Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hope is (literally) in the cards - .@hopeinthecards

While most of the people that I have befriended on FriendFeed, Google Reader, and Twitter are people that I have never met in real life, most of my LinkedIn contacts and many of my Facebook contacts are people that I have known at one time or another. Both services have allowed me to connect with college, high school, and even elementary school friends that I haven't seen in decades.

Well, LinkedIn allowed me to connect with former Reed College classmate Russ Haan, and he asked what I was doing these days. I then investigated to see what HE was doing these days, and he has an interesting story. Among his several activities, one of them is a project called Hope is in the Cards. Here's part of the story behind this effort:

Like many other Americans, I am a small business owner facing tough times. I’ve depleted my savings, retirement plan and credit lines so I can keep my employees. I’ve cut my own wages so they are the lowest of any employee in my company. I’m trying to support family members. And I’m barely keeping my head above water.

One day, I felt especially overwhelmed. The news reports job losses, lay-offs and the bad economy were terrible. It was followed by more news about bailouts, stimulus plans and government rescues, but none of those would help people like me. None of them would help my employees or my business. I felt forgotten, ignored and that all my work for the last 20 years was for nothing.

And then I reflected. I still had a roof over my head. I was not cold. I was not hungry. In fact, I was blessed. Even if I lost everything I had, I was still healthy. I had family I could count on. I could do physical work, somewhere else, doing something. In fact, I was one of the lucky ones.

So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I wondered if there was a way I could lift up someone around me. In fact, maybe not just someone, but everyone. The entire Nation even! And that’s when it seemed to me as if everything I’d ever done, actually led me to this very point in time.

That was the instant HOPE IS IN THE CARDS was born.

The premise is so simple:

What if every American sent just one letter or card of support to another American. What would happen? What would it do to our collective national spirit if the word HOPE was written on the back of every envelope?

Read the rest here, or go here to learn how to participate.
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