Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What do Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, Britney Spears and Christmas all have in common?

So what do Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, Britney Spears and Christmas all have in common?

Well, besides the fact that they've all sold their soul in order to make money, they all happen to be three of the top ten searched words on the internet today, according to one search engine optimization website.

I know, I should have had a funnier punch line than that, but really, what can one say about Blagojevich and Spears that hasn't already been said? Britney seems to be on a path of redemption and Blagojevich will soon be somebody's wife in prison.

Both deserve what they have coming to them.

In theory, using those terms in my blog title and in context in the blog entry will get my blog ranked a little higher and generate a few more new readers. I don't know about that, but hey, I'm trying to learn about SEO, so it's worth a try.

The REAL topic of this entry is...the one that's left...CHRISTMAS! Or rather, an early Christmas present delivered by me but with the help of many generous blog readers.

Last week, I reported on a homeless woman living in her car who had come to see a "pay what you can" performance of a play I was in, and during the performance, someone broke into her car and stole all of her worldly possessions.

I STILL hear her voice in my head...her pitiful cries of "why did they take my stuff??".

I know I can't save the world and I'm not trying to--but I felt somehow responsible for this woman, who had come in from the cold for a little respite that our play represented, and wound up losing everything she had. I wrote about finding her after the show cold, crying and her life in tatters.

I put out an appeal for help to raise some money to replace some of her stuff (new clothes, blankets, etc), and WOW, DID YOU RESPOND!

We raised a total of $418.37 for her, which I rounded up to $420 and delivered tonight.

Her name is Melody, and she's been homeless for awhile.

She's staying with her brother for now, while she is trying to get into a homeless shelter full time. She doesn't work and collects a disability check for income. She's very nice and looks you in the eye when she talks with you. She's doing the best she can, just like the rest of us.

It's a pretty tough life when the thing you hope for the most is that a bed will become available for you in a homeless shelter.

It was fun to do something nice for her. When we met, I told her the story about me writing about her and that we had taken a collection for her. She was very touched that strangers would offer to help.

I gave her the money in an envelope, but didn't tell her how much was in there. We chatted for a few minutes, she thanked me several times, and she declined when I offered to buy her dinner. It WAS dinner time and truth is, I was hungry and wanted to get a little more of her story. I think she felt like she was already receiving too much charity and didn't want to impose, so I didn't push it. We hugged, I asked if I could take her picture so folks could know her--that she wouldn't be "some homeless woman", but just Melody, and we left.

The REALLY fun part happened about an hour later. I was sitting at home when my phone rang. I answered to "oh my god. Oh my GOD. THANK YOU!!"

She had thought maybe we had raised $100 or so. And yes, she was very, very grateful for that help. She never looked in the envelope I gave her until she got to her brother's place and when she did, she immediately called me, just as happy as could be.

$400 is a LOT of money to her. Getting that much money was like winning the lottery for her.

Enough for her, as she put it, to have a Christmas. She plans to take some of that money and give gifts to the people who have helped her, as well as replace her clothes and get her car fixed. (her locks are broken, which is why her car got broken into in the first place).

So...a little tragedy has turned into a positive, thanks to you, my friends. I'd give it a shout out by name, but I know that pretty much everyone who gave something did so because they are kind, caring people, not because they want any recognition. I think I've thanked everyone personally, and if I haven't, well, I suck. I'll go through my list and check it twice and take note of who's been nice.

Melody says...from the bottom of her heart..."Thank you, God Bless You, and Merry Christmas!"

And a big shout out to the internet, without which we wouldn't have been able to raise that much money so quickly to respond to a person in need.

Thank you, internet! Just for being here.


Dave said...

What a great story, Mark.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that you really _aren't_ just a big stuck-up actor!

Or, maybe, just like all those big stuck-up actors in Hollywood, you like to raise your SEO profile by doing charity work that brings attention to you?

Nah, you're just the real deal, like you always have been.

You are, as it was once said of Israel, "blessed to be a blessing."

Mazeltov, you mensch.

Actor, director, adventurer and social media guru. said...

Nope, I'm just like those big stuck-up actors in Hollywood.

Except I don't work in Hollywood. Or make the kind of money that they make. Or have a high SEO profile.

I guess I'm not like them at all.

I DO want to adopt Angelina Jolie, though. Does that count?

(thanks for the kind words, Dave!)