This seems the perfect season for this quick feel-good read!
Title: Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward
Author: Keith Maginn (self-published/independent)
In mid-July of 2011, Keith Maginn, and his friend, Emily, set off from Cincinnati, Ohio, on a 3,000-mile road-trip through several southeastern states. The pair stopped in Memphis, New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, Asheville and smaller towns in between.
Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward is a travelogue detailing a philanthropic experiment in this incredible country the two call home.
What makes their trip unique is that sightseeing wasn’t their sole purpose. Emily and Keith were determined to spread kindness as they worked to make a difference in the lives of others along the way. They gave their own money to hand-picked strangers, who then had to pay the money forward.
Goodwill Tour is the narrative of the places Emily and Keith visited and the people they met on their journey. It is an ode to the United States and, even more, a tribute to its people. From Beale Street to Bourbon Street and Graceland to the Biltmore Estate, from feeding the needy in downtown Charleston to brainstorming ideas with a female Buddhist monk to help abused teens and high school dropouts in North Carolina, readers will enjoy riding shotgun on the trip as they relive the experience of these life-altering events, and contemplate how people changed as a result.
Emily and Keith’s pay-it-forward mission will touch and inspire readers to take the trip that they’ve always dreamed of or to have a positive effect in the life of a loved one, an acquaintance, or even a complete stranger.
Length: 13 pages; 26,000 words (quick read!)
Amazon: Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward
Release date: January 2013
Enjoy This Excerpt From Keith Maginn and The Goodwill TourFirst donation: Memphis, Tennessee
In the morning, Emily and I decided to heed several friends’ suggestions and took the $4 monorail to Mud Island River Park. On the ride over, a female staff member dressed in khakis and a bright red Mud Island polo shirt greeted us. Being the lone passengers at the time, Emily asked the attendant, “Are you our entertainment?” Without hesitation, our host did an impromptu dance for us.
We could tell immediately that Jena (pronounced “Gina”) was an affable young lady who didn’t waste time complaining about the 100-degree temperature. When questioned about her favorite part of the job, she said it was being able to meet people from all over the world, from Amsterdam to Hawaii. Her favorite thing about Memphis: “Beale Street. There are so many places to go and eat, to hear live music. It’s always live.”
Jena could have been in a foul mood, outside in excessive heat. Instead, she had a big smile for everyone, asked questions, and seemed genuinely interested in our responses.
Since two cars shuttled visitors to and from Mud Island, we told our new friend that we would catch her train on the way back (which she told us was the car that Tom Cruise had ridden during the chase scene in the movie The Firm). As we got off the rail, I hinted strongly to Emily that we’d just met our first donation recipient.
While we put the idea on the back burner, Em and I explored Mud Island. Had the temperature been 25 degrees cooler, the park would have been the ideal setting for a picnic. We saw several young adults singing and dancing, oblivious to the hotness. The sun shimmered on the Mississippi and a light breeze lifted from the water from time to time. It was a beautiful day in Memphis, with blue skies and few clouds.
When we stood by to return from the island, a staff member told us Jena was on her break for the next 45 minutes. We decided to wait. After all, we’d promised we would see her again.
So we plotted.
Giving money to a stranger was foreign to us. We didn’t know how to give cash to a person we had just met. Even Emily, who seems comfortable in any situation, was nervous.
I suggested we pose the idea to Jena as if we were conducting a survey, asking strangers what they would do if someone gave them $100. (Unlike the donations to come, this was not necessarily a pay-it-forward gift: One of Emily’s co-workers had donated $100 to be used specifically in Memphis, as her family had lived there years ago when her husband was in the military.)
Soon enough, we saw Jena again. She remembered our names, which impressed us, as she probably saw hundreds of people every day. Jena looked suspicious: “They told me y'all wouldn’t get back on without me.”
Emily: “Well, we told you that we’d see you on our way back.”
About the Author
Keith Maginn was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, the youngest of four kids. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as an Evans Scholar. After earning a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, Keith relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work for AmeriCorps (a service organization like the Peace Corps, but within the United States) and for Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.
Keith recently moved back to Cincinnati after living nearly ten years in Tennessee. He likes to be around family and friends and has eight nieces and nephews that he adores. He loves playing and watching many sports and also enjoys live music, writing, meditation, yoga and reading.
In December 2012, Keith self-published an inspiring self-help memoir, Turning This Thing Around. Maginn's second book, Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward, is about a philanthropic experiment on the road. Released in January of 2013, the author hopes it will be his second book of many more to come. He feels writing is his life's purpose and that he has a message to share that will help others
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