Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It happened at a red light....

It all began with a stop at a red light. While Kevin Salwen and his 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, were waiting at a traffic light, they saw a black Mercedes coupe on one side and a homeless man begging for food on the other. "Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal," Hannah protested. She pestered her parents about inequity, insisting that she wanted to do something. "What do you want to do?" her mom responded. "Sell our house?" That is exactly what the family did. "We essentially traded stuff for togetherness and connectedness," says father Kevin Salwen. Hannah and Kevin wrote a book about the family's experience, The Power of Half, which will be released in February. [ more ]

Tip for the day: Consider donating half of something to a worthy cause, perhaps it's money set aside to fund an animal shelter, putting in time at an old folks home reading mail and hanging out, or perhaps it's finally donating some money to that charity you've been meaning to for quite some time. Now is the time to act!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Divine Mrs. D Guest Post!

I am so honored when I receive these types of emails! I am even more excited when I get the privilege to post them from fellow bloggers. If any of you has a wonderful story to share that fits into the Acts of Random Kindness category, please send it along and you can guest post for the day like Divine Mrs. D from Love Is A Verb did this morning. Please enjoy and pass it along to everyone you know.

Hi Kat!
This is Danae (Divine Mrs. D) and I follow you on your blogs. My friend told me this great story and I thought of you.

My friend Rachel's mother and father paid for her wedding and has been helping her brother and sister. Rachel told me that her parents have slept on air-mattresses for years because they couldn't replace their bed and that the two cars they had weren't working correctly. Her father's car needed an engine replacement that was $5,000.

Normally, her father is the calm one, but, on the phone with her mother, Rachel's father was so upset and he couldn't calm down. Her mother's co-worker heard her on the phone and said, 'Is there anything that I can do to help you?' And Rachel's mom said no. I mean, all this woman could do was listen, right?

About a week later, Rachel's mom was driving home and, in her driveway, there was a car with a ribbon wrapped around it. There was a car parked across the street and two men got out. Her mother said, 'Who are you?!'

They told her that they were from a Toyota dealership and that an anonymous person had purchased her a car!!

How amazing is that? The first thing I could think of was, 'That's God right there!'

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Walking for Kindness

I got this in my email this morning and thought what a wonderful way to learn about people and see the kindness of strangers.

His name is Garth Poorman, and he's a man on a mission. Poorman, who left his home in Hebron in upstate New York on August 29, is walking all the way to New Orleans. Along the way, he is looking for a few kind and generous hearts. "I wanted to see if I could walk half-way across America, depending solely on the kindness of friends and strangers to share dinner with me and host me in their homes for one night as I make my way south, 10 to 20 miles at a time," said Poorman. The son of a Presbyterian minister, Poorman, a 36-year-old former teacher and business manager, has already covered more than 1,000 miles on his four-month trek. [ more ]

Today's Tip: If you see someone on the street or in front of a store today needing a handout, give them a few dollars, buy them a meal or a cup of coffee and a donut. Share the kindness and love of Jesus with someone who truly needs it. Don't judge what they will do with the money, just give in faith and let God do the rest!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Have a Heart - 14 Ways to Give Back on Valentine's Day

Have a Heart
14 Ways to Give Back on Valentine's Day
by Hilary Lawson, VolunteerMatch Communications Intern
Whether you're anxiously awaiting Valentine's Day or adamantly boycotting it, spreading the love by volunteering this year offers some exciting possibilities.
If you're attached, use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to spend time with your significant other while having fun and seeing new sides of each other. Single? Volunteering could help you meet that special someone whose heart is as big as yours.
Here are 14 ideas to get you started:
Like long walks on the beach? Take a romantic stroll while planting seedlings for Save the Bay in Palo Alto, CA.
If sitting in front of the fireplace is more up your alley, Volunteer Center of Ozaukee County in Grafton, WI needs volunteers to sit by the fire with their elderly residents after dinner.
Hoping to snag a brainy boyfriend? Be a meet and greeter at the Museum of Science in Boston, conveniently located a stone's throw from Harvard, MIT, and the man of your dreams.
YMCA Camping Services in Prescott, AZ is looking for volunteers to teach outdoor recreational classes to visiting school groups. Who knows, while teaching archery with other caring volunteers, you might be struck with Cupid's bow and arrow as well.
Turn your first date into a play date by volunteering to play games and read stories to kids at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, MN.
Looking for puppy love? Becoming a kennel volunteer at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Patterson, NY could bring you that much closer.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but everyone can agree that roadside trash is an eyesore. Picking up litter with your sweetheart through Envirocorps in Gig Harbor, WA will beautify the highway while strengthening your relationship.
Practice the language of love as volunteer in a high school French class at Sequoia High in Redwood City, CA.
Admitted chocoholics? Help plan SARSSM's Chocolate Lover's Fling in Portland, ME and score free admission to the event in April.
If your love has already blossomed, why not give flowers to those with less rosy surroundings? Deliver bouquets to patient's rooms at RSVP+ Southern Valley in Fargo, ND.
While other's hearts are pumping, volunteer with the one who makes yours skip a beat at the Children's Advocacy Center of Comal County's Valentine's Day 5k run in New Braunfels, TX.
Turn your romantic getaway into a chance to give back while volunteering with A Broader View Volunteers in Chile. You can also fit in a side trip to some of the top wineries in South America.
Already found "the one?" Become foster parents through Valley Teen Ranch in Fresno, CA and bring even more love into your home.
To help out where it's perhaps needed most right now, America Continental 2000 in Delray Beach, FL is packing up boxes of supplies for the disaster relief effort in Haiti.
Of course, there are countless other ways to make a difference and live happily ever after.
Search VolunteerMatch today.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Story of Ben Kennedy

The Story of Ben Kennedy

Unless you live in Helena, Mont., you’re unlikely to have any notion of who Ben Kennedy was. And even if you live in Helena, you may have never knew his name. You might have seen him on the street or in the alleys behind buildings downtown, collecting cans and flattening cardboard boxes for recycling. He probably would have caught your attention if you drifted downwind of him, for, in truth, his scent was high and overripe. His hair was wild, and his mouth had long been going bald of teeth.

Ben Kennedy was a native of Belt, Mont., a few miles east of Great Falls. You could be forgiven for thinking he was homeless, but he died in his subsidized housing in Helena on Dec. 2, just short of his 87th birthday.

On Dec. 16, the anniversary date of his birthday, there was a posthumous celebration of Ben Kennedy’s departed life at the Windbag Saloon. The party — crowded and filled with emotion, according to reports — wasn’t just to commemorate a perplexing local figure. It was to honor the passing of a benefactor.

Ben Kennedy lived on little more than his Social Security. Out of that pittance, he regularly scraped together enough to make sizable donations to a number of charities, including the Nature Conservancy and the Montana Land Reliance, a land trust. His gifts were usually made in cash, in person, after a considerable, and sometimes daunting, search of his pockets, and often in crisp hundred-dollar bills. The surprise, at the Windbag wake, was how many of these gifts he’d made — and how few recipients knew about his other contributions.

There’s surely a lot more to tell about Ben Kennedy, nearly all of it beyond telling now. He was a public figure but a private man, and he kept most of his autobiography quiet. It would be good to know what impelled him to make the gifts he made. But then, it would also be good to know just why his gifts surprise us, why his charity seems so exceptional. Perhaps he saw it as his responsibility, as the sign of a wealth he felt lucky to have — and a duty to share.

Today's Tip: Consider giving to a note worthy cause besides your church for your tithes and offerings, your difference really does matter.

Monday, January 11, 2010

24 Hours of Non-Stop Kindness

I read this wonderful story this morning and wanted to pass it along to everyone who comes by here and reads about making a difference be it once a day, once a week, once a month or whenever you can. I hope you enjoy!

I had titled the event “24 hours of kindness.” The goal was simple: to stay out for a full twenty-four hours without sleep, performing as many acts of kindness as possible. Thanks to our local radio station, Coast 93.1, and the support of Tim Wright and Eva Matteson, (two of the most kindhearted DJs you’ll ever meet) all of southern Maine now knew about The Kindness Center’s crazy event. Now known as “The Kindness Guy,” this was my first attempt at something this big. The local and even national media buzz was incredible. Since 9:00 that morning, two of my kindness cronies and I had been all over town delivering free baked goods to nursing homes and schools, buying coffee for strangers, giving out hugs, moving furniture, giving free city bus rides and completely flooding the town with a rainbow of flowers and balloons. Since it was April 15th, “tax day,” we even spent time making grouchy taxpayers smile as they rushed in and out of the post office, a task we would repeat later that night with miraculous results.

It was now just before 5:00 pm and although there were still sixteen hours to go, my adrenaline showed no signs of waning. After giving out a few more flowers and offering up free hugs at the local grocery store, we were about to make our next stop, the local soup kitchen, before heading into the city for a night of non-stop kindness. Arriving at dinnertime, we walked though a sea of hungry souls waiting to get inside for their final meal of the day. After looking into the eyes of just a few of the children standing in line, my upbeat energy was quickly softened and it brought me down to earth. Up until this point, we had spent our time making people laugh and smile with our acts of kindness, but something about this stop was very different. Standing there and seeing the tattered clothing and leathery faces I instantly felt my heart breaking. I also couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the fact that I had a warm home and was blessed with all of the necessities in life. This also prompted the slight feeling of guilt.

Walking through the back door and into the kitchen, we found volunteers busy preparing salads, desserts and gallons of ice tea, as people were now filtering in and the dining area began to buzz. The main dish would be ready soon and we would have an opportunity to deliver the meals. Looking around the room and still waiting for the food trays to be filled, I became inspired with an idea to brighten up the room. Local florists had donated hundreds of carnations to our 24-hour mission and we still had dozens of them in the truck. This seemed like a wonderful opportunity to create smiles between my kindness crew and the women and children now sitting at the tables. It was absolute magic. With each carnation offered, eyes sparkled with excitement and gratitude. I joyfully bounced from table to table receiving everything from soft grins to laughter to an occasional big hug…to even tears.

After giving out most of my carnations, I began making my way to the back of the room, where I noticed a woman sitting alone and appearing quite worn down. But unlike many of the other people there, she continued making direct eye contact with me until we were finally face to face. Smiling, I extended my hand and offered her one of my remaining white carnations. She instantly looked confused and overwhelmed by my gesture. Slowly opening her hand, she accepted the flower, bowing her head as tears now began to well up in her eyes. Hoping that she was okay (or that I had not upset her), I quietly asked if she was all right. Seeming somewhat embarrassed, she lifted her head and stared up at me with tears streaming down her cheeks. She said, “This is just so nice…and…I haven’t received a flower from anyone in over ten years.” A large lump was now forming in my throat as the moisture settling into my own eyes quickly impaired my vision. I knew I was about to lose it any moment and there was only one thing left to do. Dropping the remaining flowers from my hand, I bent down, wrapped my arms around her and hugged her as tightly as I could.

Shortly after dinner, my kindness crew and I quietly shuffled out the back door to prepare for our night in the city. The next fourteen hours would be filled with everything from feeding homeless people to delivering free coffee and bagels to police stations, mopping floors at a food pantry and even bringing peace to an angry crowd of last-minute taxpayers attempting to get their envelopes into the mailbox before midnight. It was an absolutely crazy day. And although both my body and my mind were completely shot by the time our 24th hour rolled around, I can honestly say that my spirit was ready to do it all over again. Next to my wedding day and the birth of my son, it was without a doubt the greatest day of my life.

It has been over a year now since the first “24 hours of kindness” event (we recently completed another) and I still don’t think I have fully come down from the high. But after performing hundreds of kind acts, giving multiple interviews to the media and sharing this experience with thousands of people around the country, each time I think about it, my heart always goes back to the grace of a sweet little lady holding a single white carnation. What a wonderful reminder that it truly is the simple things in life that mean the most to us.

Today's Tip: Go to the dollar store and pick up something funny and pass it along to a friend or someone who definitely needs a lift in their day!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Life Made Better With A Little More Music!

Mackie, a Scottish-born retired horse trainer, lives in a camper in Northwest Washington State, even though technically, medically, he should have died a long time ago.

After his ninth heart surgery, Mackie's doctors had him on 15 different medicines. But the side effects made his life miserable. So one day he quit taking all 15 and decided to spend his final days doing something he always wanted to do. He used the money he would have spent on prescriptions to give away 300 harmonicas, with lessons. When he didn't die the next month, he bought a few hundred more.

"I just started going from school to school," Mackie said.

It is now 11 years and 16,000 harmonicas later.

To keep the kids interested in music as they get older, Mackie now spends the bulk of his social security check making what he calls "strumsticks." He's given away thousands of these, too. He also buys store made instruments for the kids that show special interest and provides free lessons to everyone by getting the older kids to teach the younger ones.

"I tell them music is a gift," Mackie said. "You give it away - you give it away and you get to keep it forever."

The end result is something truly unique to this corner of America. It seems everywhere you look, everyplace you go, every kid you meet has the same genuine passion for fiddle music.

"I can't explain the joy," Mackie said. "I don't think Bill Gates feels any richer inside than I do."

"Do you think you're still living today because of the kids and the music?" Hartman asked.

"I really believe that," Mackie said.

After that story first aired, one of our viewers gave Mackie a $5,000 donation. Mackie used the money to hire a part-time teacher who is now showing the kids how to make the strumsticks. The hope is they'll carry on the mission after Mackie is gone - if Mackie is ever gone. Since we met him, he's had several more heart attacks, and just last week had his tenth successful heart surgery.

Today's Tip: Buy some small portable umbrellas and keep them in your car. If you should come along a stranger in need one day, the difference you make will be worth all the effort!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Pleasure!

This came in an email last month and wanted to take the opportunity to share it with you all today!

"I work in London and take the underground trains to commute every morning. If I get a seat, I first look around to ensure that nobody needs the seat more than I do. Recently I called across to a pregnant lady quite a few metres away to offer my seat to her. The many people who were seated between us studiously kept their heads in their newspapers so they were not called upon to offer their seats instead. The same thing happened the next day when I gave my seat to an elderly person. They were both very grateful and as they thanked me I said, "My pleasure". Then it struck me that it was 'my pleasure'! I had no need to be grumpy with all the other people who did not offer their seats as this made me the receiver of this small bit of pleasure in my journey instead of them!"

Today's Tip: Offer up a seat to someone who desperately needs one, don't wait to be asked and answer with "My Pleasure!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

10 Tips for A Positive Attitude

1. Remember that you can’t control other people’s actions, but you can always control your response. Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to it. (Read 1 Peter 3:16)

2. Everyone has troubles, and God’s Word says to rejoice in those sufferings.
Difficult times are only part of life, not our whole life, so remember to thank God for the blessings, while dealing with the issues. (Read 1 Peter 1:6-7)

3. Pray for God to help you do a self examination to see if you are harboring any seeds of negativity and pessimism in your heart, and if God reveals something to you that needs improvement, pray for His strength, courage and ability to deal with the root causes for those emotions, and fill your heart with God’s love instead. (Read Ephesians 4:26-27)

4. Regardless of what may have happened in your life, do not live your life as a victim. Strive to achieve the victor mentality that God empowers us to have through His strength. Make the choice today, and one day at a time, to have a positive attitude, and look for the good things in your life and future, not just the unfortunate things from the past. (Read Ephesians 2:22-24)

5. If you are unhappy about things or circumstances in your life, pray for God to change those things if it is within His will, and then expect to begin seeing Him at work. Remember that nothing is impossible with God. (Read Proverbs 3:5-6, and Mark 10:27)

6. Believe that God redeems you, despite your past, and that He loves you, despite your pain. Remember there is always a purpose for our pain. (Read Psalm 130:3)

7. Focus on gratitude. Spend some time listing all of the good things in your life, and all the blessings God has given you. Pray and ask God to help you have a heart of gratitude. Focus on Him, and not the things of the world. (Read Hebrews 12:28, and 1 Thessalonians 5:18)

8. Stop letting other people's negative attitudes affect yours. Negative attitudes can be contagious. Ask yourself - is my attitude worth catching?Then ask God to help you change your attitude, and be strong in your optimism even when the people around are you are not being that way. The key to success lies in the asking. (Read Philippians 2:5)

9. Stop thinking that you don't measure up. Comparing ourselves to others is a sure-fire recipe for self condemnation, defeat and low self esteem. Remember that you were made in the image of God, beautiful, unique and precious. (Read 2 Corinthians 10:12, and Psalm 139:14)

10. Just breathe, and believe that God knows the desires of your heart. He knows of your desire to have a Christ-like attitude; that you try, but often fail; that you need strength, guidance, healing and forgiveness. His mercies are renewed every day. Trust in His grace and mercy. (Read Psalm 139:1-4, Lamentations 3:21-22, and 1 Corinthians 4:16-17)

Today's Tip: Consider donating blood if you are capable of. You could save a life!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rubber Ducky?

Today's Tip: Buy a rubber ducky for someone and give it to them. Watch the smile on their face!

Here is hoping that this New Year leaves you time for sharing the love of God with friends, family and those who are desperate need of God's salvation and love.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Birds On A Wire Making Music

Ever noticed just how many birds will often sit on the wires for phone and electrical lines and wonder just why do they pattern or sit in sequences the way they do. Is there some hidden meaning behind it all? Is God sending us a message we merely just need to uncode to find out what is really there all along but we fail to see anything significant in it?

Here is a very interesting story of one man who did just that and found something amazing in the process. The work of God or merely a coincidence?

While reading a newspaper, Jarbas Agnelli was struck by a photograph of birds on an electric wire. Their positioning on several wires made him think of a musical staff. He cut out the photograph and decided to make a song, using the bird's exact locations to determine which notes to play.

"I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe," Agnelli says in an explanation on his website. "I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating."

He sent his newly composed melody to the photographer, Paulo Pinto. The photographer told a reporter, and his story ended up in the same newspaper that inspired him.