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Posts Tagged ‘working’

-Blog post by Mary J., a Kindness Investor from Houston, TX

I met today’s recipient at Chik-fil-A in Pasadena, TX, while going through the drive-thru with Mom and Jack.  Have you ever had their chicken sandwich? If an investor had approached me about a new restaurant whose feature item was a fried chicken breast with three pickles on a buttered bun, I would have laughed them out of the room.  Now, I probably single-handedly keep the one on Fairmont Parkway in business.  They’re sooooo good.  And they make great iced tea; lemon, no sugar.
 
Chris T. was taking orders outside with a co-worker, trying to keep the growing line coiled around the building moving.  After he took our order, I introduced myself and told him about the Kindness Investment project.  He was very interested and said he’d be happy to talk to me, but didn’t have a lot of time right then to answer all my questions.  I found out he’s working at the fast-food chicken chain while attending college.
 
I gave him the $10 and we agreed to talk later.  He gave me his phone number and I left a message, but he hasn’t returned my call.  I don’t want to hold up the blog, so if/when I hear from him I’ll post an update at that time.

Well, today is my final day of giving.  It went by so fast!  My week as a Kindness Investor was a great experience and one I highly recommend to others, unemployed or working.  The project made me more aware of the many people who pass in and out and around my life every day, whom I never would have thought to talk to.  The experience added a new dimension to giving.
 
I’m now looking forward to meeting the distinguished gentleman dressed in the cream suit who rides his bike near our home, the woman wearing scrubs who walks her young daughter to school every day, and of course, the streetperson with his right leg missing whom I’d planned to include in the project all week.  I’m going to make more time to talk to people while waiting in lines, find out where they’re from, and really make a connection, even if for a few minutes.  I truly believe the electricity generated from each connection made causes a ripple effect that can only add more kindness to the world.
 
In hindsight, the best lesson I learned is that it’s better to pick people who aren’t ‘on the job’ (D’Oh – seems so obvious NOW…).  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the ‘investments’ this week, but I think the best interviews were with those I could spend more time with in a relaxed environment – Patricia and Marcos.
 
I haven’t contacted Patricia to follow up yet – she wants me to meet her daughter and see her great-grandmother’s picture,  but Marcos has become a regular fixture at our house.  We’re on his way home from school and he comes over to walk Jack, borrow books and use the computer.  Turns out his mom makes AWESOME tamales from scratch, along with her own hot sauce, for $8 a dozen.  I’m totally hooked.  If anyone in the southeast Houston / Pasadena area wants some, please let me know and I’ll hook you up, too.  Except for Mama Ninfa’s, they’re the best I’ve had outside of Mexico.

Marcos using the computer at Mary's house.

In fact, Marcos is in the living room with Henry and Jack watching TV as I write this.  I can hear him laughing.  He just inhaled TWO huge cheeseburgers Henry grilled for dinner.  Marcos is a great kid and we’re happy to have him in our lives.  This friendship likely wouldn’t have happened if not for Reed and the Year of Giving project.

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-Blog post by Mary J., a Kindness Investor from Houston, TX

Today was a very hectic day. It was around 2:00pm and I hadn’t had lunch, when I spotted a Popeye’s Chicken drive-thru. I hadn’t eaten at Popeye’s in years and suddenly had a craving for their cajun-style fried shrimp and iced tea with lemon, no sugar.  After paying for my order, the server asked me to move forward and she would bring the food out to me.

As she handed me the bag, our eyes met and I thought, “next kindness investment!”  After explaining the project I was working on, she happily accepted the $10.  I didn’t have a pen on me, so she quickly volunteered to get me one, as well as tell her manager that she would be taking a few minutes to talk to me.

Ana M. was born in Mexico 19 years ago.  She and her parents came to Pasadena, TX when she was only one. She’s single, lives with her parents and four younger sisters and brother.

Ana is studying Nursing at San Jacinto Junior College and hopes to work in Pediatrics after graduation.  She’s been working at Popeye’s for about three years and would like to one day work in a hospital, as she likes helping people, especially children.

When I asked her what she was going to do with the $10, she said she was heading to Starbuck’s next door for her break.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to talk, as another hungry driver was ready to pay for his order, and Ana had to go back in.

A few of Ana’s favorites:

Hobbies:  “I like scrapbooking, spending time with family, and watching movies.”

Movies:  “Anything romantic.  I don’t watch much TV, though.  No time with school and work.”

Music:  “All kinds.  It’s hard to pick a favorite.”

Her greatest wish is to get her citizenship finalized.  “It’s been a long time and I want to be a citizen very much.”

I wish Ana all the best and can tell by her kind, relaxed nature that she will be a great nurse.  Her future patients will be fortunate to have her take care of them.

 

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Kindness Investor: Petra from Seattle, WA

Curran made me so happy. After we’d chatted and I gave him $10 I couldn’t help but tell one of his co-workers in the grocery store, that he made me so happy (even though poor Elle had no idea what was going on).

I’d paid for my modest purchase and couldn’t resist. I walked over to the register where Curran was now helping other customers and gave him a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek. “You have made me so happy!  Thank you.”

Frankly, I don’t think I actually embarrassed him – although I may have. Curran instantly understood what being a Kindness Investor is all about. So, I think he just took my public demonstration of gratitude in stride and smiled, and went back to work. However, my bet is that his smile – both inside and out –has remained with him as long as mine has with me.

Curran is an associate at Trader Joe’s Grocery. Although I had $10 in my pocket, ready to give to someone, I didn’t expect it to be an employee where I was buying my food. But there he was. He just walked up to me. It was kismet.  After briefly explaining the project and extending $10 to him, he was quick to grasp the concept.

“That’s really cool! It’s like paying it forward,” he stated matter-of-factly. I couldn’t help but think I was actually trying to catch-up, karmically. The past few years have been very difficult for me but my own family and friends Kindness Investors have helped me through so many of the extremely rough patches.

Curran grew up in the Portland, Oregon area and moved to Seattle about seven years ago; he’s now 28. He’s been a crew member of this store since it opened two years ago. One thing I know after today’s encounter, if I were in need of any kind of crew member, I’d want it to be someone like Curran.

“I got engaged on December 22nd,” he proudly announced. “We are hoping for a November wedding in Hawaii. We want a small ceremony and it’s really exciting.”

He and his fiancé have a three-year-old girl named Hayden (OMG, I can only imagine how lovely they both are). “It’s an amazing feeling.”

“What is?” I inquired.

“Settling down. Everything. All things are just lining up. I must’ve done something right.” He was beaming. Proud. Excited. Grounded.

Although he has no pets (you know I had to ask!), he loves dogs and hopes to add one to their family when they can.

As far as what he plans to do with the $10? He didn’t miss a beat when I asked. “I think I’m going to buy bouquets of flowers to keep the random act of kindness going. Won’t that be cool to make people smile with a beautiful arrangement of flowers? I’ll just hand them to people like you gave this $10 to me.”

Earlier when I was taking Curran’s picture, Elle had stopped by to get the string of beads which he had been wearing. Evidently the person donning the au natural necklace indicates to customers that s/he is available to assist and answer questions. Later when I ran into Elle said that Curran had briefly told her about our exchange and the money.

“I wonder what he’s going to do with it?” she asked.

“I don’t know…I guess you’ll have to wait and see,” I replied with a smile.

Who would think that three minutes and $10 with Curran (or any of those with whom I’ve spent time as a Kindness Investor) would make me so very happy?

Oh, I mentioned that, didn’t I?

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Being a Kindness Investor is a very interesting study in human nature. Especially my own. Especially when I allow myself to follow my gut and not my mind’s predetermined plan. For instance, my intention to give away my fifth $10 was specific: I was on my way to Ray’s, a well-known Seattle restaurant with a breath-taking view of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. On my way, I kept catching glimpses of an exceptionally clear, majestic day which was hosting glistening water and a horizon boasting one long dance of snow-capped peaks.

 

John holding his newspapers in front of his truck.

As I descended off a main road, preparing to make a left turn under a bridge to get to Ray’s, there stood John at the corner, several cars ahead of me. In that instant, my plans completely changed. I had to talk to him.

 

I made a U-turn, and then pulled around and under the bridge to park. John was clearly a bit confused as to why I was getting out of my car and approaching him. I’m sure I’d seen him before at this well-traveled intersection, but until that day, I never saw him.

John is one of hundreds of Seattle’s homeless people who sell Real Change, a weekly newspaper dedicated to advancing not only the facts (instead of assumptions) about those who are living on the streets, but also providing a safe and legitimate way for them to make money (as opposed to holding a sign or otherwise asking passers-by for spare change). When I meet a person who is offering this newspaper and asking that I purchase it for $1, I also see a badge which indicates that s/he is a bona fide participant in the Real Change extended family.

On the day I met John, the wind seemed to gather even more momentum as it whipped around the cement columns and twist through the underpass where we spoke. John’s pickup was parked near the corner where he stood patiently, albeit freezing, hoping that those who were sitting snugly in their cars would not ignore him at the stop light and perhaps buy his newspaper.

John was more than happy to accept my $10. He pointed to his truck. “I’ll probably buy some gas for my truck or propane because I live in the back-in the camper. There are a few of us who park over there in an empty parking lot at night and we use the propane to keep warm. No, I don’t light the propane in my camper,” he continued as my brow knitted in obvious concern.

“I’ve been homeless for about 12 years. I’m 43 and it all began after a very bad divorce. I lost everything, including my daughter.” John had lived a warm and productive life in Tennessee where he had a business – a store which sold everything from carpet to hardware supplies.

“We lived on a 12 and a half-acre farm. My ex-wife and her family are rich. But they wanted me gone and to keep me down. So here I am.”

I was struck by John’s optimism and confidence. Throughout our conversation he quoted several verses from the Bible which punctuated a point he was trying to make. His breath left a wake of steam as he spoke.

“I really need a job. I have a lot of experience doing many things. So if you or anyone you know needs help with building or painting or any of that kind of thing, please think of me.” John ran back to his truck and returned with a one page resume which was clean and professional. “They help us with our resumes at the office (of Real Change).”

When I asked him about staying at homeless shelters, he didn’t actually diss them but offered his own observation. “In a shelter they label you.  You’re a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or just plain crazy. Hey, I’m just out of work. Besides, I like living and sleeping in my own place – as humble as it is.” He gestured to his truck again.

Throughout the years, John had been to Texas where he worked off-shore on a boat fishing, but that didn’t stick as two of the guys were drunks. He had part-time job at the post office and then decided to move to California.  There, he had a sleeping bag, a tarp, and a man who helped him out by hiring him for some construction jobs.

He was quick to give the staff of Real Change a lot of credit. “This newspaper and the organization – what they do – has helped me in so many ways. I’ve been able to buy clothes and food because of it. They give me four papers free and I buy the rest for $.35 a paper. I sell it for $1, so I make $.65 off each one.”

While John’s day was just beginning, my ear lobes were bright red and my nose was running from the biting cold. And I grew up in Minnesota where this day’s weather was SOP!

I asked if he could use a blanket. “Always,” he replied with a smile. I ran back to my car and pulled a small blanket out of my emergency car kit and handed it to him. Then I remembered that I needed to buy the paper. I offered John $5 for a copy of his Real Change, he said no-I’d already given him $10!

“That was a Kindness Investor gift. This is for the paper. And since I don’t have change, please take the $5.” He did.

A hug and “good luck” was the only appropriate way to say good-bye to John. He smiled and waved as I climbed back into my car and hit the fan which blew warm air over my face and hands.

Driving home I was once again overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness. Not because I was returning to my own warm home with (some) food in the fridge and an inviting bed. I was grateful that I met John and had an opportunity to learn about him, his life, and ambitions. He really does have a striking resume. I hope I will someday be in a position to hire him. That would make me even more happy.

-Petra from Seattle, WA

 

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I was rich! I had $4 in my right pocket which I was going to splurge on me, Me, ME. In the other pocket was a crisp $10 which I would give to someone-although I did not yet know who it would be, I was confident I would find the “right” someone who would appreciate a little extra coin.

In Seattle, one of the best Goodwill stores is north of the city itself in a neighborhood called Ballard. And I was off to find treasures for the New Year!  After all, weren’t people discarding of the old as they’d just brought in the new from Aunt Gladys and co-worker Andy? And I knew that someone else’s “old” would be a treasure for me.  Besides, they were having a sale!

This Goodwill store was all a buzz on the first day of the New Year. The employees were working very hard to dust off and carefully place all of the newly donated items.  As I checked the shelves and racks for what I might possibly need, I carefully observed these hard workers.  They were fast!

Alas, I’d found a blanket for my doggy and very shabby chic flower vase for $.49, so I was happy. I brought my new treasures to my car and returned to the store to find the tall young man I’d spotted earlier working  so hard.

Finally I caught his attention and asked if he could help with my project. Sadly, he was being distracted by fellow staff and – surely – his boss to keep moving.  But when I presented the crisp $10 bill and asked if he would take it, his eyes lit up, a huge smile consumed his face and he – admittedly a bit perplexed and under pressure to get back to work – slipped the bill into a pocket.

As employees and fellow shoppers whirled about us, I tried to glean some back ground information about Mohamed A. who is 23 and attending Shoreline Community College.  He hopes to graduate with a degree in radiology. But that, he informed me, probably won’t happen until 2012.

He and his family moved to the United States in 2000 from Somalia. Their first home was Phoenix, Arizona but evidently the consensus was that it was much too hot for them. So, about two and a half years ago, they set out for Seattle. I doubt they are often bothered by any extreme heat here in the Emerald City.  Perhaps a few days in the summer when it reaches a suffocating 86 degrees, but even that is rare. For many Seattleites, we do not have air conditioning in our homes; it usually doesn’t warrant the investment of an extra appliance – save a western facing bedroom, perhaps. And of course if that is needed, the only place to go is the Ballard Goodwill for a great deal on a gently used window air conditioner.

So here he was, a tall, strong, young man, working hard to ensure the heavier items were set in place. Once again, someone called for Mohamed’s help so I knew I was required to let him return to his work.  As I took his photograph, I asked what he thought he might do with his $10.

“Buy lunch!” he gleamed.

And there you have it. On my first day of 2011, I was given the honor of buying a hard-working young student – an immigrant who came to secure a better life – lunch.

What a wonderful day.  What a wonderful world.

Best of luck, Mohamed!

-Petra from Seattle, WA

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Ernest decided to donate his $10 to charity.

Sadly day 14 is here which means this is my last day of participating in the Year of Giving.  I met Ernest today at our local hospital.  When I walked in Ernest was mopping the floor.  A never-ending job since we have snow on the ground again.

Ernest has worked in the housekeeping department at the hospital for two years.  His favorite part of his job is that it gives him the opportunity to meet many people and he likes helping those visiting the hospital.  Ernest said he was going to donate the money to a charity.  He wasn’t sure which charity yet, he was going to think of one as he finished mopping the floor.

I chose the hospital as my place for donation today as I feel very fortunate that I was recently offered a position with Hospice of Dayton.  I start working with them next week and am really looking forward to the opportunity to not only get into the health care field but also work in the area I’m most passionate about which is helping others.

I would like to thank Reed for the opportunity to touch the lives of people in my area for the last two weeks.  Meeting the 14 people I met during this journey was extremely rewarding to me, I can only imagine how rewarding the experience was for Reed having the opportunity to meet 365 different people.

If anyone reading this is unemployed I encourage you to send an email to Reed right now and participate in a week of giving.  I’m sure you will find the experience rewarding.  You will be amazed at the people you meet and the stories of their lives they are willing to share.  It’s such a rewarding experience.  I feel very fortunate being given the opportunity to not only kick off the second Year of Giving but also having the opportunity to participate for two weeks.

-Melinda T. from Xenia, OH

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Gary, like Kristen from Day 346 who also works for CVS, donated his $10 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Today I was in CVS and saw Gary S. the manager at my local CVS stocking shelves.  Gary always has a very enthusiastic attitude toward his job.  As I walked toward him he greeted me with his normal warm and enthusiastic hello.

I told him about the project which he thought was amazing and accepted the $10.  He said he was going to donate the money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital because it’s a charity that CVS is very passionate about.

Gary has worked as a Manager at CVS since April 2010.  Before working for CVS he spent 30 years working for Taco Bell as Manager, District Manager and at the end of his term he was a franchisee co-owner for 12 Taco Bells.

He retired and spent a few years enjoying retirement life and decided retirement wasn’t for him.  He was going stir crazy, plus he needed healthcare.

He loves his job because he is involved in both the retail portion as well as the pharmaceutical portion of the business.  He also loves the customers and how passionate they are for the company.

-Melinda T. from Xenia, OH

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