Erica Lucke Dean

"Making the world a better place, one book at a time."

kind over matter

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Weekly Guest Spotlight

This week's guest is Joani Plenty, founder and creative director of the Giver Games.

So, a woman and a homeless man walk into a bar...

Well, not exactly but for one gamer of ‘The Giver Games’, the bar, a beer and a babe of a bartender turned out to be just what she needed after a rough but enlightening day.

March 15th is not only the day that Brutus shanked Caesar but it’s actually reserved for a kinder, yet, almost as dramatic day.  It’s the first day of ‘The Annual Giver Games™’; a mass global call-to-action in the form of a random kindness scavenger hunt which takes place March 15th-30th.  The gamers are given a clue each day via video.  Within the video is a clue that leads them to one of our sponsor’s websites for the next clue which is where they will need to determine what the kindness theme of the day is then head out to perform acts of kindness within that theme.  I was Inspired by the hit film ‘The Hunger Games®’ when I created the brand name (and the fact that I wish I were a superhero helped too).  The goal of ‘The Giver Games™ is to promote a minimum 15 days of consistent, comfortable, fun acts of kindness.  It takes 14 days to form a habit...we’ve added one more; just to be sure.

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This story begins with the first ‘Giver Games™’ day starting out even better than expected.  The gamers received their first clue.  Some needed help interpreting the clues so they turned to their friends, family and fans for some help.  They were all off to spread some good.  Meanwhile, in Texas, a fan of ‘The Giver Games’ decides that she was going to participate as well and upload pictures to Instagram® using the hashtag #TheGiverGames for us all to see.  The woman wished to teach her daughters to have even more compassion for others, the responsibility that they have to society and how good it feels to give back.  All names have been left out to protect the innocent.  That’s not the truth but lets not mention “her” due to the choice of “bad” words used during the events that took place.

It was a cold and rainy day.  The woman headed into the city with her daughters to pay-it-forward.  A homeless man sat in his usual spot on the hard concrete unfazed by the downpour.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Well, except for the cardboard sign held by the homeless man that read, “Hungry.  Help me".  

The woman decided to do just that.  “C’mon.” she said to her daughters then made a U-turn and headed toward a nearby fast food restaurant.  “Oh good!  I want a kids meal, mommy; I’m starving!” said the youngest daughter.  “Not as much as that poor man sitting in the rain who probably hasn’t eaten in days.” the woman replied.  She purchased a large double cheese burger meal, then quickly headed back to the corner where the homeless man sat.  “What if he doesn’t like burgers, mom?” asked the oldest daughter.  “What if he is lactose intolerant and this cheese burger makes his life worse?  It’s not like he can just go to his bathroom in the west wing to relieve himself.  We’re trying to help him...you should just give him money.”  

The woman stopped, gave her daughter that motherly, “What-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you” look and continued on her quest to do good.  While stopped at a red light the woman rolled down her window and called the homeless man over to her car.  He leaned toward the window and said, “Howdy ma'am!”   The woman leans across the car resting on the passenger seat with her arm  "I saw u here; it's very cold out so we wanted u to have this." she said as she handed him the bag of food.

Just then, the homeless man threw the bag to the ground and said, “I don't need that shit!  I need money!”  The woman and her two daughters sat there in shock as the light changed to green.  Cars began to beep and pass them and the woman’s anger could be felt as if it were spreading throughout her body, up her throat, to the tip of her tongue.  “I hope someone comes along and supports your habit. I won't ever again.  I wanted you to eat."  The woman then drove off ranting hysterically.  “The audacity!  That %&*!”   “Mom...you should have just given him the $6.” said the older daughter.  The woman yells in disbelief for at least another 10 miles then turns her wordy speech into a low mumble, “Six dollars??  Six dollars?!  I wouldn’t give him six cents!  Unbelievable!”

The first day of giving did not turn out to be what the woman had expected; a point that I had hoped to make without wasting perfectly good French fries.  Performing random acts or should I say, “conscious acts of kindness”, is not always easy; it can change your view of others and even the world after a bad experience.  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it anyway.  Was the woman’s experience uncomfortable and awkward?  I’d say so.  I’d also understand if she felt that she could never extended her hand to another homeless person again.  But then, aren’t we allowing our negative experiences to control us, hence, control our way of life and what is “normal”?  But what if we could control what is normal by creating more love than hate, turning negative experiences into positive ones and making those who perform acts of kindness without motive the majority instead of the minority?  What if people didn’t stare at you when you decided to push five shopping carts from the parking lot to the store because it’s something that everyone does?  What if people performing random acts of kindness wasn’t something that we felt we needed to “tweet” and say, “Wow” about because it’s the way of life?  What if random kindness scavenger hunts like, ‘The Giver Games’, spread and became as popular and traditional as having a bachelor party?  Well, I’d say that ‘The Giver Games’ is a pretty good start of something fun, consistent, and natural...something great.

“He wanted money!” the woman whispered to herself though it was heard by her daughters.  “Well, I’m not supporting his drug habit if that’s what he needed the money for but I also will not allow this experience to cause my daughters to believe that all of the homeless act this way.” she thought to herself.  “There are many people who appreciate the help of those more fortunate and that’s the person that I want my daughters to meet.”  The woman straightened her posture in the driver’s seat of the car and took a deep breath.  “We’re going back.” she said to her daughters.  “Not to that man but we’re going to try again tomorrow...we have to try again because of him...in spite of him.  This is too important.”  The woman dropped her daughters off at home, headed out to a familiar bar for a cold drink with her sister.  As the two women sat down at the bar, the woman turns to her sister, smiles and says, “You are not going to believe the day that I’ve had...”

Joani puts the personality in “Social Media Personality” by connecting and making true friendships via social media. “Passing notes in class has finally paid off!”  

A former child bully turned advocate, actor and author, Joani’s expertise lie in relationships, parenting, Attention Deficit Disorder, motivational speaking and bullying which has brought in over 5 million Twitter impressions as a Twitter chat guest for 30Secondmom.com and The Ricki Lake Show’s social media community, ‘Friends of Ricki’.  Joani is the founder and creative director of The Giver Games™ as well as b4bully.com with thousands of followers via Facebook, Twitter, Pheed, IG, YouTube and Pinterest. “…People only love me for my donkey joke.” - Joani Plenty

For more about the Giver Games please visit the website, here.


Copyright © 2000-2016, Erica Lucke Dean. All rights reserved. Any retranscription or reproduction is prohibited and illegal.