The Kindness / Gratitude Connection

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A friend of mine recently commented that his business and professional relationships were transactional, not relational.  In describing them, he meant that while they were congenial, the motivation for the relationship was quid-pro-quo.  

I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine, and will only scratch yours if you scratch mine.

A transaction-based relationship exists as a function of a reciprocal economic exchange. It is a sophisticated form of negotiated shared mutual self-interest. It's nothing personal. Just an agreement between two or more people, or the culture that exists in an organization or community.

In a transactional culture, the institutional relationship centers within a game of power, influence and control. The reward in such a relationship is the validation of self worth by the organization.

Communities, where a transaction-based culture exists, is oriented around the status of the influential and prominent, and the line between those who are and are not is clearly maintained as a part of the culture.

As my friend shared his experience with me, the context reminded me of the organizational leaders whom I interviewed in the mid-1990s. In those interviews, I asked,"If you were to lose everything this afternoon, who would stand with you?"  Most answered with silence. One or two offered, "My mother?" None said their business partners, their friends, their spouse or children.

One reason the psychic effects of the recession have been so severe is that self-worth for so many business and professional people is rooted in this transactional institutional relationship. In effect,

"I am my position, title, job responsibilities and compensation package."

Displaced from this organizational setting after years of service, cast adrift into a sea of other unemployed professionals, it quickly becomes apparent that these transactional relationships cannot sustain us through life's disruptive transitions.

Like the leaders I interviewed, many people are finding that their confidence in the support and security of their institution is disintegrating. As accomplished professionals, who successfully maneuvered the challenges of operating within a transactional business environment, they now realize that they are on-their-own to chart their future course in an unknown landscape where organizational connection matters less and less, and human connection everything.

The Gratitude Response

For almost three years now, I have been on a journey of discovery related to the practice of gratitude. It all started with my reponse - Say Thanks Every Day - to Daniel Pink's Johnny Bunko 7th Lesson contest. My 7th lesson quickly became The Five Actions of Gratitude, and my thinking on gratitude most fully expressed in my 2010 Weekly Leader series, The Stewardship of Gratitude

As with most of my projects, questions are the driver of discovery.

FiveActionsOfGratitude

At first, I wanted to understand gratitude, and how it can build stronger relationships and strengthen organizations. 

Then, I began to ask a question that got behind my original one.

When I am grateful to someone, to what am I responding?

After considerable of reflection, I finally concluded that it was human kindness.

By kindness, I mean acts that represent a certain kind of attitude and behavior that we have about people and our relationships with them.  I'm not just talking about family relationships, or close friends, but all our relationships, personal and professional.

Here's are some examples that inspire me to celebrate this human motivation.

A friend wrote me to tell about how she had been transferred to a different department within her company. While the change was good for her, it put her former boss and co-workers in a difficult position. Here's her description of what she did.

I told my ex-boss and current boss, that for my own conscience and personal conviction, I felt strongly wanting to help my ex-dept (esp my ex-bosses) as they were in very difficult times. I decided to take my few days of leave and go back to my ex-dept to coach and help them. Many, could not understand why I needed to go to this extent to help (by taking own leave) and jeopardizing my appraisal from my new dept by going the extra mile to help my ex-dept. I was not bothered because I knew what I was doing and I felt that loyalty, compassion and being there for my ex-bosses and colleagues were the most important things in life compared to how my new dept assessed me in my new appraisal.

My friend's former bosses and colleagues meant something to her. Her relationship to them was not a transactional relationship, but a professional relationship with a genuine depth of caring.

Another example that remains in my memory are the people I met in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast who had left the home communities, sold their homes or shut their utilities off, lock the doors and moved to contribute in the relief and recovery of the region following Hurricane Katrina. Six years later, some are still there making a difference as the region rebuilds.

I have the same respect for the hundreds, maybe thousands, of nameless people, who in the midst of the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center towers, the attack on The Pentagon and the bringing down of Flight 93 in rural Pennsylvania,  cared for people whom they did not know, yet were in need. Their acts of kindness and sacrifice are, for me, why we commemorate this day each year. They are a living reminder that not everyone bases their actions on a mutual economic exchange.

These examples, and many others, are for me the Kindness / Gratitude Connection.

Kindness

Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor describe kindness, in their book On Kindness, this way.

"... life lived in instinctive sympathetic identification with the vulnerabilities and attractions of others."

Kindness is not the first attribute that we'd use to describe a business. Yet, it is one that we may identify as why we are loyal to one.

Kindness is an expression of empathy.  People who are kind and empathetic are able to see in other people the challenges they face and the potential that they have.  The empathy connection, like kindness, builds relationships of strength to overcome serious life challenges.

Kindness is a leadership capacity that transcends the formal structure of the organization. 

Leaders who can engage people with kindness and empathy are able to find resources of motivation and commitment that are non-existent in a transactional relationship.

Kindness in its fullness requires a level of personal maturity that enables us to look beyond our individual interests. In kindness, we can see the dignity, value and potential of other people.

Think of the many professional situations we encounter everyday. We walk into a room. There are a dozen or more people in there. What should our intention be?

If our intention is to be kind to each person, then we enter the room with the purpose of honoring them. To do so I must see that my presence in the room is not about me.  It is about the connection that can be made between me and another person, and of the room as a whole body of people.  My purpose is not to get something, but to contribute.

Does everyone in the room deserve this sort of treatment? Obviously not. But it isn't about treating people as they deserve. That is the transactional mindset. Rather, being kind in a business and professional context is about my acting in such a way that we all are able to achieve higher levels of impact that we could have.

Yes,

I am suggesting that the practice of kindness and gratitude is a strategy for strengthening organizations. And, that without it, a company is weaker, less able to manage change and adapt to their opportunities.

Yes,

I am saying that a transactional mindset is inherently unpredictable and organizationally divisive, and contributes to economic instability in organizations and the global economy.

Yes,

I am actually saying that leaders who only know how to work within a transactional model are weaker, and, their displays of control and ego are masks for fear and a sense of inadequacy.

Treating each person with respect, empathy and honor doesn't mean that we are simply nice to them. It is means that we listen and treat their ideas and their actions seriously. By treating them with honor, we are able to be constructively critical. Without honor, our criticism easily becomes self-serving and destructive.

With honor and kindness, we build understanding between us that elevates our mutual strategic thought processes. This is often what is missing in executive efforts to increase team communication and decision-making. It isn't about the analytical process, but about the relationship that builds understanding, unity and commitment.

A reason why so much of social networking, whether in person or online, is a waste of time is because its based on a transactional perspective. When we seek to be kind, to contribute to the welfare of others, to practice the Five Actions of Gratitude, then the social dynamic changes. 

As my understanding of Gratitude and, now, Kindness has grown, I'm also seeing how my best online relationships are mutual expressions of The Kindness / Gratitude Connection. 

The Power of Mutual Reciprocity

Genuine accountability in relationships requires openness, transparency, and a mutual willingness to adapt and change to make the relationship work. We share a mutual intention to submit to one another's critique and counsel.

When mutual accountability works, the relationship transcends the transaction and begins to move toward a relationship that reflects the kindness / gratitude connection

Kindness fosters giving. It opens up social settings to opportunities that do not exist except when relationships are healthy and vital.  Givers are the source of this openness. Philanthropy is an embodiment of the kindness of strangers giving to causes and institutions that matter to them. Their giving creates the strength that makes a society work.

For this reason, gratitude is more than a function of social etiquette to which my grandmother would earnestly approve.  Rather, It is a fundamental part of every human relationship that completes the act of kindness by giving back in gratitude.

In many ways, the kindness / gratitude connection is a type of love.  Here is the beginning of Trappist monk Thomas Merton's, No Man Is An Island.

"A happiness that is sought for ourselves alone can never be found: for a happiness that is diminished by being shared is not big enough to make us happy."

"There is a false and momentary happiness in self-satisfaction, but it always leads to sorrow because it narrows and deadens our spirit.  True happiness is found in unselfish love, a love which increases in proportion as it is shared.  There is no end to the sharing of love, and, therefore, the potential happiness of such love is without limit.  Infinite sharing is the law of God's inner life.  He has made the sharing of ourselves the law of our own being, so that it is in loving others that we best love ourselves.  In disinterested activity we best fulfill our own capacities to act and to be."

"Yet there can never be happiness in compulsion.  It is not enough for love to be shared: it must be shared freely.  That is to say it must be given, not merely taken.  Unselfish love that is poured out upon a selfish object does not bring perfect happiness: not because love requires a return or a reward for loving, but because it rests in the happiness of the beloved.  And if the one loved receives love selfishly, the lover is not satisfied.  He sees that his love has failed to make the beloved happy.  It has not awakened his capacity for unselfish love."

"Hence the paradox that unselfish love cannot rest perfectly except in a love that is perfectly reciprocated: because it knows that the only true peace is found in selfless love.  Selfless love consents to be loved selflessly for the sake of the beloved.  In so doing, it perfects itself."

"The gift of love is the gift of the power and the capacity to love, and, therefore, to give love with full effect is also to receive it.  So, love can only be kept by being given away, and it can only be given perfectly when it is also received."

The expression of kindness is analogous to the expression of love between people. Paraphrasing Merton, we could say. 

The gift of kindness is the gift of the power and the capacity to be kind, and, therefore, to give kindness with full effect is also to receive it.

The gift of gratitude is the gift of the power and the capacity to be grateful, and, therefore, to give gratitude with full effect is also to receive it.

The fulfillment of love for Merton isn't the expression of it. Rather, it is the mutual benefit that comes from mutual giving and receiving. This is what the Kindness / Gratitude Connection means.

My purpose is to show that gratitude is not just some nice thing that we do. Oh, isn't she nice. She sent me a thank you note. My point is to show that the expression of kindness and gratitude changes a professional relationship from a transactional one to an adaptive one..

When we act towards others with kindness, we open up possibilities in our relationship with them that would be more difficult to discover if my only interest was closing the deal. We become much more aware of the situations that we each have, and those that we share. As a result our communication level is deeper, and our willingness to help the other out is greater.

The Future is Kind

Everywhere I turn I see organizations and institutions failing because they think they can sustain the past into the future. The transaction-based professional relationship and institution are relics of a much more homogeneous, economically predictable time.  It is the model of the 20th century that worked.

The 21st century is vastly different. The organizational forms of the past are disintegrating, to the point that all that is left is the commitment and desire of people to sustain the place of their employment.

The future is going to be secured in relationships of mutuality, kindness, honor, empathy and gratitude. 

These relationships will transcend all the boundaries that we spent the 20th century seeking to overcome. Where they remain are places still committed to sustaining the past.

The beauty of the 21st century is that it is open to everyone because it is built upon our relationships with one another. It is not just an ethical perspective, but a strategic development one. Making the Kindness / Gratitude Connection a strategic focus on a business, the kind of relationship we need to manage rapid, accelerating global change can be realized. The real beauty of it is that it is not institutionalize, but personalized in each one of us.

If we want to be successful in every aspect of our lives in the future, then learn to be kind, giving, grateful and honoring of the people in your life.


Katrina, a remembrance

Five years after Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coasts, the event remains a demarcation point in the contemporary history of the US. For many it show the inability of large, complex bureaucratic organization to effectively respond to the human needs of people impacted by the disaster. And for many it became a turning point in their lives as service to others became the purpose that got them up every morning. I share these images as a reminder that national and international events like these are really local ones. If we do not treat them as such, then we will forget that they are human ones. 

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A neighborhood street

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A tent encampment behind a gas station, December 2005.

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Kathleen of Katrina Relief, who left her home in Illinois, moved in her RV to Waveland, Mississippi, and started a non-profit to help in relief and recovery of the homes and lives of people impacted by the storm in Hancock County, Mississippi.

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Houses built by volunteers from around the country through Habitat for Humanity International Mississippi Gulf Coast.

IMG_8380 Randomkids from around the country who initiate their own projects to help people impacted by Katrina. Kids from around the country raised over $10,000,000 for Katrian relief.

The impact of Hurricane Katrina goes far beyond the loss of homes, jobs and property. It showed the power of volunteer initiative. It showed that individuals when they put their mind to it can do just about anything.  This is especially true when politics and personal gain are left out of the equation.

In many ways, the hurricane event showed the hidden kindness that exists in our nation today. Aristotle wrote,

Kindness (is) helpfulness towards some one in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped. Kindness is great if shown to one who is in great need, or who needs what is important and hard to get, or who needs it at an important and difficult crisis; or if the helper is the only, the first, or the chief person to give the help.

This is the untold story of Hurricane Katrina. A story that is impacted all of us five years on.


Saying Thanks Every Day - my inspiration for this ethic of giving

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When the Johnny Bunko contest was announced last fall, my first reaction was Say Thanks Every Day. It was a recognition of the importance of what others do for us every day.  But what was it that opened my mind to think that this response was the right one? I've been thinking about this over the past few weeks.

I can now trace my inspiration for Saying Thanks Every Day to my experience with people who picked up and moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Some came for a few weeks, other many months, a couple families I met, two years, and one woman, has been there since the beginning of the recovery.

Their example is of giving and self-sacrifice, of the desire to help and make a difference. Frankly, I have been moved by seeing what has taken place down there. It is largely hidden from the public's view because it was never a wide-spread movement of giving. It was simply people taking initiative to give in tangible ways.

I am grateful for them, and give thanks every time I hear a Katrina report for those who went and contributed. 

Please don't think this is something in the past. It isn't. It is still going on today. People are still taking time off work, using their vacation time, and at their own expense to travel from across the country to go to New Orleans and the Mississppi Gulf Coast to continue to rebuild the physical structures of communities - homes.

There is an ethic of giving taking place there that has has begun to transform how people think about their relationships, their businesses and their communities.  For all the things I've written about here and in my newspaper column, Hostmanship is the one that keeps coming up. Read my review here to learn more.

I want you to understand that there is something happening, and this vote for Saying Thanks Every Day is just a small part of it. it is happening without a lot of fanfare, and if Saying Thanks Every Day wins, then it will have a bit more public notice.

So, if you have not voted, please do so through next Thursday, January 15. (Voting is closed.)

And it doesn't go without saying, Thanks very much.


RandomKid December 2007 Newsletter

RandomKid is an organization that my daughter has been involved in for about a year. I wrote about the organization here.   It is a unique organization because it is focused on kid initiated, kid directed projects.  Check out the project page of their website.  These aren't adult projects where kids can participate. These are projects that kids have thought up, and through the support of their parents, families, friends and RandomKid, are either making a difference or a looking for the funding to start.

Here is their latest newsletter. I post it to bring encouragement and opportunity. Share it with kids that you know. Maybe one of them has a project idea that RandomKid can help them start.

RandomKid NewsletterRk_logo
National Task Force Visits the Gulf

Watch NBC Nightly News This Sunday, December 23*for a Special Report on RandomKid's Water Project. 

December 2007

I’m really excited for you to read what we have to share with you in this newsletter. RandomKid’s National Task Force to Rebuild the Gulf, a group of 10 kids from around the country, had the opportunity to visit the largest chapter of Habitat for Humanity, tour and volunteer in the gulf, thanks in large part to a grant from Target Corporation and a kind invitation from the Mississippi Gulf Coast chapter of Habitat for Humanity.  Our mission was to witness the progress that’s being made, the work that still needs to be done, and report back to kids across the USA to encourage continued support.

There are still nearly 60,000 people living in FEMA trailers over two years after Hurricane Katrina.  Faith has helped them all get through a tough time. It is a message we hear from everyone over and over again. They also are being helped by Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army and the countless volunteers that go down there to rebuild homes. But none of this can happen without money. We can’t allow ourselves to be tired of the story because it’s old news and we want to move on to something new. We have to commit to helping every last hurricane survivor back on their feet.  It is the patriotic thing to do, and our human responsibility to help people who can’t help themselves. We need to show them that the power of their faith can also be seen in each of us, their fellow Americans who care.

All but one of the articles here were written by the RandomKid Task Force kids.  One column was written by our newest Board Member, and dad of one of our Task Force members, Ed Brenegar.  Please take a moment to see the gulf from a kid’s point of view.  We hope you’ll help.

Happy Holidays!

~Talia Leman, 12-year-old CEO, RandomKid

“The Gulf trip was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life! I got to meet new people and help out in the Gulf.  After being there, I’ve come up with a new idea on how to children in that area.  I LOVE being a part of RandomKid!” –Task Force Member, 10-year-old Emma

Having Hope and Faith on the Gulf CoastRk_shelby_2
By Task Force Member Shelby of North Carolina

Nasheka Chatman and her three children met with the RandomKid Task Force on a warm Fall day in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Chatman has been living in a FEMA trailer with her three small children and her husband for over two years now. The FEMA trailer that the Chatman family is currently living in is 10 feet by 40 feet, or about the size of your garage.  They are very cramped and there is not a lot of privacy. When Nasheka was asked how she has gotten through everything over the past two years, she replied, "with prayer, lots of prayer." Chatman says she has had lots of support from family and friends. Of all the things that this family lost, what they miss most are family pictures. She wants other people to know that Habitat for Humanity was "sent by God. The people were sent by God." Nasheka's children, ages 4,6 and 7 have put lots of thought into what colors they will paint their new bedrooms.  The family is moving into their Habitat house on November 12th and they are going to celebrate by making a sign for the front yard that says, "Thank You Jesus for our new home." Chatman reminded us that, "People on the Gulf are doing okay. We still need you're help, but we are okay. People here are strong in their hearts." When asked what other Katrina victims should remember, she thought for a moment, then added, "Don't give up on your dreams [of getting out of a FEMA trailer and into a new home]."

“They will remember this trip for years to come.  So will I.   Nicholas is already brainstorming new ideas.  He can’t wait for the next conference call!” –Task Force Mom, Kelly

Leaving LouisianaRk_nicholas
By Task Force Member Nicholas of Massachusetts

As the jazz music dies; the scent of beignets disappears; the wrought iron architecture ends; and the skyline of the French Quarter blends in with the horizon, the memory of the destruction comes back to mind. The bus rattles and shakes along the highway. We pass abandoned homes and empty lots – painful reminders of the past. I can’t help but think of everything lost during the storm. There are so many still left with so little. It makes me feel like I need to do more. Money is really necessary to help others. I am reinvigorated. I am inspired to take up the task where I left off. I will once again look for new and creative ways to get others interested in the Gulf Coast disaster. So many have forgotten. But not me. I want to help the poor people of Mississippi and Louisiana. And I will.

Click here to DONATE  to RandomKid’s “Rebuild the Gulf Fund.”  100% of your donation will go to our “Rebuild the Gulf” program, 90% of which goes directly to building a Habitat for Humanity house in Biloxi, MS.

“Being a RandomKid parent has been an amazing experience!  I feel blessed and renewed as I see our children...our FUTURE... at work, giving so selflessly of themselves and their time!  I feel like I’m along for the ride of a lifetime as I see what these children are able to accomplish through their hopes, dreams, and energies!”  -Task Force Mom, Eldonna

A "Taste" of the GulfRk_task_force_2
By Task Force Member Emma of Iowa

(Editor's Note:  These are reflections written after a day when the task force got to experience many of the wonderful, unique things about the Gulf  Much of their time was spent in the New Orleans area on this day, and Gulf Port / Biloxi the other two days.)
 

Our day started with a LONG bus ride!  During the ride we rode on the bridge over Lake Ponchartrain.  It was really scary because the bridge went on and on for miles over nothing but water!  It was a funny feeling!

When our ride was done we ate brunch at Court of the Two Sisters in New Orleans!  It was really good food, and they had a jazz trio playing that was fun to listen to.  I tried crawfish for the very first time (I don't think I'll try it again for awhile!), and I also tried grits (I'll pass on those next time too!).  But the omelets were super, and so were the desserts!

After brunch we went on a ferry ride across the Mississippi River.  It was really cool! Even cars could drive right onto the ferry so they could cross the river! That was a strange sight!

After the ride we went to the Swamp Fest at the Audubon Zoo.  It was neat seeing al those animals!  It's hard to believe that alligators can be so dangerous because they looked really lazy and didn't even move a muscle!

Next we went to Cafe du Monde (that's where the picture of the task force above was taken), and ate bengiets.  They tasted like funnel cakes at our State Fair, only better!  I ate three! We then had about an hour to walk around in the French Quarter and do things. It was really fun.  My mom and I had a street artist draw our caricature!  We look kinda funny in it...he gave us real big heads and big teeth!

Then we went to the "old" Brock Elementary in Slidell that had been destroyed by Katrina.  We interviewed the principal, Rose Smith.  The school was all boarded up, but they're working on the inside and hope to be in by next school year.

We then saw the current school the Brock students are in.  They all have double-wide trailers for their classrooms.  It was neat seeing all the things they've been through and knowing that they have never given up hope.  Their trailer classrooms were actually very, very nice and big.  It was a nice feeling to know the kids can have good classrooms until they get back in their real school.

At the end of the day we ate at the Southside Cafe.  It was really good food...I had fried oysters!  I like oysters anyway, and these were yummy!

After that we went back to our stadium and went to bed.  It was a good, busy, and tasty day!

“We are honored to be hosting these children here in the gulf. They have proven to be a driving force in bringing awareness to our gulf rebuilding efforts, and we hope that their reports from the gulf will inspire many more children around the country to continue to help rebuild the thousands of homes that were destroyed by the 2005 hurricanes.” ~Kent Adcock, Director of Business Development & Community Relations for Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Carabiners:  A Kid’s Idea and a RandomKid “Micro Loan” are Catalyst to Gulf TripRkcarabiners
by Talia Leman, RandomKid CEO  and Task Force Member 

It all started with our carabiners. You know, those cool clips you can stick on your backpack, key chain, and just about anywhere else (They make GREAT GIFTS—HINT HINT!!   Click here to buy some!). Click here to read backstory on carabiners.

Kent Adcock with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of Habitat for Humanity received a carabiner at Habitat for Humanity’s “1000th Home Celebration.”  He thought they were pretty cool, and called us up to see if we’d partner with them to sell carabiners with their logo and our logo on them at a big event with professional golfers in November.   Next thing you know, he invited the task force to come!  But we still had a big hurdle:  How to pay for everyone to get there.  That’s where Target Corporation comes in.  Hooray for Target! They helped the entire task force come together in the gulf.  The Task Force has worked  together for over a year, and finally met in person for the first time.   We stayed in the Salvation Army’s VolunteerVillage in Biloxi, MS.  The Salvation Army ROCKS!  We met a really great kid named Conner there.  He and his family moved to Biloxi to help the Salvation Army after the 2005 hurricanes, and they’ve been serving volunteers in the MS Gulf Coast now for a year and a half.  I am happy to say that Conner is the newest member to our task force!

In Closing

by Anne Ginther, President of RandomKid

There are many more stories to tell.  "RandomKid National Task Force to Rebuild the Gulf" members met kids who had to swim through their house to get to safety, parents who lost everything.  Can you imagine having survived such a disaster and then living in temporary housing for over two years, knowing that there may be thousands ahead of you on the building list? 

GOAL:  Break ground on a  RandomKid / Habitat for Humanity house in Biloxi in 2008 = $25,000 needed!

The children on the Task Force were so moved by what they saw, that they have decided to set a goal to raise enough money to break ground on a MS Gulf Coast Habitat for Humanity house in Biloxi in 2008.  These kids have already raised a lot of money with their entrepreunrial ideas.  They need to raise $25,000 more to be able to break ground on a house.  Please help these kids make their goal, and help a family into their home.

Please click here to donate online using any major credit card, or make out a check to

"RandomKid - Rebuild the Gulf",

and send it to: 

RandomKid

P.O. Box 2064

McKinney, TX 75070.

In the coming months we'll share more of stories, photos and video from the Task Force trip.  We'll also introduce you to the new things they are doing to help our fellow Americans in the gulf.

We thought we'd close with some favorite quotes from Task Force member Shelby:

*Be the CHANGE you want to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi

*A big shot is a little shot that kept shooting.-Unknown

*You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however. -Richard Bach

Thank you for not only helping the gulf, but helping KIDS realize their power to help others.

Sincerely,

The RandomKid National Task Force to Rebuild the Gulf:

Ellison, Tiron, Shelby, Tonisha, Sarah, Talia, Lanna, Emma, Tonisha, and Conner

Anne Ginther, RandomKid President

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Comment: I written about RandomKid previously here .   You are going to hear more from me about RandomKid. I've just joined their board. I believe in their mission. I endorse their - our - mission because it is about the Kids and their ideas, and their leadership and their impact.   

Your financial support will help kids make difference.  I hope you'll consider making a donation.  You are not only investing in the future, but making a difference today.


Katrina storm pictures you've probably not seen

I received these pictures in an email today. They were made by a man in Magee, MS, where the eye of the storm passed thru -what an experience!  Magee is 150 miles North of Waveland, Mississippi where the Hurricane made land fall.  I believe you'll find that this storm was as beautiful as it was deadly.

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Funnel Hammer

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Rain Underneath
















This picture to the right is of a building on the campus of the Saint Stanislaus College located next door toImg_5337 Our Lady of the Gulf church in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi as it look in January 2007.  When I went down there in October 2005, Bay Saint Louis, Pass Christian and Waveland were cordoned off from the public.

The picture below was taken from the third story balcony of another campus building on the morning of August 29th, 2005. The picture is believed to be the initial tidal wave from Hurricane Katrina.




The tidal wave was approximately 35 to 40 feet high. (I've learned that possibly this picture was taken at a New Orleans power station.  Regardless, it's the same storm.)When it slammed into the beach front communities of
Storm_surge_3 Bay Saint Louis and Waveland Mississippi to completely destroy 99% of every structure along the beach for 9 miles and over ? of a mile inland. The destruction only started there. The flooding that continued inland destroyed the contents of all but 35 homes in these two communities of approximately 14,000 people.

Yes, that is the Gulf of Mexico. Normally, looking like it did last Saturday evening, in the picture below.

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Random Kids are Helping Habitat for Humanity Rebuild the Gulf

Just returned from three packed days on the Mississippi Gulf Coast engaged in gathering of kid social entrepreneurs from around the country - RandomKid National Task Force to Rebuilding the Gulf. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina two years ago, children everywhere were motivated to do something to help people.  In response to these kid social entrepreneurs, the organization RandomKid was formed by two moms - Anne Ginther of Dallas, Texas and Dana Leman of Des Moines, Iowa.  The purpose ofRkcarabinersfc RandomKid is to support the social entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts of kids.

Don't think kids can make a difference? Through the promotion of coin collection during Halloween, over $10 million was raised for Katrina relief . Other projects include a cool set of house-shaped carabinders to raise money to build Habitat house along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Check out these RandomKid projects. These are not kid's projects that RandomKid supports in a variety of ways.

Our gathering in Gulfport and Biloxi this past weekend coincided with the Jerry Kelly-Mickey BradleyJerry_kelly_with_randomkids_1 Pro-Am Golf Tournament. Last year, its first, they raise over $76,000, enough to build three Habitat homes.  Word was as we left the course Monday that they may go over $100,000 this year. Fantastic as the Mississippi Gulf Coast lost 65,000 homes as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Here's Jerry Kelly with some of the Task Force kids.

My purpose in writing about this trip is two fold.

First, to acquaint you with RandomKid. If you have children or know children who have ideas about how to help people, or simply the desire to help, let them register at the RandomKid website.  Is this an organization that is going to compete with your local community organizations? No. RandomKid can enhance your child's community service efforts by linking he or she to kids like them around the country. Kids need support and encouragement, as well as assistance in how to take their ideas and make them reality. Anne and Dana have proven to me that they understand what this means. It is about the kids and not simply about creating another activity organization for kids.  I have the highest respect for these two women who have done all of this as volunteers.

Secondly, it is to begin reacquaint many of you with the situation that exists along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Most of the debris is gone. The casinos the dot the shoreline along route 90 in Biloxi and Gulfport are back in operation. But to date, there are still thousands of families in FEMA trailers and who are awaiting money to rebuild. The subprime loan crisis cannot help but make it harder for people to rebuild their lost homes. All the more reason to get involved in some way to help rebuild the gulf.  They may not need you for clean-up and gutting of damaged dwellings, but they can use you to help build houses.

Right now, Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the only non-profit agency building new houses.  I'll write more about this fine organization and their plans in the next couple of days.  I'll also post some Katrina pictures.  You can see some pictures I took two years ago here, here, here and here.

Last word ... leadership is about the difference we make. It isn't about the power we wield.  If you have the desire to make a difference, then coming down to serve along the Mississippi Gulf Coast is your ticket. If you want to know more, contact me. I'll be glad to help facilitate your finding the right place.

UPDATE: Just to put some context on this. Here are pictures I took on three different trips to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

 

First Presbyterian Church, Pascagoula October 2005   

Gautier Presbyterian Church October 2005  

Mississippi Gulf Coast October 2005

Mississippi Gulf Coast December 2005 

Bay St. Louis January 2007