Well.....I just couldnt WAIT to try out my smile cards. Last week I set out on my nightly outing -- to a meeting, and then to spend some time with my best friend. I told him I wanted to use my smile cards. First stop, the Dollar Store. I bought 2 nice candle jars with thoughtful things written on them. Next up, 7 Eleven. We parked and looked for someone to give a candle and card to. A woman had just gotten gas and was walking into the store. I hurriedly got out and ran over to her car, put the candle and card on top where she couldn't miss it, and ran back to my truck and waited. When she came out, she saw it, looked around, and acted like she was afraid to touch it! Another man getting ... Read Full Story >>
Last weekend I volunteered at our local shelter to serve meals to the hungry. I convinced a classmate of mine, a woman who is older like myself to come along for the experience. Her life consists of school, playing golf as a semi-pro, and generally living a very comfortable and protected lifestyle. I assume everyone has seen the hungry, the needy, the homeless, the less fortuanate in our society but the assortment of folks at the shelter seemed to trouble my friend. She was aprehensive about getting physically too close when she was serving meals and she was also full of questions. She made observations such as, "They look like they do drugs", "I assume a lot of them have alcohol problems", "Some of them seem like they are retarded." Once everyone is fed, staff/volunteer's can also eat from the leftovers. We were told there was enough and that we should ... Read Full Story >>
When I was working as a waitress at a small resturant by the highway, an older gentlemen came in to purchase a cup of coffee. I recognized him because he was the gentleman who lived under the bridge that was just down the street.
When he came in, he placed a crumpled dollar on the counter and asked if that was enough. I told him it was plenty, went to get his coffee and handed him a menu at the same time. He looked at me confused and I told him to order what he wanted.
After his meal and a to-go bag with a fresh cup of coffee, he smiled and left. But as I was cleaning up his place, I noticed the crumpled dollar on the counter.
I stood there and cried because I knew this was probably all he had.
I placed the crumpled one in my apron and pulled out a ten; I asked a friend to catch up with him and give him something from me. I never saw him again but his smile stays with me even today.
I was standing near a store window, waiting for my friend with whom I was supposed to find materials for our college assignment.
I was waiting for quite long, when I noticed an old woman sitting in front of me. She looked very weak and poor and was rummaging through garbage cans looking for food.
Since many people work as garbage collectors, I thought that maybe she was one such person and didn't want to degrade her self esteem by asking if she wanted any food.
Our eyes met and I smiled at her. I don't know why, but she suddenly came to me and said that she was feeling very hungry and didn't have any money. It was evident that she wasnt a beggar but just that her circumstances were tough.
I went to a store in the next street and bought her some food that she could eat immmediately, and a bunch of fruit that she could eat over the next few weeks.
She looked very pleased and blessed me, making *me* feel very happy for a long time.
On my way to work,my eyes wander to various sights
There always sits a beggar man next to a shop
He sits outstretching his arms
I dig in my pocket to give him alms
The beggar man is my everyday sight
He gives me a smile that is just so right
We are blessed with everything in life
Yet we do not smile as if there is a strife
The beggar has wealth nor health
Yet the smile on his face is heartfelt
For sometime the beggar man is seen nowhere
I feel something missing,
I look around and stare
The shopkeeper tells me he died
Silently I pause,he will no more be in my sight
I will miss him,I do not know why
Seeing him was a habit,
I feel to cry
The beggar man taught me to smile and to forget lifes worry awhile
***based on a true story
V.P. Menon was a significant political figure in India during its struggles for independence from Britain. Eldest son of twelve children, he quit school at thirteen and worked as a laborer, coal miner, factory hand, merchant, and schoolteacher. He talked his way into a job as a clerk in the Indian administration, and his rise was meteoric-- largely because of his integrity and brilliant skills in working with both Indian and British officials in a productive way. (...) Two characteristics stood out as particularly memorable -- a kind of aloof, impersonal efficiency, and a reputation for personal charity. His daughter explained the background of this latter trait after he died. When Menon arrived in Delhi to seek a job in government, all his possessions, including his money and I.D., were stolen at the railroad station. He would have to return home on foot, defeated. In desperation he turned to ... Read Full Story >>
There is a big tree in my house where several kilograms of tamarind are available during the right season. Since tamarind is staple food for the South Indian diet, many poor people collect fallen tamarind fruit and dry it to preserve it for the next year. That way they don't need to buy it from the shops. Unlike other houses that have tamarind trees, my parents never shoo away the tamarind pickers from our house. In fact, several urchin children come to my house too and they happily collect the tasty fallen tamarind and nibble them like candy. It's almost become a kind of tradition. I even remember my grandfather actually opening the gate for the street children to pick tamarind! The other day, my mother called an old lady who had come near our gate to discreetly pick tamarind. My father looked aghast, thinking that she was calling the old lady to tell her ... Read Full Story >>
I know that the title is little curious. But the scary homeless man is even more curious. I have lived in Mayport Florida for about three years. Every day, leaving work, coming home and running errands, I pass this homeless man with two shopping baskets full of his treasures. Except for about 2-3 months of the year (and I'm not sure where he goes during that time), he is always around, never to be missed. Anyhow, the reason I call him a scary man is because my son and I are often together when we see this man and he's always talkin to him self and staring at people with an awkward look. He talks loud and much of what he says does not make sense. With his two carts filled to the top, he's there just talking away. It's intimidating. My wife and I are always talking about his misfortune and how ... Read Full Story >>
I have this college friend, Eric. One thing used and still does always intrigue me about him is how he deals with the poor. We have a lot of poor homeless people that come walking around our neighborhood day in and day out, either collecting stuff from our trash to recycle or physically coming to the door to ask for anything. Walking to and from class you pass by at least 4-5 of them daily. Most of the time, the constant rush against time makes me pass by them without noticing, but Eric would always take the second (even if he's in the middle of an important conversation!) to take out his wallet and give him/her a dollar. This may not seem like a big deal, because most students are USC have a dollar to give away. Sure, Eric also isn't dead broke, but like all of us film school ... Read Full Story >>
I started walking from school to our house when I was in 4th grade. By that time, my allowance was just 10 pesos (about 2 dimes) -- just enough for a tricycle fare (which is 5 pesos).
After I crossed the highway one very hot noon, I saw a very thin man, with a can beside him for alms. Just ten steps after him was the stand where ice cream was sold for 5 pesos.
My heart was struck but my mind wanted ice cream.
I stopped to think for a while. "If I buy an ice cream and give the man my fare, he won't be able to by anything that could satisfy his hunger. But if I let down my cravings and give him my ten pesos, he can buy rice and put some soy sauce to taste."
I don't know why but I didn't want anyone to see me do my kind act, so I dropped the coin silently and ran to my house with a smile.
I will not forget that moment forever, that feeling that lifted my heart. ^___^
[An Invitation From 2004] It's that time of the year again. Yup, V-real's birthday ... this Friday, January 9th. As you probably know, V-real isn't much into celebration of particular days more than others. But we have a creative way to bend the rules for his 25th. First of all, can you make it to our house this Friday at 7:30PM? I know it's really short notice but hey. ;) Secondly, in the spirit of thankfulness for your friendship with V-real, would you be willing to do an act of random kindness for someone, somewhere, somehow? Then, on his birthday, we'll blow some candles, eat cake and share stories of our experiences ... as a gift to him. It's a unique request, but V-real's a unique guy. Because of my unending gratitude for having him as a brother, right after I got my first job, I used to get him everything ... Read Full Story >>
Originally posted in Ode Magazine It's Saturday night in the Paris métro. Two friends, Etienne and Sophie, are on their way to dinner. After sitting down in the crowded train, they discover the body of a homeless man curled up at their feet. How did he get there? How long has he been lying there? Is he dead? They look around: Everyone avoids looking at the body. Nobody has any idea how to handle this situation. Etienne and Sophie don’t know what to do either. In a study done in the 1970s, young Christian seminarians were assigned to teach a course on the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). To make sure they would be in a hurry just like the priest and the Levite in the Biblical story, who didn’t stop to help a man in need, the researchers gave them directions to their classrooms that allowed them only enough ... Read Full Story >>
I am a single mother of a darling 6 year old girl, Haley. With a six year old come a lot of questions! Who is that? What are they doing? Why? Where...and on and on. I love her questions! Sometimes I do not have an answer, sometimes we brainstorm the possibilities of what may be together. Children are very, very observant and have excellent memories! One example that comes to mind is right around Christmas last year. We were heading out to her Grandma's house -- an hour drive, so lots of time for chatting! We were waiting to get on the freeway when she noticed a homeless man, no sign in hand. "Mom, is that man homeless," she asked. I told her I believed he was. We got on the freeway and away we went. She was pretty quiet in the back on they way there. We spent a ... Read Full Story >>
Today was a rainy day and I was walking down the street feeling blessed. I felt like doing something kind for someone else, almost as if I was trying to spread the abundance of love I was receiving. I suddenly saw this teenage girl dressed in tattered clothes, getting soaked and without any footwear. She was making her way through the dirty garbage and sewers, trying to pick something that would be of use. I immediately told her to wait for me there as I ran home to get her something. Spontaneously, I took off my shoes, which I really love, wrapped them up in a plastic cover and gave it to the teenage girl on the street. The girl looked shocked as if she is so not used to this kind of kindness. She almost couldn't believe it. A distinguished musician who lives down the street corner stopped his car to ... Read Full Story >>
I was not employed at the time and I was getting help from the government by getting food stamps. One day, I was walking to the store when I noticed a little man sitting on a bench across from the store. I walked past him but could not stop thinking about him. I turned around and went up to him and asked him if he was ok. He said no. He said he hadn't eaten in 2 days. I told him, "Dont worry, I'll be right back." I turned back again and asked him what he would like. He said it didn't matter. I then asked him to tell me what he hadn't had in a long time. He said "a Pepsi". I went into the store and got him a loaf of bread, some lunch meat, chips, cookies -- enough food for a few days. The store I had gone ... Read Full Story >>
[ One of my favorite stories from Paulo Coelho’s 'Like the Flowing River', in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.]
My wife and I met her on the corner of Rua Constante Ramos in Copacbana. She was about sixty years old, sitting in a wheelchair, lost in the crowd. My wife offered to help her and the woman accepted the offer, asking us to take her to Rua Santa Clara.
There were a few plastic bags hanging from the back of the wheelchair. On the way, she told us that they contained all her belongings. She slept in shop doorways and lived off handouts.
We reached the place where she wanted to go. Other beggars were gathered there. The woman took out two packets of long-life milk from one of the plastic bags and gave it to the other members of the group.
“People are charitable to me, and so I must be charitable to others,” she said.
I recently received a $100 pay-it-forward award from Karma Kitchen, where I volunteer occasionally. It's a gift-economy restaurant where everyone pays what they want, for the person after them. On nights when more money is received, it is distributed as pay-it-forward awards from which we have to do something good in our community. So on Labor Day, I invited my two friends -- Hafeez and Mita -- to Berkeley to put $100 to good use. I placed the order at Southside Bongo Burger, but then restaurant owner called me back. "You want what? $100 worth of Burgers?" the owner queried me on the phone. I suppose he wanted to confirm it was a real order and not some sort of fraternity prank. :) "Yes, yes," I explained. "We recently received $100 gift to pay-it-forward. So three of us wanted to give a personalized, gourmet treat to our homeless brothers and sisters ... Read Full Story >>
On Nov 11 of 2006, I made a deal with myself that I would give $1 to every homeless person who asked. Call it a moment of clarity or whatever, but I woke up from a rough night of partying in Vegas and just felt like this model of taking wasn't working for me anymore. Still, to be honest, I embarked on this experiment thinking that I would just bleed money, that there would be 20 or so homeless people a day coming up to me in NYC and that I would run out of money soon. This never happened. When I returned to NY, it took 8 days before I walked past a homeless person who asked me for some spare change. And by that time I had seen the folly of my own mind and was more than happy to part with a measly dollar. It wasn't about the money, ... Read Full Story >>
There’s a park that runs through the centre of Edinburgh. Sitting beneath Edinburgh Castle, the Princes Street Gardens are full of families, sunbathers and, of course, ice cream stands on sunny days. The weekend my wife and I spent in Edinburgh was scorching. We had an amazing time, seeing the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and being entertained by street performers along the Royal Mile, all rehearsing their acts for the Edinburgh Festival of the Arts. Well, all good things must come to an end. So, we packed our bags and left the hotel. The gardens were empty at this time of day so we decided to walk through them on the way to the station. That’s when I saw the old fellow. Picture a “salty old sea-dog” with deeply lined face and bushy white beard. He was wearing the tattered remains of several coats, which seemed to be lined with black, plastic bin ... Read Full Story >>
Today has been a great kindness day for me. I brought an extra banana on my drive into the office and gave it to the homeless man at the corner. I bought coffee for the hurried woman in front of me, who smiled and had a little bit better day if only for a few moments. I sent 5 thank you notes to people who have done simple things for me in the past few days. And my daughter and I made smile rocks and sent them to a special friend in need.
How does this pertain to you? Because every single one of my acts today was because of something I read here! A special friend made a difference for me today when she sent me a great note and some karmabucks. A special thank you to her for making my day today!
Your comments, stories and kind acts make all the difference, even when you don't know it. Your words touch more hearts than you know and cause others to pass it on. Keep it up everyone! I am a better person having had my life touched by you all. I plan to continue following your lead and look forward every day the inspiration you provide to me! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!
I used to work at a warehouse that was down the street from a homeless shelter. It was right next door to a little gas station where they made breakfast sandwiches daily and I would walk over before my shift started and get a sandwich and a coke every morning. There was always someone or the other standing around outside asking for money to get something to eat. As a single mother I rarely had money to spare but sometimes I would give them my change until I noticed most of them would go inside and buy a beer with the money instead of food. I stopped giving out my change and just told them I didn't have any. One day as I was walking out of the store, I noticed an old black man who was obviously homeless. However, interestingly, he was always wearing a nice suit and tie ... Read Full Story >>
I struggle with money in that I don't have a lot of it. I hate how we are so dependent on it and yet we need it in order to survive - we need to pay rent, buy food, etc. It's a daily struggle, but we all have to do it. Before I went back to school I was living in Toronto as a waitress and yoga teacher and was making some decent money. My partner and I decided to start taking 10 per cent of our tips from waiting tables and giving it to people in need. I have numerous stories of how I saw this process of giving away larger quantities of money every month make shifts in people's lives. Although the money was a sort of "bonus" to people, it was also recognition of THEIR struggle and a reminder that someone cared - even if it was a ... Read Full Story >>
Nearly thirty years ago I was a trainee engineer based in Liverpool. I was hundreds of miles from home, but I had a nice place to live, wasn't overworked, had a good bunch of friends and plenty of money in my pocket. One Saturday morning I decided to walk into Liverpool city centre and buy myself something. I didn't need anything, I was just going to spend some money! The walk was about four miles and took me through Toxteth, an area which two years later would erupt into rioting, largely because of the poverty of the place. I stopped into a newsagents/general store to buy myself some sweets for the walk. While I was making up my mind the door opened and in walked this "ragamuffin". She looked like she might have been four years old (at the most), was wearing a summer dress and sandals even though it was a bitterly cold day, ... Read Full Story >>
This was a story I wanted to share with you, from a woman who helps the homeless. I am a mother of three and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called, 'Smile.' The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake. Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald's one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of ... Read Full Story >>
Today while driving to the grocery store we saw a woman standing with a sign "Family fallen on tough times" by the side of the road. Usually we give the person some food or fruit that we have with us or a bottle of water. Frantically rooting around for a snack, my son and I could not find anything in our bag and by that time the light had changed. I said out loud, "I only have a $20 bill in my wallet. Too bad, because usually I would give away dollar bills if I had any." I told my son that we would give something to her on the way back if she was still there. Well, she was still there and on the way back I gave her a smile card wrapped in my only cash-- the $20 bill. There were cars behind me so I had to drive off quickly (to avoid ... Read Full Story >>
Let me tell you another story. It’s not a mythic story; it refers to a real event, which I attach great importance to, which was told to me when I was teaching a class at a business school in Mexico. I was teaching a class in business ethics, and we were dealing with the question, What is a good human being? Can you be a successful businessman and also be a morally good man or woman at the same time, or do these two goals work against each other? Or to what extent do they coincide and to what extent do they oppose each other? It’s a very interesting question, and a very central question for our society now in all kinds of ways. At a certain point during the discussion, one of the students -- a young man of about thirty -- described an event that took place at Christmas. ... Read Full Story >>
One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However,he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it so slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?" "You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for kindness." He said, "Then I thank you from the bottom of my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in humanity grew stronger as well. He had been ready to give up ... Read Full Story >>
I am a New Yorker, born, raised and residing. We know how much money beggers make a day. One begger can get about a dollar per 20 people who pass, either in the form of a dollar or in change from several people. In New York, you can easily get a minimum of 500 people within a 2 hour period passing you. That is basically 40 dollars every 2 hours. The number rises if you're in front of a restaurant , a really busy street, or in the subway. Do the math and you can see beggers make more money begging in a day than some people with jobs. I never give money to people -- never. But last night around 3 am, I stopped at a Mc Donalds in Harlem to use the bathroom. I saw him in the door waiting for me to head over to him so he could open the door ... Read Full Story >>
Just recently, there was a man standing near the islands in the gas station when I pulled in. I had recognized him from before, when I saw him trying to cross 4 lanes of traffic with crutches. He still had his crutches with him. When I got out of the car he politely asked me if he could pump my gas. I said, no thank you and continued on. I started to notice he asked other people the same question, and I realized he was doing it for money, but he wasn't getting any. As I looked at him, he seemed genuinely worn out and running low on energy. As I passed by him to go inside, he smiled and commented on how hot it was. I agreed, and asked him if he had walked here. He said yes, he is trying to get donations to be able to keep ... Read Full Story >>
I was visiting my sister a couple of weeks ago and it was snowing hard, in between bursts of icy raindrops. My husband and I dived into a coffee shop for a quick burst of heat. Sitting there watching the rain run down the window and people battle with their umbrellas all I could focus on was the one girl standing outside of the shopping centre selling a homeless magazine. Her approach wasn't pushy, just to ask if anyone wanted to buy it and then avert her gaze to the puddles on the ground. So many people walked past weighed down by bags of goodies from the sales that I began to feel quite sad. I sent my husband back to the counter to buy her what I had just enjoyed -- a big hot chocolate with cream. Her smile melted my heart when I handed it over to her. She was foreign so ... Read Full Story >>