Do The Next Good Thing is a project produced by Jeff Buell & Two Buttons Deep. We are spreading kindness around the Capital Region in hopes of making the world a better place. Kindness is contagious, and it all starts with someone doing the next good thing. Giving someone a compliment, a hug, or paying it forward, you never know what an act of kindness can do for somebody.
For the next year, we will be giving away $50,000, $100 at a time in hopes of inspiring others to do the next good thing. We will pick random people to receive the money and document their reactions and what they plan on doing with the $100.
This week we were featured on Inside Edition. No big deal.
Here are their stories.
From half a block away I see Bryant and know instantly he’s one of my people. He’s wearing an open plaid shirt with a robot monkey t-shirt underneath, a healthy beard, and slightly rolled up sleeves exposing a red watch. He’s got a style.
He’s wearing a permanent smile too. He greets me as an old friend.
“What’s going on my man?” A conventional two-step handshake follows.
We’ve never met. Bryant does not hesitate when I ask him how he pays it forward.
“Usually when I’m at a grocery store, or I’m shopping, and there’s a guy in there like, ‘can you give me a dollar’, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and I just hand it to him.”
The benefit of the doubt? A lot of people, too many, have been asking me if I’m worried about where this money is going. You don’t worry Bryant?
“No. He needs it more than the next man.” End of thought process.
When I tell him about the project and the money aspect he lets out a shocked, almost inaudible “oh.” It’s only after I give him $100 that he turns serious. He has a goal in mind, buying his first car. He chuckles when he tells us he’s eyeing a Honda Ridgeline.
“I’m gonna save it. Straight up. I was going to SEFCU. I was going there right now, I swear on everything I love. Saving up for my first (car). Bills. Bills. Other responsibilities. Stuff like that. It’s hard out there. One day at a time. When something knocks you down, you get back up.”
He tells us he’s currently working for a temp agency. And that he’s in shock.
“I’m blown away right now,” he says when asked about paying the kindness forward. “I don’t know what I want to do. There’s a lot of people that need help out here. If everybody came together and did stuff like this more often, this world would be better. If everyone would just stop doing all this other negative stuff, we will have a better life. That’s how it should be.”
He’s the first person I say I love you too. We laugh and walk down the street together. Hand him another $100 and tell him to keep the attitude positive. And keep smiling at strangers.
Sometimes it’s others that say what’s occurring much stronger than we ever could.
Today’s story is about a family in Troy and a young kid whose speech into the camera fills me with emotions. This $100 was given away by Leigh Hornbeck Trombley from the Albany Times Union as she talked with us about Do The Next Good Thing.
As Leigh talked to a mother of 3 about what the random gift meant to her, Jack turned the camera to her son.
He’s steadfast, almost unshakable, with the camera on him. One minute he’s running through a sprinkler on a hot afternoon. The next he’s speaking his truth.
“Every day is a good day,” he says. “Because God insisted it be so.”
These are the first words out of Alvin’s mouth, as he pushes his granddaughter up State Street in Schenectady. The tone of adoration is unmistakable in his voice as he talks about his fourth grandchild. He makes it clear that her presence is all he needs for happiness.
“We just drove up from Missouri,” he says. “I’m from here, but we live in Missouri now. Her great grandfather has just been diagnosed with mesothelioma. We wanted to come and make sure if we don’t make it back in time…”
His words trail off, and he ends with a “yeah…”
His honesty is intimidating. How do you comfort a man that says he’s having a great day? How does he speak about his father’s death sentence moments after saying that? We talk about how Do The Next Good Thing aims to revive kindness between random strangers each day. Our small show of kindness pales in comparison to Alvin’s general life philosophy. Every day is a good day. And yet, he’s moved to tears when he’s handed the $100.
“Thank you,” as he wipes the tears away. “This is unbelievable. God Bless You.”
People show gratitude in different ways. Alvin chooses the most basic human emotions. Hugs and tears. And not just for us, for everyone nearby.
A man on his tragic homecoming finds comfort amongst strangers. The money does not make the moment, the experience does.
The hugs. The tears. The strangers. The hope.
Standing on Broadway talking with Spectrum News about Do The Next Good Thing, I’m discussing the perspective shifts we are looking for and how you never know what chain reaction
will be created with a random $100.
Jim is walking by and doesn’t miss a beat. He stops in his tracks, sticks out his hand and deadpans, “Okay then.”
Now, Do The Next Good Thing is about randomly ambushing people with kindness when they do not see it coming, and requests for money aren’t a part of the project. But this moment is too good to let pass by.
Caught off guard, I struggle to get the money out of my pocket with the stations mic stuffed into my jeans. It allows Jim time to talk about what he does.
Jim works each day at Troy’s Tech Valley Center of Gravity to improve life around us. He works tirelessly on his ideas with the goal of helping people on a daily basis. It’s his only goal – a truly selfless goal. His current devotion is perfecting a device that can create energy in emergency situations to assist in the rebuild of places like Puerto Rico when disaster strikes.
This man who has found us- instead of us finding him- is the very definition of doing the next good thing.
And what is he going to use the $100 for?
“Probably a bottle of Prosecco,” he laughed. “It’s my birthday.”
Lonnie saunters across 4th Street from the corner store carrying a bag of Frito’s. He’s headed back to work at the barbershop when we ask how his day is going.
Lonnie is new to the area having moved here from Brooklyn two years ago. Lonnie isn’t a hipster and this isn’t a new Brooklyn story. His was a new start. His thoughts on Troy?
He never breaks eye contact. He never stops eating the Frito’s.
I ask him what he does to pay it forward in the world?
“Whatcha mean by that?”
We tell him a little about Do The Next Good Thing.
“What do I do about that,” he laughs, almost incredulously. “I just be kind to people. You just have to be nice to people.”
He pauses briefly as I say that not everyone is willing to even do that. Let alone do more.
“I do what I do, but I got kids, you know. Three kids. So I can’t do as much as I like. I got bills that need to get paid. But I can be kind, you know.”
I reveal the final piece of our puzzle, and hand him $100, telling him that all I want in return is that kindness he talks about, maybe bump it up a little. The tough exterior melts. He squints at the $100, back up at me, and smiles brightly. The quick, confident answers disappear and are replaced with genuine stammers.
“For real? What do you mean? Are you serious? Don’t lie to me? Oh my god. Thank you. I appreciate this. I really appreciate this, man.”
As he walks away, Lonnie never stops eating that bag of Frito’s. His simple pleasure combines with a random stranger to make quite a story. He announces what just happened as he walks back into the barbershop, which promptly empties in disbelief, people wondering what exactly is happening.
We’re just doing the next good thing…
Hudson and Jackson race around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Downtown Troy on an incredibly beautiful October day.
Their father Quang is thoughtful as we sit nearby, discussing the nature of the world today, the importance of being kind to others, and why Do The Next Good Thing saw the light of day. He is humble about the good he does – playing music for seniors at a nearby apartment complex at night as they sit in the courtyard. His smile is genuine.
I hand him the $100.
“Really? Are you serious? Wow. Thank you so much.” He calls Jackson over to sit with him. He tells him that this complete stranger has given him $100. “What do you think I should do with the money?”
“Ummmm… Xbox!,” as he snaps his fingers. The innocence of childhood.
“If we weren’t to buy something tangible, something to touch, should do something with it, go somewhere, or spend it on somebody? Should we go somewhere?”
“Ummmm… probably go to the Great Escape!” He slides off the monument.
Dad laughs and tries once more, “Do you think we could do a good gesture or someone, buy something for someone?”
He answers Hudson, his younger brother, and everyone laughs.
I start to walk away, leaving them to their possibilities. Moments later the kids run up to say thank you, grab a quick high five, and triumphantly announce, “WE’RE GOING TO CHUCK E CHEESE!!!”
As luck would have it, I run into Quang later that evening.
“We spent $40 on tokens at Chuck E Cheese, which is a lot of tokens,” he chuckles. “We spent $20 on a bouquet of flowers for the babysitter, I bought drinks for a few people, and now I have $20 left to give out.”
He smiles. “Thanks for this. It was really amazing.”
Donna was smiling from the moment we met her, despite the fact a stranger just approached her early in the morning in a crosswalk. As she carted luggage behind her. She happily told us she was on her way to work at the state.
Donna is one of those people that is firm in her responses. There was no hesitation with her, she will tell you exactly how she feels. And you believe it.
“I love my job, I’ve been doing it for 30 years and I still enjoy it. We help people every day, it’s very rewarding work.”
When I described the thought process behind Do The Next Good Thingshe said, “Well, I think that’s great!”
When I explained how I was using money to promote injecting kindness into the world and hopefully removing the anxieties people have in paying it forward, I could tell she was not completely sold. I pulled out $100 to hand to her and her reaction was immediate.
“I’m good, I don’t need that, there are plenty of people that do.”
I told her excitedly that response was even better. The $100 was no longer mine, and the power was in her hands to do the next good thing. It took her less than 5 seconds to decide what she was going to do.
“Okay then,” she said smiling ear to ear. “I’m going to go right to Villa Italia Bakery and buy my entire staff breakfast!”
We shook hands and she marched down Broadway to do just that. Off to inspire 20 more people to do the next good thing.
Two Buttons Deep is a news & entertainment website based in upstate New York.
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