Does anyone remember the movie “Pay it Forward?” … *crickets*… Okay, well it’s about a little boy that use to see dead people whose homework assignment is to find a way to make the world a better place. His light bulb moment comes in the form of the domino effect–do a person a favor, then they do someone else a favor and so on and so on–on a humane level. You might have been on the receiving end of this practice. Can you recall visiting your local Dunkin Donuts drive thru and someone picking up the tab? If so, you were suppose to do the same for the person behind you, in case you were wondering how it works.
In this case Tony Tolbert is raising the stakes. The UCLA lecturer and lawyer was so inspired by a family’s generosity at giving $800 Gs, they received selling their home, to charity he chose to use his house for good too. The 50-year-old moved back in with his mom. A shock to her no doubt and encouraged a single mom of four children to be the new dweller.
Unlike in similar stories like this Felicia Dukes isn’t a recovering addict or on the run from a battered spouse, she’s just weathering a storm like we all are. She’s living off disability payments and struggling to make the rent. Her options were limited to going to a shelter that excluded her oldest son (he’s 18) from joining the rest of the family.
Enter Tolbert offering to have Felicia shack up in his house rent free and fully furnished. At first hesitant–what mom in her right mind wouldn’t be–to live in some stranger’s house without him getting anything out of it, she decided to do it.
Now that the year’s up Felicia was able to save up enough to get a place of her own.
Tony doesn’t want to stop there though. He’s willing to have another family move in that needs shelter from life’s storms.
Doesn’t this play out like a Cinderella story? Not quite a blockbuster fairy tale, but the story was the subject of a documentary entitled “12 Months” at this year’s Pan African Film Festival.