Happy Worldwide Day of Giving!!!
Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’
Blog post by Rose M, a Kindness Investor from Forest Park, IL.
I decided to go do my “reverse panhandling” at Starbucks in River Forest as it is a favorite haunt for both my husband John and myself. In the evenings it quiets down, making it a nice place to read or write. Tonight I found out it’s also a nice place for a gathering of women who share a common hobby: knitting.
This Starbucks has a cozy corner tucked in the back away from the fray. A coffee table sits on a worn Persian rug and is surrounded by three burnt orange wingback chairs. Most people covet this prime real estate, myself being one of them. When I arrived, I headed back there immediately, only to find one chair taken by a studious young man reading a Bible. A silver-haired woman sits knitting in another. The third chair holds a wicker basket stuffed with yarn.
I eyed the chair and the woman eyes me. These are the words in the cartoon balloons floating over our heads.
“You’re not taking that chair!”
“I don’t want that chair!”
“Yes you do, and you can’t have it!”
I really don’t want the chair, and besides, it’s pretty obvious she’s holding it for someone. What I am thinking is,“Hmmm, is she the one? I don’t know. She’s guarding that chair like a pit bull.” She really is a bit intimidating. Maybe I better approach the Bible reader instead. I mean, what could go wrong there? A Bible reader is bound to be interested in the YOG project.
Trying to make up my mind, I once again eye the Bible reader, the chair, and the woman.
The woman eyes me back. I think I detect a certain fierceness in the click of her knitting needles. Suitably daunted and uncertain about bothering the young man, I decide to wander the length of Starbucks looking for someone else to draw my attention. But I don’t want to leave my Asus unattended, so I return to home base—a table just outside the coveted cozy corner.
Well, I have two reasons for finally deciding to approach the silver-haired knitter. One, I could’ve wasted all night looking for the right recipient. Two, I’m overcome with an unreasonable need to reassure her I don’t want her chair! I don’t steal parking spots either!
“Hello, excuse me,” I begin timidly, “is someone sitting here?”
“No, but they will be in less than fifteen minutes,”comes her firm reply.
“Oh, that’s ok, I don’t want the chair,” I swear, barely resisting the temptation to finish with “cross my heart and hope to die.” She explains she meets here weekly with a group of women friends numbering from six to fifteen. They gathered to knit, share knitting patterns and shoot the breeze.
Then I ask her if she’d be willing to hear about a project that might interest her. I’m starting to think that’s not the best pick-up line because it seems to arouse suspicion when my goal is to inspire generosity. I would probably feel the same way. Whoever approaches somebody with the sole purpose of giving away money? My assumption would be this project is probably going to cost me something.
She is gracious, though, and allows me to tell her about Reed and the Year of Giving blog. When I finish, she tells me she’s struck by the notion anyone would be interested in what she was going to do with the money. It seems odd to her. She’s also adamant she doesn’t want to be involved in something she has to perpetuate, as if it were a “living chain letter” of sorts. I assure her this is not the case.
She’s clearly ambivalent, and I don’t want her to feel pressured. I’m on the verge of trying to find a graceful way to bow out when another member of the group shows up.
“Glenyss! We have a project to consider,” she says, gesturing to me. “This is right up your alley.”
Glenyss pulls up a chair and listens while I explained it again. The silver-haired knitter is right. It is right up her alley.
“Oh sure, we can take the money. We can find a charitable knitting project and use the ten to buy the yarn for it.”
I actually have a friend who is involved in “competitive knitting” but I’d never heard the phrase “charitable knitting.” I ask Glenyss to tell me more and she explained she’s been involved in a number of charitable knitting projects, both personally and through her church. For instance, in 2008 Iowa was flooded for the entire month of June. Her church knitted caps and mittens because, “no-one was thinking about winter coming, when they’d discovered they’d lost the caps and mittens in the flood.” So this way, they would be prepared. How wonderful it must have been for those families to have one less thing to worry about during that difficult time!
A few more women show up, including Marion, for whom the chair had been reserved (she tells me with a pat to the bum “I have no padding so I need a soft chair”). The other is Lori. Lori wants to hear about the project too. The project brought a big smile to her face, and I sense I have finally made the sale (boy, whoever thought you’d have to go to so much effort to SELL ten dollars?).
“So, shall I give you the ten dollars,” I ask the group of four knitters.
“Sure, we’ll take it,” Glenyss speaks for the group, reaching her hand out for the money.
The silver-haired knitter—whose name I finally learned was Debbie—doesn’t want her picture on the web, so I suggest they display their knitting projects and I will take a picture of their work.
What you’re looking at here is beautiful sweater for a young child, a gorgeous woman’s white cardigan and the start of a knapsack. Debbie is making it. It brought back a bittersweet memory for me. My grandmother had once made me a knitted knapsack that I adored. I loved it because it was cool and reminded me of her. Then, my apartment was robbed and only two items were taken—a ring which cost five dollars, and the knapsack. It’s been over twenty years and I still miss it!
Thanking them for their time, I return to my little writing post. The group has grown from four to nine while I write this. I overhear conversations about knitting quickly give way to more personal stories interspersed with jokes, laughter and the occasional display of a project for the generous admiration of all. Their words knit one, pearl two a soft, warm shawl of goodwill and friendship around them which spills out to wrap around me as well.
As the evening draws to a close the women start to leave, one by one. A few wish me goodnight and good luck with my project and I’m tempted to say, “It’s your project, too.” But that’s not for me to decide. They have the ten-dollar bill. What they do with it is up to them. Still, I’d like to think it has added a unique stitch to their evening. I hope it won’t get dropped.
-Blog post by Mike B., a Kindness Investor from Cromwell, CT
I woke up to about 7 inches of fresh snow on the ground and the knowing I was going out in it to give away the $10. Always the multitasker, I was thinking I’d take a few pictures of this winter wonderland around as well and immediately thought of a favorite spot for doing just that. The Connecticut River runs through the state and makes for many wonderful photo opportunities, especially after a fresh snowfall. So I headed out to a local boat ramp in Rocky Hill where the CT River ferry also is located. The ferry doesn’t run and the boat ramp is closed in the winter, but it’s still a great place to park and get out a bit and take some pictures. Surely I’d find someone there to take the $10. No luck on finding someone though, so it was off to Plan B, another great place for pics, the Middletown Harbor. There’s always someone there. Again, no such luck, and so it was onto another option. I was heading to Office Depot to pick up something and there’s a Starbucks close by for a quick cup of coffee and hopefully I would find a willing person in either of those two places.
I spotted Latora in Starbuck’s who was making sure her hair looked its finest in her compact mirror. She spotted me as well looking at her and smiles broke out on both our faces. I mentioned to her that she looked fabulous and she said that was a good confirmation. We started chatting and she said yes, she would accept the $10. A self-proclaimed journal freak, she said she would take the $10 and either buy another journal, or “sow the seed into someone else’s life.” A very creative and expressive person, Latora is a dancer, a poet and a current student at the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy. She just started at the school, but loves it already. She is very involved in her church, the Grace Worship Center Church in Hartford where she performs “liturgical dancing” or praise dancing. I had never heard of that form of dance so I asked her what it was. It’s an act of worship for her and incorporates some jazz and ballet influences. She is a poet as well and as I said to her, she is not only a child of God, she is a Child of the Arts! It seemed to me, whatever she did, she went in 100%, not holding anything back. Keeping a journal was important to her as a journal is “an inventory where you are in the thought process,” and you never know when the “idea of brilliance” will come. I love that! We continued our conversation for a little while longer, touching on the topics of giving (sowing the seeds and reaping the harvest), poetry (every word you say is speaking into someone’s life!), and music, (singer Melissa Etheridge! -she liked her voice and the lyrics of her songs.)
I gave her my Kindness Investor card; we hugged and said we would connect again. I have left each recipient so far with a very nice feeling, but with Latora and her infectious effervescence, I found I couldn’t stop smiling for quite awhile afterwards.
Day 364…just one more day after today’s blog post to come full circle with my year-long commitment. But this movement will continue on. This weekend an important new chapter will begin for the Year of Giving. Our first Kindness Investor will start blogging about her giving experience. I can’t wait for you to meet Melinda and the amazing people she meets each day when she gives away $10.
I found today’s recipient as I left the Starbucks at Dupont Circle. Roman was getting ready to get on his bicycle when I approached him and asked him to accept my $10.
Roman, originally from Kiev, Ukraine, is a night club promoter here in DC. He’s also a student at Strayer University where he studies business administration.
It was one of the coldest days of the year. I kept our conversation brief as I could feel the blood flowing through my veins turning to ice. Ok not really, but you get the idea. Anyway, the 24-year-old said he was going to use the money to buy some coffee during the week.
Before saying goodbye, I invited him to the Year of Giving Anniversary Celebration the following evening. He rode off on his bike and I hurried home.
Just four more days. Wow…time flies when you are having fun (and scrambling to get everything ready for Tuesday’s celebration!) Lots of recipients and blog followers have RSVP’d for the event. It will surely be an interesting evening. Some donations are coming in for the raffle and auction, but still no primary sponsor. Hmmm….it looks like I am the primary sponsor 😉
Here in DC it seems like Starbucks cafes are everywhere. I think you can walk to five of them within ten minutes of my house. Oh, before I go on, let me go back to the sponsorship item really quick since I mentioned Starbucks. I actually thought they would be a very interesting sponsor. I have given my $10 away at several Starbucks locations, have given to employees, and happen to frequent their establishment quite often myself. In addition, the Year of Giving is all about bringing people together, connecting our community. I’m guessing that if you ask Starbucks what their business is, I doubt they’d say it was making coffee…but providing a much bigger holistic service that had more to do with bringing people together. Maybe not, just a guess. But anyway, nothing from them yet…although that’s not for a lack of trying.
Anyway, do you ever think about how is that every morning a place like Starbucks has everything it needs to quench your cravings? It’s because of people. It’s because of great people like Cliff who I ran into on the night before Thanksgiving. I guess I could say Thanksgiving Eve, but that sounds weird to me. Anyway, he was hard at work around 10:30pm at the Starbucks closest to my apartment.
I walked around to the back of his truck where he was pulling a dozen crates off at a time with a dolly and then rolling them into the cafe. Each one was full with fresh milk, coffee beans, pastries, you name it. “I don’t work for Starbucks directly, but they’re the only account I service,” Cliff told me as he heaved the dolly up over the curb. “You build up some muscles doing this,” he added with a half smiling half grimacing expression. He rolled the dolly around the side of the truck, opened the door, and backed into the now dimly lit coffee haven. It was weird to see someone inside a dark completely empty Starbucks. Usually they are brightly lit with an even flow customers percolating in and out.
He came back with an empty dolly ready to load up another set of crates. Cliff was very friendly and willing to speak with me although he told me he used to be more reserved and kept to himself. I found that hard to believe based on my encounter with him.
“It usually takes me about 10-12 hours to do my shift,” he said. Starbucks goes through a lot of product. He told me something like that he delivered some 686 units of milk each day, and I can’t remember if that is total or per store. I’m guessing total, but I just did a quick search and it seems like it is possible that that figure is per store if he delivers every other day.
“I’m a very happily married man,” the 44-year-old from Maryland told me. “I’ve got two girls and two boys; been married for 18 years.” I asked if he was going to be spending Thanksgiving with the entire family and he said only one of his kids would be home, “The others are all grown and have their own families.”
Cliff is a solid guy, not only personality-wise but also physically. Let’s put it this way, you wouldn’t want to have to wrestle him to get your coffee every morning. He’s recently been focusing on his health. “I’ve been working on my weight,” he shared. “I’ve lost 40 pounds…you see I’m diabetic,” he told me as he muscled another load over the curb. “I got 20 more pounds to go to reach my goal of 200.” That’s quite an achievement to lose 40 pounds.
I waited for him while he disappeared again and delivered the goods. I looked at the lined walls of the interior of the truck. It was full of all kinds of goodies. My mind slipped into a dream-like state and I envisioned myself driving the truck around giving all the homeless people I have met this year some hot coffee and pastries.
I needed to get on the road to Pennsylvania and I’m sure Cliff was getting sick of chatting with me. He came back and I asked him what he was going to do with his money. “I’m going to give it to my wife,” he said grinning like a child. “A man’s got to provide for his wife and family.” I shook Cliff’s hand and invited him to the Year of Giving Anniversary Celebration this Tuesday. “I might have to work that night,” he said. “But let’s see.” I started to walk away and he added one last thing, “I’m going to tell my wife about this. She’s gonna love it.”
I walked back to my apartment, got in my car and began the two-hour drive to Mechanicsburg to spend Thanksgiving with my father.
Did you vote for who I should invite to lunch/dinner at Clyde’s? If not go here to vote!
I stopped in a Starbucks while it was raining. The Starbucks employee, Jackie, was so nice that I thought I would offer her my $10. She immediately said that she thought her colleague could use the money more than her. She introduces me to Larry.
Larry is at least 6’4”…maybe 6’6”. Let’s put it this way. When I took the video of him, I was standing on a stool to try to keep a level shot. Hmmm…what does that say about me?
Larry is a really nice guy. He and Jackie both are so friendly that I want to make this Starbucks my Starbucks. The father of two, Larry is working hard to provide for his family. He says that he really enjoys his job. His favorite drink there is the Raspberry Lemonade. I asked him what was the hardest drink to make…he said the macchiato. I asked him why and he said it was because people from different parts of the world like their macchiato slightly different…so often times people want it made differently. He says he hates to disappoint his customers. “It’s hard, because you don’t know how they like it. I make it like we are trained here and if they want it differently, no problem, I make them another one just like they want it. I don’t mind remaking it, I just want them to be happy.”
Here’s a short video of Larry talking about a frustration of his…as well as telling what he is going to do with the $10!
Thanks to both Jackie and Larry for being so friendly and making me feel at home at their Starbucks. You both were great!
Posted in Refusals, Transportation, tagged Albuquerque, Catholics, Celtic, Christopher McCandless, French Foreign Legion, Glasgow, hooligan, Into the Wild, Légion Etrangère, Montana, New Mexico, Protestants, Rangers, sectarianism, Sicherheitsdienst, Starbucks, Street Sense, US Air Force on December 19, 2009| 20 Comments »
Today’s recipient embodies the very spirit of the mission that I set out to serve. I hope that you enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed meeting with Davie.
I had mixed emotions about heading out today to find a recipient due to the eight inches (and counting) of snow that has fallen. Daniela and I decided to venture out and see who we would find. The first person we approached declined to participate, she said she was very skeptical of any type of “offer” that she receives from people that she does not know.
A few minutes later we saw a Street Sense vendor. Street Sense is a newspaper which serves as a vehicle for elevating voices and public debate on issues relating to poverty while also creating economic opportunities for people who are experiencing homelessness in the community. David, a Scottish lad from Glasgow in his twenties who came here to pursue the “American dream,” was sporting an ice sickle laden beard. I explained what I was doing and he agreed to accept my $10.
I could probably write a year’s worth of blogging just on Davie. What an interesting person he is. He left Glasgow back in the spring and arrived in Baltimore and made his way to California. Then he decided to make his way back east. With virtually no money, he managed most of his journey by bus, hitchhiking, walking, and whatever else you could imagine. He arrived in DC in early October and is living on the streets near 14th and H. Davie is joining the US military to go serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Aside from paying fairly well, there is a program that you receive US citizenship if you complete so many years of service, I believe Davie told me it was four years. He hopes to depart in a few weeks.
I asked Davie what he was going to do with the $10 and he said he was going to put it toward a bus ticket to NYC to complete some things he needs to enlist and go abroad.
As I said, I could go on about Davie…but will just make a brief list of the interesting things I have learned about him.
- Davie spent almost five years in the Légion Etrangère (French Foreign Legion). As part of his training, he spent 6 months in French Guiana for jungle training.
- Davie’s grandfather served in Heinrich Himmler’s Sicherheitsdienst, the nazi intelligence organization.
- Davie has no family that he knows of. He has two brothers that were more than 20 years older than him that he doesn’t know very well and has not seen or heard from in years. His parents were killed in a highway accident and he explained his uncle was killed as a result of sectarian violence in Glasgow. Davie, a catholic and self-confessed former hooligan, was injured in sectarian violence. His leg was slashed with an ax years ago.
- Davie admittedly said that he refused to interact with Protestants in his homeland almost all of his life; however, rather recently he overcame some of his feelings and established some relationships with some Protestants in Glasgow.
- As those of you who are aware the fierce sectarianism that exists in Glasgow, you might guess that he is a die-hard Celtic (this is soccer, not the NBA!) fan. Their “enemies” are the Rangers. He let me know there was a match between the two clubs on January 3 and advised of the severe violence that was sure to occur.
- Davie use to follow the Celtic team around Europe…occasionally being ejected, arrested, or sent home. There was a certain amount of passion that Davie exhuberates when he speaks about the Celtic club. He reminisced about his youth days when the anticipation of physically attacking the other club’s fans would burn inside him. I use the word “passion”, but it was clear that his passion took the form of rage and violence.
- He not only sells Street Sense, but is a published author for them. He has three 3 articles published in the December 9-22nd issue, including a poem. One of his articles talks about what a typical day is like for a homeless person in DC and there is even a picture of David there. He is a good writer and I strongly encourage everyone in the DC area to pick up a copy of this issue! For those of you not in DC, it should be available online in February. They have a delay so that they do not lose sales of the print version.
- Davie does not panhandle. He doesn’t believe in that. He feels that you should earn your money legitimately.
- Including my $10, he said that he has $23 to his name.
- Davie has been beat up and mugged several times in the US.
- His favorite spot in the US is Montana. He loved the scenery and the crystal clear water coming down the mountainside. His least favorite place was Albuquerque, New Mexico where he was mugged several times in one evening!
- He is ineligible for the US Air Force due to his tattoo on his neck.
- Sometimes Davie sells single cigarettes on the street just to get some money to get by.
- He does not drink or do drugs…well, he smirked and admitted in his rather mild Scottish accent that he has a beer every 2 months or so to “keep the kidney stones away!” Back in his youth, he said he was quite a mess and spent some time in juvenile detention centers.
I feel like I could go on forever….but I have to bring this to a temporary closing for now. We were chatting in front of a Starbucks that had closed do to the weather. There was something sharply ironic in standing with a man who has $23 to his name and watch dozens of Washingtonians nudge by us only to see that the Starbucks was closed and hear them grumble that they can not get their $5 Skinny Hazelnut Latte with soy milk.
We finally stopped our chat, as it was very cold and the snow was making my little 5” x 3” notebook nearly illegible. I wish everyone out there could spend time with Davie. He is an eccentric fellow who reminds me a little of Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild) in his abandonment of material goods in exchange for his exploration of the US. I got his email address and begged him to keep me posted on how things go. He uses the internet at the public library, which was unfortunately closed today due to the snow storm. I hope he comments here for you all to get a taste of who this very interesting young man is. I will keep you posted on his adventures as well.
UPDATE Jan. 25, 2010: You can see a video update with Davie on Facebook.