It was a pretty dreary day here in Portland, with lots of drizzle. Bank robbery, teen suicides and gang violence dominate the news.

As I came out of our neighborhood grocery store this evening, a handsome young African American man in a football jersey from our local high school quietly asked for my attention. He was selling a discount coupon book and he showed me the book and all the local businesses where you could use it. “Jiffy Lube is a really popular one. You get $10 off.”

I gave the kid what in retrospect seems like a real grilling, and he indulged me politely.  What were they going to do with the money? He said they give it to their coach. Why do they give it to the coach? Well, the coach knows what the team needs and makes sure they get stuff. What kind of stuff? Well, like every two years they get new jerseys. And every Friday they have a team meal. The school doesn’t pay for any of that so they have to raise the money. What kind of food do they eat at the meal? Spaghetti. And healthy stuff. Fruit and carrots and stuff.

He said his name was Cleon and he’s a senior. He’s going to college next year but hasn’t yet decided where. Maybe North Carolina, or University of Oregon. He’s had scholarship offers at smaller schools and he’s keeping his options open. He was bright-eyed, serious and wearing just a hint of cologne.

I told Cleon I wasn’t going to buy a coupon book but that I wanted to give him something, just for him. “It’s not for your coach, it’s for you and you can do whatever you want with it.” I handed him the $100 bill and he stared at it. “Oh! Thank you, Ma’am!” He slipped it in the pocket of his shorts. “Thank you! That’s very generous of you, ma’am! Thank you very much! Thank you!”

I told him I could tell that he was going places and wished him the best of luck. “Oh, I will, ma’am! Thank you, ma’am!” I couldn’t resist pointing out: “Good things happen all the time, you know.” “Yeah”, he said. “This just made me think of that.”

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8 Responses to Thank You, Ma’am!

  1. Timea says:

    Lovely, Jill. What a remarkable journey this has been — and it’s not over yet!

  2. Carla says:

    Dr. Jill: Ray and I have been following along with your wonderful experiences and gifts. I must tell you, you inspired me yesterday. We went to a Tavern/Winery here in Williamsburg yesterday – actually more near Jamestown – but no matter. There was a long line to get in – mostly because the poor receptionist was also having to bus the tables. When he greeted his customers he was polite and efficient, but the Tavern was understaffed. (It was a Saturday of a holiday weekend after all.) We finally got seated and I continued to watch him hustle. The wait staff not only wouldn’t do any bussing, but I noticed one waitress even put dirtly dishes on an already bussed (by the receptionist) table, creating re-work. When we left I handed him a personal tip – only 5% of your daily giving however. He was surprised and said, “I can’t take this.” I said, “YES you can.” I walked again and said “Right Dr. Jill?” Anyway, you making great changes in all of us.

  3. RIGHT!! That’s great! I am so happy to have had any part in inspiring your generosity! That is one of the things I was hoping for from this process. Your story made me realize the power of money as a shorthand way of saying “I see you and what you are going through”. It is very effective! Thanks. Love.

  4. kris gardner says:

    This gave me chills…… keep it up. The way you write these, i feel like a am right next to you experiencing it with you… fabulous

  5. Richard says:

    I sent a message about your blog, “My Month of Hundreds” to many of my friends and family, including the minister of my church. My minister, David Alexander, then used Jill’s experiences twice in his sermon, thus passing it forward.

    I am excited that your inspiration, Jill, is moving in a viral manner, and is stimulating lots of conversation and acts of gratitude.

    Appreciatively … Richard

  6. jean says:

    I do not have a lot of money, but I guarantee it is more of a blessing anyday to give than to receive! I did not have anyone give me any money…I earned it myself and consider it complete joy when I give it away…you know what is more joyous than giving money away? Yes.. there is something more joyous, it is giving away a home or a car and not looking for the tax write off, it is giving when no one know is looking except for you, god and the person who is getting the gift! My entire life had been giving, and there is nothing more satisfying than giving!! I totally get and understand Jill Ginsberg because like Jill, I have been doing it all my life, so when I read this story, I know the feeling, there is none like it!

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