Being Charitable is Selfish?

Alyce Dear Diary

starting a business around “giving” isn’t selfish, just ask google!

When I started talking out loud about the idea of giving people something free so then they can give it to someone else the feedback, was let’s say mixed.

A few questioned our motives.  “You’re just trying to make yourself feel good.”  “You don’t care about these people you’re giving to, you just want to have bragging rights about doing something nice.”  “If you want to genuinely give something to someone, do it anonymously, that’s REAL giving.”

I sat, and I thought. Is it wrong to want to feel good about doing something nice for someone?  Is it worse to want to “brag” about the nice thing that I did?  My character was being challenged!

I did what the average person would do, I googled the word nice!  Strangely enough the definition didn’t really explain what our business was trying to accomplish.  Went further and googled synonyms of the word nice.  This eventually lead to the word charitable.

Definition below:

charitable [ˈtʃærɪtəbəl]


1. generous in giving to the needy
2. kind or lenient in one’s attitude towards others
Gift it Forward is a charitable movement.  I still think it’s being nice, but if Webster insists we’ll go with the word charitable for this example.  
True story:

Below is a picture of a backpack worn by a woman I don’t know.  I know her through a friend I have never met who was introduced to me by a “real” friend of mine.  This might sound complicated, and that’s because it is. 

A friend of mine, has a friend, and she has a friend who wore this backpack around NYC to try to help me do something nice for me, so my family and I could do something special for my husband before he died.   Run on sentence?  Yes.  Explanation?  Yes.

Comfort Quilt Help

“My kick a** friend Isabel wore this sign on her backpack while in NYC and on her way to and from the city !! Alyce, is a friend of mine… should ALL do what the sign says, then you’ll be in the know !!”

Was this “stranger” seeking fame?  Not sure, but I don’t think so.  Did she feel incredible when it was posted on my Facebook wall for my 5,000 friends to see?  I bet she felt amazing.  Amazing because she was making a difference.  It’s no different than running a race for a charity and proudly wearing their symbol.  No different than campaigning for something you really believe in.  We just happen to really believe that people should be nicer to one another because it makes everyone involved feel good.

Here’s my weekend of feeling amazing!

Went to Starbucks on Thursday.  This is nothing new as I go to Starbucks every single day.  

StarbucksOn this particul morning one thing was new.  A man sitting alone asked me if my car was fast.  “Nah”, I answered.

I then learned in our 20 minute conversation that:

  • His girlfriend of 2 years died last month in her sleep.  She wasn’t found for 5 days.
  • Mark is his name
  • She is the reason he has been sober for 26 months
  • He is a veteran
  • His cat is the only “person” who loves him
  • The concrete is his home as he lost the apartment he shared with his girlfriend
  • He hasn’t driven a car in ten years
  • A long time ago he was married
  • His hometown is Portland.  He plans on moving back there in July.  The homeless care is much better there than in Florida
  • He’s a little scared to be alone
  • People don’t talk to him.

During our time together, I told him that I was a widow with three small children.  “I get the emptiness and the sadness that you feel”, I told him.  Tears were in his eyes.

He talked and I listened.  I talked and he listened.  I looked at him and he looked at me.  We both shared similar sadness, and similar relief that, “we both got it”.

My coffee had been waiting for me for 20 minutes when our conversation started to draw to an end.  I explained to him the new business the kids and I started called Gift it Forward.  Told him about the video my husband made two weeks prior to his death.


This led to a brief synopsis of how our business is just about trying to be nicer to one another.  Look each other in the eye, instead of at the street, treat people just a bit better than we had yesterday.  With that, I took off the Gift it Forward bracelet I was wearing and gave it to him.  With tears in his eyes, he told me how grateful he was that I gave this gift to him.  It wasn’t money, or food, it was just a gesture to show I was listening, and that I believed he was important.

Did I feel good?  You bet I did.  Did he feel good?  I believe so.  I do know that I won’t forget him and I hope the bracelet he said he will keep forever will remind him of the day someone was nice to him for no other reason than “just because”.

There ya have it – I’m selfish – so sue me!!