| by Flemming Funch|
The Pay it forward site was created by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of "Pay it forward". I haven't read it, but I saw the movie, which was fabulous. And of course both open the door for a movement and a site where people can share their stories. In brief, the idea is that you pay "forward" (as opposed to paying "back") spontaneous acts of kindness you've received. I.e. instead of doing something in return for somebody who did something unexpected and helpful for you, you will do the same for a stranger you run into later. Like random acts of kindness. Here are a couple of stories:
Lela: "When I was 15 years old,I was on a bus to my dads,who lived 2200 miles away.I had no money and was getting pretty hungry. A lady on the bus asked me if I was hungry and I admitted I had not eaten for two days. She proceeded to feed me at every meal stop. At the end of her journey,she gave me $5 and told me.."always remember this time,if you see someone in need..help when you can". I am now pushing 60 and have never forgotten her or her words. I have never passed someone who was in need without helping them if I was able to do so. I have tried to instill this in my family as well and we are ALL ..great believers in paying it forward."
And they're not all sweet and cuddly:
Sarah: "I noticed that there aren't any stories about kids in college doing this movement. Recently, at Southwestern College in Winfield Kansas, our Mind/Body/Universe class watched the movie Pay it Foward. The class has about 50 students in it and the teacher, Julie Conrade, decided to make Paying it Forward an assignment. We split up into about 10 groups and were instructed to find some way to Pay it Foward to our community and then present our projects to the class a month later. Some of the things the groups did included: visiting nursing homes, helping a working family renovate their house, helping a man who had a stroke clean his house because his wife was getting treatment for leukimia out of state, and recycling thousands of bottles and cans. I am in the class and noticed that all of the students took the assignment seriously and got a lot out of the experience!"
Geoff: "I was living in Buffalo, New York, last year, in a section of town that everyone called the ghetto. I was 21 years old, and every day I had to walk for half an hour through the worst streets just to get to work. I usually got stares for being one of the few white guys you'd see on the street. It made me really nervous, despite the fact that I'm 6'2 and a weightlifter. I've always been a pacifist, and haven't been in a fight since 9th grade. One day, I was heading down Bailey Avenue, and five black teenagers started following me, yelling insults and laughing at me. I was trying to ignore them, but they started circling around me while I walked. I told them to leave me alone, which only got them more riled up. Finally, one shoved me, and another one grabbed my backpack. Right as I was about to get a really bad beating, one of the guys gets clocked in the head with a soup can, and falls over. We all looked, and an old black man was standing at the back of his store about twenty feet away, holding another can. The teens started swearing at him, and he yelled for them to go away, and that he'd called the police. One of the teens started coming towards him, and gets the other can right in the face. The other three looked like they were going to rush him, but he reached behind the door and pulled out a *big* shotgun. He didn't even have to point it at them. They ran for it, practically dragging the first teen that got knocked over with them.
The man came over and checked to be sure I was okay. His name was George, and I waited with him until the police arrived to file a report and give descriptions. In private, George told me that his church, which was going to be closed for lack of funds, had recently received an anonymous donation for $5000 that had "pay it forward" written on the envelope. All the members had decided to do their own PIF's, and I was really glad to have been one of his."