I’ll keep this simple, like a love song.
Last week, my editor made it a point to tell me about a woman, Claire Mosenthal, who lives in Washington, D.C. — she’s owned property in Palm Coast since the 1980s. What made her finally donate it to Habitat for Humanity, he told me, was coming across one of my stories in the paper (read about that here).
She was inspired, he told me, and decided to give her house away, to some other person in some other state. To some total stranger.
Then, this morning, I get an email from Nancy Carlton, an Education Foundation board member.
Because of something I wrote last week — a story about new Education Foundation director Deborah Williams and this year’s free backpack drive — a neighbor of hers, Brian Unger, cut the school a fat check.
The foundation was $7,500 shy of their goal of stocking 2,600 backpacks with supplies for needy students. Now, it’s in much better shape, and so are the kids.
“He whipped out his checkbook and said, ‘How much do you need?’” she wrote. “He also said that had it not been for reading the article in the Palm Coast Observer, he would not have known about the program and the need.”
And that’s really all this column is about. These things happened. I was lucky enough to walk through their crossfire.
I like getting good news about good people in the paper, because it feels better than the alternative. I like writing about passionate kids. I like to think that somewhere out there, one of the stories of mine that gets shot out into the world every Thursday lands in maybe one person’s hands that relates to it.
But part of me doubts that ever actually happens, as if the pages just exist for the five of us in editorial. As if it’s just another college essay, another blog, another concept.
At the end of the day, I’m not the one donating houses or roofs or money or time. I work, for a paycheck. I complain about getting up early and sitting through government meetings. I complain for the sake of complaining, and then I get paid for it.
So it’s humbling, and satisfying, and a little scary, to think that what you write is actually being read somewhere, that what you cause actually has effect.
Sure, another guy could’ve gotten this job and written the same stories to the same results. But he didn’t.
And to think, just five months ago I was back living with my parents, in my childhood bedroom, trolling Craigslist for any work I could find.
And just five years before that, I had no idea what I wanted to “be” when I “grew up.” And maybe I still don’t. But I think I’ll stay on this path awhile, let it grow around me and through me like hair or tall grass. Let it take over. Let it lead. Let it wind into the forest.
*For more of Mike Cavaliere's column, CLICK HERE.