An Inexpensive Set of Valuable Lessons

In my last post I mentioned a friend’s story involving homeless people reminded me ozone of my stories which I then re-shared in the post. I liked his story so much that I asked him if I could share it with you, and he kindly granted me permission to do so. His name is Brad, and his story is below.

“When I first moved to the city, five years ago, I felt vaguely threatened by street people, many of whom are filthy and smell, some of whom ask for money. Every time I saw one I steeled myself, waiting for them to approach me and ask for money. Relieved if they didn’t. Then a friend of mine persuaded me to get a stack of silver dollars and to hand them out to anyone who asked. (That’s what he does when he comes to San Francisco – he lives in Sacramento.) I gave it a try.

“Three surprising things happened. First, the street people remembered me. I became the “silver dollar guy.” Second, the silver dollars had an emotional impact on each one I gave it to. It has heft. It feels valuable. They would stop and look at it and look at me, and thank me. They stopped being alien, and became people. I started seeing them as they were. Having a good day or not. Happy or sad. Drunk or sober. Living a hard life on the street. Third, although there are many street people in the city, most of the time they don’t actually ask for anything. It turns out that $20 (one roll of silver dollars) lasts a long time. Months, in fact. It cost so little that I was embarrassed that I’d ever worried about giving them something when they had asked. Different categorization, different reality.”

(For clarification: The the dollar coins in Brad’s story were full-size and silver in color but not made of the precious metal of the same name. They are getting much harder to find now that the modern nearly quarter-size ones have replaced them. If you like the idea and want to try it, but can’t find the large coins, you might consider the half-dollar coins which remain a lot larger than quarters.)

With Love,



About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
This entry was posted in Breakthroughs, Compassion, Connection/Connecting, Creativity, Generosity, Goodness, Inspiring, Making the World a Better Place and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to An Inexpensive Set of Valuable Lessons

  1. A fantastic idea, Russ. A good way to make someone feel good and to learn about them. ❤

  2. Russ when I went to Portland, OR to see what they were doing with affordable housing there I gave a homeless woman a townie (Canadian $2 coin) when she asked for money. She loved it! It’s quite a bit bigger than a quarter. See the pic below. ❤…0…

  3. Sounds like a great idea……………just saying

  4. Mrs. P says:

    What a wonderful solution, so different than a coin or a bill. I will keep this in mind for the future.

  5. Greet Grief says:

    Great idea and a wonderful reminder that sometimes all we need is a new perspective!

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