“I believe ordinary people change the world, and I believe that enough of us can join together to show our power. We don’t need grants or political favors or skeevy politicians. We can try ourselves. And how could I not believe in that?”
That’s not the screed of a pulpit orator or a New Age politician, but the call to arms of best-selling author Brad Meltzer, who on Tuesday released his latest book, “The Book of Lies,” a thriller of sorts based on the origins of Superman, and simultaneously opened a charitable endeavor on a Web site he conceived six months ago called OrdinaryPeopleChangeTheWorld.com.
The two are related in ways only a clever, creative, dedicated soul could conceive: He wants to bring attention to the giving spirit he says is inherent in everyone.
“We are all Clark Kent and know what it is like to be boring and ordinary and then rip open your shirt and do something great,” he says.
The example can be as simple as complimenting a washroom attendant for keeping the room clean.
“If collectively we all commit to doing at least one good deed a day, the world will be a better place to live in, and what’s best, we will all be happier for knowing we made a difference,” Mr. Meltzer writes in the blog on the Web site.
Mr. Meltzer set another kind of example 11 years ago by pledging to donate to charity a portion of every dollar he earns through his writing - enough, he says, to underwrite City Year Miami later this month. The project is a national urban volunteer service program aimed at getting young people involved in their communities.
More immediately, he is posting an appeal to raise $50,000 to help save the crumbling house in Cleveland where Superman was created in June 1932 by inviting people to purchase Superman art and T-shirts as well as donating directly. He intends to rotate causes, he says.
A husband and father at home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he was a Big Brother mentor when he lived in the District and, in effect, “I didn’t change the world, but I know I changed the life of that kid just by being a good influence. He doesn’t need money, just someone saying ‘I believe in you, and you are a good person.’”
Mr. Meltzer’s motive goes beyond urging volunteerism to what he calls “a belief - not about getting people together to work on Saturday in a soup kitchen.” It’s also the legacy the 38-year-old lawyer-author intends to leave his children.
Tackling a problem
Washington Redskins offensive left tackle Chris Samuels, 31, knows what it means to put your money where your heart is. Already the namesake of a foundation that prides itself on good works, especially in the field of homeownership education and economic development, the Alabama native has new reason to wear a samaritan crown.
He recently learned about the death in a car crash of a young member of a family landscaping team. Robert Moore’s Battle Mountain Tree Service in Sperryville, Va., had been doing some work for him on his home property. Mr. Moore‘s son, Bobby Jo Moore, 23, was the father of a 2-year-old son and was expecting a baby with his fiancee.
The usually reliable Moores hadn’t shown up for a second job as scheduled, which is how Mr. Samuels and his girlfriend, Monique Cox, learned of the tragedy. The flowers they sent didn’t seem enough, and because Bobby Jo Moore - coincidentally a Redskins fan - didn’t have life insurance, there would not even be money enough for a proper funeral.
Mr. Samuels went into overdrive to get his teammates to contribute to a baby clothing drive and solicit donations publicly to help the struggling young family. Funds will go to build a shelter, possibly a trailer home, for Mr. Moore’s fiancee, son and unborn baby. (Donations can be made out to the Chris Samuels Foundation and sent to Redskins Park to the attention of Mr. Samuels.)
His foundation is working on homeownership programs in Alabama and youth initiatives in the District. He also donated a house to a woman in Selma, Ala., in a special drawing he sponsored last year.