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Posts Tagged ‘tourists’

If you are in DC this morning, get off your computer and run down to the mall and check out the Help the Homeless Walkathon sponsored by Fannie Mae.  If you can’t get out there and still want to help, you can donate by clicking here and selecting your favorite local organization.  I didn’t see Street Sense on the list, which many of you know I support.  They are a small organization that uses their funds wisely and are in need of support…click here to directly donate to DC’s only homeless newspaper.

Today’s recipient I found at Dupont Circle around 8pm on a Sunday night.  Sandra is from La Puente, California.  La Puente is just east of Los Angeles and north of Anaheim.  After attending mass at St. Matthews, her sister Aida went searching for a Whole Foods while Sandra waited for her on a picturesque park bench in earshot of the soothing fountain at Dupont Circle.  “She’s a health nut,” Sandra said referring to Aida.  Then they were planning to go watch Trick or Treaters.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking, “Reed is really behind on posting his blogs.”  You would be correct.  This is from October 31st!

I asked Sandra what brought her to DC.  “I’m in town because she is attending a conference here, the NCURA or something like that!”  It turns out she remembered correctly, it’s the National Council of University Research Administrators

Our Metro system here in DC is pretty good – when it is working!  They had arrived the day before and took the Metro from Reagan National Airport to Dupont.  Well, it turned into an awful ride because they arrived while the hundreds of thousands of rally-goers were trying to get downtown to see Jon Stewart at the Rally to Restore Sanity.  “People were mean,” she said.  “It was a big mistake.”  

Our attention was occasionally side tracked by someone walking by in costume.  There were a lot of people dressed up as bananas?  What the hell is that all about?

Anyway, Sandra is one of the 14.8 million people who are unemployed in the United States.  After her mother passed away in May of 2009, she found herself a little lost and unsure what she wanted to do.  She ended up quitting her job last February to go and live with her father.  “He’s much better now,” she told me. 

“I was doing procurement work and I am not sure that is what I want to do now although I have a lot of experience doing that.  I’m kind of reevaluating my life right now I guess.”  I encouraged her to make the leap and try something she is passionate about.  “I just don’t know what that is though right now,” she said.  I think that is pretty common.  I am very fortunate right now to have two jobs that are mentally and emotionally rewarding.  It’s not worth it in the long run just to go in to work every day just to get a paycheck, although sometimes we find ourselves having to do that to keep the electricity on or to feed our family.

She told me she was going to use the money to help someone else out.  I’m hoping she will update us here on what happened to it.

Sometimes when I approach people at night, especially women, they are intimidated.  You have to be careful.  She made me laugh when I asked her if she was intimidated when I approached her.  “No, not really.”  Hmm…it’s a good thing I didn’t choose bank robbing or something like that for a profession.

The temperature was dropping and I was sure Sandra was chilly being from Southern California.  She was well dressed though; she had on a dark coat and gloves.  Aida arrived and we chatted briefly before I excused myself.  Sandra didn’t want her picture to be taken…so no photo for you today.

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I am still working on responding to so many of your truly inspiring emails and comments.  Thanks so much.  So many of you are planning to participate in June 15th’s Worldwide Day of Giving.  I can’t wait.  The more people you tell the more amazing this could be.  Imagine if this goes completely viral and people all over the world are doing this.  I will tape a short video explaining the Worldwide Day of Giving and post it on YouTube.  Several of you have asked for tips on how to approach someone successfully; I will post some tips and other helpful information on www.yearofgiving.org and on my Facebook page.

Last Saturday I took a walk around the city and spent some time in front of the White House.  I often take it for granted, but it is pretty amazing to be able to walk 10 blocks and sit and relax in front of our President’s home (ok, so sometimes it’s not all that relaxing with thousands of people taking photos).  I found a man sitting on a bench and I approached him to participate in the Year of Giving.  He was with a few other people and said he had to go.  I was disappointed, because he was from Canada and I don’t have any Canadian recipients yet!  (That’s ok, the Caps beat his team in hockey that night!)

Javier and Lindsay with their $10 in front of the White House (Photo: Reed)

Then I found Lindsay and Javier.  If they didn’t know better they would have thought I was stalking them because we later found out that I almost ate lunch at the same place they did, instead I ate across the street.  Anyway, the couple is from Portland and Javier was here attending a geography conference and brought his wife along and made a mini-vacation out of it while grandma and grandpa helped them out by watching their two children.  They went to the National’s baseball game (I was also there…seriously I was not stalking them), toured the US Capitol, took a river cruise on the Potomac (I was also on the river boat…ok, not really, I just made that up), visited several museums, and then ended up sitting on a bench in front of the Obama’s pad at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This couple made me appreciate the city I live in so much.  They were so impressed with how nice people were to them here.  They talk about their impressions of the people of our nation’s capital on this video…which could almost be a commercial for Destination DC!

As for the $10, they plan to give it to one of the nice people that have helped them during their stay.  I walked with them to look for a woman they told me about, “C. Thomas”, who works for DC’s Safety and Maintenance organization.  She was no longer there, but they told me how she helped them earlier in the day and even gave them a hug when they left!  I am going to write to that organization and tell them what an impression Ms. Thomas made on Lindsay and Javier! 

We then walked over to the Metro station where we said goodbye and they headed back to their hotel in upper Northwest, DC.  What a nice couple.  I wish they lived here so they could be my friends.

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