Recently I was made aware of a random act of kindness in our Valley. Nothing newsworthy that would warrant a story in the paper but something worth sharing nonetheless. It seems that a young man, fresh from his eye exam, was choosing eyeglass frames at Sonoma Medical Plaza Optometry. As eyeglass wearers often do, this teen modeled several potential frame choices for the staff and other customers in the office. After narrowing down the choices, he called home to make sure the selections fit the family budget. Another customer, overhearing the conversation, simply handed over her credit card to the cashier, paying for the glasses outright without a second thought. However, there was a catch. Giving the boy her name and number, she told him that she expected to hear from him after graduation about his future plans. She wanted to be sure that her investment was going to pay off. She was “paying forward” this boy’s education saying, “I want to know where good eyesight has gotten you.”
The concept of paying it forward is not new. First introduced into greater consciousness by the novel of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde and made into a movie a short time later, the concept it kept alive today by the Pay It Forward Foundation. In a nutshell, it’s about random acts of kindness that spur others to action. Like the eyeglass purchase above.
While the economy is taking a toll on many of us spreading our money too far and wide we did recently witness our community coming together to raise money for Japan. An awesome and inspiring day organized by our own Penny Byrd, aka Popo the Clown, the event raised a significant amount of money. If we can do that, we can do almost anything.
Which brings to mind a few other areas where the community could use some help – a little pay it forward, if you will. First and foremost is our beloved Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. Donations are still being accepted to cover a nearly $10,000 shortfall from last year’s show. And a significant amount of money is needed to keep the 2011 show at the same caliber as always. See the story on page 2 for more details as well as how to donate and keep this show as spectacular as always.
Other Sonoma endangered species, the annual Cinco de Mayo festival put on by La Luz and the Hit the Road Jack foot race. At The Sun, we’ve not heard any buzz about the Cinco de Mayo celebration on the Plaza. What happened? As for Hit the Road Jack, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation web site says that it is taking a brief “time out” for 2011 due to the difficult economy. This is a fundraiser for our schools – already caught in the budgetary crosshairs in Sacramento and not a place where we should be skimping. Not able to connect with SVEF Executive Director, Laura Zimmerman, before deadline, we can only hope that the 2012 event will be bigger and better than ever.
One place where the pay it forward concept is alive and well, it seems, is with our local youth. At Easter dinner it came to pass that one of my teenaged guests, SVHS freshman Madeline Cline, wasn’t going to be able to talk for 25 hours starting at 7 p.m. She and a group of fellow high school students here in the Valley joined over 91,000 participants across the U.S. to stay silent in order raise awareness and money for the plight of child soldiers in Africa. Called Invisible Children, the organization has raised more than 33 million dollars and built 11 schools, many for girls, since their inception.
As a community, we do an incredible job of supporting one another. Let’s continue to do so, paying it forward to keep our time honored traditions alive.