Inspiration Information — Betty Londergan

by aaron on January 7, 2011

‎”Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.  Kindness in giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu

On Dec 16, 2009, Reed Sandridge embarked on a mission of charity.  He had been fired from his job and for several months found himself wallowing in the despair and malcontent of unemployment.  Unable to change his situation and with no opportunities on the near horizon, Reed decided to change what he could control… his attitude.  So he set out to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the world immediately around him.  He determined that everyday for an entire year he would give away $10 to someone else who was unemployed and in need.  He called it the “year of giving” and for 365 days Reed set out to meet and aid complete strangers.  He shared his story and the stories of the many people he met on his blog yearofgiving.org.

I featured Reed’s inspiring journey last March, and have been following all the way up to the joyous completion of his year goal last christmas.  Reed considers himself a “Kindness Investor” — a term he coined to express his belief in the virtue of altruism.  It’s spin on the classic economic model: the money you invest now will accumulate and help you reap the benefits later, only applied to people.  The time you give in service to others will not only enrich them, it will accumulate a wealth of karma and positivity for you.

This isn’t revelation by any stretch, but rather basic common knowledge, passed down through centuries of religious texts, spiritual teachings and kindergarten songs like “the Magic penny”.  Everyone knows the golden rule of humanity.  Most of us are just too busy or self-survivalist to enact it.

And then there’s Betty Londergan.

Just over a year ago, Betty was sitting in the movie theatre watching Nora Ephron’s Julia & Julia — a movie about an enterprising young woman who sets out to cook 365 recipes from Julia Child’s famous cookbook, everyday for a year… and blog about it.  And the question struck Betty, if she were to do something everyday for a year, what would it be?

The answer came to her in an instant: she would give.  Every single day she would find a social organization to feature and support with a gift of $100.  And she would write about it on her blog What Gives 365.  Sound familiar?  On December 31st, 2009  (two weeks after Reed Sandridge launched his year of giving campaign), Betty posted her first entry into what would become an amazing network of 365 inspiring stories of people and organizations making big differences in the world.

Now pause for a moment and do the math.  Reed gave away $10 dollars to 365 strangers he personally met, walking around the streets of Washington D.C.  That’s $3650 for the year.  A lot of money for anyone to give away, especially a man who’d lost his job.   And here’s Betty Londergan, giving away ten times that amount for a whooping total of $36,500 dollars!  That’s more than most people on Planet Earth earn annually.

So you have to ask yourself, how did Betty afford to be so charitable?  When Mark Zuckerberg donates 200 million dollars to public schools, we barely blink an eye.  He’s a billionaire, so that’s nothing to him, a a drop in his ocean of affluence.  In fact, he almost owes it to us, right?   The same must be true of Betty, she’s gotta be a millionaire, so 36,500 is a tax write-off.   Nothing to be inspired about.

The truth is Betty, just like Reed, sound herself reeling for many months after being laid off from a long career as an Advertising exec.  Not only that, but the plummeting economy and the wall street reccesion collapsed a devastating portion of the financial investments Betty and her husband had spent years accumulating for their future.  The only nest egg she had as a safety net was the small inheritance her beloved father left when he passed away in 2003.

Like Reed, instead of spending that much-needed money on self, Betty decided to invest in something different this time, something with a much higher rate of return… she invested in kindness.

“Every day I write about why I chose to give” Betty writes on her blog, “which hopefully will inspire other people to give a few bucks of their hard-earned money, too. Or not. Whatever the outcome, I’ll at least have the deep pleasure of finding, supporting, and shining a light on 365 people, places and things that are making the world a better place.”

On New Year’s Eve 2010, Betty reached her goal of 365 days of giving.  Beyond the sheer monetary outpouring, her in-depth research and reporting on the many organizations she supported reads like an encyclopedia of inspiration happening all over the globe.  It is an incredible resource of positivity and action. One which personally inspired Betty to transform the way she views her role in the world.  In her own words:”Every day I end up talking to someone who’s doing something really extraordinary — part of this web of interconnected people who are trying to make the world better in their different ways — and it’s so exhilarating. I’m just blown away by them.”

In fact, Betty’s year of giving was so exhilarating that she refuses to stop.  But Betty is no different from you or I.  She’s an average woman with an extraordinary heart.  And that’s what makes her special.

I strongly urge you to check out her site, explore the archives for some unbelievable stories, and get inspired to get involved yourself.

This is my first inspiration information of 2011.  And I wanted to highlight this year that doing great deeds doesn’t require herculean efforts.   Kindness is an act of humility.  And every gift of philanthropy, no matter what the circumstance or size of your bank account, is a gesture of faith and support in the universal uplift of mankind.  We give what we can, knowing that the best investment we can make is in service to each other.

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