Helping a homeless teen cope from Lisa Suhay on Vimeo.

The Doing Good Gambit – move made off the board

At NICE I try and teach life strategies as well as chess moves. That means leading by example in many ways. so in this blog I do occasionally post an example that I hope will inspire others. It is not about me. It’s about all of us here on the board and how we can win in life by becoming actively involved in the Doing Good Gambit.

I have found over the years that when I was losing my home to foreclosure, had no Christmas tree or food, there was always someone there to reach out to me and mine. I have never become a wealthy or famous person and so I cannot pour out money like water to wash away the problems I see today. what I have in great supply is my gratitude to those who helped me and so I Pay it Forward every chance I get.

Often, it snowballs and I end up coming back a few times to the same person or issue to try and help. What I have learned is that it is definitely not about me being a hero, but rather about making others find their inner hero.

Most folks don’t feel comfortable, or maybe confident, about picking and choosing someone to help. However, once the train is going to the station they are happy to help stock it up for the journey and stoke the fire.

Chelsea ‘s story is a fine example of combining your pieces for a strategy that is hard to beat. In this game you elevate a lot of pawns to Queens very rapidly. Knights leap in and save the day. Maybe Chelsea won’t end up in a castle, but the motel will feel like it to her and her mom after eight months living in a minivan, especially in this freezing cold.

Chelsea’s story began at Christmas. I had already checked-off my whole do0-gooder Christmas list of collecting toys and food for people. My Facebook friends got involved and my pal Kevin and I did all the deliveries. Then I posted videos, so people could see that they had made a real difference and want to help again next time around.

I had planned on one other food run. It was a small and humble request I saw on Freecycle from a mother asking only for a “good meal for my daughter for Christmas Eve.” I had responded to her that I would help, but a few days before Christmas her phone was cut off and she was evicted from the motel where she had been staying.

I fired off a bunch of emails to her Freecycle account and had a good cry over it and lo and behold, Christmas Eve a friend of hers allowed them to stay two nights and use a phone.

We agreed to meet in the parking lot of The Virginian-Pilot Newspaper on Christmas Eve. She and her teenage daughter arrived in a minivan the identical color, make and year as mine. Sure, coincidences happen. They never happen to me. I get signs. I knew this one was important.

I’d never helped anyone as guarded as this woman and her daughter. It reminded me of feeding squirrels in the snowy woods in New Jersey: Scurry out of safe space. Get food. Look around. Scent the air. No eye contact. Pause in silent acknowledgment. Gone. Actually, she did say thank you as she swiftly packed it all away into the van, which clearly contained a warren-like assortment of everything they owned plus blankets and pillows.

They were ready to live in the van. I asked and she admitted they would be in the van the following day. Then they were gone.

I didn’t hear another word from the mom until this week when she sent a one-line thank you note via email adding that she would have written sooner, but due to a heart condition had been hospitalized for the better part of a week.

I took a chance and replied asking if they were living in the van and if her daughter was in school. “Is there anything I can do for your daughter?”

The dam finally broke and she wrote that her daughter, 16, went to a local high school, but had stopped eating and was covered in sores. She was also failing two classes and did I know a tutor who might volunteer to help her a bit?

Also, and here’s the kicker, she said her daughter never asked for anything, in fact Chelsea rarely speaks anymore, but she said she wished she could go see performer Hunter Hayes at the NorVa Feb. 16th. Just a wistful wish. Not a request.

P.S. they’ve been in the van since June with only a brief stint at the motel. Oh, and PPS: dad is homeless too and contact with him she said, was what got her hospitalized from another near-fatal heart attack. So reaching dad is not an immediate option, but I am tracking him just the same.

In my world, that amount of info’s the green light to get the do-gooder squad of Facebook friends into play. Let me tell you, these friends of mine are getting to be one fine-oiled machine. Amy Waters Yarsinske and Lisa Cohen together could stop the Apocalypse given a cell phone and a strong cup of coffee.

More here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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