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Blog post by Maria D., a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC.

A 6 foot 2, mid-forties man walks around the living room, adorned in tattered army fatigues and tennis shoes.  He looks tired and antsy as his eyes quickly jet around the room.  He just finished sweeping the floor and talks to the staff person on duty.  “Yeah, okay. I’ll take out the trash.”
It’s Sunday and chore time for all the residents (about a dozen) at this house – an adult home for the mentally ill in Pacthogue on Long Island, New York.  I wanted to help, but got the feeling chores are part of the structure and not to disturb it.  I later found out that “John” (he declined to provide his name or be photographed) is a Gulf War I veteran from NY who had a breakdown and never recovered.  His parents live nearby and visit him fairly often, which isn’t always the case in the adult home.  Some residents only have each other as friends and family.
I wasn’t going to be there long, so I decided to just go for it and ask John if he’d accept the $10 for the Year of Giving project.  “Well, I dunno,” was his initial response.  But upon assurance from the staff person Rita, John agreed to accept the money. When asked what he plans to do with the money, he was reluctant.  “Well, I’m not sure yet, why, what does it matter?  Well, I might save it, might give it to my mom.”  It seemed like a lot of money to him and he didn’t want to blow it all at once.
In terms of what he needs or what people could give him, John didn’t feel comfortable with that.  So I guess what I would offer is that you don’t dismiss people right away if they seem a little different – you never know their story.  A little tolerance can go a long way.  And if you are so inclined, there are many adult homes around the states who are underfunded and in need of volunteers, not to mention various veterans’ causes.

And thanks, it’s been an interesting experience being a Kindness Investor!

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