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August 13, 2008


Cauleen Viscoff

Steve, when I taught college Ethics, I used a book called "Doing Good-the Limits of Benevolence" by Gaylin, Glasser, Marcus and Rothman. It is a series of essays, that among others, targets our society's treatment of 'the poor' and poverty.

One of the points made is that we rush to those help those we feel need our help and then we decide what we will do for them. In the midst of our 'Doing Good' we fail to ask those in need, just what they do need... why? because it makes US feel good... never mind the recipients.

I love what Mr. Polak does... he ASKS what they need... and most of us would be surprised at how modest those needs may be. Recently I read about a local gal who traveled to a third-world country and came back to raise money for something completely different than the person she interviewed there said they needed...

Seems to me we all need to read Mr. Polak's book and I am grateful for the insight you have given us. Perhaps this will give us the impetus to Do Good for others instead of for ourselves.


Cauleen Viscoff


First off I would like to congratulate you on your blog. I am an avid reader and hopefully soon to be educator so I am thrilled to read about your blogs and the messages you send to everyone. Each week I am looking forward to receiving your e-mail.

I too, would love to be of help. I currently live in Florida. I am glad to say that there are public libraries who have implemented a program for illiterate adults. I have volunteered for teaching adults how to read, but apparently there aren't many people, both for volunteers and adults who are in need of this help. What can I do to create awareness?

Do you have any other suggestions for helping out?

Thank you and once again I admire your mentality.
Annabella Vizcardo


What a fascinating life perspective Paul has. In reading about his life, I feel compelled to read his book. I hope our local library has it in stock. These are the kinds of people I enjoy knowing about.

As someone who works with people in need through our local church, I also firmly believe you cannot donate people out of their current situation. You also have to give them the tools to help themselves.

Some people are so used to handouts that they cannot envision another way of living. We must help them regain their self-respect and vision a better way of life for themselves and their families.

Marie Severin

God bless Mr. Polak! The world needs people like him. I'll definitely read his book.

Steve, you're doing a fantastic job. I enjoy reading your blog. May God continue blessing you with good health so that you can be around for a very long time.

Mark N

Your insight is most helpful to me at this time in my life. I was on business seeking new career hopes in Seattle and was staying near Pioneer Square, this allowing me to walk to the office for the next four days saving on a rental car expense and being green. In addition, it was providing me the joy walking and the fresh cool Washington states air. Much to my shock was the very frequent and most potent smell of urine along the streets. The cascade of street people: sleeping, begging and foraging for food from the discards of tourist was most humbling to experience. I have seen this face before, that of the poor, in Mexico, and the EU, I asked myself as I walked pasted them, but why. Why are so many people hurting in this way and all the normal stuff that enters one mind when immersed in such surroundings? I pray for them.

I went about my days. Looking forward to a walk at the end of each day along the waterfront to take in the summer snow capped Mountain View at pier 66. But each day I would see, and hear the face of the poor on these walks. Thinking that the long summer days make nights short and air cool for people to make it on the street. Pushing my sadness for them deep within me so I could soon forget them, focusing on my own issues and hoping I could close and land a new career, then I could help them even more.

On my last night before my walk, I stop by the hotel front desk and request a wakeup call. I notice a bowl of candy and pick out two, thinking this will hold me over till I get back; it’s only a 4 mile walk. I was out the door and within three blocks. I see a women’s hand out. I give her my candy. She thanks me.

I feel good. That is until I read your blog tonight. I think Polak is on to understanding the poor and what they seek. Like all of us they seek understanding by achieving for themselves.

Humbled in Boca

Darlene Kostrub

The inquiry on how to create more literacy awareness in Florida is a great one. There are two organizations that I would recommend contacting. Statewide literacy awareness activities are coordinated by the Florida Literacy Coalition out of Orlando. Their director is Greg Smith and he may be contacted at 407-246-7110. In Southeast Florida, the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition is very active in awareness initiatives. You can contact them at 561-279-9103 or go to www.pbcliteracy.org.

I was delighted to see mention of Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea. He will be the featured speaker at the March 27, 2009, Love of Literacy Luncheon in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is an outstanding literacy advocate and we are delighted to have him with us for that occasion.

Thanks for the excellent discussion generated.


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