Monday, August 10, 2009

Pay it forward, Tampa Bay!

It's nice to know there are still some good souls out there.

One of our local small business folks who recently had to shut down because of the ruined economy also just lost her house to foreclosure. In a week's time, she and her two children would be out on the streets.

But Kalena Bowers of Parrish is resourceful and savvy. She turned to Craig's List and posted a listing asking for help from the community in finding a solution. An act of kindness was born, and someone generously offered their home for her family to stay in until they get on their feet again.

A hand up. Different than a hand out. That's what binds us all in times of crisis, I think; empathy for the human condition. And God knows right now that so many of us are affected by financial constraints.

Bowers then posted a different kind of ad on Craig's List after that random stranger offered to help: a listing urging the rest of the community to do the same. So many others are struggling, and so many of us have help to offer, even if it is just something small. She was positive that people would catch the wave.

She was right. The deluge of responses has pushed the formation of a new group: "People Helping People." Simple. Poetic. To the point. Bowers is gathering a small army of resources together to meet weekly and offer the same hand up to others in need. There's strength in numbers, and also in diversity.

Being compelled to give and give back is contagious. I still believe - as does Bowers, I'm sure - that there are genuine people with warm hearts out there, and that we can make this world a bit better one spoonful at a time. One small kind deed at a time.

Bowers isn't looking for miracles. Whether you bring food for the hungry, school supplies for the needy kids, vouchers, gift cards, knowledge, job offers, kind words, moral support - it all counts. The sum of our parts is greater than the whole. Even if we ourselves are in need, too.

So let's pay it forward, Tampa Bay. To be a part of it all, contact the group at (941) 870-5618.

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