When my wife, Beth, and I moved from the suburbs to a warehouse loft in the center of a large city, Beth embraced every aspect of urban life -- even the sirens, the parking problems, and the car alarms at night. The homeless people made me nervous, but Beth learned their names. The only neighbors who bothered her were the guys who ran the tattoo parlor across the street. They got into traffic-stopping fights, harassed women on the sidewalk, and intimidated men. They were the reason Beth didn’t walk on that side of the street. For two years she glared out our window at the row of men sitting in front of the shop and fantasized about shooting out their tires. Then one day she called me at work to tell me she was getting a tattoo. She’d never wanted a tattoo before and had even taken pride in being one of ... Read Full Story >>
Neha is the recently-turned-eight year old across the street. Every encounter with her is an Edifying Experience. A few mornings ago she skipped over with her grandmother and our share of homemade Divali sweets. I was en route with basket in hand to our back yard to gather the morning flowers- “Pavithrakka can I also come? I am loving flow-ers very much,” says Neha in her fun, formal, not always grammatically correct but unfailing confident English. Of course I say and we head towards the Coral Jasmine tree out back- a tall slender trunked tree that rains white fragrant blossoms with bright orange stalks on the grass during the nights all year round- but in the monsoon season when it rains it pours and the grass and the ground beneath the tree is literally carpeted in white and orange – blossoms that can be picked up by the careful-not-to-crush fistful. ... Read Full Story >>
In my town in South Asia, every third Wednesday there is a electric shut down from 9AM to 6PM.
Even thought we all knew about it, many of us would forget and not make the adjustments necessary to pull on without a day of electricity.
Well, one of our neighbors had this habit -- he used to call everyone at 7AM to remind us about the power shut down so that we can get things done before the 9AM deadline.
How kind he has been, all these years! Sometimes it is the simplest things in life that touch the soul.
There is an elderly man who lives up the street from us. He has no one to shovel his driveway. He is a bit of a miser so most people aren't so inclined to help. One day, I don't know who did it, but someone used the sticky snow on his driveway to make a whole bunch of snowmen on his lawn facing his front window. They were all smiling and waving and his driveway got cleared in the making of them. As my son and I were walking by, I could hear him grumbling under his breath. "What's the problem?" I asked him. He complained that someone had trespassed on his lawn and made a bunch of snowmen. My son, not knowing what trespass meant, assumed this was a good thing. He said "Wow, sir, that's the biggest bestest present I've ever seen!!" Innocently, he then turned to me asked, ... Read Full Story >>
I work in a bank and have lovely relationships with many of the customers. Its not one of those banks with long lines -- its the kind of bank when you walk in, everyone says hi, we know when your husband has surgery, or the grandkids are coming for the weekend, we know your name and speak like friends. One of my customers in his 70's owns and runs a barber school in East Baltimore. He is connected with several nonprofits and I have 2 nonprofits of my own - we are like kindred spirits! One days, he said to me that I really had to meet his niece in Florida -- Dee. The next day Dee called me and we talked about her projects of gathering blankets for the homeless and pitching in the community wherever there is need. We spoke for over an hour and found out how much we ... Read Full Story >>
Mr Mitchell was our neighbour for a while. He and his wife had been the terrors of the local kids before we came to the square. If a ball went into their garden it was never seen again-- that kind of thing. Well, she was gone now and Mr Mitchell was in his late eighties. The rose garden he had planted for her was an overgrown jungle and that was how I came into his story. I knew he was infirm, but I didn't know if he had any help and none of the other neighbours cared anymore. (They'd put up with it a lot longer than we had.) One summer Mr Mitchell was taken into hospital for a short stay. While he was away I thought he might like to come home to a neat and tidy garden, one he could sit out in on sunny days. Even to get into ... Read Full Story >>
My husband and I are lucky to have landed together in a new country just a month ago. We were sort of afraid about what's in store for us. When we landed at the airport, a tall man with smiling eyes greeted us. The days and months were somehow made easy for us by this kind man. He greeted us everyday with his smiling face. He accompanied us in going to the bank, in buying our groceries, in telling us where to buy paint, where the coffee shop is, where to have key duplication, where to buy almost everything. He told us he is our big brother. Twice, we watched the match in a coffee shop. During the first get together, we saw how his eyes beamed in happiness. He told us that we're lucky - my husband and I are together in this foreign land. He said he has been ... Read Full Story >>
Hello, You dont know me or do you? I cant tell you who I am so just call me Ms Secret Smile.
I have volunteered to send smile cards and I sent out my first batch this week. It was a challenge for me because I am not in the best finacial condition but I wanted to partake so badly. So I committed myself to send smile cards for as long as I can.
There was someone who stood out in my shipping list. The address was litterally around the corner from my home. I had an idea. I was going to give this person 20 of my own smile cards on top of the 10 she would receive from HelpOthers. I also gave a card to her explaining why I bought the cards personally and it was all wrapped up in a ribbon with a smile ballon waving in the air. I placed it in her mail box and rang bell the bell until someone opened the door. With speedy footsteps, I ran away from the home hoping to escape before they came out to look.
I have been smiling all night wondering what she thought.
Sometimes you read a story that just takes root in your heart. Many stories on the helpothers.org website have been like that for me: "I Wish You Enough" by BrightEyes and "An Unforgettable Fishing Experience" by Mike Delyria to name just two. Well this story I'm about to share with you has been growing in the heart of many people on Cape Ann, where I live. It is the story of Jude, a young deaf man with green thumbs and a big heart who recently opened a plant store in our community called The Silent Seed. I first heard about him from my friend Nana who had noticed the new store during one of her walks and was so inspired by the owner that she felt called to draw the whole neighborhood's attention to his work. A few days later, my friend Loretta who lives in a totally different part of ... Read Full Story >>
My cousin Heidi was stricken around age 16 with a debilitating disease, which took her life about 20 years later. As the disease progressed, she became wheelchair bound and unable to easily communicate (I'm not sure of the disease -- it may have been a combination, including Parkinson's). When she was in her late 20's, she would often have her mother take her out into the front yard when the weather was nice so that she could sit in her wheelchair and watch the cars pass by. One day, my aunt was doing dishes and looked out the window to see a car pulled to the side of the road and a man approaching Heidi. In a panic, she ran outside, wondering who this person was that was approaching her daughter. When she arrived where my cousin was sitting, the man was kneeling before her placing a bouquet of flowers in her lap ... Read Full Story >>
Every day I pass by a homeless man on the street near where I attend college. He tells me 'hello' in a cheerful manner, and I always say it back. I give him any extra change I have. He always wears a watch. Not an expensive watch by any means, but it serves its purpose. One day I noticed he wasn't wearing it anymore. I asked him why and he looked down and told me that the battery had died so he threw it away. I knew he couldn't afford a new battery and he certainly couldn't afford a new watch. He stayed on my mind all day, and I knew what I had to do. I went out and bought him a watch. Not an expensive one, but one that was very similar to the one he had. When I saw him the next day, he was smiling and cheerful ... Read Full Story >>
A few years ago, I met an older gentleman while I was out walking dogs. His dog was always out in his front yard so we got to know one another as I would pass by. At the time, his wife was undergoing dialysis at the end of a lifetime of diabletes and I offered to care for his dog on the days he had to take his wife to the doctor. That became a regular thing and eventually, when his wife passed away, we had become friends. This man had no children or close relatives and did not know his neighbors well. Consequently, the loss of his wife hit him even harder than this kind of tragedy ordinarily would have. Since my work hours were (and are) very very long, I could only spend a little time with him, so I started talking to his neighbors when I would see them ... Read Full Story >>
I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ" the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to ... Read Full Story >>
This article has been taken offline by the request of Trustee of the Heinlein Prize Trust regarding infringement of a copyright.
I went to visit my parents this past holiday weekend. During the trip, we went to visit my ailing uncle. He was in the hospital due to a heart attack. It was the second heart attack he had in the last four months and this time the doctors said it is really quite serious. The whole family has been wishing him thoughts and blessings of healing since he is the eldest one in our family and particularly because we hope he can live to see his son's upcoming wedding which is scheduled for next month. As I looked at the situation with all of its uncertainty, I began to think about the life this man lead. He is 60 years old. He has spent his whole life teaching low-income inner city school children whose families are primarily broken, that these youngsters have hope, because hope is priceless. When I went to see him one last time before I left to head back to my home, I brought my uncle a fruit basket with ... Read Full Story >>
After a couple of decades on this planet, many years of soul searching, and studying the "self," I feel that I am finally closer to knowing myself which ironically seems to be a journey which tells me that the more I understand myself, the less it is that I know. I now can say I have truly felt the difference between the deepest agony of the human condition and the highest state of joy. I know from my own experience that the main difference that lies between "you" and "me" is just a feeling, a feeling of being separate, isolated, lonely, lost, versus a feeling of being whole, connected, at home, and loved. I think most people, if not all, live with a kind of homesickness, a sweet nostalgia which they can't quite put their finger on as if they were once in a place that they can't quite remember but desperately, somehow, want to get back to. The mystics have said for over a millennia that in existence there ... Read Full Story >>
My 9-year-old daughter and I were flying from our home in Charlotte, North Carolina, to spend a week with my husband in Miami, Florida. Mike had been in Florida for five months working for an internet start-up company. We were excited about the trip because we had seen him only five times in five months, and Kallie missed her Dad terribly. As usual on the Charlotte-to-Miami flight, the plane was totally full. I had noticed a troop of Boy Scouts at the gate and commented to my daughter that if anything happened, we would be OK with all those Scouts on our flight! Little did I know.... Because we did not get our boarding passes until we arrived at the gate, Kallie and I could not get seats together and were separated by the aisle. That wasn't such a big deal, except that Kallie was nervous about the trip and had counted ... Read Full Story >>
Shopkeeper Tom Algie faced a dilemma over Christmas -- how to give himself and his three staff time off but without letting down his customers. So he came up with a solution to suit everyone: leaving the hardware store open with an honesty box. He left a note telling shoppers who came in on Boxing Day to serve themselves and then leave their payment in the box he had rigged up. Perhaps astonishingly, his plan worked. Trusting shopkeeper Tom Algie wanted a day off and left his DIY store open with a note and honesty box - and returned to find £187 inside When Mr Algie, 47, returned at 4.15pm to close up, he was delighted to find the shop in Settle, North Yorkshire, had taken £187.66 - and two euros. The father of two said: 'I didn't think twice about leaving the shop open. Settle is a lovely quiet ... Read Full Story >>
When I was a young girl, my mother and father divorced which devastated our finances. My mother accepted food from an uncle that worked at a seafood packing plant that offered torn and shredded food for free as they could not sell it. We ate a LOT of seafood. I remember times when my mother would be in such despair trying to spread what little cash she had over the need for groceries to feed us and to this day it pains me to see others in that condition. One day this winter, I dropped into a store to buy a last minute item. It was not my regular store, but it was the one I chose. I think it was chosen for me. Times this winter were very hard on us with the construction industry being so slow, but I felt compelled to do something about the woman and her ... Read Full Story >>
I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight.. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap too,' I thought. Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and Filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan.' After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time.. As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that ... Read Full Story >>
I'm in Africa right now on a peace-keeping mission with the Army. This is my 5th deployment and I volunteered for every one of them (sort of). Anyway, this story is not about me or the army or even Africa for that matter. It's about the way people can become karma aides even when they are in need of it themselves. I subscribed to this online program for soldiers, where we put our addresses on the website and random people write to us and send care packages and thank you letters. I got one the other day that was a letter from a lady living in Pennsylvania. She was thanking us for all we do and telling us how much she prays for the troops. This lady is originally from Russia, married an American soldier and moved to Pennsylvania. She explained all of this in her letter. I was moved by ... Read Full Story >>
I'm an American who has lived in France for nearly 20 years. I've whined and complained with other Americans about how the French are unfriendly, cold, reserved, unavailable for friendship. I've had a hard time making a living here as a psychotherapist and healer and periodically blamed this also on the French. I live in Versailles and for the past 4 years the city has sponsored events for International Women's Day. Three years ago, I moved to a new neighborhood and felt an intense need to meet people so I went to the cinema night for women's day featuring the film with Charlize Theron called "North Country," a film about the first class action suite against sexual harrasement. I was excited about the possibility of finding a way to connect to French women through the discussion we would have after the film, perhaps to make friends, perhaps to get more work. Outside ... Read Full Story >>
Anonymous giving and acts of kindness can lead the giver to a very lonely place in the universe. Like the Lone Ranger or some other disguised hero, we do kind things all the time and so often the people on the receiving end don’t see it or don’t recognize it. Living a life of altruism, in its most ideal form, means setting the ego aside and not doing what we do for credit. Usually, I have no problem with this at all. But there are those days, perhaps when I’m feeling a little weak or drained, where I find myself feeling lonely with it all, feeling like I’m giving, giving, giving, to a world that is in super receiving mode and asleep to what’s being done for them. I get a little discouraged. Even idealized heroes had their inner circle of friends who knew who they really were and what their life ... Read Full Story >>
We are a small town of less than 4,000 people in the mountains of Ecuador . Recently our new organic farmers cooperative started hosting one afternoon a week to exchange our produce and seeds among ourselves...no money changes hands. As of this past week we started to lay our stuff on wooden tables set in a portal on the main square, we hold hands around the table to give thanks to our ancestors who used to do this in ancient times in this country, and we pray in thanks, either out loud or silently according to each one's own spiritual beliefs. Then comes the fun... each person around the table tells and shows what she brought. Each one, in turn, goes around picking and taking what he NEEDS to either feed him/herself and family, and to add to their garden that which is missing. This last Thursday was one such day and some ... Read Full Story >>
My 25 year old daughter moved house yesterday. It wasn't a big move. Just around the corner, in fact. But she was moving from a flat to a house with a little garden so her son would have space to play. The distance was probably too short to justify hiring a removals company, but it was long enough to make carrying all the stuff a real pain. But we didn't have to. A neighbour offered the use of her Transit van. She reversed it up to my daughter's front door, then went home while we loaded it up. Then she came out, drove it to the new house and walked back home for a cuppa tea while we unloaded. Then she did it again. And again. All offers of payment or petrol money was waved aside. My daughter got her a big bunch of flowers later as a thank you. Before I left, I ... Read Full Story >>
California town decides to put kindness on the agenda By Susan Herendeen Wednesday, April 22, 2009 WATERFORD, Calif. — This little town in eastern Stanislaus County may be known for the orchards and dairies that dot its rolling hills, but this week city officials are reminding the 8,100 residents to pass on some good cheer by doing something thoughtful for a stranger, mentoring a youngster or simply being a good neighbor. Thanks to a push from the Waterford Ministerial Association, the city has declared "Random Acts of Kindness" week, which began Sunday and ends Saturday, at the close of a community clean-up day. City leaders may not find a cure for the ills of modern life, like road rage or bullying or the angry remarks that can demoralize a community. But they hope to remind people that kindness can turn strangers into friends. "It's a goodwill kind of thing, to draw attention to the fact ... Read Full Story >>
The first week into our recent visit to US while standing in a long check-out line, my daughter, Meera observed, “Mom, most people here seem to be so friendly. They smile even at strangers. Nobody does that in India”. She was right. Subconsciously I had noticed that as well, though had never vocalized it out loud. I asked Meera if she had noticed any similarities amongst people who smiled at her. She thought about it; I thought about it; and we recalled that most often it was the older generation that was more generous with smiles. Also that African-American store employees not just smiled at us, but also added, “How y’all doing today?” or “You have a good day now”. Taking an early morning walk in a park with my sister, I noticed that almost everyone muttered, “Good morning”, or acknowledged us ... Read Full Story >>
"Some people!" snorted a man standing behind me in the long line at the grocery store. "You would think the manager would pay attention and open another line," said a woman. I looked to the front of the line to see what the hold up was and saw a well dressed, young woman, trying to get the machine to accept her credit card. No matter how many times she swiped it, the machine kept rejecting it. "It's one of them welfare card things. Damn people need to get a job like everyone else," said the man standing behind me. The young woman turned around to see who had made the comment. 'It was me,' he said, pointing to himself. The young lady's face began to change expression. Almost in tears, she dropped the welfare card onto the counter and quickly walked out of the store. Everyone in the checkout line ... Read Full Story >>
Twelve years ago yesterday, my mother gave birth to the most beautiful little girl. We were a broken family with little money. We were given the news that this little girl, who was three and a half months premature, would only have 14 days on this earth. It's hard to understand what kind of feeling you have when you find out that you're losing something that you don't even know. As time went on, the number of days kept growing, which gave us hope. When they said that we could take her home, that's when realization hit. We had no money. I am from a small town with small hospitals, but when you don't have money, you just don't have it. My mother tried for days to get the money, but came up pennyless each time. The case worker was even doing her best. It's sad that it almost felt like we ... Read Full Story >>
There was about 15 of us folks chalking in front of the downtown Berkeley BART station. We started with about ten adventurers and as the momentum increased, we gained more energy, creative inspiration, and people. In the beginning, many pedestrians stopped by us, paused briefly out of curiousity, and for the most part remained rather perplexed by our so-called 'deviant' behavior. However, after we chalked up some cheerful colors and phrases on the beautiful red stones in the area, people came over just to take a peek and see what adults chalkers really do. Folks came by with cameras. Small children pointed at us and tugged the hands of their parents to have them take a look. This one particular man in a suit came out of the station, appearing as if he had had an exhausting day. Yet, he managed to trudge a bit closer to us to read the ... Read Full Story >>