Friday, February 6, 2009

Do 1 Thing


Along my drive home from school last night (another one of these wacky trips for a skiplane fly-in, but with a hair cut, too!) I stopped at a truck stop in Tomah, Wisconsin. I gathered my trash and grabbed my purse to head inside, and as I walked inside a man asked me if perhaps I could spare a few dollars to help him and his sister get to Minnesota. The only cash I carry is a single dollar that, for a long time, was the only money I had, and I venture to say it has sentimental value now. I explained that I was a college student and really didn't have any money on my person. He was understanding and shrugged it off, continuing to wait outside in the dark and cold.

I pondered these events while I was inside the building. When I had pulled up to the truck stop, I paused my iPod, ended my phone call on my Bluetooth headset, and put my brand-new phone into my purse. To say that I don't have anything of material value is certainly a lie. Granted, the iPod was a gift, as was the Bluetooth headset, and my mom had bought the new phone when she signed a new contract. Yet, I couldn't shake the image of the man waiting patiently for a good Samaritan, his sister sitting in the cold car. I was reminded of a social project entitled "Do 1 Thing." Its purpose is to raise awareness about homelessness through photos taken by participating photographers.

"Do 1 Thing" stuck with me. For all I knew, the man and his sister were collecting cash when in reality they had more than they let on. But again, maybe they were driving to Minnesota for a new chance at life, perhaps their only chance. I'll never know. But it struck me that too often we question people's motives to death. I decided that if he was still outside when I checked out, I would head back in and pull some money out for him, even if it was only $10 or so.

He wasn't there when I walked out.

I looked around for the car, hoping they had managed to move on, wondering if they had given up.

I never saw the car again.

Who knows where they ended up--I can only hope it was in a better place and situation than they were leaving.

The experience certainly got me to think for quite a while. I was initially skeptical of the man and his motives, but why? Why must we be so skeptical, instead of generous enough to offer a helping hand? Why are we no longer capable of basic trust? Why do we refuse to extend a helping hand without documentation of one's situation and motivation?

I pondered as I wheeled on towards my warm home with its wireless internet and cable TV, evaluating myself. You see, people have taken chances on me. I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of several scholarships, given to me with the hopes that I would do something worthwhile with the opportunities afforded by the money. The donors had no way to know what I could turn out to be, only a faith that it would be something worthy of their gift. Yet, in today's society, we are taught to be suspicious and untrusting, and I saw that reality to be ingrained in my own personality.

And I resented it last night.

That why I'd like to invite the members of the aviation community to take note. You never know what your gift of flight can do, or where it may lead. But, if you never take the chance to offer that gift up, you're guaranteed to never see the payoff.

There are many youths out there to whom aviation and flight is nothing but a faraway fairytale thought. To those of us lucky enough to experience it, it is a beautiful reality that has likely shaped our personality in one way or another. Give them a chance to see what we see, and then put it within their reach. Extend your offers to those who otherwise never would have dreamed of flight, never
could have dreamed of flight, and take a chance or two.

Do 1 thing: Give wings. Give fascination. Give passion. Give dreams.

You may just regret it forever if you don't.



  1. Hi,

    I'm the founder of Do 1 Thing and I wanted to thank you for writing about our project and sharing your thoughts. We hoped Do 1 Thing would inspire people as it has you. I hope you'll join us in doing 1 thing to help on Valentines Day. Share our site with your friends - Change will only come because of people like you.

    I'd like to share your story on our blog. Would that be ok with you?

  2. Go ahead and share it if you wish. It really made me stop and think how a few small things can really add up--very though-provoking!

  3. Thanks so much. Can you please send me a couple of photos of yourself as well as flying pictures? We're trying to launch our new web site in the next 24 hours and need it asap. Thanks, Naj

  4. If you can send your email address that would be great. Otherwise I'll post them at where you can save them from.