How One Man Changed The World With $200 A Year
I don’t know his name, but one nameless, faceless man has influenced and inspired me for over 20 years. He was an adult immigrant from Mexico and worked as a janitor. He was neither wealthy nor educated by society’s standards, but he was a Nobel prize winner in my eyes. His example taught me that a small amount of money, and one person’s dreams, could make a huge impact on many lives.
For years, I saved his story on a faded newspaper clipping kept in my top drawer of my desk at work. Unfortunately, during a flurry of office moves, I somehow lost that article clipping. I’ve tried to find the story, from time to time, by searching the archives of the Orange County Register but have never been successful. In the end, it does not really matter because I’ve memorized the important details.
For the sake of this narrative, let’s give my role model the name of Juan. This is his story.
As a janitor, Juan did not make very much money but he did save for certain goals. One of Juan’s goals was to visit Mexico each year. He did this by buying two round-trip bus tickets each year for $200.
One year, Juan did not return to Mexico. Instead Juan decided to help a young student to pay for college. To accomplish this, Juan took the only thing that he had of value, the bus tickets, and raffled them to friends and neighbors. He was able to raise a couple of thousand dollars from the raffle. After that success, Juan skipped returning to Mexico and raffled off his tickets every year. Eventually he started a college scholarship for Mexican high school students.
When I read about Juan, it had been years later. The article was about the party that was thrown in his honor to recognize his contribution. It was held by all the students that he helped over the years. If I remembered correctly, there were several thousands people there: students and their families, doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers, and many other successful professions. These Latinos from poor, immigrant families recounted how Juan’s scholarship helped them believed that they could attend college. They were able to change the trajectory of their lives because of him.
Even something as small as a $200 scholarship to cover the tuition at a local junior college made a huge difference.
Juan not only changed their lives, he influenced mine profoundly. When I read his story, we were struggling with massive debts and reduced income. Every penny was saved to pay countless medical bills. I forced myself to change how I think and carved out $25/month to save instead of just blindly paying off debt. I became more strategic about money. I also became active in my charity work and applied my business skills in place of the money I didn’t have to donate.
Those small steps has led to huge changes for me over the years as well as for the people whose lives I touch.
My dream is to one day thank my nameless role model and let him know that he helped not just his community but many others.
Juan’s example showed that even a small amount of money, if applied creatively can multiple to massive effect. What can you change in your life with a small amount of money and a goal?
If you live in Orange County, CA and happen to know this man or heard his story before, please share his name with me.
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