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The Movie Blind Side and Charity


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"If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another." ~Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

When I was a young boy, my folks were the leaders of our Lutheran church youth group. Many times we had young seminarians and missionaries, from all over the nation and world, stay in our home. They came from all walks of life, and it was an experience that I've never forgotten.

I also remember going into downtown Washington, DC to bring Christmas presents to orphans. It was an exceptionally cold Winter evening, and I remember, along the way, noticing a row house that had a blanket for a front door.

One house guest, 46 years later, I still remember by name, Aaron Mouton. I don't recall what inner city he was from, but I do remember, based upon things that he said and did, that our modest little three bedroom and one bath house might as well have been a castle.

This afternoon I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the movie, Blind Side. It is the best movies I've seen in years and it greatly affected me. I couldn't even speak without tearing up until I was out of the theater and can't possibly say enough about this movie. Sandra Bullock outdid herself this time. It's a must see and be blessed movie.

It reminded me of those days when I was young, and I found myself asking, "When's the last time that you really helped someone" - not just giving to the United Way, The Salvation Army, tipping your waiter or bringing cans of food to a center, but really doing something significant for someone because they needed help?

When I lived in Purcellville, VA there was a very poor family that I used to leave grocery store gift cards or bags of food on their porch, when no one was around. They never knew who left them, but it felt grand to do it. I have to admit to myself it's now been 24 years since I've done anything quite like that.

This economy has many of us backed in a corner, but we still have a lot to be thankful for - there's always room for worse. As Bill Cosby jokingly said in regards to the phrase, 'it can't get no worse' - "...but what about that last man, the one that no one has it worse than?" Maybe we can't afford to reach in our pockets and give at this moment, but we can always give of our time and talents.

With that in mind, I'm starting a new program: I'm adding a "911" page to my business web site for those who may otherwise not be able to afford a home inspection. If a home buyer can't afford a home inspection, they DEFINITELY can't afford to be without one! So, if an agent has a client that is thinking of foregoing a home inspection because they lack the funds, or if a home buyer is in that predicament, they can navigate to the 911 page and call. I will make it happen.

They merely need to tell me their situation and we come to a fee that works - no matter how small. My promise: No home buyer will purchase a home without a home inspection because they could not afford an inspection - period!

The only thing I ask in return is that each time an agent and/or home buyer uses this program, they resolve to count their blessings, take an inventory of the ways they can change someone's life through a similar act of charity, and pass it on.

One thing I know for certain, when you give the rewards are varied and countless.

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That's why I posted it.

Randy, one of the miracles of giving is you can't outgive the Almighty. Somehow in someway it always comes back to you ten fold. Just have the faith to give, not even knowing how you can afford to, and it comes back at you. And frankly, when you're slow, what is your time really costing you? Give while you can.

When an associate sees that you actually have a heart, that, as long as it's genuine, they never forget.

I also give every past or current person in the military a 25% discount accompanied with a hand shake and a heart-felt personal thank you for your service.

Everyone in law enforcement gets a 10% discount.

These folks deserve our thanks and do you think for one minute they won't tell their collegues how we treated them?

Have a marvelous week, Randy.

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I appreciate that you really help those in need now and in the past.

I am a little unsure about people who cannot afford a home inspection but can afford to buy a home. Last time I bought a home, the lending institutions kept trying to lend me $70,000 more than I felt I could afford to repay. At the time, they did not count the money we were paying for child care as part of our overall financial picture. We were paying over $1000 a month in child care and were planning to continue for at least 6 more years. As a result, we purchased a home based on the amount we felt we could afford to pay a monthly mortgage regardless of what the bank said they were willing to lend.

If buyers can't afford $350 to $500 for a home inspection, then they are buying to much house or need to wait another month or two until they have more savings.

Chairty and community service are important and we all need to contribute. Giving away my business because someone is fiscallly irresponsible does not sit well with me. I hope your choice is a good one for you.

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As long as I can remember we've given a discount to military, law enforcement and fire/rescue personnel.

As far as offering services for free, I'd rather donate my time to folks that are in situations where they can't purchase any type of roof over their heads. Consider offering your experience and skills to repair or maintain a shelter for battered women and abused children or a shelter for homeless families. These places are often falling apart due to recent State budget axes. There's also severely injured vets returning and need major accessibility alterations to their homes. Consider going to your chapter leaders and members for monetary donations for needed projects too.

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Bruce, I hear and appreciate what you're saying. I've been around for a while and they'll have to convince me that their situation is REAL. I'll be leaning on the honor system knowing full well that honor is a rare quality. In otherwords, I'm bound to give away more than I should, but that's OK - better that than the alternative.

I promise you this. If it ends up being a rout, I'll be sure to let you know.

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I appreciate the sentiment of the original poster but also have to doubt the wisdom of helping someone to purchase a home they can't afford also.

I prefer to make on the spot determination of "need".

I to give discounts to teachers, military, etc. but don't advertise it.

The only totally free inspection I have done outside of family is for one of those spontaneous situations for a lady and her two young children that were buying a much nicer house than I could afford.

But I was chit-chatting with the realtor while the buyer finished a phone call during our walk-through and found out she was a recent widow due to the loss of her military husband in Iraq.

When it came time to settle-up, I was able to tell her no charge, thank you for your sacrifice. (Took me a while to get the words out as my throat had a big lump in it)

I really could have used the money, but saying thank you with a little sacrifice behind it meant more to me. She did not need the money, but "I" needed to give, I am sure she appreciated it, but I got more benefit that she.

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I do an occasional inspection for free but it is never negotiated over the phone or decided until after the inspection. Every now and then a buyer books an inspection and I know going in that it is a hardship for them but I don't make the decision until I meet them and actually do the inspection. I want to know that they are deserving (and nice), that I am willing, and that they chose me willing to pay the ante.

In all cases it has been met with great gratitude and surprise (my reward).

I would not even think of offering it on my website.

I think otherwise I would be doing alot of free inspections.

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Well, the damage is already done (web site) and we'll see how it plays out.

Of course, the final say so is always mine. They'll have to convince me the need is legit.

And, honestly, Richard, you know yourself, human nature being as it is, probably no one is going to call this in. It's no different than rebates, which I have a $100.00 on sitting around now - everyone means to, but few follow through.

I actually DO hope that some agents and buyers do notice, appreciate and use the program exactly as intended, but we'll see.

The "idea" that we home inspectors would promise that "no one will ever buy a house without a home inspection because they could not afford one" is, to my way of thinking, just plain kind and noble. And, if I have to suffer a few jerks to see it through, so be it.

Like Jimminy Cricket used to say, "Let your conscience be your guide.".. Boy, did I just age myself! I may still mountain bike, hike and snowboard, but I'm getting old.

We'll let this be both a charity and social experiment and I'll keep you all posted on how things play out. It could be entertaining!

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