking, adventure racing and of course spending time with his wife of nearly 12 years and two daughters; one nine and the other seven.

Well, I am off to work now!  It’s been 285 days since I last spoke those words and it feels awesome!

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Before I introduce you to Andrew, I have two updates.  The first one is a big one.  After 285 days of unemployment I have accepted a position with the World Wildlife Fund and will begin next week!  Don’t worry though, the Year of Giving will continue!  Perhaps this will give me a new perspective on giving.  Thanks to so many of you who have given me encouragement throughout the past 9 months.

The other update is that I delivered some items for Phillip from Day 75.  Click here to see him receiving some of the items that you have sent!

Day 191 was one of the days that I was struggling with my dying laptop.  I had been over at my brother and his wife’s house all day trying to rescue it.  It was nearing the midnight hour and I rushed out of the house in pursuit of a recipient.

Andrew (Photo: Reed)

I saw a man walking along North Lynn Street in Arlington and stopped to see if he would accept my $10.  I tried hard to convince him to participate, but he stuck to his guns and said he didn’t want to “get involved.”  Strike one.  Back in my car and across the Key Bridge into DC.  I headed over to the “Social Safeway” on Wisconsin Avenue where I found Andrew studying the contact lense solution at 11:40pm.  The 22-year-old is in DC for the summer doing an internship for his master’s degree program in international affairs at Georgia Tech.  I asked him if he always does his shopping around midnight.  “No, I just happened to have time now,” he responded.  

When Andrew is not studying and working he is training for his first marathon.  I have never had a desire to run a marathon.  I could see trying to do a 10-miler, but I have no interest whatsoever in running 26 miles!

The grandson of Eastern European immigrants, he has lived abroad in Bulgaria for four months.  He talks about his grandmother fondly.  “She is 86 and still going strong!”  Maybe his grandmother and his time in Bulgaria

Photo: Reed

have fueled his interest to get grant money to go to the Black Sea region and study the relationship between highly bureaucratic governments and the degree of development that has occurred within the country.  If you can offer any suggestions on how Andrew can secure grant funding for this specific project, please leave a comment here.    

“So what are you going to do with the $10,” I ask.  He says that he will put it toward an outing with his “Little.”  That’s right.  Somehow Andrew finds time to be a Big Brother to a six-year-old in Atlanta.  “I feel that the best way to help those who are disadvantaged is to volunteer my time and be a positive role model for them.”  I couldn’t agree more.  “Somehow you got to break the cycle,” he concludes.

Andrew (Photo: Reed)

At the end of our conversation, I learn that Andrew will be joining the Air Force upon his graduation from grad school.  “I just got my bars pinned on,” he tells me.  With his international interest I am not surprised when he tells me that he plans to serve in the Intelligence Division.  I am sure he will go far.  Thanks in advance for your service to our country.

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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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Two quick updates.  I finally got video up for Anthony’s post yesterday and Victor from Day 139 posted an update from him on his page.  

Colombian 16 string guitar in need of some strings (Photo: Reed)

Manizales continues to be a wonderful and inspiring place for me to be.  I am trying to catch up on my blog writing so that I can start to share the stories of Manizales with you.  But for now, we have to transport ourselves back to the Georgetown neighborhood of  Washington, DC.  

I had just finished seeing my friend Annie in a production of Rhinoceros…she was amazing and the show itself was really good too.  On my way home I stopped at the Social Safeway to get a few items.  I still hadn’t given my $10 to anyone.  I am not sure how much I really needed items from the grocery store or I just figured that a 24-hour grocery store would certainly have a few candidates for my $10.  Would you believe the first two people I approached refused.  The first woman, Mary Pat, was studying the pet food options when I approached her.  She spoke with me for a while but I couldn’t convince her to participate.  The second person, who was buying paper towels, refused and didn’t tell me their name.  

Angela getting items for the Lost viewing party. (photo: Reed)

The third person I approached was over by the bakery and the rotisserie chickens.  Her name was Angela. 

The 39-year-old is a resident of DC and works as a news writer for a media company in DC.  I didn’t ask which one and she didn’t offer the information.  She said she was on her way home from visiting a friend and since she wasn’t tired thought that she would pick up some groceries.  The next day, Sunday, she was attending a party for the final episode of Lost.  I don’t watch Lost and have never really been interested in the show, but I thought a celebration about the show finally coming to an end was a good idea…although I don’t think most people who were excited about the finale were excited for the same reasons that I was.  For years friends have been telling me that they hoped that the next episode would explain things…but it never does…it hasn’t for something like five years.  “I really hope the finale explains some things,” Angela says to me.  If the past is any indicator of the future, she is going to be disappointed with what the show reveals. 

I on the other hand was not disappointed because first of all, I didn’t watch the show, and second of all, I was busy watching the grand finale of Celebrity Apprentice.  I know it’s a cheesy show, but I enjoy it.  And there is not a constant mega cliffhanger incorporated into the plot like Lost.  Each show is pretty straight forward.  Somebody gets fired at the end.  Despite being a fan, Mr. Trump could make this a one hour show…heck a 30 minute show.  He of all people should know time is valuable.  (actually he does know that and that is why it is two hours.  Time is money and he gets lots of money for the commercials that are run during the superfluous two-hour time slot. 

Anyway, sorry, I got off on a tangent.  When I am typing nobody brings me back on track. 

So Angela told me that her life and job was pretty “regular” and that there was nothing particularly interesting to share.  Just after saying that though, she mentioned that through her job she did get to join an interview session with the legendary Ray Charles.  

 “Everything that I had ever hoped about meeting someone of his stature came true.  He was the smartest guy in the room.  He was very nice, but he was clearly in control of everything that was going on.” 

photo: Reed

Working in news, she said other stories have often stuck out in her mind for long periods after the story is over.  She mentioned a story from Frederick, MD about a student basketball player who rarely got to play and was put in a game finally and finally made a basket.  The crowd went nuts.  It reminded me of this story!  I love it.  I even made team members at my last job watch this! 

Angela had a caring nature about her.  It really showed when she shared that she was going to donate the $10 to the Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a non-profit organization that provides pet adoption in Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland.  They find homes for dogs and cats rescued from high-kill animal shelters or whose owners could no longer care for them. 

It was getting late and I had to get up early the following morning to ride in Bike DC.  We parted ways and I went to check out in possibly the slowest checkout lane in the world.

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This blog entry was supposed to be posted yesterday.  It was Mother’s Day and I was just not motivated to do much.  Sorry.  Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

I have been dog-sitting for a few days, so I got up yesterday around 7am and took my new best friend Ruben for a walk.   Meandering around Washington early in the morning was so peaceful.  There was very little traffic and I had some time to reflect on my Mom.  I wish that I could put into words how much I miss her.  I know that she would have loved  the Year of Giving.

After a long walk, I grabbed a copy of El Tiempo Latino newspaper and made our way over to Dupont Circle.  I played with Ruben in the shaded grass for a while and then we found a sunny bench to relax on.  I read through the paper and Ruben slipped in and out of a slumber.

Photo: Reed

Last Wednesday I had an opportunity to participate in the Gala Celebration of the re-opening of the Safeway grocery store located at 1855 Wisconsin Avenue.  My friend Patricia works for Dufour and Company, one of the nation’s most respected event management firms that was hired to make the Gala a spectacular experience.  She invited me to help with the reopening.  It was incredible.  I have never seen a grocery store turn into such an elegant locale.  Props to the Dufour team!

Photo: Reed

This Safeway is amazing too!  The produce section was flawless, every pepper and bean was in it’s place.  I could go into detail about how phenomenal this grocery store is, but check out Bonnie Benwick’s write-up in the Washington Post.

While I was there, I met Angie who was also there helping out with the event.  She is a 26-year-old District of Columbia resident who, like me, is currently unemployed.  She has a background in nonprofits and marketing.  I really liked Angie’s answer when I asked her what she wanted to do professionaly.  “I recently did my 10 year plan.  During the next 10 years I want to start my own marketing firm that focuses on the needs of nonprofits, schools, and small businesses.”

Angie (Photo: Reed)

I asked Angie to tell me a little about herself and she said, “I love traveling, laughing, and great ideas.  And I love cheese…Gouda and other soft cheeses!”  We talked about some of her favorite places she has visited.  “I really like San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The people are so welcoming.”  She went on to say, “I love that you can get a delicious meal, a drink, and dessert for $12 there!”

She came to Washington five years ago and enjoys every minute of living here.  “There is so much to do in DC.  There isn’t a monotonous culture here like some places.”

In response to my question about what she would do about with the $10, Angie said, “Well, I’m a pedestrian.  There are a lot of times that I haven’t had enough money to go from point A to point B.  So, I am going to keep the money until I find someone who needs help getting someplace.”

Angie allowed me to take speak with her on camera for a few minutes.  She talks about the most influential person in her life; her mother.  As I said earlier, this was supposed to be posted yesterday.  It would have been a perfect tribute to Mother’s Day.  Angie also talks about Rwanda, where she was born, and how the genocide there has affected her life.

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Last Wednesday I met up with Danny Harris, the creative mind behind The People’s District blog who I met on Day 64.  If you haven’t checked out Danny’s website, please do.  I love it. 

Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Photo: Reed)

Anyway, we just met up to have a coffee and share some conversation.  At some point, Danny looked at me and asked, “What are you doing this afternoon?” In the spirit of unemployment, I responded that I was pretty busy but that I might be able to squeeze something in.  I asked him what he had in mind and he shared that he was teaching a Media and Communications course at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in the afternoons and asked if I would be a special guest in one of the classes.  I happily accepted the invitation. 

Danny picked me up on his scooter around 1:30.  Yep, I was strapped on the back of his scooter heading through Upper Georgetown.  Thank goodness nobody caught a picture of me looking ridiculous trying to figure out where to put my hands and feet.

The school is very different than the school that I attended.  Students seemed to be treated much more like adults.  The far wall was covered in books.  The chairs were set up in the shape of a circle.  The room itself was rather different.  Picture a room that has an opening to another room on one side and along the other side a wall that didn’t go all the way to the ceiling allowing discussion in the adjacent room to be heard. 

(Photo: Reed)

The ninth graders started trickling in and several came in and politely introduced themselves to me.  

Danny started his class and later introduced me.  I took a ten dollar bill out of my Moleskine notebook and showed it to the class and asked, “What would you do if I gave you $10.”  Ideas started spewing forth, but most of the ideas were focused on what they would buy for themselves.  Then I asked, “What about doing something for someone else?”  Most students then started brainstorming ideas that involved others, many of the ideas focused on how to help a teacher at the school who recently suffered a miscarriage.  It was amazing to see these young minds at work.  Sure there were the occasional moments of pure chaos, but mostly it was controlled chaos.

Danny and I posed several questions like:

“Does it matter what the person does with the money?”

“Does the giver’s intentions matter?”

“How would you feel if you gave money to someone who said they needed it and you later found out they had lied about their situation and didn’t really need the money as much as they said they did?”

“When you give, do you make any conditions on your kindness or do you do it unconditionally?”

The debate was fantastic. 

9th Grade Media & Communications Class (Photo: Reed)

The time seemed to fly by and we were getting very close to the end of the class and the sound of the bell signaling the change of class.  I told the students that I was going to give my $10 to them as a group and they had to agree on what to do with it.  There was no shortage of ideas.  Many of them involved helping the aforementioned teacher, others involved raising money for various causes.  They settled on the idea of using my $10 as the foundation of a fund that they would themselves contribute to in order to host an open mic night to raise money for their class.  

This was an amazing opportunity to interact with the students.  I hope that they consider doing something on June 15th as part of the Worldwide Day of Giving and share their experiences here with all of us.

I walked home, it’s about a mile or two.  On the way home I started getting really sick.  It was the beginning of a 36 hour stomach flu that wiped me out last week.  I have since fully recovered!

Tonight I am doing an interview with a Korean radio station…should be interesting!  I will let you know how it goes.

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