We all make New Years’ resolutions. Lose weight. Be healthier. Be happier. Be more generous. Be more philanthropic. Spend less on frivolous things. Smile more. But come February, our drive seems to sizzle away and we seem to fall back in to the same old, tired habits. However, people like Tony Tolbert keep the fire blazing and prove to be inspiration and motivation.
Come the new year, Tony, aged 51 and a successful Harvard-educated lawyer, found himself moving back home with his mother. His father Jimmy Tolbert, a Los Angeles entertainment lawyer, had always kept a spare room in their family home, offering it to those in need. And following in his father’s footsteps. Tony decided to give his home to someone in need for one year. He didn’t simply decide to give a room away; he’d decided to give the whole house, furniture included, to someone in need. He figured that would give them enough time to get their life en route to somewhere desirable. And so, he packed up his clothes and moved back home with his mother.
Tony then found Felicia Dukes at Los Angeles’ women’s shelter Alexandria House. She’d been living there with three of her children (all minors) in a single room, while her adult son found shelter elsewhere; adult men couldn’t live in the women’s shelter. Not only was Felicia in financial straits, but her family was being ripped apart due to the money problems. Now, with his house as a home, Felicia is re-stitching her family together. It’s allowing for her to gain some footing in the world and make a place for herself and her family in busy, crowded Los Angeles. One year of home life from Tony can help her get started on a much more permanent and stable life for her children than what they had before.
When asked why he did this, Tony said, “[To gain] perspective. You don’t have to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Oprah…we can do it wherever we are with whatever we have. I have a home that I can make available…Kindness creates kindness, generosity creates generosity, love creates love.” We all can glean something from his words. It isn’t that we should all suddenly give up our homes to those in shelters. But we all might spend an extra six dollars a month on a drink we later regret. Why not spend those six dollars on someone who needs a meal? What about those extra shoes in the back of your closet? Someone could probably fit into them. You don’t have anything to give away? The local library, the museum, hospital, shelter: they all need help. They need bodies and hands to help them function. You might have a few extra hours during the week. Why not give those to helping someone? There are countless ways to help a friend, a neighbor, a fellow citizen. It doesn’t take much, aside from a little time and some drive.
So, if Tony Tolbert can give away his home for the new year, you can stick to your resolution, too! Be it losing weight or exercising more or helping your neighbor, try it out.