Sunday, January 9, 2011

Paying it Forward: The Encouragement Project

John Marine | 1/09/2011 04:23:00 AM | | | | |
"One million good deeds are coming to Houston," says a local nonprofit organization called The Encouragement Project. I was inspired to blog about this nonprofit and paying it forward. I was first introduced to this project by watching CW 39 News at 5 (especially CW 39 News at 5:30). Here is the video segment that aired on CW 39 News. Mia Gradney is the anchor, and Steve Mark is the reporter:

^ courtesy:

And here is a YouTube video that offers up thoughts on what The Encouragement Project is all about:

This blog post is a two-for-one: I'm chatting about The Encouragement Project, and I also want to talk about paying it forward. It is mostly supposed to be about The Encouragement Project, but I also want to talk about paying it forward to add some more spice to this blog post. So I hope you enjoy both elements of this blog post!


I am not paid or endorsed by The Encouragement Project. This is not any kind of testimonial or anything. I am simply providing this as exposure and for educational purposes. All commentary expressed in this blog post (and in my others) are all my own personal commentary.

--- The Encouragement Project and the One-in-a-Million Project ---
The Encouragement Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (or not-for-profit) founded by Brian Figat, a former creative arts pastor for Baypoint Church in Texas City, to deliver promise and hope to the greater Houston area. Brian Figat came up with a fundraiser by challenging his congregation to give up one cup of coffee a week for eleven weeks. Did the congregation step up? Well, they raised over $10,000 USD for their fundraiser! So, it was obviously a great success. To me, the One-in-a-Million Project by The Encouragement Project is a great opportunity to provide a smile to faces who otherwise weren't expecting such good deeds to come their way. That shows generosity and kindness. Nothing is more heartwarming than being the recipient of a good deed... even if you weren't expecting one. It is one of life's pleasant surprises when an anonymous stranger comes around and offers you something kind or sweet.

The goal of the "One-in-a-Million Campaign" is to (according to their website) "perform and inspire one million good deeds in the city of Houston." Houston is a city of about 5.6 million people. That takes a LOT of inspiration to provide over one million good deeds! That's like taking roughly 1/5 of Houston's population and performing deeds city-wide and area-wide to help offer kindness and benevolence to others. It is a method of paying it forward. It is not about one person offering service to others and expecting some tangible token of respect in return. Instead, the pay it forward approach is in offering acts of kindness to others WITHOUT asking for or expecting anything in return. You just offer an act of benevolence to those who otherwise don't expect having an act of kindness acted upon them. No progress is made unless random acts of kindness are committed and documented. Their goal is to have over one-million benevolent acts committed.

Final Thoughts on the "One-in-a-Million" Project.

I was amazingly touched by the story I saw on CW 39 News (that you just saw in the video earlier) that I wanted to blog about it. Maybe the best aspect of this story was that the news segment featured a 4-year old boy offering smiles to others. Being that young and doing good deeds for others can set him up for the future and help build his character for years to come. It makes you a better person as you grow up. Paying it forward is all about acting out of yourself to help or inspire someone who otherwise is unsuspecting of such benevolence. You care more about helping an unsuspecting, good-hearted stranger rather than help someone out while asking for something in return.

Remember that this blog post is also about paying it forward; not just about The Encouragement Project. Get ready to read the second part of this blog post.

--- Paying it Forward ---
The rest of this blog post is about Paying it Forward and what all it entails. Have an enjoyable read.

What is Meant By "Paying it Forward?"

Pay it forward is an expression about doing good deeds for unsuspecting people without expecting anything in return. It is about offering an act of kindness to others because you WANT to make someone's life better, even if only for a few seconds.

Paying it Forward Explained.

For many people, though, we seem suspicious or potentially targeted when a total stranger offers an act of benevolence to someone. We sometimes are not sure why are given such benevolent acts. Some of us who feel suspicious sometimes wonder if the person is trying to set you up for something damaging in the future or if there are any strings attached or rabbit punches in store for you in the future. But in my view, receiving an act of kindness from a good-hearted total stranger shows generosity and respect. The person doesn't know you personally, yet still wants to offer his/her benevolent energy and services to you. That is probably the reason why there aren't more people willing to offer an act of kindness to an unsuspecting person.

It doesn't take much to deliver a smile or help someone feel better. I mean, simply saying "hello" to someone is enough to draw a smile. People feel respected when you greet them. Opening doors for other people is surely a benevolent act. One thing I always want to do is help people feel better even if only for a few seconds. There is so much negativity that goes on in our world that we sometimes forget there are honest-to-goodness people out there doing great things for others. The good deeds don't have to be to the magnitude of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" or "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," but just the fact that someone cares and is willing to devote his/her energy to help others feel better is certainly praiseworthy.

Pay it Forward: Honorable Mention!

I want to give honorable mention to a movie I've heard of, but never seen. Most of the thoughts of paying it forward are expressed in this movie. The movie features Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment. Here is a trailer to the 2000 Warner Bros. movie entitled "Pay it Forward" below:

Like this movie? Check it out on Amazon:

--- In Case You are Reading (and enjoying) This... ---
I now want to offer words to people who are (or may be) reading this blog post. So...

In Case Anyone from The Encouragement Project is Reading This...

This is a great-sounding cause. I wish you the absolute best in keeping this project running strong. Anything to make life better in a wonderful city like Houston is vastly appreciated and admired. I wish you the absolute best of luck in accomplishing your goals for all of your projects.

In Case Anyone Who Pays it Forward is Reading This...

You represent some of the great people in the world. It doesn't take much to make an unsuspecting person or total stranger happy. There is so much negative that we are introduced to in this world that we need people like you (among others) to help pass along positivity and hope to this world. You care more about helping others and offering smiles rather than doing so in expecting some sort of prize or honor.

To learn more about The Encouragement Project and of their programs, visit You can also visit this site to share your stories of paying it forward and good deeds you've committed for others. You may also visit these resources to learn more about The Encouragement Project:

* The Encouragement Project's Facebook Fan Page
* The Encouragement Project on YouTube (encouragementproject)

(More links may be provided in the future.)

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