On Sunday, December 7 we gave everyone at Nexus (or almost everyone) $50 to use either on a personal need of their own or to bless someone else and meet their needs. The stories of how people used or spent that money are starting to trickle in and we wanted to share them with you. Hopefully, some of these might inspire you as you consider how to use your own $50. Keep the stories coming and let me know what you did. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org As stories continue to come in, we will add them here in this post.
Story 33 – I spent my $50 Nexus Challenge money (finally) this evening. I took a friend out to dinner to celebrate his new job. We also had a chance to connect over church and some of the challenges we both face – well, he also was inspired by how Nexus chose to impact the community through the $50. It was a great idea!
Story 32 – My boyfriend and I combined our resources to sponsor a family with the Region of Waterloo for Christmas gifts.
Someone at my work is married to a social worker with the Region of Waterloo and she provides a family for the office to support every year. This year the office was overcome with many generous donations so instead of helping sponsor their existing family, we were able to take on a family ourselves. We were able to combine our money with some additional funds my office collected. This left us with $190 to help purchase Christmas gifts for four children and their mother.
Thanks to the generosity of Nexus as well as the funds collected through my office (Waterloo North Hydro staff) we were able to purchase multiple gifts for each of the four children as well as some games for the family to share together. Additionally, we were able to purchase a small gift for the mother as well. The act of giving and blessing others also inspired some of my family members to donate some gift cards they had to a family who was in need this holiday.
We all know that Christmas can be a difficult time for those in need and it was a great opportunity for us to be able to bless this family this Christmas. Thanks to both you and all of the Nexus staff for giving us the opportunity to participate in blessing others, it was such a wonderful experience.
Thanks again! Here is a picture of all of the goodies we were able to get 🙂
Story 31 – While I wasn’t at the Dec 7th service to receive the $50, I did listen to it online and was so intrigued and moved by the idea and the stories, and the simple concept of $50, that I decided to set $50 of my own funds aside for this very purpose, in the name of Nexus. I’ve been thinking and considering and debating where to put the money; was there a need I had? Or my daughter? Someone in my extended family? Friends? Community? Give it back to Nexus? There were many things the money could be spent on, but nothing that had any sense of urgency or that I/we didn’t have the finances to meet. However, I’d recently been conversing online with a mom who’s new baby had been born with a number of significant health challenges. She’s got a toddler at home as well and for the last few months, her new daughter has been in hospital a 2 hour drive away. Not only has this family been needing to take in and make decisions about their little one’s health, but she has been physically separated from her partner and older child during this time, because of which hospital the baby needed to be at. She also needed to find a place to stay near this other hospital, factor in extra costs related travel for visits home, extra food while at the hospital, childcare for their older daughter, etc. Well, their little one had surgery a few days ago, which brought them to a nearby hospital and I was able to meet up with this mom briefly and give her the $50, along with some food. It was a very, very special moment and though it won’t fill many of these family’s current needs, it will certainly fill some, and I know she felt the love and support behind that gesture and that it helped uplift her spirits during this difficult time. Thank you for creating and inspiring this opportunity.
Interestingly, I also ended up the recipient of someone else’s $50. The last few months have been filled with a number of unexpected challenges, which had left me feeling quite disheartened and exhausted and isolated. This gift was astounding to me and not only brought me to tears, but also a sense of peace and community, which I desperately needed. So even though it didn’t fill a financial need per se (though it will do that), it more importantly contributed to meeting my need for community and support. Thank you, Nexus.
Story 30 – When I was handed the envelope containing the $50, I knew immediately what I would be using it for. I could have emailed you that day but I wanted to wait, so I could show you how much of a blessing that money truly was! You see, 10 days after I attended Nexus, I was getting on a plane to head to El Salvador where we would be doing some Christmas outreach programs (a Vacation Bible School and distributing family baskets). With the $50 we were able to provide a family with a basket that gave them everything they needed to cook a Christmas dinner for their family. For most of us Christmas dinner is a given, but for many of these families it was a first! Thank you Nexus for helping us to bless the community of Santa Clara!
Story 29 – Hi Brad let us first start by saying we too found this task difficult to do. We found ourselves looking for opportunities which in turn became overwhelming because there is so much need in the community. We asked ourselves how do you choose? and how will you know if it is the right decision? One thing we knew for certain was that we have a heart for the homeless.
On December 30th we offered to volunteer to prepare a meal at Ray of Hope. When we were wrapping up the preparations for the supper and we were about to serve Jane announced that Ray of Hope was short of its regular volunteers. I used to volunteer at Ray of Hope every Saturday afternoon on the front door, greeting the over 300 clients. I was part greeter, door man, and peace keeper and this allowed me to get to know many of the visitors by name and helped me to forge some relationships as well so I offered to volunteer at the front door. When I walked out of the kitchen, on my way to the front door, I was greeted by one of the homeless gentlemen that I got to know quite well while I was volunteering for Ray of Hope (let’s just call him Joe for the story’s sake). The temperature outside was -17 with the wind chill and I could see Joe’s bare feet through the tops of his running shoes. I asked if he had a pair of boots. He said “no but I have another set of runners” as he pointed to his pile of bags, his earthly possessions. The light bulb went off and my daughter, that was now standing beside me, gave me a nudge as though she could tell what I was thinking. I asked Joe what size he wore. On New Years eave we pooled our money and purchased a pair of boots and 5 pair of socks and I drove over to Ray of Hope and gave Joe his new boots and socks.
Our prayer for 2015 would be to transition this most vulnerable community out of their tents and make shift shelters into proper supportive housing.
Story 28 – It’s funny how when we were given this $50 mission, I held onto the $50 as if it was going to change the world. As if my decision was going to send ripples through the ocean that would reach a far away place and impact generations to come. As if I needed to make a perfect decision on how to use it. After several brainstorming conversations, we decided we would hold on to Nexus’ $100 until something appropriate revealed itself-and it did.
For several years, one of my closest friends has been trying to get his father and mother in-law out of Lebanon, where they fled last year to escape Syria. It was difficult to figure out a way to get them here, however, good news finally came as a church connection in Montreal was able to bring them in on a flight that landed last weekend. He and his wife and 2 little kids picked up their in-laws in Montreal and brought them to his place in Kitchener. They hadn’t seen each other since nearly 5 years ago. My friends in-laws speak no English. The father left his carpentry business in Syria where he employed 15 people, but now had nothing but $1500 cash. My friend also has his mother living with him as well, a total of 8 people now in his place.
We knew his in-laws would likely need some clothes and toiletries and would maybe just want a place to go to be out of the house, giving them a sense of independence. We used Nexus’ $100 to buy them a $75 Fairview Mall gift card and a $25 Tim Hortons gift card. We hoped it would send a message that they had friends here in Canada who cared about them. Thank you for pushing us in this way, to think outside our own needs and that just a small gesture can be extremely impactful.
Story 27 – I just wanted to share how we decided to use the 50 dollars to gift back to our community. On Christmas day we, along with my immediate family, decided to walk the downtown core with 8 gifts to give to whoever we felt led to give to. A sort of “random act of kindness”. The most common reaction we had was “why” and “what’s the catch”. A couple of gift receivers were moved to tears, while a couple others said a simple “no thanks” or “save it for someone who needs it”. I was reminded of how difficult it can be to accept a gift and how humbling it is to offer a gift that may or may not be received. It was a true gift to bring this random act of kindness to downtown Kitchener. Thanks Nexus.
Story 26 – I had the $50.00 in my wallet for three weeks before deciding what to do with it. I thought this was a family project, so we sat down as a family and decided were the need was most needed. My five year old wanted to spend the money on the new play ground equipment they are building at the school, my 8 year old daughter wanted to give it to an animal shelter, and my wife wanted to use it for paying bills (this has been a tight year). So that’s what we decided to do with the money. $10 to school ground equipment, $10.00 to an animal shelter, and $30.00 towards bills. Thanks for the opportunity.
Story 25 – I have a friend who has been through a lot in her life. She has worked hard to get to the point she is at now. All of her basic physical needs are met. It wasn’t always this way for her. She has been through abuse, mental health issues, hospitalizations, incarceration, living on the street and in shelters. But despite all of her challenges she has made it to this point in life where she is making it on her own. I am so proud of her effort and so privileged to have been able to walk along side her for so many years. I gave my $50 to her, not because she “needed” it, but because I thought it might be nice for her to decide what to do with a little bit of unexpected extra money. Thanks for the money and the challenge Nexus!
Story 24 – OK here is the story of my 50$. Part of the curriculum for the civics class I teach is to be an active and purposeful citizen. So with that in mind I told my class that I was giving them 50 dollars and they could spend it however they wished.
Some in the class wanted to buy something for themselves…like a pizza party that day (which I said they could if they wanted to) others felt we should do use the money on someone more needy. It opened up a great discussion around what “needy” actually means to each of them and whether some needs are more important than others. Also how can we tell someone is needy? Others in the class wanted to donate the money to a local homeless man who they saw at the Tim Hortons. Many in the class were skeptical however that the money would end up going towards alcohol or drugs.
This brought out another good discussion on whether are in a position to make judgments on how someone uses the money we give them. Another student works at Zehrs and mentioned that she sometimes sees people when they are
checking out their groceries whom she thinks could use the money too.
We narrowed it down to 3 option which we then all voted on.
1. Pizza party
2. Giving to the local homeless guy
3. Helping someone with grocery bills
Ultimately (not unanimously I might add) we decided to allow that one student to choose someone she thought could use a little help at the checkout paying for their groceries as a gift. She ended up giving the money to someone who she knew was a single mother.
Story 23 – I stuck my $50 in the mail. The money won’t even begin to touch my friend’s needs, but my hope is a sense of belonging will. My friend needs her tribe right now – this time when she is struggling with so much and geographically distant from us at Nexus. I’m hoping this envelope will help her feel connection rather than distance. I think she also needs a safe place to rest for a bit, even if just figuratively. Holding this envelope, listening to Brad’s words, sharing in this project with us – maybe that can be her safe place.
Story 22 – I have a christian friend who is a single parent and is in a lot of financial debt due to no fault of her own. I gave her the $50 and added some to it. She was in tears as she said there were so many financial pressures close to christmas. Also, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your message that Sun. when the money was handed out and the question you put out to us that wk. I know I have a daily built in need for God’s grace, the feeling of His presence, the need to feel connected to my husband and girls, to live in peace and harmony and to be using my gifts which for me is usually connected to my work.
When responding to the question, I was feeling incredibly grateful that these needs are so fufilled at this point in time that I interpreted your question more as ‘unfufilled needs’. I feel so blessed as I don’t feel like I have any unfufilled needs. Over the years there have been many experiences of financial stress, work presures, relationship stress, exhaustion, loneliness…..the list goes on and on. It’s hard not to think negatively and worry that there must be something bad waiting to happen around the corner because I think we believe life is just meant to be hard all the time, but I’m trying to live more in the moment and not fret about what’s next. Thankyou for being authentic and willing to address many difficult topics at Nexus.
Story 21 – I donated my $50 to the foodbank.
Story 20 –I happened to be attending Nexus church for the second time when funds were distributed among the congregation. I spent several weeks considering how I might apply the $50 I received, talking it over at length with my son who is 9 years old. In the end, we decided to use it to sponsor a donkey for one year on my son’s behalf at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada near Guelph. The donkey sanctuary holds a special place for us, and my son connected with one donkey in particular two years ago, the oldest of the group who delighted in the simple pleasure of grazing. I have tried to use this moment to teach him that we as humans have, alongside basic needs to remain alive, spiritual and emotional needs, and we should feel comfortable telling others about these needs.
Thanks for the opportunity
Story 19 – Here’s my report on using the $50. 00 to bless another. I had prayed God would put an obvious opportunity in front of me to invest the $50.00; I now think it was there all along. It came to mind there would be potential kingdom value investing in the relationships I have where I now work. As you may recall, I have a co-working arrangement where I have a workstation in shared office space. There are three of us who are usually here; since my coming here in April, there has been little interaction beyond the normal pleasantries. However, there has been a number of occasions where conflict has resulted from different working styles and expectations. I thought taking my work neighbours for lunch to get to know each other better would be a blessing to them, as well as me.
Both of my office mates were very receptive to my invitation to have lunch together today (Friday); it felt a bit risky asking them, to tell you the truth: Kalsi is in his mid-40s; he is also a consultant and came to Canada from India; all I really knew about him before today was that his heart was still back in India, but he’s staying put as this is where his own family feels most at home. Hanan is from Egypt and also consults; she has two children and works with her husband (though he has an office somewhere).
It turned out Hanan was home ill today; so, Kalsi and I had a really enjoyable time together; he is a practising Sikh, attending his temple most Sundays; he gets together with friends from India over the holidays, but does not actively get involved with Christmas activities, though they exchange gifts on December 25. I learned a lot more about him and his family and, surprisingly, we had lots to chat about. I think it was an important investment in a relationship and he was very appreciative for being hosted by Nexus. I think this represents a first, important step in creating more community where I work and creating an atmosphere where conflict can be more constructively addressed. Thanks for the opportunity.
Story 18 – I used the funds to buy some much needed groceries.
Story 17 –I gave my $50 to Camp Kwasind on Skeleton Lake…It is a place that holds a special place in my family’s heart, where each of my three children have gone for summer camp for quite a few years…
Thanks so much for the opportunity to help them out a bit as they work on a “dime” to spread the word of God to many children each year.
Story 16 – So I was really starting to fret over how to spend the $50 – there are so many great things I could do with it. I thought maybe I’d buy a special keepsake for my friend who lost her son recently to brain cancer. Or maybe I would take my aunt out to lunch as she just had surgery and could use a little lovin’. I thought maybe I could randomly pay for the person behind me in line at the store or give it to my sister who will spend her first Christmas without her husband. So many good things…
But I decided to give a $10 Starbucks gift card to 4 teachers and 1 secretary at Joel and Isaac’s school. I feel like teachers often don’t get enough encouragement and who ever thanks the secretary? So I made cards for each of them and enclosed the gift card. It was a great opportunity to let them know how much I appreciate them. These ‘unsung heroes’ (if you will) deserve much more than I could ever give. Just wanted you to know how much I appreciated the $50. It was a pleasure for me to be a part of this experience. Thank you to Nexus for knocking our socks off with such generosity and major awesomeness!!!
Story 15 – I am just emailing to let you know what I did with my $50 from Nexus. My friend and I used the money to buy packages of muffins and cookies from the grocery store and coffee from Tim’s. We then went to the Davis Centre library and the Student Life Centre at the University of Waterloo and gave treats and coffees to the stressed and studying students (along with some UW staff members)! Thank you for giving us the chance to do something like this!
Story 14 – Hey, this is just to let you know what I did with my $50 🙂 Nothing super original, but I matched the 50 with 50 of my own and donated it to Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s annual Christmas food drive, where I go to school. It went to the House of Friendship for their Christmas Hamper Program. Thanks! It was an awesome experiment.
Story 13 – Just to let you know what I spent my $50 on…We took the girls to the toy store and let them buy whatever toys they wanted (we talked to them in advance about buying toys for kids in need). Then we had the girls donate the toys (they physically handed them over to some Police officers running a toy drive). Hoping this has met 2 needs: teaching my girls to be giving, and the needs of the children/families than cannot afford gifts this Christmas. Thanks for this opportunity!
Story 12 – I wanted to send you a quick email telling you what I did with the $50 given to me two Sundays ago. My husband has had a rough year, especially these past 6 months. He’s been off work for a few months, and as we lead into Christmas time, he’s trying to go back to work part time. Christmas is hard for him as many of the memories from his childhood from this time of year aren’t good. His birthday his December 19th despite the holiday season, I always try to make his birthday special for him. So many December babies get forgotten this time of year. I wanted to spoil him with something he has been wanting for several years, but with him having been off work for several months, money is really tight So I used the $50 to buy him his birthday present. Thank you!
Story 11 – We were finding it pretty hard to decide how to spend our $50 and then I had an interesting conversation with a friend. I was telling him about the “Create Your Life Plan” group at Nexus and he was really interested. He went on to explain that he and his wife are feeling pretty lost in terms of their careers/businesses and are struggling financially as a result.
My wife and I decided to take them out for lunch and give them a grocery gift card (that someone else donated using their $50!). It made it much easier to do this because we were able to tell them that Nexus had challenged us to do something nice for someone in our lives…that made it seem less like “charity” and more like a gesture of friendship.
Our friends really appreciated the help and it gave us an excuse to spend some time with them even during the busy Christmas season.
Story 10 – This is my story of how I spent my 50 bones. First, I’d like to say two things: this was a really cool experiment. It was nerve-wracking-fun thinking about how I was going to spend it. At times I really enjoyed it and at others, I pretty much hated this challenge. It carried a lot of weight. I’m not entirely sure why. It’s just 50 dollars.
Which brings me to my second thing, I counted myself in the group of people that would never consider spending this money on themselves. When you [Brad] mentioned that maybe people like me should spend it on ourself because we never would it made me chuckle. Because I knew I wouldn’t and I never will. But not because I’m such a great person. No. Because I spend 50 dollars on myself all the damn time. Without a moment’s hesitation. We all do. Pretty much. I think that’s why a lot of us couldn’t think of spending the money on ourselves, we do it so often. This 50 dollars held us to more responsibility. If I had to write a story about how I spend every 50 dollar bill that I have, I’d be spending them on a lot less stupid/selfish junk, that’s for sure. That’s enough of a rant. Thanks for the opportunity.
I met Josh on the Bruce st. on ramp two days ago. But that’s not entirely true. I gave him a toonie through the window. I didn’t think to ask his name or make time to meet him. I drove away while confirming he still needed a sleeping bag like his sign indicated. He said he’d be there the following day.
Nexus bought him a -7ºC sleeping bag and went the extra mile and bought him a sleeping mat to go with it. There was a cool looking blanket nearby so Nexus bought that too. And a purple Nalgene. Nexus found an old backpack of mine to throw it all in and put 20 dollars in the top pocket.
I went back that same night to drop off the goods but no one was there. Went back this morning but no one was there again. I left a note in a cinder block that said to give me a call. I drove by after church and the note was gone and someone else was panhandling at Bruce st. I now thought I was tasked with having to return the sleeping bag and other things (I would’ve kept the purple Nalgene though, it was pretty dope). I didn’t want to return the stuff though. I didn’t want to be stuck with the responsibility of 50 dollars again.
Thankfully Josh called me later Sunday evening. Somehow he got my number passed along to him. I told him I’d be by in an hour. I showed up and Josh wasn’t there. I was a little early. There was another guy panhandling and said he thought Josh was still around.
I waited for a few minutes and called the number that Josh called me from. That number doesn’t receive incoming calls. All of this made me realize how much we take easy communication for granted.
Josh showed up a few minutes later and Nexus gave him the backpack and miscellaneous stuff. Nexus gave him my address and invited him over for supper next weekend with a few others from the community. I finally got to meet Josh and Nexus gave him a hug.
Story 9 – Here’s what we did with our money. (2 X $50). Our cell group throws a bit of money each biweekly meeting. We agreed to add this money to yours and so we had 2 X $100 to give!!
With one $100 we gave to one of our cell groups neighbor. Scott has been suffering with cancer for quite some time now. He hasn’t worked in a long time and his wife has been off work as well to take care of him. They have 4 children. We don’t know how financially strapped they are, but we hope that this will help!!
The other $100 went to a single mom. She has had an extremely hard time finding work and an even harder time with legal proceedings against the dad. She is actually coming to your church today!! We know that this will be a wonderful Christmas blessing for these people!!
Story 8 – What an interesting first visit to Nexus I had last Sunday! A very inspiring church. I am a longtime member of AA so had fixed on donating the money to a volunteer who takes an AA meeting into Grand Valley Institute for women every Friday, they always need AA books there.
However, two hours after the service, I took my son to his violin lesson and the teacher happened to mention that his mother, who lives in Haiti, was struggling with a collapsed roof. I handed him the envelope and told him where it had come from. He said he’d send it to her but she would never use it for herself, she’d give it to a local food bank equivalent. That was where it was last Sunday.
Story 7 – I had spent much of the fall off work on medical leave, and that was putting added pressure on my wife to pick up extra shifts, and to do a lot of the work that I might normally help out with. Recognizing that she sacrificed for me, I wanted to be sure that she had the opportunity to relax. So I gave her the $50 and told her to take a friend, or go on her own, for a day at the Scandinave Spa in Collingwood. She was really thankful, and has promised to go in the new year, after the hecticness of the holiday season is over. Thank you for the opportunity to give something to her as a Thank You for supporting the two of us during this difficult fall.
Story 6 –We donated our $100 and then matched it with our own $100 to my school’s Christmas hamper program. There were 65 families who benefited from the hampers this year.
Story 5 – Here’s what I did with my $50: At my work (CrossFit Rebuild) we have “Burpee jars”. CrossFit athletes can put money into these jars to make the CrossFit coaches do burpees at a food bank fundraiser we’re having this Saturday. For every dollar donated, the coach will have to do 1 burpee. I put $20 into my boss’ jar. With the $30 remaining, I purchased $30 worth of shampoo, conditioner and soap at Dollarama that I added to a collection we’re putting together at work for a local women’s/children’s centre.Oh yeah and the money raised for the burpee jars goes to the food bank:)
Story 4 – Nothing super crazy, but we matched the $50 and donated a total of $100 to the Waterloo Region Foodbank. That will provide 300 meals. 🙂
Story 3 – Here’s what I have decided on for my $50 project: I am calling it ‘Christmas Tag’. I am making cookies, brownies, etc and wrapping them up in tins for the recipients (likely mostly neighbours and co-workers). I am also including a mason jar of brownie mix or some other treat not yet baked. I will deliver these to the recipients with a note that says something to the effect of “I am inviting you to play a game of Christmas tag. I have included some cookies for you as a Christmas treat. I have also included a jar of unbaked brownies. I have now ‘tagged’ you with these brownies and your job as ‘it’ is to either bake the brownies and find someone else to share them with or simply pass along the jar of unmade brownies as a gift to someone”. Of course, people are free to just make the brownies and eat them as well but maybe some will get shared…we’ll see!
Story 2 – I just gave my $50 to a young woman I have known for about 7 years, a client of the Pregnancy Centre. She is a person who has been sexually abused and struggles with mental illness. Her two boys (9 and 7 years old) have been in and out of foster care for the past number of years. In 2 weeks, the boys will become crown wards with no access and will be placed for adoption. Her final visit with them is this Saturday. She will not see them again. She was surprised and thrilled to receive the $50 – she’s going to buy the boys something to give them on Saturday. I also encouraged her to save some to spend on herself too. Thanks for the opportunity.
Story 1 – We gave the money to a family in need at my school. Single mother of 5 kids. Came from Kenya this summer. The staff at the school are collecting money to buy the kids some Christmas presents, and give mom some food gift cards. Our $50 went towards that fund.