A good deed to end the year

standard January 1, 2009 8 responses

I looked around me last night after I heard about the mom and daughter who would be sleeping in their car and I simply couldn’t bring myself to let it lie. I posted about their case everywhere I could, Twittered about it again and again, and yet, something nagged at me. This wasn’t a sob story about a faceless someone or other on the other side of the country. This was a tragedy happening in my back yard.

We’re not rolling in cash by any stretch of the imagination. Like everyone else we’re thinking twice about spending anything. But still, we have heat, and food, and warm cozy beds. My kids have clean clothes and whatever food they want to eat, or not eat as the case may be. We’re not hurting.

I sat on my plush couch and thought that maybe I should do something to help. I considered sending a Paypal donation, my usual M.O. when I hear about a story that tugs my heart strings, but my conscience nagged at me. These two women were sitting in their car in the parking lot of a Denny’s one town over. A Paypal donation would take days to get to them, I could get into my car and deliver my donation in person in less than ten minutes.

It might come as a surprise to learn that I’m a shy person. I like Internet anonymity. I like talking to people from the safety of my couch. I’m really not good at going out into the world and meeting people, especially when it entails possibly walking into an emotional or stressful situation. So, yes, driving money over was the right thing to do, but it was most definitely not the easiest.

But I also couldn’t see myself climbing into my bed and snuggling down under my two down comforters knowing that I didn’t even try to help. So I shot the mom an email, rationalizing that if she didn’t reply I was off the hook. I wasn’t exactly going to go drive around town in the hopes of spotting them sleeping in their car.

She wrote back right away and directly asked for help. Now, I know how hard it is to ask for help. I know what kind of guts it must have taken to type those words. I can only imagine what it cost her pride to do so and how her love for her child must have motivated her. In the face of that, how could I not have gone out?

I met them briefly in the parking lot of the motel and gave them some cash and a tiny bit of food. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t stick around. I wished them luck and a happier new year and then I got back into my car and drove away. I didn’t think that my presence would be helpful. They needed money, not a gawker. It was late, they were tired, and I think I assumed that they would rather hurry up and get a room rather than stand around talking to a total stranger.

I will admit, because I’m nothing if not always honest with you people, I did enjoy the feeling of being the hero, running out to rescue the needy. I might have maybe played a few (rather embarrassing ) scenarios in my head where maybe they would gush about me on their blog and I would score tons of hits because of my heroic action. ahem. And yes, maybe I was a tad disappointed when they kept referring to me as a nameless “generous donor,” even on the two news stories that ran tonight. And maybe if I had stuck around for a bit I wouldn’t have been so nameless today. But I keep reminding myself that true charity is best when it is anonymous, and that I was doing this for them, not me, and that really, I’m glad that I remained the anonymous donor, because this story is again about them, not me, and they should get all the attention. And I can just rest easy knowing that I did the right thing because it was the right thing to do and for no other reason at all.

And so the year ends, with me no more famous than ever before, but way more at peace with myself, knowing that I can count on myself to have the courage to do the right thing for the right reason when it really counts.

Happy New Year everyone. May 2009 be the year when all your dreams come true.

Original It’s my life… post.

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8 responses

  • You are famous to me. You are an absolute hero. For those of us far away that could not do anything but pray, you gave great peace knowing that they would have somewhere other than their car for a night or two. What goes around comes around, angel. Thank you again for following what you felt. I know so many who would have ignored it and I am so glad that you did not.

  • That was a wonderful thing you did. I know about wanting to help others and when we were down and out living in a residential hotel I found things at my door from anonymous donors.

    I had that feeling when visiting another member of twitter at the UCLA hospital earlier in the month and not wanting to intrude on family moment, but wanted to lift up their spirits with the gift cards I brought along.

    I also received gift cards in mail from a twitter member the other day and it was a necessity for us.

    Good way to end the year of 2008.

  • Very inspiring. So many times I’ve wanted to help others but didn’t know how. You took action, and that is so commendable. You’ve inspired me to think bigger for 2009 in terms of reaching out to others in any way I can, rather than just thinking about it.

  • What a beautiful, inspiring, honest, poignant post. Thank you so much for what you did for Katy and Liz. God is smiling upon you.

    Blessings, ~ Brandilyn

  • Anonymous

    Don’t feel bad about thinking or feeling that way. What is important is that you did not stand by the sidelines and just let it go. You took action. No one can take that away from you. You are a hero to them and many of us that have been watching the story unfold.

    scarey_karma@yahoo.com

  • I love your honesty, and I love that you drove down there in person. I suspect you were probably right about giving them space to just get a room and a good nights sleep. It’s a fine line, because I imagine there is a lot of fear and loneliness in their situation, but as you said there it is also very difficult to have to ask for help. Without a natural connection, a drawn out visit would very likely have been uncomfortable for both of you. The important thing is that you saw a need and filled it. Sadly I imagine we’re going to all be confronted by more stories like this in the coming months, and it’s important that we all pool together to help eachother out. The internet and social networking are clearly a very important tool in doing so.

    Happy New Year.

  • IT’S YOU!! Yay! You are not so nameless anymore! I love what you did, and what you wrote here about it. It’s hard sometimes with giving, there’s always that piece of you that wants some sort of credit for it, then the other side that wants anonymity!

    Anyway – you inspired me into doing a year of giving, yep 365 days! If you want to read about it you can here: http://givingtree2009.blogspot.com/ I had written about this story on my usual blog here: http://flutterbean.blogspot.com/2009/01/i-believe.html and mentioned what you did – giving them enough cash for a few nights at a hotel. I didn’t know about the food too. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. I am always moved by homelessness, and give money when I can, even when people tell me that they’ll go buy booze or drugs. I don’t care, I give it because I want to help, what happens after the gift is given is not my concern.

    I’ve rambled on long enough!
    Cheers! And Happy New Year!

  • Knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life, even if just for one night, AND that you’ve inspired other people to do the same will go a lot further than “fame” anyway. 🙂

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