bigish small news – what can 1 dollar really do?

Like in chess – sometimes you need to start playing the game and figure out the moves along the way – are you in?

used with permission, libbyportraits.com

Ben and I just started a virtual experiment, right here.

Often, experiments fail. Experiments are risky. Experiments push boundaries. Many times, experiments raise more questions than they answer. But in the end, something new is discovered.

It’s important to say right up front that we’re not setting out to solve any specific problem – but we do hope to discover something new – and maybe bring a little restoration along the way.

But first, let’s set the scene…the scene you forgot about…

You are walking down Market Street in Wilmington, DE (or call it Houston, TX or Los Angeles, CA or Detroit, MI). Everyone is moving quickly except you. Today you’re not in a hurry. You begin to look around and suddenly you feel out of place. It’s a cool day, but the sun feels warm. You look up for some reason, to find the sun. It’s right above you. You realize you forgot where you are headed – and you begin dodging people. They know where they’re going – “whoa that guy has a nice suit!”

You think, “Get your head out of the sky bro”. And you let these thoughts pass as melancholy begins to set in.

Rounding the corner, RIGHT in front of you is a man. He has distinct features. His face is especially worn. He looks right at you – right into your eyes – he says with a half smile “any spare change? I could use some.”

In a split second several thoughts run through your little mind. You react. Mostly with questions that you keep to yourself. It’s amazing how quickly your brain is working today, and how good you are at having a conversation with yourself.

“Is that alcohol I smell? Why is this guy bothering me? He should get a job. Really, why can’t he get a job? I have a job. He should get a job. Well maybe he has some kids at home, that could really use my change. Do I even have any change? I only have bills. I wonder if I have any dollar bills. But that would mean I’d have to stop and get out my wallet – and what if I only have fives? Then what do I do? What if he grabs my wallet? Maybe I should keep walking. Yeah – keep walking. Don’t make eye contact. That guy’s face looks worn. His cheeks look really worn. His shoes are pretty nice though.”

You keep walking. It’s your choice.

Since you’re melancholy today, you keep asking questions.

“Maybe I should turn around and talk to that guy. But wouldn’t that be even weirder at this point? It’s easier to keep walking – but now I feel bad. Why do I feel bad? I haven’t done anything wrong, have I? Man, I’m thinking too much today – I just need to stop thinking and remember where I was headed…what can a dollar really do anyway?”

You don’t answer your last rhetorical question.

So that’s the scene, can you relate? We can.

Maybe the person you walked by was Herman. We know Herman really could use your dollar. Let us introduce him…

This is a picture of Herman (right side) spanking Ben in chess, while Eden and I watch. Ben, what was it – 8 moves?

Stretch getting spanked in chess

Ben and I take homeless people to lunch every Wednesday. We’ve discovered that in many ways, they take us to lunch. We’ve been at it for almost a year now, and it’s too much fun to stop. Our friends have joined in.

We met Herman last fall, and have had a great time getting to know him, and hearing his story.

We know where he hangs out, where he keeps his stuff – and how he helped raise his grand nephews while he lived with his niece. He likes chess, and his street name is Rue. He wears size 32-36 waist jeans. He doesn’t like riding far distances to buy pasta sauce. Thanks to Joanna and Ryan he has a tarp to keep his stuff dry. Thanks to Krissy – he has a sleeping bag. He’s been on a waiting list for a subsidized apartment since February 16, 2006. He’s still waiting. We’re trying to help him get on other lists. He’s turning sixty soon. He worked in a factory near the train station for most of his career, and now sees himself as retired.

He has a routine to keep himself moving and out of trouble. He’s a leader in his community, and police officers actually talk to him as a liaison to others that hang under Herman’s Bridge.

Ben is moving to Houston in June to start med. school, and we want to do something significant for Herman before then. We need your help.

The idea is simple – that a bunch of smalls would come together to make one big. Or maybe it’s better said that a bunch of smalls will come together to make a relatively bigish small. Got that?

This idea of a lot of smalls coming together comes right from Shane Claiborne – he describes it really well in his book Irresistible Revolution. Ben and I read Irresistible Revolution last summer. It challenged us to listen to Jesus’ words with new ears.

As I mentioned earlier – this is an experiment of sorts – and we don’t expect to solve world poverty here, or even to solve all of Herman’s problems. He has as many as Ben and I do. But if we have learned anything over the last year – it’s that we can help. We’re in a place to help. If you’re reading this – that means that you have access to a computer – and that you have time to read a random blog – and that you probably have a dollar in your wallet.

Go ahead and check, seriously. We’ll wait….

Good. So here’s the deal. We have some financial backing; someone has offered part of their tax refund to help Herman. They said that they would match up to $500 dollars for a onetime gift to help Herman.

Last night, I asked Eli how much we would have if one person gave $500 to Herman, and 500 people each gave $1 to him. Eli thought for a minute – and the light bulbs started to go off. “Herman would have $1000 dollars!”

I asked him, “Eli, are you in?”

He said, “Can I give 2 dollars?, then he’d have 1000 and one dollars.” (Seriously, I’m not making this up to be cute – that’s what he said. You can ask Libby)

I said to him, “No you can’t give me two dollars buddy – but you can give me one. Maybe you can think of your own idea on how to use your other dollar to help someone else.”

So I’m asking you to give Herman a dollar. That’s all.

Details details!

You may have the same question Eli did: Can I give two? We’d rather you just give one. Be like Eli, and give your other dollar to someone else. If you live in the area – feel free to randomly walk up to me or Ben and hand us a dollar bill. We’ll know what to do. And it will become two.

Or, if you live in Texas (as many of my readers do) – you can use the PO box below.

This is a true 1 for 1 match, so if all seven of our readers each give a dollar (and we know that Eli is already in) – then we’ll buy something really nice for Herman with our 16 dollar bills. We’ll be creative and make sure it’s something nice.

We won’t give him a life-size cardboard check – we’ll talk to him – find his need – and then get something he can use. In other words, we’re not going to give Herman cash. We’re going to work with him to see how this money might help him best.

Our simple contract: You trust us and we’ll tell you the story. It’s simple.

A thousand dollars for Herman.

Are you in?

I hope 500 of you are.

Remember, this is a virtual blogging experiment. But it’s true. Feel free to be critical and not join in. Or, feel free to be critical and join in anyway. Or just join the game.

Follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Comment here on this blog.
  2. Leave your first name and your city/state, or if you’re scared just leave your “street name” – and tell us “I’m in.”
  3. Follow through by sending $1 to:

Herman’s Bridge
PO Box 363
Montchanin, DE 19710-0363

Go tell 500 of your friends before June. Help us make this idea fly.

PS – in case you’re wondering – I checked, and it is legal to send cash in the mail. Just wrap it in a sheet of paper with a little note to Herman and we’ll see that he gets it. We’re giving grass roots a new definition. We’re going old school here. Or send a money order or check made out to “Terry Foester”.

One last thing – we’re doing this in Jesus’ name. Herman already knows this, but we want to help him understand.

Here’s the reality of the situation…it’s not our doing.

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them. 1 Samuel 2:8

It’s true.

186 comments

  • April 16, 2008 at 5:15 pm //

    Sweet idea.

    A dollar bill is a facade that wraps over love which can only be properly recognized by a homeless guy. The love that I recognize may be a compliment; for you it may be a hug. But for a non-using homeless guy, a dollar is a sign of significant and tangible love.

    I want to send this blog to my friends but as you update it, this entry will be pushed to the bottom right? Can we create it’s own page so that when people open the link, it will always be there?

  • I’m in! Lainee’s in too! After I told her what you were doing (and she saw the picture of Herman) she said “Yeah! Can we do it too? Do I need a paper thing or some coins?”. I’ll see you Sunday and give you some form of currency;)

  • We’re in. Peter, AJ, and I will be sending our three dollars. This is a GREAT idea!! Can’t wait to read about the response you get!!

    Carol

  • Ryan, Ruby, and I are in! This will be a great experiment. I’ll forward this to some friends. We would like to meet Herman sometime, let us know next time y’all get together.

    Wilmington DE

  • Hi Terry, I’m in! Thanks be to God for your inspiration and courage to try something creative to help a guy in need.

    I hope your efforts are indeed blessed well.

    Greg
    Wilmington, DE

  • April 16, 2008 at 8:36 pm //

    Hey Big T~ You are the root, we are your grass shoots baby!! You can count on our dollars- there’s six here, well probably not six as one doesn’t have any money yet! So 5 have money and will send money for Herman.
    Terry (now from Mike), I don’t understand the part where you had all those questions to your self when you saw the homeless guy asking for spare change. I ANSWER all of MY rhetorical questions (does that mean it’s not a rhetorical question?).
    Okay, so my wife thinks I’m a little crazy and she was a little slow on the uptake of my last joke.
    Okay, I’m done.
    We’re IN!

  • April 16, 2008 at 9:24 pm //

    Dan and I are in! Herman cracks me up. When we went to take him some stuff a couple weeks ago, I asked him if he beat Ben at Chess. He said yes. It was such a big win he was going to get it “notorized.” :-)
    Barbie!

  • April 16, 2008 at 9:59 pm //

    We’re in. Sean, Beth, Amanda and Sam makes $4. We’ll give it you on Sunday! What a great experiment!
    Beth

  • $1. A little “change” to us – a big “change” for Herman. We’re thrilled to participate…

  • I was blessed to mmet the sweet lady who sent this to me last Sept in a photography class, I will Gladly send Herman a gift.
    Is there anyway we can all meet Herman? Or i can meet him in person? You mentioned he lives under the bridge?

    God bless
    Vicki Nixon

  • I am in!

    I am amazed at your willingness to try something like this, and I am excited about sharing it with my friends!

    Many prayers, and God bless!

    Cassie
    Wilmington, DE

  • April 17, 2008 at 9:19 am //

    Thanks for the chance to help, guys! Your commitment is a real encouragement and challenge.
    Count us in!

  • Terry & Ben,

    Loved the story! very inspirational! Count me,Rob,Brittany & Dominic in! We will see you on Sunday. I met Herman at church and was very happy to see him. Please keep me posted.

  • Wow, thanks to everyone for jumping in. We really didn’t know what to expect, but it’s exciting to see people get behind this. Thanks for spreading the word. Wildfire.

    Ben and I talked to Herman yesterday, we asked him “what would you do if someone gave you a thousand dollars?”

    First, he said he’d go buy some fruit. He also had a few other good ideas…

  • Hi Brian,

    Thanks for joining in. Paypal certainly is the easier way to pay, great idea.

    Even so, we prefer to get real dollar bills handed to us, or sent to the PO Box. There is something significant about walking up to someone and handing them a dollar, or even writing out an envelope and dropping it in the mail. We don’t want to take that opportunity away.

    Email me at tfoester@yahoo.com if paypal is better for you.

    Later,
    Terry

  • Hey, Terry. Such a cool idea. Ken Grant sent me your way. I’m interested to see how far this will go.

    For my part, I’m in with a dollar.

    I’ve also posted it on my blog at RelevantMagazine.com and at the Junky Car Club (you should see both links on your trackback). Tomorrow I’ll post at blog.jasonboyett.com.

  • I like challenges like this. WE supply the resources; God takes those resources and does what HE wants with them! Count me in. And please keep us informed of how God chooses to bless Herman.

  • April 17, 2008 at 8:28 pm //

    You can count four Ruggiero’s In! I’m amazed at the response already.. One dollar, maybe just our morning coffee (that’s dunkin donuts not starbucks) could make a change in Herman’s life. You guys are out their making changes. It’s inspiring. I can’t wait to see the outcome.

    Bern

    Wilmington, DE

  • April 17, 2008 at 8:42 pm //

    thanks terry and ben for living out your faith and challenging the hearts of those around you! Jeff, Bethany and Andrew are in! (Ella is asleep right now and we’ll ask her tomorrow.)

  • I’m in. Praying for you and Herman. Thanks to Jason Boyett’s blog post on RELEVANT, I heard about this idea. I’m going to break up my bills…expect a buck soon. :)

    Ndidi.

    Denton, TX.

  • terry, you have four more dollars coming your way! my kids were really excited to help out and it’s like Christmas waiting to see what you guys give Herman!

  • April 17, 2008 at 10:09 pm //

    Count us in. It is a pleasure to read about your ministry activities on your web site.
    Tim

  • 10 people from lifegroup are in- john and katie, josh and christy, matt and suzanne, ben and carrie, jay and laura- have all given us a dollar. one lady from ali’s school- meryl- gave us a dollar (or as i call it…herman coin!)

  • April 17, 2008 at 10:38 pm //

    What a great idea and a very heart warming story..We will send it in and will continue to pray Herman and many others in need..Praise God for people like you..

  • I’m in! I will pray for Herman and others in his situation. May God bless your ministry. (Although it sounds like he already has!)

    Wheaton, IL

  • Shawna, me, and our kids are in. What a Jesus-like idea. It almost reminds me of a parable.

    I am going to put it on the Ogletown blog. Let’s see what God does.

  • Terry-

    Amazing Idea! Help a brother in need to do something amazing – go to med school. Karen, Annalee, Colin and I are all in! We’ll get it to you through Bill and Pat

  • Heard about this via Jason’s blog on Relevant. In Lincon Nebraska here, and I’m in. Like everyone else on here, I can’t wait to hear how it turns out.

  • PS – I forgot! Jason Boyett gets props – read about the effort on his Relevant blog!

    He rocks. Relevant rocks. You guys rock. Most of all God rocks! Herman – and ALL the rest of us – will enjoy the “fruit” of this labor!

  • April 18, 2008 at 11:03 am //

    I’m in, representing Meridian, Mississippi!

    Oh, and again, this is thanks to Boyett @ Relevant.

  • I live in Philadelphia and, in addition to sending a dollar, intend to steal your idea and treat a homeless person to lunch.

    It’s easy to forget how easily I can help a man.

    I consider myself agnostic. I was raised Catholic but have become increasingly frustrated with the maladies brought about by organized religion. But I know that I cannot know for sure whether there is a god, just as no man or woman can prove it beyond a doubt.

    So I try — *try* — to lead a life of action, a life in which I treat others as I’d have them treat me, a life in which I adopt the greatest tenets of the world’s many faiths.

    That, to me, is far more important and meaningful than proselytizing or following a particular tradition.

    I can help. And I will.

  • April 18, 2008 at 5:30 pm //

    We’re in…two more on the way. We’ve forwarded the story to several friends. Can’t wait to see what happens. Praying for your ministry. Houston, TX

  • April 19, 2008 at 1:57 am //

    Ashley and Aaron Cauble are in!

    For the record, Aaron’s street name is “Edge.”

    Austin, TX

  • The Varnell Family
    Chattanooga, TN

    We saw this on Curtis Hill’s Ogletown Blog. Thanks for giving us this opportunity to make a difference in the name of Jesus!

  • Count me in! I’ll pass on the info to others too so they can have the opportunity to help out!

    Carrie

  • This is great. my cash is in the mail. My 7 yr old Cade is sending his birhtday money too.

  • Why not. I’m in.
    I’ve wanted to do this sort of thing for ages, I tried with google checkout (which used to have no fees) but it never caught on.

    Ariah Fine
    North Minneapolis

  • I’m in… Herman must be a good person if you want to help him out so bad and I am glad you are going to take the money and figure out what he needs the most or how he can best use the money rather than just giving him straight cash… that is one of the main reasons I don’t like to give money to people on the streets… not because I don’t want to help anyone out, but I am always just so worried that the money they get will just go for drugs, cigarettes, or even a prostitute…
    I am in a very bad situation medically and could always use money, but at least I have a car to drive(even if it’s falling apart) and a place to sleep(even if it’s not my place)…
    I will leave a personal message to Herman when I send in my dollar… I trust that you guys will give it to him…
    I love that you guys are doing this in God’s name too… and that you are making sure that people know that as well…

    Mark

  • Our whole family is in. We are sending 6 dollars, one for each member. Murfreesboro, TN. Thank you for this. The Irresistible Revolution is life changing to read…It is time to take The Bible seriously…and seriously BE THE CHURCH!

  • April 23, 2008 at 12:24 am //

    We are in with humbled hearts after reading this blog! We feel privileged to be part! Thank you!

  • Hi…..my good friend Carol with Pike Creek Roasterie sent this to me in Georgia! AWESOME, our 6 family members are in $6.00 coming soon…

    When I lived in Wilmington and worked with the State, I was eating at a restaurant near the train station when a homeless woman came in. She immediately emptied all of her change onto the table to show everyone that she can at least pay for a cup of coffee and a sandwich…I noticed the manager was perplexed and he was talking to the waiter about telling her to leave…..I immediately approached them and gave them $20.00 to cover anything she wanted and told them to give her the change…..I was in a suit and they knew I was married to one of the BIG THREE at the time. I sat back and watched with amazement the beautiful table manners and the way she held her head up high, when she was told someone would be paying for her meal……..I regret that I didn’t talk to her. I regret that I didn’t know her story…..I’m sure her story was an interesting one….Thank you for being Jesus for me on the streets in Delaware:) Some stories need to be told! Blessings! Sunnie t.

  • a few times i’ve thought about going about the university and promoting a campaign to raise a dollar from everyone to pay off my student loans. i never did it, for obvious reasons, but i always like the idea. glad to see it is happening for a much more worthwhile cause.

  • April 24, 2008 at 10:49 am //

    Ottawa, Ontario
    CANADA

    We’re in!! (I just have to go and find an American dollar!)

    Julie McPherson

  • We’re in for $3.
    – Emily, John, J.J.
    New Cumberland, PA

    * Found you through Facebook.

  • April 25, 2008 at 10:21 pm //

    This is a great idea…my friend Carol Stiles sent this to me. Thanks for letting us be a part and we are praying this will blossom into even bigger blessings. We are in Pittsburgh…PA!
    I’m in!

    Cindy Flitman

  • April 29, 2008 at 11:43 am //

    Hey Terry,
    Chris, Kaily, Taylor, Sierra, and I are so in.
    A fiver is on the way.
    Give our warm Winnipeg greetings to Herman.
    blessings,
    Darrell

  • April 30, 2008 at 9:11 am //

    Count us in for $4 and keep inspiring us all…

    Wilmington, DE

  • April 30, 2008 at 7:27 pm //

    WE’RE IN…

    count us in for 7 – $1.00 bills

    John, Heidi, Abbey, Becca, Johnny, Drew, and Ben

    (I am putting a dollar in on behalf of Ben of course, but the other kids have all agreed this is a great idea and want to use their own money).

    Let us know if there are other ways to help too… maybe we can make a batch of homemade cookies and meet you on a Wednesday – it would be great for the kids to learn early to not look on the outside but care about people as Jesus would….

    We know God will bless Herman through you and Ben because of your faithfulness to obey and by taking action!!!

  • $3 coming your way from Shanda, Grace, and Caleb in Tyler, TX.

    I am a part of the Americorps program. I get the privilege of serving individuals with mental health issues who have little or, in most cases, no source of income. They touch my life way more than I could ever touch theirs. Going to food pantries, taking them to lunch and movies, getting them to the doctor…I love making a difference. And it doesn’t just make a difference in their lives but in mine too.

  • I’m in (so is my wife, Serenity, and kids Avery, Ally and Eva). This is awesome, and it seems to fit in with the simple gospel of Jesus:

    “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” When we help other people, we are really helping Jesus!

    We plan to start a great journey that will take us through the United States – it would be awesome to meet you Herman.

    Peace,
    Andy (Hubbard, Oregon)

  • I heard about this from Jason Boyette’s blog at Relevant.

    I’m in.

    -Waco, TX

  • Count $4 from Tennessee, I will pass it along to people here.Thanks and God Bless.

    Sarah

  • May 2, 2008 at 9:21 pm //

    Rick Jenson’s interview was excellent! You guys(Terry & Ben) are the real heros. I am behind you 100%. I hope you collect thousands of dollars for all the homeless friends you help. I am praying that Herman can get into some sort of temporary housing. I would love for him to come to church again. It was a blessing to talk to him. Please let him know that MANY people are praying for him. See you Sunday. Krissy…Hockessin, DE Oh yea, we’re in.

  • May 3, 2008 at 10:04 am //

    This is a great way to demonstrate that ordinary people can make a big difference. Many people wonder, “What can I do to help?”. You have given us a way. Thank you. I just sent my $1 and also sent out an email to a bunch of people on my email list and encouraged them to do the same. So glad you got the coverage in the News Journal. Would you consider coming and speaking about your experiences at a program that I run for 50+ adults? If so, please email me. Thanks! Kathy

  • May 3, 2008 at 12:57 pm //

    Christine and I are in…..Awesome writeup in the Journal…so this is what it means to make a difference….

    Mike
    Wilmington, DE

  • May 5, 2008 at 5:20 pm //

    Count me in! I wish we could do this for a homeless man I know.

  • dear brothers,

    wanted to let you know that my house of wild bandits have been doing their best to love on God’s people since we moved to wilmington in august – through after-school mentoring, home-building, grant-writing and dumpster diving – but feel a call to unite together with you brothers (and sisters) out there already doing the work of the Lord. so please, let us break homemade bread together some day soon and talk upon these things.

    peace and the grace of God.
    bethel
    samaritan outreach
    594-5976

  • Count on a dollar from Oregon! I heard of this through my best friends, Andy and Serenity Coloumbe! God is awesome! We bless Herman tonight in Jesus Name,
    emie locke
    canby, Oregon

  • A lot of people have come together to help Herman. Hope that he has an apartment soon with a/c, running water, and even a big t.v.!

  • Thanks so much to all of you for helping Herman. We took him to breakfast on Sunday – and told him about all the love that’s pouring in. He’s starting to get it.

  • We’re in!! $3.00 from Nancy, Kevin and Donny – Bear, DE. God Bless Herman!

  • I’m in bro! Hope you don’t mind me using this idea for the guy that I met the other day ;)
    http://evanrummel.com/?p=80

    You are doing an amazing thing!! God is definitely smiling right now and working all around you :) Keep it up!

    From Manchester, CT, here comes $1!!

  • I would love to donate money to Herman but cannot find how to do it on this site. You should open up a paypal account to help out this homeless folks…it sure would be a easy way for all of us to donate. Just an idea!

  • The love we give away is the most precious! Thanks for loving and encouraging Herman (and others) and supporting his ministry to others. I am always touched and warmed when I see God’s house grow. My house of 6 are in with you!
    The cup you fill my well be your own as you plant seeds of love in your area. Blessings for an incredible harvest!

    Milton, DE

  • May 11, 2008 at 1:31 pm //

    My husband and I are in – sending our dollars via my mom, Krissy.

  • May 11, 2008 at 8:37 pm //

    We’re in!!! Herman has 4 friends in Texas!

    Eric, Cristie, Kendall and Brooke…

    Katy, Texas

  • May 14, 2008 at 3:02 pm //

    What an inspiring story. I am sending $4.oo from Atlanta for my 4 family members. Can’t wait to hear how Herman sees Jesus in this inspiring gift of love.
    Thanks for sharing and inspiring!!
    Karen, Mark, John and Matt Gambill

  • One dollar from Jill, Faye, Aiden, Brian, Laura, Bailey, Hannah,
    Marne, Ardis and Chan. We love Herman!!!

  • Deana
    Kansas City Metro Area (Kansas Side)
    It’s in the mail…and I’ve spread the word around here too.

    God Bless.

  • June 4, 2008 at 7:18 pm //

    What a great birthday celebration you had for Herman! It was such a blessing to be with his family, and see how much love they have for him. Even though he is homeless he has people that care for; and about him. You and Ben are his #1 supporters. I, along with many others thank you for bringing him into our lives.

  • Thanks guys, the letters are still trickling in. We’ll cut off the dollar contributions soon and have a couple of final updates on how we are spending the money on Herman.

    He’s back on the street, out of jail. I’m taking him to his court date on August 18th. Still trying to love him and be a friend and not be his judge.

    It’s hard to help hard people. But I’m still trying. Continue to pray for Herman and I’ll keep you informed.

    Peace!
    Terry

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