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There’s no blog post today from a Kindness Investorthat’s because we don’t currently have one! 😦

So…I thought I would utilize today’s post to try to find one.

Wanted: 46 unemployed or underemployed individuals who are willing to be Kindness Investors for seven days!  No prior experience necessary, just seven ten-dollar bills and a willingness to reach out to seven strangers and give them ten bucks and find out what they are going to do with it.  Interested candidates can email reed@yearofgiving.org for more details!

 

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-Blog post by Mike B., a Kindness Investor from Cromwell, CT

It occurred to me that when I first agreed to be a Kindness Investor, I should have some kind of a plan going in to my week of giving.  Who would I give to?  How would I choose?  Would I get it right?  How was my pre-rehearsed speech going to sound?  After much thought, probably too much thought, I thought I’d follow Reed’s lead and just go with my gut.  And it’s worked out for me so far!

In the beginning of this project for me, the week itself was a bit out of sorts.  It started on a Wednesday after all.  What week starts on a Wednesday?  Mondays had always started my work week for 22+ years, but hey, I’m flexible.  Of course since I’ve been unemployed, it’s more or less the same thing, except now Mondays are usually good “interview days”.  The interviewer is usually a little more alert then the rest of the week and I’m a bit more on my “A” game.  I’ll bet someone has done studies on this somewhere.

Cromwell Library

But as I didn’t have an interview today, I was able to spend a little more time in the library. I almost forgot how useful and resourceful libraries are!  My local one has been a tremendous help in my unemployed days.  I could work on my computer at home (and do), but in the library, there’s more chance of getting work done.  And the librarians are extremely helpful as well.  This library day was a good day for me, as it was where I met Pamela, the recipient of today’s $10.

Pamela is an unemployed nurse, or rather a nurse that just happens to be unemployed.  She’s from Middletown, CT and has been a nurse for 29 years, most recently working for the State of New York in the disability area she said.  I was in the Cromwell Library on a computer and she was in the next seat over.  However, I was busy perfecting a cover letter while I was there and didn’t get the chance to talk to her.  It seemed to be a busy day in the library as no sooner did she get up and leave, someone else sat right down and started doing their own internet surfing.  My time was up on the computer (they give you an hour) and I was done with the cover letter, so it was time to find my recipient of the day.  I headed over to where the newspapers were and there Pamela was to my surprise, with many forms in front of her.  She had very light blond hair which stood out to me, and I knew, or I hoped, she was the one for today.

She looked very busy, but when I asked her if I could talk to her, and told her I would be brief, she graciously said okay.  She lost her job with the state of New York nine days ago and she was working like a mad woman to make sure she wouldn’t be out of work much longer.  She had all kinds of applications and forms in front of her to fill out, and she continued to do so as I spoke.  She had been a nurse for 29 years and had seen quite a bit through those years.  She mentioned that when the State of New York started to issue mandatory furlough days, she knew her time there was coming to an end. She said she worked all different shifts as a nurse and I wanted to ask more, but her mind was definitely on filling out those forms.

I asked if she could do it all over again, would she still be a nurse? Her answer was “Yes, that’s what I know how to do.”  But after thinking a little more, she said, “Maybe an X-Ray technician or something else in the medical field.”

When I asked her what she would do with the $10, she said it will help paying for sending more forms out!  She was headed to Kinko’s next, to fax all the forms to an office in Boston where I’m guessing she was applying.  Faxing is a $1.50 a page at Kinko’s, so that adds up she said.  We discussed what a profit Kinko’s was making on that, but as I was speaking I saw Pamela not lift her head up once and I had that feeling of she wants to be left alone to finish her work!

I asked to take her picture, but she preferred not to have it taken.  I did get to tell her why I chose her, telling her I saw her at the computer and felt this was a woman with a purpose.  I guess I was interrupting that purpose, so we said our goodbyes and I left her and her forms.

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-Blog post by Mike B., a Kindness Investor from Cromwell, CT

My third day of this journey gave me my first rejection, but life always takes a strange turn.  I began the day with the intent to give the $10 to a person in Southfield, Massachusetts, who I had yet to meet.  Southfield is a very small town in the Berkshires and I was there for the day assisting a friend on a 500+ acre plot of land that is home to a YMCA Summer Camp called Camp Wa Wa Segowea.  It’s an old-fashioned resident camp that is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet.  Of course, I might be a little biased, but it does seem that time stands still there.  And there’s nothing like seeing and hearing kids in the summertime enjoying themselves outdoors all day, learning and playing with their new best friends.  Every kid should go away to camp!

Anyways, stopping in Southfield for a cup of coffee brought me to my first person saying no, they couldn’t accept the money.  When asked why, his response was he had just finished an internship that had “that kind of giving” included, and also he was trying to reduce his presence on the internet.  I was a little distraught, but said goodbye and moved on.   Cut to the end of the day, and now I’m on my way back home, knowing I still had not found my daily recipient.  I was pretty sure I didn’t have anything in the refrigerator at home, so I was also in search of dinner.  I passed by a place, Tonio’s in New Hartford, Connecticut and was always going to stop there, but hadn’t yet.  I figured maybe two birds with one stone?

I went in, placed my order and spotted another guy also waiting for his order.  I made my introduction and found myself feeling pretty good as this was the 4th time I had said it, and thought I had it pretty down to a science now.  When the part came to ask if he would accept the $10, he asked if he could ask me a question.  Uh-oh, I thought, here it comes.  If I don’t answer it correctly, he’ll say no!  But the question was pretty simple.  He asked why the unemployed part?  I interpreted that meaning wouldn’t it be easier if an employed person would be the one doing the giving?  And I think I was correct in my interpretation.  My response was a couple of reasons and I gave them with the caveat that it was from my perspective.  I felt as an unemployed person, it was a shock at first and I was okay with it being that way right in the beginning, but after the newness wore off, it felt like I wasn’t a contributing member of society anymore.  This type of giving was helping me back in the fold.  I had something to offer someone.   The second reason was that it just feels good when you’re giving.

I’m guessing I interpreted right as he agreed on the being a contribution part and he indeed, said yes to the money. He even said he felt honored to be given it!  He himself was unemployed for nine months and shared that same feeling about needing to contribute to society.  His name is Tim L. and he’s from Wethersfield, CT.  He and his girlfriend were coming back from skiing at Catamount up in Hillsdale, NY and added the skiing was great there!  From middle school on, he said he always wanted to be in radio, on-air.

 

Tim L. at Tonio's Pizzeria in New Hartford, CT.

He graduated from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and then had an internship at Clear Channel Radio.  He was on his way!  Unfortunately, due to the economy, he was laid off and he’s currently working in the mental health field at Community Mental Health Affiliates.  He helps monitor people with mental health problems and it keeps him quite busy.  His first love is radio though and before he left the internship, he was working in promotions for Clear Channel and liked that as well.  Unfortunately he couldn’t find a job in radio, and he was just starting to get into the behind the scenes work.

 

I said earlier that life takes a strange turn and because that first person said no to my $10, I felt I was destined to meet Tim, just to share radio stories!  My career in communications started in radio as well, after completing a course in NY, similar to Tim’s path.  We had a common bond!  So it was fun hearing someone else saying they had a passion for radio.

Tim had gotten his pizza, and I had gotten my sandwich and his girlfriend, who had been waiting in the car for him, came into the restaurant wondering what was up?  I felt bad keeping him and asking questions, but she was very nice and waited till we were done. I gave him my card, took his picture and he said he would look up the website for Year of Giving and we both went our separate ways.

Two questions I wished I would have asked him…1. What was he going to do with the money?  And 2, is there anything he would like in the Lend a Hand portion of the website?  I’m totally guessing on #2, but I bet he would love a job in radio!

So, Tim if you read this, what did you do with the money and am I right about #2?

 

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Petra did an amazing job last week

I am so happy about how this experiment is going of having a new Kindness Investor every week share their adventures.

Now I have the pleasure to introduce you to Mike from Connecticut.  I “meet” Mike a few weeks ago via email and telephone.  He’s an interesting guy with a knack for painting a verbal picture.  He’s a really nice guy who is searching for work mostly in the sales/marketing area.

Here are Mike’s answers to my questionnaire.

Name: Mike B.

Age? 48 years old.

Where do you live? I live in Cromwell, Connecticut which is right in the middle of the state.

Where were you born? I was born in Schenectady, New York, which is part of the “Capital District”.

What’s the highest level of education you have completed? A BA in Communications, concentration in broadcasting at State University College at Oswego.

Do you have a family? I’m a single guy with no kids here in Connecticut, but have a sister and brother in NY and their families and another sister in Colorado and her family.  My Dad lives over in NY as well and Mom passed away close to 20 years ago.

How did you hear about the Year of Giving? I believe I first heard about the Year of Giving on National Public Radio in April or so of 2010 and started following the blog at that point.

How long have you been unemployed? January is now 19 months since I was employed.

What happened? The national company I worked for (for 21 years) closed six local offices in one day. They were in Hartford, Boston, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia and Houston.  They had previously downsized and outsourced quite a bit prior, but the recession hit pretty hard and they had to make the drastic cuts.

Do you currently volunteer? I do volunteer and very much believe in the power of volunteering.  I currently am focusing time on two main ones, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford and YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea in the Berkshires.

Who have been your biggest influences? I like taking my inspiration and influence from a wide variety of people, but family and friends influence me as well as people that are very passionate in what they believe in and try to accomplish.

What is your favorite food? Growing up I was known as a picky eater, but could find no fault with pizza.  Now as I’m a little older, it’s the smells of fresh baked bread, or a nice garlic sauce that always trigger something in me.  But for a favorite, it would have to be a family recipe of Stuffed Cabbage!  (with sour cream, not tomato sauce)

What is the most meaningful gift you have ever received? It wasn’t necessarily a gift, but the most meaningful thing I ever received was my version of a birthday cake.  When it came time for my birthday,  my mother knew I liked Pecan Pie and so that was what I had, complete with candles and everything!  I don’t recall why it became a yearly thing, but when it came time for my birthday, I could count on one thing, that I was having a homemade Pecan Pie for the celebration. Looking back, it made me feel special on my birthday, and not like everyone else.  And isn’t that what birthdays are for?

Describe your ideal job:  My ideal job would be one I could be proud of performing while following my passion, allowing time off for traveling, getting paid enough to be at my level of comfortability, not have a long commute, and of course helping individuals reach their goals.

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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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My gym.

I am constantly trying to find new places to give my $10 away.  I was walking over to my gym the other day, a walk that I have made far too infrequently these days,  when I realized that I had never given my money away there.  It’s a little weird to go up to someone bench pressing a bunch of iron and say, “Hey, could I give you $10?”  but I was determined to find someone.

The easiest option would be to go give it to someone who was stuck working at the desolate reception – they’re practically begging for someone to come and talk to them there.  Instead, I combed the gym looking for someone working out.  I walked by and saw a lone person in the spinning room; a glass enclosed cage full of stationary bikes sentenced to life in gym.  Inside, Natalie was working up a sweat on one of the two dozen bikes.

"I'm a liberal working for a bunch of republicans," she said referring to her job.

This was awkward.  I didn’t want to affect her workout, but I did.  She slowed down to a leisurely pace as we talked.  Originally from Little Rock, AK, I quickly learned that we both had a connection to former President Clinton’s foundation.  She had worked for the organization in Little Rock and I had worked for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a nonprofit that he helped start jointly with the American Heart Association.  Now she works in government relations.  “I’m a lobbyist,” she says as I probe a little deeper on what someone in government relations actually does.  She’s been putting in long days working on energy related issues and only gets to the gym when apartment lights are being dimmed and people are pulling down their covers to go to bed for the evening.  I asked her what her motivation was to go to the gym and she said, “Just basic maintenance, stress, and guilt.”

When this twenty-something is not immersed in wonky energy related policy or relieving stress on the stationary bike, Natalie enjoys reading and traveling.  Her dream is to become a high school teacher some day and then retire in a sleepy town in the Ozarks of northern Arkansas.

As for the money, “I’ll have to give it away,” she says.  “I’ll probably give it to someone who is homeless.”  We talked about how society today has changed and people don’t stop to talk to strangers that much.  “I don’t talk to people on the street,” she admits, “I’m a headphone person.”  I encouraged her to take a second and talk to the person she gives the money to – ask them their name.

I totally screwed up Natalie's work out.

Before I left, I asked if she needed anything that I could add to the Lend a Hand initiative.  “Maybe some advice,” she started to say, “about how to make my parents golden years meaningful.”  Her dad, a bar owner, and mother, a special education teacher, live together in Little Rock.  I liked that she thought of them and their happiness.  Our parents do so much for us.  I could also use some similar advice for my father.  I have some ideas, but getting him to want to do those things is a whole another story.

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