Allison Plean: Paying it forward
July 27, 2007
Steamboat Springs — Editor’s note: This Allison Plean column first appeared in the Aug. 11, 2006, edition of 4 Points.
My friend lost his wallet on a subway in Tokyo, and someone returned it with all the contents intact. Tokyo has a population of more than 12 million people.
Why is that story so shocking? After all, things like that happen all the time in Steamboat Springs.
I wrote two articles last week that dealt with amazing acts of kindness.
One involved a local man who returned a wallet that had more than $600 in it. Matthew Shelters and his girlfriend were driving down U.S. Highway 40 when they saw the Benjamins flying at their windshield. For a moment, Shelters thought he was on a game show and started “cash grabbing.”
The wallet had no ID in it, but that didn’t stop Shelters from going to great lengths to figure out who its owner was.
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He did all this because he believes in karma. The dictionary defines karma as one person’s actions during his existence that are regarded as determining his destiny.
I liked Shelters’ definition better.
“It’s like that movie, ‘Pay It Forward.’ I hope the act will inspire someone to do something nice for someone else without any expectations of it necessarily returning to you,” he said. “Karma is about being content with the fact that it will go from one person to the next.”
Another local woman I interviewed was diagnosed with a blood clot in her brain. Complete strangers walked into her bank to donate money to her medical expense fund. Eight children visiting from Florida held a car wash and lemonade stand to raise money for her without ever having met her.
This community is amazing. When people think about Steamboat Springs, I’m sure they picture champagne powder, hot springs and our amazing outdoor wonderland.
When I tell people why I love Steamboat so much, I never mention any of those things. I fell in love with this town because of the people.
I have never lived in a place where people go so out of their way to help and support one another. When my friend’s dog needed a pacemaker, there was a benefit for her to raise the money. Another local woman has received close to the $5,000 she needed to pay for her dog’s chemotherapy treatments and surgeries to fight cancer.
I already have covered what seems like a half-dozen stories about musicals and other performances for which the profits were donated to Brian Houston’s memorial fund.
Whenever someone gets sick (dog or human), this community comes together to help raise money and provide emotional support. And that doesn’t even include all the philanthropy events and nonprofit fundraisers that take place every week.
I lost my license and ID last Sunday in the Torian Plum parking lot. I got a call the next day from a police officer who said someone had already turned it in.
I grew up with paranoid parents who locked the car doors while driving through shady neighborhoods. We had laser beams going across our pool, and every door and window beeped every time it was opened. Living with alarm systems was all I knew.
We had our house broken into in Florida, our car broken into in Italy, my mom’s purse stolen in Vienna, and we were pick-pocketed in Rome.
Then I moved to a town where no one locks their doors and my friends leave their keys in the ignition of their cars. My roommates and I never even received a house key for one of the homes we lived in.
Of course we have crime, but if you read the police blotter, you will notice that most of them involve noise complaints, barking dogs and people setting off fireworks (especially in my neighborhood).
There are residents here who work three jobs to stay afloat but will return found money because it’s the right thing to do.
Although inflation and gas prices seem to rise with every passing day, the value of kindness always remains the same.