Monday, April 27, 2009

"Pay It Forward" - What does it mean?

How to Pay It Forward
The world can seem like an unfriendly, threatening place, yet we all want safety, health, and happiness for ourselves and our loved ones. How can one ordinary person -- you or me -- make a positive difference in this world? One way is the practice "paying it forward." While the steps might be simple, the outcome could change the world.

  1. Be attentive wherever you are for opportunities to help someone. Perhaps you have an elderly or disabled neighbor who is too proud to ask for help with their yardwork or maybe you're in a restaurant and see someone who looks like they could use some kind stranger to pay for their meal. You can change people's attitudes about the world through your unobtrusive acts of kindness.
  2. Do something nice for someone you don't know (or don't know very well). It should be something significant, and not for a person from whom you expect a good deed -- or anything at all, for that matter -- in return.
  3. Spread the word. If the person thanks you and wants to "repay" you (that is, pay it "back"), let them know that what you'd really like is for them to pay it "forward" -- you'd like them to do something nice for three people they don't know, and ask those three people to do something nice for three more people. The idea is to consciously increase the goodness of the world.
  4. Pay it forward. When you notice that somebody has done something nice for you, make a note in your mind to practice three acts of kindness towards other people, as described in Step 2.


  • The "pay it forward" concept was popularized with the book Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde, which was later made into a movie with the same title, starring Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, and Kevin Spacey.
  • Even small acts, such as paying the bridge toll for the car behind you when you pay for your own, counts. If it makes the world a friendlier place, you succeeded!
  • Practicing the "pay it forward" principle will make you alert to unexpected kindness from strangers toward you, and you may find yourself becoming more grateful for everyday kindness and consideration from people you don't even know.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Children Watch and Learn From Us

Teenagers! What can I say? My daughter is 12. Sometimes she is a crazy bundle of fun and sometimes she seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders. This was one of her down days.
She was bored and sad (and making a meal out of it!). Every time she complained about being bored I would suggest something she could do, but there were always bucketloads of reasons why she couldn't do any of them. The suggestion that she might enjoy tidying her bedroom just provoked a look that reminded me of thunderclouds -- she's been good at that look since she was two!
I was getting a little fed up with all this negativity, but I kept my patience. I gently suggested that possibly the very best way in the world to have a good day was to try and make it a better day for someone else. Then I suggested a few kind deeds she might like to do.
To my amazement, she seemed interested. Not so much in the kind deeds as in what I had said. When she spoke there was no hint of sarcasm or teenage attitude. Just honest-to-goodness curiosity. It was like my little girl had just come back into the room. "Does that mean that every day is a good day for you?" she asked.
I told her it did, we talked some more, then I left the room. I had to because I was welling up.
We all share good stories on this site, but they are only a snapshot of life. I have plenty of less nice aspects of my personality. I'm only too aware of them and they constantly bother me. But my daughter, who knows me better than most, seemed to think I spent every day making the day better for others.
Oh, wow!
Our children do watch us, and while our best (or worst) example often doesn't seem to have any visible effect on our children (especially teenagers!) that doesn't mean we should stop trying to be all we would want them to be. We teach our children through our lives. Helpothers

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lasik for Good Deeds in Washington DC

Eye doctors of Washington offering free LASIK treatment for good deeds

April 21st, 2009

It's a totally different stroke played by one of the most respected vision care facilities in the area.
Washington, DC LASIK facility, who last year sponsored the successful Destroy Your Glasses contest, is sponsoring a new contest “Changing the Way People See the World” to encourages individuals in the area to do anything positive that helps someone else, and capture it on video.
Each person that submits a video will receive a $1000 discount on LASIK, and the winning entry will be awarded a 100% free LASIK eye surgery procedure.
In addition to rewarding those who enter videos, Eye Doctors of Washington’s Washington, DC and Maryland LASIK practice will donate a free pair of glasses to charity for each video submitted.
Participants may videotape any good deed of any body. They can videotape themselves, a friend, a family member, or even a stranger doing something positive for someone else, and the “good deed” can be either big or small.
Contestants can submit their videos from now until May 31st, 2009.
The initial batch of entries will be judged on creativity, uniqueness, and authenticity, and whether the “good deed” is clearly and adequately shown in the video.
The top five finalists will be announced on June 1st at, and voting can be implemented directly on the website between June 1st and June 12th. The winner will be chosen on Monday, June 15th.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Acts of kindness bestowed upon 600 weary Israeli soldiers.

A story worth repeating 100 times as we near Yom Hazicharon (Israel Rememberance Day) and Yom Haatzmaut

by Shula Wisper A personal account of an act of kindness bestowed upon 600 weary Israeli soldiers.
A year has passed but First Lieutenant M. has not forgotten the Second Lebanon War or his visit to Migdal Ohr.
"I remember the two weeks of near face-to-face combat, the confused orders and insufficient combat gear, the intense hunger, physical and emotional exhaustion and toughest of all, the self-imposed silence and disassociation with our surroundings. 'Now is not the right time to complain, but when it is over,' we thought to ourselves, 'when the air raid sirens stop and we are out of these fatigues, we can talk and the truth will be known.'"
When the news came that we were receiving a day off, our hearts soared. We suffered so much stress and hardship. Where would we go? How should we take full advantage of this gift?
Rumors begin to circulate that we were going to some school in Migdal Ha'Emek. "This must be a joke! Who ordered ten buses to bring us to some yeshiva with some Rabbi who is just going to try and brainwash us?"
Then a few of the guys remembered. "Rabbi Grossman, that's the Disco Rabbi right? The guys all give him great respect." But what do they know? He is still some rabbi.
Tired and emotionally drained, we got off the buses and stood face to face with an old-world looking Jew, complete with a white beard, side locks and long jacket. "So here it comes," I thought, "the push to put on tefillin or to say prayers together. Some day off."
"Boys," the rabbi's words thundered, "I suggest that first thing you do is take a dip in the pool and freshen up. In the meantime, we will make you something to eat."
"What's the problem? 600 soldiers? They should all come, of course we have room!" In amazing simplicity Rabbi Grossman heard in passing that the brigade was looking for a home for a day, and he immediately volunteered his campus. "What's the problem? 600 soldiers? They should all come, of course we have room!"
With the echoes of war from the battlefield still in our ears, it seemed like a mirage or hallucination. Soft music came from everywhere and flowing water and greenery surrounded us. Within minutes the tables were set with cold refreshing watermelon, cakes, and beverages, followed by cheeses, fresh vegetables, and soft rolls.
Then we heard, "Out of the pool, get dressed and eat something." We saw piles of new undergarments. 600 new undershirts and underwear appeared as if out of nowhere, laid out on tables for our choosing.
Rabbi Grossman sat with us and laughed, "Have a good time boys! Have a great time! This evening, I will put on the most spectacular performance you have ever seen."
I am not a religious person by any means, but I can't help but envision the first Jew, Avraham, standing and personally serving his guests perfectly naturally and without the slightest hint of condescension. He respected each individual and cared for all their needs. Like Avraham, Rabbi Grossman saw in this an obvious act of kindness, a mission of a mitzvah that had fallen into his hands. As the evening continued we learned quickly that this was the essence of who Rabbi Grossman is and what he is all about. He loves everyone and accepts everyone as they are with all his heart and soul.
"Tell me friends," Rabbi Grossman said, "I heard you are lacking different pieces of equipment. Do me a favor. Here is a pencil and paper, just write down everything you are missing and leave the paper on the table."
That night, we enjoyed the entertainment and afterwards, slept in soft beds and air-conditioned rooms. Like in a fairytale, we awoke in the morning and could not believe our eyes. Mounds of gear which we so desperately needed had arrived at Migdal Ohr. Attached was a small note from Rabbi Grossman, "To my dear soldiers, from all my heart!"
Rabbi Grossman had personally raised over $60,000 worth of equipment from friends literally overnight! The essential equipment included ceramic bulletproof vests, helmets, canteens, knee pads, backpack water canteens, night vision goggles, toothbrushes, socks and more.
A few months before the war began Rabbi Grossman had been offered a new Torah scroll for the main Midgal Ohr study hall by a generous friend of his in France. For some reason Rabbi Grossman requested to postpone the event until an unspecified later date. Rabbi Grossman immediately made arrangements and in an early evening ceremony, we participated in the completion of writing the Torah. While the scroll was carefully laid on the table next to a special pen and ink, Rabbi Grossman addressed the soldiers.
"Each one of you should pray that the merit of the letter he has completed in this Torah scroll will protect him in battle." "My holy ones! I am going to bestow upon you the merit of a holy mitzvah, which can be considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Each one of you will complete a letter in the Torah scroll. While you are executing this holy task, each one of you should pray the prayer of his heart and request from God that the merit of the letter he has completed will protect him in battle. Holy sparks will emanate from these sacred letters and disperse around you, creating a protective shield which will keep you safe and bring you home safely."
Those moments were the most exciting and emotional ones of my life. Shaking from the intensity of the immeasurable experience, still not believing, we held the edges of the Torah scroll while we felt our hearts beat rapidly. There was complete silence all around. One after the other, we dipped the quill in the ink and completed a letter in the Torah scroll.
A bystander would have seen a breathtaking scene of incredible elation and spiritual exuberance. The world seemed as if shrouded in silence. The strings of our hearts felt strummed and the tears flowed freely down our cheeks.
After the completion of the Torah, the ceremony continued. Leading the procession was a decorated car with multi-colored lights strung all over it and with a crown of lights spinning around on its roof. Following the car, bearers of a decorated canopy marched while people danced around it. Under the canopy, others held the Torah scroll, which was clothed in white and crimson with a silver crown at its top.
600 soldiers and thousands of the town residents marched and danced in the procession, a loudspeaker accompanying them, playing traditional Jewish music.
As the ceremony came to a close Rabbi Grossman approached every soldier and kissed him while placing a half-shekel coin in his hand and said "Messengers of a mitzvah are not harmed." Rabbi Grossman concluded, "When you return, God willing, healthy and unharmed, you will fulfill this mission I am placing upon you, and you will donate this money to charity."
A moment before they returned to Lebanon Rabbi Grossman told us, "In the merit that you said Shema and put on tefillin, wrote a letter in the Torah, and are messengers of a mitzvah, I promise you, that you will all return safe and sound. None of you will be wounded or killed."
Rabbi Grossman told the soldiers that the first place they must come back to -- before they go home -- is Migdal Ohr. "We will thank God together and from there we will say goodbye," he said. "Think of this as an emergency call-up. Do you accept?" the Rabbi asked and the commanding officer replied in the affirmative.
The night came. Twelve buses made their way atop the Galilee Mountains. Heavy darkness engulfed us, yet behind, in the growing distance, a bright flame pierced the night sky. In the midst of war and violence, we found love and unending human compassion at Migdal Ohr in the welcoming arms of Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman.
Two weeks later around midnight, Rabbi Grossman received a phone call. "Rabbi, your blessing has come true!" exclaimed the commander over the phone. "Everyone is safe and we are on our way to you. We will be there by two in the morning." Rabbi Grossman immediately contacted the kitchen staff and asked them to prepare a meal while he worked to organize a band.
"I felt as I had never felt before," recalls Rabbi Grossman. "Each one told me his personal miracle." At 2:30 a.m. the soldiers disembarked from the buses, each one carrying 60 kilo of equipment on his back. The band started playing music and the soldiers approached Rabbi Grossman, each one lovingly received with a hug and a kiss. This continued for two hours. "I felt as I had never felt before," recalls Rabbi Grossman. "Each one told me his personal miracle."
After the warm reception, the soldiers recited a prayer of thanksgiving said by someone whose life has been saved, and together with Rabbi Grossman, they sang and danced until daybreak. "To this day," says Rabbi Grossman, "we maintain contact with each soldier and have become one family."
Rabbi Grossman is a recipient of the "Award of Recognition" for his Actions on Behalf of Soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces and the Second Lebanon War.

Video shows how to 'pay it forward'

Thursday, April 16, 2009

By Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In a virtual world filled with narcissism, rip-offs and come-ons, the YouTube video "Pay it Forward -- Pittsburgh to Chicago" feels like a much-needed visit to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

The narrated 10-minute video documents the 1,175-mile round trip an anonymous South Hills man -- screen name "friendinpittsburgh" -- made to the Windy City the weekend of April 3-5 for no other reason than to do good deeds for strangers in the hope of having them do the same onto others.

The term "pay it forward" refers to the idea where one person does a good deed for another in the hope that it will be repaid in the form of another good deed for someone else. The good deeds then become an ever-expanding pyramid of charity. The notion was popularized in a 2000 film by that title.

In Chicago, a city he randomly chose, he bought a car battery for an unemployed man, gave another man a ride to pick up a truck 35 miles away, helped dismantle a swing set, lugged construction materials from a demolished bathroom and made a clothing donation to a homeless agency.

He posted the video of his adventure on YouTube a week ago and it's been viewed more than 1,000 times. The video caught the attention of The Windy Citizen, a Chicago-based news Web site, which on Tuesday posted a story about the Good Samaritan from Pittsburgh who they referred to as "Joe," which is not his real name. The 29-year-old, who holds a white-collar job for a small business, requested anonymity for fear his deeds will be misinterpreted as self-aggrandizement.

As of yesterday, The Windy Citizen story had nearly 3,500 hits. Numerous Web sites, including the Chicago Sun-Times, have linked to the upbeat story, starting conversation threads about the need in a troubled world to follow Joe's example of selflessness, kindness and charity.
"Awesome!!" wrote one YouTube poster. "Let's all learn from this and do one pay-it-forward act to keep the momentum going!! Let's make friendinpittsburgh's good deed multiply exponentially!! Send this on to everyone you know!!"

A poster on The Windy Citizen site wrote: "In addition to enjoying hearing the Pittsburgh accent in the video, I enjoyed the guy's Pittsburgh attitude -- some of the nicest people I have ever known are from P-burgh. This guy is cut from that bolt!!"

As for Joe, he couldn't be happier he went through with what he conceded seemed like a crazy idea at the start.

"Positive energy rubs off on other people," he said. "I figured if I posted something and got a couple of hits on YouTube then other people would do good things, pay it forward, and there would be a chain-reaction. I didn't expect anything to this extent.

"I thought maybe it would make a dent. I'm not talking about world peace or anything. I was thinking that maybe some homeless people would get some clothes."

Going to the Craigslist Web site, he scrolled his mouse without looking and then stopped. The cursor was on Chicago, so that's where he decided to go. He posted an ad on Craigslist for Chicago, saying over the weekend he wanted to "help a few people that need help ... All I ask is that you Pay It Forward." He didn't say he was from Pittsburgh.

He received about 150 responses, most of them lauding him for his offer, several seeking money and one thinking he was offering sex. He picked those he thought legitimately needed help. He told no one of his plans, other than to inform his parents that he was spending the weekend in Chicago.

"On the way up, I was really nervous -- nervous that I wasn't coming home. I was going to a whole other city, probably looking like a schmuck. I could have had my car stolen, my money stolen. I was taking a big risk," he said.

He arrived Friday night, got a motel room, and the next morning met the man who needed a battery. His fears were gone.

"He was a super-nice guy. I thought, 'This is going to be easy. These are nice people here.' This is the reason I got this idea, to see a smiling face."

The 54-year-old man who needed a ride to pick up a truck, who asked in a telephone interview to be identified by his first name Mike, said he not only got a ride but gained a friend. He was dumbfounded when he learned Joe was from Pittsburgh with no reason to be in Chicago other than to do good. He said he tried to force Joe to take $20 for gas but he refused.

"He said 'All I want you to do is a good deed for somebody else, to perform for some other stranger a random act of kindness.' I said, 'That's no problem at all.'

"I went through a long period where I kind of just lost faith in humanity, a long span of thinking it was a dog-eat-dog world and people aren't considerate of their fellow man. And then you run into a guy like this and it just restores all the faith you ever thought you lost in humanity. He's 100 percent genuine."

Joe didn't have to wait long to see his pay-it-forward plan pay off -- the day after getting a ride, Mike showed up to help Joe tear down the swing set for a woman neither man knew.
The trip cost Joe $750 and a weekend but he feels he gained much more than he gave because of the positive effect it has already had.

"Hey, who knows, it may start spreading like the butterfly effect, it may start spreading positive energy. We need it."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Sporting Good Deed

Natalie Gilbert, a 13 year-old, began singing the National Anthem before a basketball game between the Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks on April 25, 2003. When Gilbert struggled to find the correct words for the song and became flustered, Trail Blazers’ Coach Maurice Cheeks came to her side. He initially suggested the lyrics to Gilbert and then joined in on the singing. Soon, the Rose Garden Arena crowd sang with them. What at first looked to be a small disaster, turned into a touching moment — a feel-good story. Cheeks’ inspirational leadership touched many who watched. Cheeks and Gilbert received a standing ovation upon the song’s completion.

As is later revealed, the young Natalie Gilbert, had been fighting the flu and was still sick the day of the performance. When Cheeks was asked what motivated him to go over and start helping Natalie, CNN quoted Cheeks as saying, “You know, I don’t know. I think as I saw her stumble on the words, she looked helpless, and I just started walking. I had no idea what I was going to do, what I was going to say. But as I approached her, I just wanted to help her, and I didn’t know if I even knew the words…You know, I just wanted to help her out. I didn’t want her to stand there helpless, nothing to do. So I just wanted to help her out.”

Prior to coaching, Cheeks played 15 years in the NBA, most notably with the Philadelphia 76ers, and earned a trip to the All-Star game 4 times. Helping a young singer in her time of need was another All-Star moment for Maurice

Free Hugs