Day 4 of 31 October days. October, my Month of Hundreds.

I spent almost the whole day in either a building or my car, and I was starting to wonder how I was going to pull off my $100 give. This afternoon I drove down Stark Street into Gresham. That is one sad trek past pawn shops, trailer parks, boarded up motels, strip malls, strip joints and used car lots. There were people about, but I didn’t want to just whip over to the curb, screech to a halt and jump out with the dough. I was looking to make a connection.

I really didn’t need to go into Grocery Outlet but, when I got back to Portland, I drove right by it and found myself pulling around into the parking lot. It’s kind of a fascinating place, with a noteworthy mix of brand name products and oddball knockoffs. I wandered around for a while, looking at all the stuff on the shelves. I watched two cute Spanish-speaking kids with their parents, who were cheerfully making a selection from the ground meat area.

Then I saw a tall, lean, young man with a ponytail puff of curly hair. He was headed away from me down the aisle and I slipped into the next aisle thinking I might bump into him. I saw him turn the corner and head in my direction. The carefree yet earnest way he carried himself reminded me a little of my older son, Aaron. He was clearly stocking up on some necessities, and I watched him put a bunch of cans from a low shelf into his cart.

I waited until no one else was nearby and then walked over to him. I said hello and he gave me a broad smile. He kept smiling as I launched into my pitch: “This might sound a little strange….” “OK,” he said, “I’m prepared.” “Are you sure?” I asked. “I think so!” he said, the faintest shadow of concern flickering across his face. I told him what I was doing and handed him the $100 bill.

“Wow!” he said. “This is so weird. I mean, this is amazing! I can’t believe this! Wow!” He told me he had just moved into a new place, was looking for a job and was really short on cash. He said he felt like he had just entered a parallel universe. Then he stuck his hand out and said, “Hi. My name is Colin.” He wanted to know more about me and what I was doing and said I could take his picture and put it on the blog. I showed him the picture and we both laughed at the “FRESH MEAT” sign in the background. He asked if he could give me a hug. Then he said, “I wish you much good fortune and blessings.” That was very sweet and kind of funny, because it was just what I was hoping for for him.

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24 Responses to Connecting With Colin

  1. Penny Gruver says:

    Perfect! I like his open face and his smile includes his eyes…

  2. Margaret Hinshaw says:

    AWESOME. Really great example of synchronicity – right place, right time, right people meet. Gives me renewed faith. xo

  3. Carrie says:

    Hi, Jill.

    My name is Carrie Sharpe. I am Louise’s niece (Stuart’s daughter). I don’t know you that well, but I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother. I lost one of my grandmothers this summer, so I can only imagine how much worse it must be to lose a mother.

    I am very intrigued (and also impressed) by how you are choosing to use your inheritance. It seems to me that most of us are so self-absorbed most of the time… this is a great way to show how we can impact the lives of others everyday. And even if people can’t afford to help others financially, there are so many other ways to reach those around us… give a listening ear to someone who needs to talk, make a meal for a family who has suffered a loss, offer to babysit so busy parents can have a date night together.

    Thanks for sharing this experience with everyone. I’m going to pass along your blog to my Facebook friends. Can’t wait to read how the rest of your month goes!

    Carrie 🙂
    PS- I really like the way you write. I appreciate how you share your genuine thoughts, fears, reactions, etc. I’m inspired!!

  4. Hi Carrie! You are up late! I’m so glad you found the blog. So far, it has been an amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You made Aunt Louise cry. Keep reading and chiming in!! Aunt Jill

  5. Carrie says:

    Haha! I am usually up late! We have 5 kids, and it’s the only time I can get anything done or think clearly enough to answer emails, etc! Tell Aunt Louise hello from me. Have a great night!! 🙂

  6. deb bernstein says:

    OK, I’m crying again! I suppose it might be in the nature of my work (I need to think more about this, actually), that I so often hear about the worst in people. I’m so deeply touched to get to “hear” the inner workings of a sweet piece of altruism in action. Thank you for including me, dear friend.

    • Deb- Thank you so much for reading and sharing your response. This is a really interesting process! I am simply amazed at all the sweetness that is bubbling up – in me, the recipients, and the people hearing about it.

  7. Michele Wolfson says:

    Hi Cousin!

    I just read this blog and I think its fantastic. I went back and read the rest of them and I could not tear my eyes away from my computer screen. You are an excellent role model and some day (not any time soon… THATS for sure), when I have children of my own, I will tell them all the generous doings that their cousin Jill has done. I’m proud to be your cousin and glad we connected in Portland! I will keep on reading your posts as you keep on giving away $100 bills.

    xoxoxo Michele

  8. Debbie Hess says:

    Hi Jill,

    You don’t know me, but I work with Nola Wilken. She passed along your blog to us here at work and we’re thoroughly enjoying it. What a positive counterpoint it is to the mostly depressing news we’re bombarded with every day.

    AND…your writing style is delightful! I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this, but your blogs would make a wonderful little book.

    Thank you for letting us come along with you on this inspiring journey!


    • Debbie- Thank you so much for reading along. It is really fun to be doing this and getting to see so much sweetness and goodness. We don;t hear enough about it, but it is all around us!

  9. Donna Lieberman says:

    Hi Jill,
    I’ve been following your blog and been inspired so many times by what you say. This story and the smile on Colin’s face just made my day. Such wonderful sharing writing and sharing about this “adventure in altruism”.


  10. sharetta says:

    Dr. Jill,

    This is GREAT! I mean it has blessed me soooooo much reading about the wonderful experiences you have encountered. Thank you for letting God use you to bless others!~ I am blessed! Much Love!~

  11. Richard says:

    This is an amazing experience – I’m eager to vicariously enjoy the next post. I empathize with the dilemmas you face as you pick the next benefactor, deal with your own inner dialogue about who/how to approach, and ultimately make your decision. Seems like your intuitive sensibility is working very well, and I appreciate the quality of your sharing. What an experiment! I sense a book in the future. Love and great appreciation to you for what you are creating and stimulating in the many readers of your blog.


  12. Timea says:

    Superficial as usual, I will say: Colin is adorable. I want to adopt him! Keesses.

  13. Rebecca says:

    That’s great – I’ve met Colin. He’s a hard worker and a good guy. Definitely a good recipient.

  14. Amy Anderson says:

    Hi Jill

    I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your beautiful experiment with us all, many of whom are total, well at least almost strangers! I found your blog through Olivia, Aaron’s girlfriend, as I did the same masters as them in Ireland, only one year later. Aaron was my thesis supervisor and he was instrumental in me keeping my sanity the whole way through that process. It’s easy to see where he inherits his patient attitude, ability to encourage, kindness and sense of humour from now. I’m a little late to the party, and working my way through from the beginning, but thought I’d say thanks just now, because seize the day right?!


    • Jill Ginsberg says:

      Amy, thank you for your lovely comment! If I can take any credit for the wonderful man named Aaron, I am lucky indeed. And Olivia is a delight. Thank you for reading. Jill

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