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Posts Tagged ‘snow’

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

Reed shoveling a sidewalk on R Street in Washington, DC

People often tell me that they want to volunteer their time but don’t know where to start. Sheila, a working mom from Boston recently expressed her frustration with trying to volunteer.  “The local community center where I was hoping to volunteer only accepts applicants that are able to make a commitment of at least once a month for a year,” she wrote.  “I can’t guarantee that.”  She went on to say that other organizations were looking for individuals with specific skills or training which she didn’t have.

Sheila’s challenges are not unique.  I hear this same comment from individuals from all parts of the world on a regular basis.  The fact is that there are lots of ways that you can contribute to your community without volunteering with formal organizations.  Here are seven simple ways that you can make a difference in your community that cost little or nothing and don’t require you to jump through any administrative hoops!

  1. Pick up trash around your neighborhood or at a local park
  2. Rake the leaves/shovel snow/mow the lawn for an elderly neighbor
  3. Drive an elderly neighbor to the store or to their doctor’s appointment
  4. Take leftover food to poor/homeless members of your community
  5. Donate clothes in good condition that you no longer use to a local shelter or community outreach center
  6. Ask people to bring an item for donation to your next party or get-together
  7. Micro-volunteer online at an organization like sparked.com.

So two weeks ago I did exactly this.  We got a dose of really wet snow, maybe four or five inches.  A day after the snowfall I noticed a couple of sidewalks that still were not cleared.  The fluffy white blanket had now compressed down into a three-inch thick sheet of ice that was not only hard as hell to remove, but dangerous for those who relied on the sidewalks to get around town.  One spot was owned by an older couple.  Another was an abandoned home and I don’t know the situation of the third home, but their sidewalk hadn’t been touched.  So, I grabbed the shovel and set out to clear those areas.

Snow shoveling isn’t my thing.  Sure I can do it, but my back usually gets all out of whack for days after a long day of shoveling.  I know, “You gotta use your knees,” you’re thinking to yourself.  You are right…and I probably don’t use them enough.

As I was shoveling the long sidewalk in front of the abandoned home I spotted an elderly woman carefully navigating the icy terrain.  I should have offered her a hand but she gave me a terrible scowl as if to say, “You are late in getting this sidewalk shoveled young man!”  Geez.

That's Reed in the distance making his final pass on a sidewalk on 21st Street in DC.

I finished clearing the final patch of ice at the third house and headed home to put away my weary shovel and rest my now screaming lower back.  The next day I walked by one of the areas and saw people moving about on the now snow-free sidewalks that I had cared for.  I felt magnificent.  Ok, that’s not exactly true.  My back felt like an 18-wheeler had pulled into my bedroom in the middle of the night and parked on top of me.  But seriously, I was elated by the simple neighborly act that I had done.  It didn’t cost anything, well not then at least.  I just have to save up to have a microdiscectomy procedure to fix my herniated lumbar disc!

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY IN DC THIS WEEKEND!

Hey, are you in the DC area and want to give a few hours of your time this weekend for a good cause?  Why not join me in volunteering at the fourth annual Our City Film Festival.  All proceeds go to Yachad DC, a local non-profit working to bring communities together through service.  They mobilize skilled and unskilled volunteers to work side-by-side with those being served to repair homes and communities for low-income residents.  What a fun way to help out.  If you are interested in volunteering, email me or Kendra at kendra@yachad-dc.org.

 

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

Two days in a row, to waking up with more snow on the ground!  I know, I live in New England so I should expect it.  I do expect it, but to expect it and to like it are two very different things.  I am not complaining though.  After going to school in upstate New York (Oswego) and seeing snow fall for eighteen straight days one year, I am definitely not complaining.  Besides, pitchers and catchers show up for spring training in a little over a month.  I didn’t ask today’s recipient, AJ if he was a baseball fan, but you’ll see, at least his heart was in the right place.

A senior from Newington High School, A.J. works part-time in Goodwill Industries Store and Distribution Center in Newington, Connecticut.  He’s been there since the beginning of the summer and he likes his job.  He’s 18, a generally quiet guy and likes to be honest with everyone.  He’s learning how to be a diesel mechanic at Newington High and will hopefully work in a garage somewhere. He says he loves cars and likes being around them.  When he’s working, he works in both the Goodwill Store and the Distribution Center.  He doesn’t really prefer one to the other, but he was in the Distribution Center today.  There’s what looks like a garage door and a little car port for the people driving up and donating their goods.  People drive up, unload their donations and then AJ and others in the center, divide them up into good stuff and trash.  I asked him about that, thinking maybe a manager or higher level employee would decide what was trash or not, but no, he made that decision.

There were a lot of very large blue bins which were all stacked up waiting for donations to be put in them and three other bins that were marked trash.   Those had mainly pieces of cardboard, some clothes hangers and miscellaneous trash in them.  When I asked him how he got into the business, he mentioned his buddy was already working there and thought it was a decent job.   He sees all kinds of donations and what he called the “crazy stuff”.  What makes it crazy I was wondering and he said he saw a lot of antiques, people cleaning out their houses and donating it instead of just throwing it away.  I did see a very large rimmed bright purple hat with some flowering around it which made me think of something out of a 1970’s movie involving pimps and did I mention it was the color of bright purple?  That was my definition of crazy stuff.  AJ said one item that came in recently was an old-fashioned electric razor, which could have been the one of the first ones ever!  I was there really by chance as I was on my way to somewhere else, saw the Goodwill sign which made me think I needed to go through a lot of stuff of my own and decided to just stop in and see the place.  I’m glad I did or I wouldn’t have met AJ.

He preferred not to have his picture taken, but when asked what he was going to do with the $10, he mentioned his girlfriend’s birthday was coming up quickly and he wanted to get her a necklace she had seen at Claire’s.  The necklace apparently had little elephants on it and she was a fan of elephants.  I just saw a movie trailer for Water for Elephants recently (a really good book) and wonder if he’ll take her to see it?  I took a couple of pictures of the place and was on my way.

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Day 2 – Trey B.

This week's Kindness Investor, Melinda, discovered the Year of Giving from an article in the Dayton Daily News.

It is funny how each day you try to find the perfect person to give $10 to.  Today I was driving and saw Trey B. jumping through drifts of snow and I knew right then, that’s the man I’m going to give $10 to today.  I turned around went to the next intersection and parked and waited on him to catch up.

At first Trey wasn’t too sure about me and kept his distance but quickly warmed up to me realizing I was no threat.  When giving him the $10 he was overwhelmed and said God will bless you and everyone else who participates in this project.

What an awesome feeling knowing I made his day just as much as he made mine.  Trey had recently moved to Ohio from Alabama to be closer to his family.   He said he was probably going to use the money toward something for his new house.

I didn’t keep Trey too long as it was so cold outside and it was clear he was on a mission to get home where it was warm.

-By Melinda T. from Xenia, OH


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February 13, 2010. 

Today was the wedding of my brother and his fiancée (well, now his wife!) Mandy.  After spending a couple hours chiseling ice off of drain spouts around my building and shoveling snow off of our flat roof (by the way, flat roofs in regions where snow is prone, not a good idea), I headed over to meet my dad and brother for a shave at the Grooming Lounge on L Street in DC.

If you have never gotten a professional shave, I recommend it…at least for you men out there.  Matt gave me my shave.  He did an excellent job and I recommend him if you want to check this place out.  Your face just feels amazing afterwards.  I do kind of wish they would use the straight edge razor…the one that you use the strop with.  But they use safety razors…the same kind I shave with at home and claim that you can get as good of a shave with the modern safety razors as you can with a straight edge razor.  Any opinion on this?

I then hurried around, picked up my dry cleaning at Georgetown Cleaners (they are pretty good) on Florida Ave., reviewed my notes for the ceremony and headed down to the Hotel Monaco for the wedding.

I think I have mentioned in other posts that my brother and Mandy asked me to perform the wedding ceremony.  This is not something that I have a lot of experience doing.  In fact, I didn’t have any experience.

I think it went well though.  I did forget to tell the guests to sit after the bride and groom came in though.  So, everyone stood for the ceremony!  Oops…good thing it was only about 12 minutes long.

Mandy and Ryan (photo: Maureen Buckley)

The reception was wonderful.  The hotel setting was beautiful, the food was fantastic, and all the other details were perfect.  I got to see a lot of family and friends that I have not seen in some time… only wish I could have spent more time with them all.

I sensed the reception was coming to an end…could it have been the Neil Diamond tune that clued me in?  Who knows?  I found a hotel staff member cleaning up and thought I should offer him my $10.

Issa is a 50 year-old-man originally from the West African country of Sierra Leone.  He is a Banquet Captain at the Monaco and has worked there for about 7 years…pretty much since they opened in 2002. 

He is tall and slender and was very appreciative of the gift.  He said that he would use it to put gas in his car and buy some juice.  Issa was busy and I let him finish his work so that he could get home.

Several of us headed to the hotel bar, Poste, for the penultimate drink.

Congratulations Mandy and Ryan!  Your wedding was beautiful and I am very happy for you both.  I love you very much.

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Snowpocalypse 2010 (photo: R. Sandridge)

I woke up this morning to more snow!  After going down and shoveling the stairs and sidewalk in front of my condo, I headed out to give away my $10.  I found Melise, Kevin and Danilo…all said they could not accept my $10 for one reason or another.  All were nice and interesting to speak with…however, I was on a mission.  After more than an hour searching, I found Jeremy.

Jeremy was standing in a covered entry way for an office complex where he sought refuge from the cocktail of cold, wind, and snow that was swirling around Farragut Square in DC.  He is 48.  His stained clothes and weathered look led me to believe that he was homeless.  When I asked him if he was, he struggled with the answer.  Jeremy said he tried to stay with friends mostly or in a shelter near 2nd and E Street. 

Conversation was awkward with Jeremy.  He was extremely polite but seemed to be in a slightly altered state.  I don’t know if it was the cumulative effect of being out in the cold or a result of substance abuse or something else.  He took out a folded piece of newspaper that he had in his stained jacket and wrote down my name and other information I told him.  Every time I would jot something down in my small notebook, he would write something on his paper.  

Jeremy hopes to make a few dollars shoveling snow (photo: R. Sandridge)

I asked him what he was doing there.  He said he thought that some of the maintenance crew of the nearby office buildings would pay him to shovel some snow for a few dollars.  I asked what he would do with the $10 and he said that he would get some food, hot tea, and maybe use the leftover for bus fare.

We didn’t talk more.  I felt he was uncomfortable and I was freezing by this time.  I asked if I could take his picture…he obliged and I took the photo you see here. 

Would you believe on the way home I passed Melise again…the first woman who refused my $10 today.  She was nice and recognized me immediately.  Small world.

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I didn’t think that the driving situation could get worse than yesterday…but I stand corrected.  Today there were way more amateur drivers venturing out into the snowy mess.  I helped dig out and push five cars.  Most of the people were not used to driving in the snow.  Sadly one of them was a taxi driver who was completely clueless about driving in the snow (in his defense, he was from East Africa).

I was surprised at how few people offered to help.  One time a maintenance man at a nearby building offered to help.  His name was Chavez…I tried to give him $10 after we got the person unstuck, but he politely refused and said the next time I saw him he would accept.  I will be looking for you Chavez!

I later found Roger, a Street Sense salesman, at the Farragut North Metro entrance.  Roger is 58 and lives in DC.  He has been living with his brother-in-law for about four months after he had some serious problems with his wife and daughter that lead to his wife changing the locks.  “That’s a bad sign” he tells me.  Yea…I would have to agree with you Roger.  Now his brother-in-law is also asking him to leave.  He is not sure where he will go after Feb 11th.

He says he will keep my $10 and add it to his savings to hopefully pay for housing/shelter.  

Roger seems very nice.  I shot a little bit of video of him that you can see here.

Want to help Roger out?  Here are a couple of things he needs:

  • A place to keep some of his things.  Preferably a place where he could have key to lock the items up.  Even a closet like space would help.
  • Free counseling. Roger has went through a very difficult time with his family.  He realizes that he needs counseling on how to deal with the situation.  I would like to try to find a therapist who would work with Roger on a pro bono basis.
  • Lastly, his computer broke and he really misses having his computer.  He actually still carries his computer case.  If anyone or any company has a working laptop that they would like to put to good use, Roger would be very appreciative. 

If you can help with any of these things, let me know and I can contact Roger.

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I got out to go to the gym today.  Hadn’t been there since the snow storm.  On the way back I stepped on what I thought was ice and my sneaker sunk like 6 inches and became completely water logged…thankfully it happened on the way home, so I was already done with my workout.

I went out later in the day to find my recipient.  Too many people ventured out in the snow today.  It’s like amateur driver day – people who have no business driving in this weather are out and about.  I saw a little compact car with bicycle size tires trying to navigate the streets.

I got stopped by the Save the Children canvassers…I stopped and listened to him.  Told him I was doing my own venture and he kept trying to get me to give them money until I finally just said I could help them in other ways, but not with money…but he wasn’t interested.

First I approached Ernesto and then a few blocks away Gene … both said they didn’t want to accept the $10.  They didn’t feel worthy of it.  So, I was off to find someone else.  Hopefully both Ernesto and Gene check out the site and comment on their decision.  By the way guys, you are still invited to come to the year-end party..so keep following the blog.

I found Lionel sitting on a bench with a crazy hat on.  I found out that the 43-year-old was originally from Sinaloa, Mexico.  Coincidentally, I lived in the state of Sinaloa in 1990-1991 as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student.  He was from the capital city, Culiacan, about 2 hours away from where I lived.  He first came to the US in the 80s.  Right now he is unemployed.  He was a bike messenger here in DC for the last 13-14 years and hopes to find work again once the snow clears out of DC.  If anyone knows of someone needing to contract a bike messenger in DC, let me know!

Some interesting things about Lionel.  His nephew is Jamar Nesbit, who is a member of the 2010 Superbowl winning Saints!  Nesbit (#67) did not play apparently, but should receive a ring.  That is pretty cool.  Athletics runs in the family.  Lionel used to be a boxer in both the US and Mexico and his daughter has played college sports.

Lionel says he will spend the $10 to put minutes on his cell phone (which is in a Pittsburgh Steelers case!).

I spent another 30-40 minutes talking to Lionel.  He is a very nice guy and I did something that I have not done before.  I gave him my cell phone number.  I usually just give an email address…but he did not use email.  Hopefully I can meet up with him again sometime soon.

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