24 July 2013

Put Those Points To Work....

(Way back in February, I wrote a post about feeling burnt out on filing a blog daily. My friend and Nashville publicist Paula Erickson called me with the suggestion that I turn over the blog to people occasionally and go on vacation.  I was really touched that she took my whining seriously enough to pick up the phone and offer a great solution. It only took me four more months to put it into practice! When I finally asked a few friends to write posts that I could slot in when I was traveling or just needed a break, she was the first one to file a post and she's kept them coming. The one below offers such a creative way to help out friends in need. I love it!-- Melinda)
Charity begins at home. Okay, sure, but in practice that can be a tough one. Ever have a friend or acquaintance who just flat-out needs money? You want to help, but it’s a weird situation, because it’s awkward and unsettling to the friendship dynamic to try to give somebody money. And loaning money to a friend is all kinds of disaster.
In 2010, much of Nashville was ravaged by flood waters. My neighborhood, thankfully, was spared. Many were not. We all helped where we could, many charitable organizations stepped up, and the community outreach was unparalleled.
I had a business friend whose condo was ruined. She didn’t have flood insurance, since she (like many affected) was nowhere near a flood plain. She has a good job, but she, like most people, was not prepared for an unplanned (and immediate) expense of this magnitude. She’s far from indigent, and not really a candidate for charitable funds. She got some FEMA money, but not enough to replace the entire lower level of her townhouse.
Several of us wanted to help, but no amount of casseroles or elbow grease can equate to new drywall, flooring, cabinets, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, etc. Another friend suggested credit card reward points – bravo!!! You can, and we did, cash in points for gift certificates – in this case to Home Depot. Although my friend was hesitant to accept at first, she was persuaded by the very legitimate argument that it was free, and sitting there in our accounts, and we hadn’t paid a penny for it. Win, win.
I know this isn’t about a place to give, but a way to give. It was a great idea that I’d love to share. Help a friend who needs it! I pay $150 a year to have an American Express gold card. I more than get that back annually in reward points.  http://www.membershiprewards.com/HomePage.aspx
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee led the local charge to help less fortunate Nashville residents after the flood of 2010. In the past 22 years, The Community Foundation has distributed more than $638 million to community programs and institutions.

-Paula Erickson

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