Pay It Forward

On September 8th 2009, I donated my time and lead an effort to empower a staff of over 500 employees at a soon-to-be-closed American Airline call center in Windsor, Connecticut. The event was held at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino, in Uncasville Connecticut.

I have flown all over the country with American Airlines during my career as a comedian and a speaker. Throughout the years I got to know some of the workers very well. One person In particular is Barbra Bell. Or as I like to call her, My miracle worker.

When I learned of the pending closure, I decided that I was going to somehow help the departing workers find optimism during these trying times. I t was my way of saying “Thank You” for the many years of outstanding service they provided. I told Barbra that I was going to speak to the entire group at a venue in their area. Her response was “How in the world are you going to do that!?” My response to her was “I don’t know, but I will find a way.”

In the movie “Field O f Dreams” Kevin Costner hears a voice “Build it and they will come.”
Well, I heard a voice inside me that said, “Ask and they will do it.” That’s exactly what I did and that’s exactly what happened.

The first person to jump on board was Diane Goodman, President of Goodman’s Speakers Bureau. Together we created an event themed “Don’t Stop Believin.” The following are those who graciously donated to the cause. Gina M. Rodigau, CMP, director of hotel sales at the Mohegan Sun, who allowed us to use the beautiful Cabaret Theater for the event. Darby O’Brien, advertising and public relations, who helped promote the event. Dattco, a New Britain based bus company, volunteered to provide American employees with no-cost transportation to the event and back. And the magnificent Passing Zone, my friends and a much sought after juggling act, who performed with me. By the way, these guys received four standing ovations. Wait, there’s more. The event was also sponsored by Al Parinello, Executive Producer of the film “Clear Blue Tuesday.”

This entire event brought together five industries that were hit by the current economy in an act of mutual support. As I said in the press release, “These are trying times. It’s time we all look at the big picture and ask ourselves what it is that we can do to help each other.” The message, “Pay it Forward.”

Without a doubt, giving of ourselves is the one activity that makes us realize that we are all connected, and that it’s this connection that plays a big part in making the world wonderful. Words cannot express the emotions and the gratitude from those who attended the event on September 8th. It is without a doubt one of the most gratifying feelings a person can experience. I can honestly say that I am the happiest when I’ve done something nice for someone. Don’t just take my word for it. Try it for yourself, The next time an opportunity arises, take the initiative and perform an act of kindness for someone (even a stranger) and notice how you feel. For example, the next time you are walking through town and notice a parking summons on someones windshield, go over to the car, yank that sucker off, rip it up and throw it away! Why should that person have to pay for it? See, you feel better already, don’t you?

These are trying times my friends! Once again, the message, “PAY IT FORWARD” Let’s help each other.

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