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Last Sunday I went to a party for my friend Dan who was celebrating surviving three years of law school.  There was some really good food there too.  Somebody made some shawarma that was fantastic. 

I met a guy there named Mike and decided to give him my $10 for the day.  

Mike E. (Photo: Reed)

 

Mike is married and lives in Burtonsville, MD with his family.  He got a degree in Engineering but decided that a career in engineering wasn’t what he wanted and went back to school at the University of Maryland at College Park to study kinesiology.  

Kinesiology, from the Greek words kinesis (movement) and kinein (to move) and ology (branch of study), is the branch of physiology that studies the mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement. 

Mike has been working at a physical therapy clinic in Rockville, MD for three years.  “I love the gym and I love sports,” he said.  “This was just a natural fit for me.”  Mike’s work is truly rewarding.  He shared with me a story about a woman who slipped and fell and pulled her hamstring as a result.  She didn’t take care of it and the problem got worse.  It got so bad that she couldn’t sit for a year.  Mike then got the opportunity to work with her and she started to improve and was finally able to sit again.  Mike added, “When you are able to help someone feel better, you feel good too!”  It’s not so different than my experience of daily giving. 

You know how when you meet a lawyer, you feel compelled to ask some legal questions.  If you meet an accountant, you’re certain to think of some obscure tax question that you have wanted to get resolved…well, I am no different I guess.  So I have been suffering from neck and back pain which results in numbness down my right arm and in my hand.  I shared this with Mike and he asked me some questions about the pain. 

This is where my back pain seems to stem from. And no, this is not me!

 

Before I knew it, I was lying down on the floor and Mike was working on my neck.  He got it a lot looser and improved my range of motion.  I still had pain and numbness, but there seemed to be some improvements just after 20 or 30 minutes.  Mike gave me some exercises to do at home to try to reduce my pain.  It was so incredibly nice of Mike to take time to try to help me feel better.  Thanks Mike! 

I also have an appointment with a physician later this month, but I am looking into trying to do some physical therapy as well.  Anyone who has ever had similar pain knows how much it starts to affect your life.  I can’t wait until I am pain-free. 

Mike decided to donate his $10 to Freeset, a fair trade business that offers meaningful employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. According to the group, there are more than 10,000 sex workers in Kolkata, formally called Calcutta.  These women were forced into prostitution by trafficking or poverty.  Freeset offers them a real choice.  When they choose to work at Freeset, they can start new lives, regain dignity in their communities, and begin a journey towards healing and wholeness.

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Today, March 15th, marks the three month mark in my year-long journey.  Many times the recipients are inspired to give the $10 to someone else or to a charity.  Other times someone watching what is going on or reading on my blog has been inspired to give $10 themselves.  I have been lucky in these first three months to witness so many inspiring moments.  Day 88 was one of those special days.

I traveled up to Gaithersburg, MD to see my friend Jeff perform in the Rockville Little Theatre’s production of Over the River and Through the Woods.    The show is very well performed and the Gaithersburg Arts Barn is a great intimate space to see theatre.  The show ends this Sunday and I hear that there are still tickets left for some of the shows…so if you live in the area check it out!

Photo courtesy of http://www.clydes.com

After the show, some friends joined Jeff for a late meal at Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge in Rockville.  Tower Oaks Lodge has been a favorite spot after many theatre performances in Rockville.  It’s a very unique locale…it’s almost as if you leave the Washington metro area and walk into the Adirondacks when you walk through the front door. 

I still hadn’t given away my $10…so I went searching throughout the many rooms looking for a recipient.  I settled on Hans…a man in his late 30s / early 40s who was standing by himself behind the host station.  I figured he must work there and who better to give it to than someone working at almost midnight on a Friday evening.

It turns out Hans is the General Manager of the restaurant!  He has been with the Clyde’s Restaurant Group (they also own the Old Ebbitt Grill, 1789, and  F. Scott’s to name a few) for 20 years and worked at four of their properties. 

Han's poses with his $10 (Photo: Reed)

We get interrupted by some young guys wandering in the door in search of a banana split.  Hans take care of them and we pick up where we left off.

Hans tells me that he is going to give his $10 to the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, an organization that believes that children thrive with the active involvement of both parents.  Furthermore they feel that barring “issues of abuse, neglect or abandonment, social and government policy must be structured in such a way as to promote and maximize the opportunity of all parents to contribute to the social, emotional, intellectual, physical, moral and spiritual development of their children.”

I had a feeling that there was a story behind this, so I asked.  It turns out that Hans is a divorced father who has not seen his children in more than two years.  I didn’t dig into the details too much as I could see that this was a sensitive issue for him. 

Hans said he was really impressed with my commitment and told me to come see him if I needed a job.  He then gave me his business card and a $100 voucher to eat at the restaurant!  Oh my gosh.  I didn’t know what to say but to thank him.  That was really nice of him.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the gift certificate to Clyde’s.  I am going to invite 2 of my previous $10 recipients to join me (and hopefully Hans) for lunch one day.  Now the hard part, who do I invite…this is where I NEED YOUR HELP.  Please vote here on who you think most deserves to go with me to eat at Clyde’s.  I have already invited Hans.  The list below is of the top 20 recipients based on feedback that I have received, page loads, etc.  I have removed several names of those who are not local or did not give any contact information.  [UPDATE 4/3/2010:  Voting is now over]

I thanked Hans again and headed back to my table.  I was gone so long that they had already settled up the check.  My friend Jeff paid for mine.  I insisted that I give him money for it but he wouldn’t accept it.  Thanks Jeff.

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I got up early and went down to the Unemployment Service Center in NE Washington.  As you might recall, I have been struggling to get them to pay my benefits.  So far I have not received a dime.  I went on Monday, but apparently I got there too late.

So this morning, I made sure to get there early.  I arrived at 8:30 and was out of there by 10:15.  I met with Ms. Bonham.  She was friendly and took care of my situation and hopefully I will start receiving my unemployment benefits.  Thanks Ms. Bonham!

I thought it would be great to find someone at the Unemployment Office to give my $10 to.  There were some people right outside the office who I suspected had just left.  I approached a woman waiting for the bus.  Nadine, a 32 year-old living in Columbia, MD is originally from Cameroon.  She actually was not at the Unemployment Office, but was waiting for the bus to get to her job as a Home Health Aid.  You might recall that Davitia from Day 14 was also a HHA.

Nadine was all bundled up.  Her head was just barely peaking out of her hooded coat.  She has been in the US for five years and says she is happy here.  Even in the winter.  “I don’t like the heat,” Nadine said.  “I really like the cold.”  I found this ironic given that her homeland of Cameroon probably never gets below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, with the exception of the upper parts of Mount Cameroon.  Want a bit of trivia?  Cameroon’s name is derived from the Portuguese word for prawns or shrimp, Camarões.  Back in the 15th century, the Portuguese landed on the shores of the Wouri River where they found a large supply of prawns and crayfish and named it River of Prawns (Rio dos Camarões).

Anyway, I asked Nadine what she would do with the $10.  She said that she would put it toward her school savings.  Nadine needs to finish about six courses to get her Licensed Practical Nurse certification.  I hope she gets back to school this year and finishes her studies.  Jameela, from Day 7, is an LPN now trying to get her RN.  Maybe she can give you some tips or advice. 

By the way, I am going to start adding some video to the blog…stay tuned!

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