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Posts Tagged ‘unemployed’

There’s no blog post today from a Kindness Investorthat’s because we don’t currently have one! 😦

So…I thought I would utilize today’s post to try to find one.

Wanted: 46 unemployed or underemployed individuals who are willing to be Kindness Investors for seven days!  No prior experience necessary, just seven ten-dollar bills and a willingness to reach out to seven strangers and give them ten bucks and find out what they are going to do with it.  Interested candidates can email reed@yearofgiving.org for more details!

 

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Petra did an amazing job last week

I am so happy about how this experiment is going of having a new Kindness Investor every week share their adventures.

Now I have the pleasure to introduce you to Mike from Connecticut.  I “meet” Mike a few weeks ago via email and telephone.  He’s an interesting guy with a knack for painting a verbal picture.  He’s a really nice guy who is searching for work mostly in the sales/marketing area.

Here are Mike’s answers to my questionnaire.

Name: Mike B.

Age? 48 years old.

Where do you live? I live in Cromwell, Connecticut which is right in the middle of the state.

Where were you born? I was born in Schenectady, New York, which is part of the “Capital District”.

What’s the highest level of education you have completed? A BA in Communications, concentration in broadcasting at State University College at Oswego.

Do you have a family? I’m a single guy with no kids here in Connecticut, but have a sister and brother in NY and their families and another sister in Colorado and her family.  My Dad lives over in NY as well and Mom passed away close to 20 years ago.

How did you hear about the Year of Giving? I believe I first heard about the Year of Giving on National Public Radio in April or so of 2010 and started following the blog at that point.

How long have you been unemployed? January is now 19 months since I was employed.

What happened? The national company I worked for (for 21 years) closed six local offices in one day. They were in Hartford, Boston, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia and Houston.  They had previously downsized and outsourced quite a bit prior, but the recession hit pretty hard and they had to make the drastic cuts.

Do you currently volunteer? I do volunteer and very much believe in the power of volunteering.  I currently am focusing time on two main ones, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford and YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea in the Berkshires.

Who have been your biggest influences? I like taking my inspiration and influence from a wide variety of people, but family and friends influence me as well as people that are very passionate in what they believe in and try to accomplish.

What is your favorite food? Growing up I was known as a picky eater, but could find no fault with pizza.  Now as I’m a little older, it’s the smells of fresh baked bread, or a nice garlic sauce that always trigger something in me.  But for a favorite, it would have to be a family recipe of Stuffed Cabbage!  (with sour cream, not tomato sauce)

What is the most meaningful gift you have ever received? It wasn’t necessarily a gift, but the most meaningful thing I ever received was my version of a birthday cake.  When it came time for my birthday,  my mother knew I liked Pecan Pie and so that was what I had, complete with candles and everything!  I don’t recall why it became a yearly thing, but when it came time for my birthday, I could count on one thing, that I was having a homemade Pecan Pie for the celebration. Looking back, it made me feel special on my birthday, and not like everyone else.  And isn’t that what birthdays are for?

Describe your ideal job:  My ideal job would be one I could be proud of performing while following my passion, allowing time off for traveling, getting paid enough to be at my level of comfortability, not have a long commute, and of course helping individuals reach their goals.

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He was sittin’ near the dock of Fisherman’s Bay when I approached Michael.  He was having a smoke, trying to decide how he would eat and get his one change of clothes washed.  It was cold and blowing near the water of Puget Sound in Seattle. Michael was shivering as I walked toward him.

When I asked if he would take the $10 I had extended in my hand he was quick to say “Sure, what do I need to do for it?” and promptly tucked it into a pocket. As I explained the project and that I just wanted to talk to him, he seemed a bit touched by the gesture.

He patted the bench, inviting me to sit next to him. The short horizon before us was filled with fishing boats – owned mostly by independent, small fishermen.

“Most of ‘em are back for the season,” Michael noted.  “It gets mighty cold up there in Alaska during the winter so they come back to Seattle. I used to have a boat-I moored it at Elliot Bay but it got pretty expensive.  I’d fish sockeye…all kinds of salmon, and black cod. There are a lot of fish in that ocean.”

Michael snuffed out his cigarette when I asked him what he thought he would do with the money I gave to him. “Eat breakfast and buy a pouch of tobacco.”

Beneath his knit hat and overgrown scraggly beard, were bright blue eyes, twinkling as he shared his story with someone who actually wanted to listen. He explained how he had broken his foot: He was helping clean up a yard with a high fence. When he tried to jump it instead of going the long way around to the gate, the razor-sharp barbed wire snagged him; he fell from the top and shattered his heel and other bones.  That was six months ago and he’s still in a splint, hobbling about.

“It’s really been a crummy year. I’m unemployed and then had my van towed. I had my camping stove in it, my jeans, shorts, CDs and it’s all gone.  But even before that, I had 45 years of life auctioned off to pay my bills.  Everything went: There were shoes, boots, my potter’s wheel, and a beautiful wooden chest from Thailand that was my grandmother’s. My dad helped me some when I needed money, but you just can’t replace the memories when those things are taken away from you.

“I was a photographer, too. I did poster quality work.  Most of what I shot was of the Pacific NW-the fish, the mountains, the water. Man, I loved doing that. But I’m a survivor.  I’ve seen some tough times before and I bounced back – I will again.” He smiled. He was determined. Somehow he will again have a life he wants.

Today, with a duffle bag, some blankets and one change of clothes he has an advantage because he can just leave – go – hit the road, if he wants. And he’s thinking about it.  With family and some friends who are in San Diego, he may just head south and hang with some pals who are still surfing. In 2006 he was fortunate enough to be surfing in Hawaii; in fact, another one of his skills is that he can build boats, kayaks, surf boards, canoes; he said he was taught by the best of the best.  He paid close attention when the carving and crafting artists were assembling their means of water transportation or sport.  After that, he learned how to paint – anything! Yachts, boats, houses.  He gazed at the marina filled with fishing boats.

“Yeah, it’s true.  I’ve been knocked down many times but then I always managed to get back and prove to myself that I’m the survivor that I am.”

I asked if I could take his picture. Proudly, he agreed. It was only appropriate that he be photographed against a tapestry of boats. He smiled. He had $10 in pocket, a meal on its way, and hopes and dreams in his heart.

Best of luck, Michael!

-Petra from Seattle, WA

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It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Melinda T., our first Kindness Investor for Year 2 of the Year of Giving!  I conducted a brief interview with her and would like to share it with you so that you can get to know her better.

Name: Melinda T.

Age: 31

Where do you live? I live in Xenia, OH.

Where were you born? I was born in Richmond, IN but grew up in New Paris.

What’s the highest level of education you have completed? Some college.  I’m currently taking college courses for nursing.

Do you have a family? I’m married.  No kids, but three dogs.

How did you hear about the Year of Giving? I heard about Year of Giving in an article in the Life&Arts section of the Dayton Daily News.  This article was published in the paper on Sunday December 12th.

How long have you been unemployed? Since the fall of 2009.

What happened? I worked in sales for a company that relocated its office in Vandalia, Ohio to its Headquarters in Norcross, Georgia.  I have been on unemployment since then.

Do you currently volunteer? Yes.  In the past I have done volunteer work with people with special needs.  One of our dogs helps children with autism and ADD at a local organization here in Xenia.  I took Max (the dog) in and the children would read to him.  This has been proven to help the children tremendously.  One day there was a boy there named Bobby who was having a horrible day and they brought him down where Max was and Max got him calmed down.

Who have been your biggest influences? Both of my parents.  They live in New Paris, IN on a grain farm where they lease their land to other farmers.

What is your favorite food? Seafood, especially crab.

What is the most meaningful gift you have ever received? Volunteering….it comes back two-fold.

Describe your ideal job: I want a job where I can feel that I am really helping people.

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After being unemployed for 285 days, I have a special connection when I give my $10 to someone out of work.  According to data released by the US Department of Labor yesterday, unemployment has risen to 9.8% from 9.6% where it had hovered since August.  That represents 15.1 million people who can not find work.  The good news is that we are slightly better off than we were in 2009 at this time when there was 10% unemployment which accounted for 15.4 million people out of work.

Phiona is one of the 15.1 million people searching for work in this country.  She has been unemployed for five months now.  Back in February I recall that the average duration of unemployment was 7.5 months.  I tried to find what it is at now, but couldn’t find an updated statistic on this.  So if she is an average case it will probably be February before she finds another job assuming the rate has stayed similar.  It’s tough out there.

She wants to do project management work for nonprofits.  In addition to her experience in disaster management and post-conflict reconstruction, she did a fellowship at UCLA and got her master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.  She sounds like she is prepared.

Speaking of being prepared…this 28-year-old was certainly prepared when I ran across her talking on her cell phone at the top of the Metro escalators at Dupont Circle.  She had a colorful umbrella next to her and opened that up just as the rain began to pick up – it had been drizzling lightly for a while.

She was quite weary of my intentions at first and asked not to be photographed – even when I offered to photograph her from far away with her face safely hidden behind the umbrella.  That’s just the way it is sometimes.  People are often uncomfortable being photographed, especially if it is going to be uploaded into the cavernous halls of the internet.

Originally from Kenya, Phiona is hoping to go to Africa for the holidays.  When you’re unemployed there is that weird balance of time and money.  When you were working you could afford to travel but didn’t have the time.  Now when you are unemployed you have more time than you could imagine but spending money on travel was always difficult for me.

Anyway, I wanted to share something with you that Phiona said.  We were talking about a variety of different things as the rain fell from the steel-wool colored November sky.  “It’s always somebody else who tells you who you are,” she said.  That’s an interesting comment because it goes along well with a phrase that I particularly like, “perception is reality.”  But is it really true that we are the person that someone else tells us we are ?  I say that we are who we are but we are to others what they tell us we are.  Wow, somebody else could surely phrase that better than I did!  By the way, I don’t think I have ever written a sentence where I used “we are” three times…perhaps I just won a prize or something!

Anyway, she didn’t know what she was going to do with the $10 when we said goodbye but promised to email me and give me an update.  Well, she did just that.  This week I received an email from Phiona letting me know that she bought herself some lunch with $5 of it and gave the rest to a homeless man by the Metro.

Enjoy your weekend!

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This photo is from the video below.

Hey, so some people have been nominating the Year of Giving for the Most Creative Social Good Campaign for the 4th Annual Mashable Awards.  If you would like to vote for the Year of Giving as well, click here!

After 323 days of giving, I naturally gravitate to things that are new or happen for the first time.  Like on Sunday I shared with you a story about me giving my $10 to my dentist – which by the way I got lots of feedback that people don’t like to see teeth on my website!  That was the first time I had given the money to someone in the medical field who saw me as a patient.  On Day 317 I gave my $10 MSNBC morning host Willie Geist.  It somehow mixes things up for me.  Well today I have another “first” as I like to call them. 

I was at a writing workshop that is put on a Borders Books at 18th and L Streets in DC.  For six weeks we would meet and practice our writing.  On this day, Trevor, an unemployed 32-year-old political campaign veteran showed up.  He was very talented.  At the end of the class the discussion turned toward my Year of Giving.  “I’m unemployed and haven’t had dinner yet…I’ll take your ten bucks,” he said to me.  I haven’t ever given to someone who has asked outright for it except for the homeless and street panhandlers.  But I thought sure, why not.

He put a creative spin on his current employment situation.  “I like to think of myself as between jobs…or funemployed…or maybe consulting or freelancing, or maybe I should just call myself an artist.”  Most recently he was working on political campaigns for the Democratic Party.  “I feel like my purpose is to write attack ads against Republicans.”

He’s got a plethora of work experience.  He’s worked in a pornographic book store, has done screen writing and started a nonprofit.  “That one gave me a nervous breakdown,” he said.  “And it job taught me the difference between having a job and a mission.  It’s not good to have a mission.”  I’m not sure I agree with that…maybe I misunderstood what he was getting at.

Currently he is supporting himself with some photography.  He lists Sally Mann of Virginia as a photographer that he appreciates.  She’s got a book called the Deep South that was sitting on the chair next to him.  Trevor offered to photograph the year-end celebration on December 14th…hopefully he’s willing to donate his services for that in the spirit of the project.  

Check out some excerpts from my conversation with him…

Some other random tidbits… Trevor told me that for his 18th birthday he bought himself a pair of custom leather pants.  In London he won $3,000, half of which he spent on a gold lamé suit.  He promised to send me a picture and tell me what he was going to do with the $10, but I haven’t received it yet…maybe he will update us all.  

All in all a pretty interesting guy and wickedly talented …unfortunately we didn’t see him at any more workshops.

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I have hit the streets every single day for the past 225 days searching for someone to give my $10 to.  This journey started out during a difficult time for me.  For the first time since I was 12 (stop calling the Department of Labor, I was a paper boy!) I was out of a job.  Through the Year of Giving I meet so many other amazing people who are in similar situations and every day they look for work or someone who will give them a chance.  Today I met a person who does just that!

Robert (photo: Reed)

Robert Egger is the Founder and President of the DC Central Kitchen, the nation’s first “community kitchen”, where unemployed men and women learn marketable culinary skills while donated food is converted into wholesome meals.  Pretty cool, eh?

At 52, Robert’s life has taken an unlikely course for someone whose dream 30 years ago was to open the quintessential nightclub in the country.  Back then he worked in clubs and bars and even got to see the Ramones and Bruce Springsteen play in what is now the Darlington House in Dupont.  As we walk east along E Street, Robert explains how in 1989 he cooked up this idea to feed the poor after a volunteer experience.  20 million meals later, he and DC Central Kitchen have done a lot of good and given over 700 men and women full-time employment as well!

In one of our tangents, Robert explained how two men covered the entire country painting Mail Pouch signs on barns. One went and made the deals and the other followed painting he barns.

I had seen Robert once before.  He spoke at an event earlier this year and I was so impressed at how he sees the world.  He can take 5 random subject ingredients, toss them together and come up with a coherent message that is meaningful and memorable.  It’s no surprise that he spends a great deal of his time speaking to groups around the country about harnessing nonprofit power.

He was born in the little town of Milton, Florida (population about 10,000) nine months after his parents tied the knot.  “I was a wedding night baby!” he says with a wide grin that reaches outside of his goatee.  “1958 – me, Madonna, Prince and Kevin Bacon!”  Can you name three famous people who were born the same year you were?   I don’t think I can.

One thing you definitely notice about Robert is that he speaks fast.  Trying to walk and jot down notes was nearly impossible so I busted out the Flip camera.  Try to keep up…

As he arrives back at the DC Central Kitchen, a young woman named Becky walks by.  Robert snags her and beams as he tells me what a great job she has done leading their job placement program.  “We placed 20 out of 21 candidates in our last class” Becky says and then hustles back to work.

As she slips out of sight I shift back into my list of questions for Robert.  Before I could even get my next thought conjured up in my head another team member, Quinn, walks by.  Robert pulls him aside and says “I know exactly what I am going to do with this $10 and Quinn here is going to make it happen!”  Quinn’s face looked like most people’s face when I tell them I want to give them $10…a little confused.  But he goes with the flow and Robert explains how giving the $10 to Quinn will impact thousands of people in the DC area.  This is cool, check it out.

Not only is he the President of DC Central Kitchen, but he has parlayed his success as a social entrepreneur into two other related ventures, the Campus Kitchens Project and Fresh Start Catering.  On top of that he founded a political action group that represents the voice of social enterprise and non-profits called V3 and wrote a book (which I just bought!) called Begging for Change that is a plea for reform for the 800 billion dollar non-profit sector.

The guy is busy and keeps an insane calendar, but the chaos of his schedule puts him in front of people all across this country.  And when he is in cabs or waiting for a plane to depart he is updating his twitter and facebook status.  Hopefully you will get the chance to speak with Robert one day – it’s invigorating.  My suggestion if you see him, and you want to try to get him to sit still for a second, is to offer him big-ass margarita made with Herradura Tequila and freshly squeezed lime juice.  Drop me a line and let me know if it works!

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