Extend Your Hand, Don’t Point It

ANCHORAGE — Kenyada Waters was driving through town when she noticed a man on the side of the road. He was holding up a cardboard sign that read, “Laid off 2 long. Anything helps.” Waters noticed all of the cars in front of her drove right past him.

Something in her told her to stop and hear his story.

The man introduced himself as Richard and explained his situation. He told her how he’s been a tree-trimmer for nearly 20 years but found himself down on his luck after getting laid off.

Richard said his cellphone was cut off because he ran out of money. Standing on the side of the road with a cardboard sign was his last resort. He told Waters that people would drive by him and yell out, “Get a job you stupid, lazy bum!” Richard told Waters that he had submitted over 20 job applications but since his phone was turned off, he wasn’t able to hear back.

Waters says his story inspired her to help. She decided to pay for two months’ worth of cellphone service for him. “This man cried in AT&T!” Waters said.

As soon as his phone powered back on, there was a job opportunity waiting for him in his text message log.

“It might be you one day!” Waters wrote on a GoFundMe page she has set up for Richard.

“Extend your hand don’t point it!”

Enjoy!

This story originally appeared in USA Today:

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Paris Open Doors

Paris residents warmed the Internet’s collective heart Friday night by using the hashtag #PorteOuverte, or “open door,” to offer shelter to strangers left stranded after at least six deadly attacks sent the city into chaos. A few hours later, people across the U.S. returned the favor with a hashtag of their own: #StrandedinUS.

PARIS

The hashtag #StrandedinUS began trending overnight Friday into Saturday with offers from Americans willing to help Parisians having trouble making their way back home due to airline cancellations or delays. People offered up beds, couches and hot meals to French nationals in need.

Those having trouble making their way back to France were also encouraged to use the hashtag to ask for help.

 

graphic credit: unknown, information credit: NBC News

 

Homeless Man Gives Beyond His Means

A community in British Columbia is feeling warm and fuzzy after a homeless man’s generosity inspired residents not once but twice over the past two weeks. First, the unidentified man with little to his name found a suitcase with $2,000 in it on a street in Victoria, but turned over the cash to police believing it was “the right thing to do,” authorities tell the CBC.

As the story spread, Mike Kelly of website Victoria Buzz began fundraising to help the guy out and donations flooded in, totaling $5,000—including $255 donated by kids who’d opened a lemonade stand, CTV News reports. But finding the Langford man in his 60s proved difficult. “It’s not easy tracking down a person of no fixed address and no phone, but I kept trying,” says officer Alex Bérubé. “I was touched by the story.”

After hours of searching on and off the clock, Bérubé finally found him on Monday and told him of the money that was his if he wanted it; he didn’t. “Instead of asking how to collect it, he asked me how to donate it” to a local homeless shelter, Our Place, and other food service providers for homeless people, Bérubé says.

Officers told the man to think over his decisiLangford_Letteron, but when he visited a police branch thenext day, his choice was the same. In a handwritten letter, he described his intentions for the money—though he also made one small, additional request: He asked for a job. Kelly says he plans “to do everything I can to help find him a job that fits his personal situation” and is soliciting help.

Enjoy!

This story originally appeared in Newser:
http://www.newser.com/story/208928/homeless-man-turns-down-5k-in-exchange-for-this.html

More:
http://www.gofundme.com/x2y2ajk

http://www.victoriabuzz.com/homeless-man-who-turned-in-over-2000-asks-victoria-buzz-to-help-find-him-a-job/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/homeless-man-who-turned-in-2k-refuses-fundraising-cash-1.3127636

http://www.goldstreamgazette.com/news/310574571.html

 

What Do You Think This Old Couch Is Worth?

Old_Couch

Third-year geology student Reese Werkhoven, Mount Holyoke College graduate Cally Guasti and SUNY New Paltz graduate Lara Russo were getting cozy on their new couch for the first time, when Werkhoven rustled himself a plastic envelope from under the couch’s patchy arm.

“I almost peed,” Werkhoven said. Inside the envelope was a wad of twenties that added up to $700.

“The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like fifty cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch.”

The group began a thorough excavation, maneuvering the couch in all directions so that every linty crevice could be probed to find more money.

“Just when we thought we pulled out the last envelope we’d find another $1,000 a few minutes later,” said Guasti.

Twenty minutes after sitting on an old musky couch, three college students were now miraculously standing on $40,000 in cash.

For a while, there were no notes, no names, or anything else that could have told them who the money belonged to. For all they knew the money was fair game. 

Then there was a game changer.  Russo found a woman’s name on one of the envelopes.

“We had a lot of moral discussions about the money,” Russo said. “We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to… it’s their money– we didn’t earn it. However, there were a lot of gray areas we had to consider.”

Each of them called their parents for advice; their parents basically told them all the same thing:

Don’t spend the money. Don’t tell anyone about the money. Find the woman from the envelope. Find out if it’s her money.

Questions came into focus

What if the money belonged to a homicidal drug dealer? What if it was all counterfeit? What if the person who owned the money was dead? Who should they trust to give it in their name? What if the person is just a really bad person?

Russo pondered the last question on the phone with her mother. “My mom said that I have a good moral compass, and if I don’t think that someone is a good person, or deserving of the money, then I’m not obligated to give it to them. This really threw me off. Where do you draw the line? It’s all very subjective.”

The possibilities were endless and the group seemingly discussed them all that night. Though they weren’t banking on it, there was still a chance they’d be able to keep some or all of the money.

“I would have bought my mom a new car,” Werkhoven said; “what she drives is a piece of junk and I really wanted to surprise her with a brand new car.”

Other items high on the wish lists: paying back student loans and traveling the world.

Keeping the big secret

The next morning Russo and Guasti were at work, Werkhoven was at class and all of them had a huge secret they couldn’t share with anyone.

Then around 11 a.m. Werkhoven’s mom called and told him that she found the woman’s name in the phone book. After work Werkhoven gave the woman a call.

He asked the woman her name and told her he had just bought a couch from Salvation Army.

She immediately replied “oh, I left a lot of money in that couch.”

Werkhoven promised her that he and his housemates would be able to return the money at any time, but he was a little taken aback by her shortness with him on the phone.

Returning the money

In the late afternoon, Werkhoven, Guasti and Russo were in the car headed to the woman’s house in the Hudson Valley.

“About halfway to her house we stopped the car and had a serious discussion…what if she’s a really bad person? What can we do at this point if we meet her and decide we don’t want to give her the money?”

Not having a plan of exit, they rolled up the long driveway past three “beware of dog” signs and several mounted cameras.

It was a rustic home in a rough neighborhood. The porch was grey and chipping paint. The front door creaked open slowly, Werkhoven remembered.

“I think the part of this whole experience that cleared away my prior thoughts and worries was when I saw the woman’s daughter and granddaughter greet us at the door.” Werkhoven said. “I could just tell right away that these were nice people.”

“When we handed the money back to the woman, she told us that she felt like her husband was present in the room with us,” Guasti said.

In an interview, the woman, who asked not to be identified, explained how her money was lost.

Her husband had had a heart condition and knew his time was limited. Before he died, he gave her money each week to put away for when he passed.  For 30 years she stored her savings inside an old couch in the television room where she slept.  When her husband passed away, she remained working as a florist and continued to store her money in the couch, until she had an operation on her back and went to a rehabilitation center for several months.

Upon the woman’s doctor’s advice, the woman’s daughter and son-in-law replaced the couch she used to sleep on with a full-size bed.

The couch ended up at the Salvation Army store in New Paltz and was bought for $20 by three genuinely good young people who had the strength and wherewithal to make a commendable moral decision.

“We almost didn’t pick that couch,” Russo said. “It’s pretty ugly and smells, but it was the only couch that fit the right dimensions for our living room.”

The woman gave $1,000 to Guasti, Russo and Werkhoven  as a reward for returning the $40,000.

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story credit: The Little Rebillion

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