Posted by: Noni | June 14, 2010

Pay it Forward, Change the World

Pay it Forward, Change the World

People often ask me, “Why did you start the Film Co-Op? What do you get out of it?”

Well, certainly not money! At least not directly… but I do receive enormous dividends. It feels great to mentor aspiring filmmakers and then watch them actualize and create their projects.

I’ve been blessed with the ability to work in a creative industry. I’m a self-proclaimed geek who loves to tell stories in visual mediums.  My mandate is to produce entertainment that motivates, educates and inspires.   Unlike the Hollywood strip (Walk of Fame) the road has been rocky at times; but with each struggle comes a new lesson and the chance to move forward.

For many reasons (mostly financial) I wasn’t able to attend film school or get a degree at University… I taught myself and learned from watching others. I feel compelled to share that knowledge with the hopes that someone might be saved the frustrations and obstacles that I encountered. With tough economic challenges and record unemployment, every advantage can mean the difference between success and failure.

The Movie ~ Pay it Forward (2000)

If you haven’t seen the film yet I highly recommend it. The concept is simple yet so many seem confused about why it’s important to reach out to strangers. Simple, because it works! Watch this video for a brief glimpse into how doing something to help a stranger can change your life and the world around you.

So, The Film Co-Op was founded on those principles.  If we join together to help each other, collectively we can do so much more.

Besides mentoring young people, how else can you Pay it Forward?

On the morning of 9/11 my friend Bill (He had returned from NYC the day before) and I sat watching the horrific broadcast of the twin towers collapsing. While we sat helpless in LA a catastrophic event was occurring on the other side of the country. What could I do?   What could we do?  I thought about my son who had experienced a life threatening injury a year earlier.  He had suffered extensive blood loss and was given record amounts of whole blood and platelets which were essential to keeping him alive.

I thought about all the people who had given blood for someone who they didn’t even know.  I was grateful for their generosity.  My son was alive because of the kindness of strangers.  I suggested to my friend that although we were on the West Coast giving blood was something that saved lives and we should go and do it.  Ironically he gave, but I was turned down because I tested with low red count.  After a few months of eating iron rich foods I went back to UCLA Blood and Platelet Center and tried again.  This time I was successful.

A few weeks later I received a call from one of the lab techs.  Apparently I had very special blood that was free of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and the best kind for sick babies, cancer or AIDS patients.  I got my first lesson in clean blood and soon became a regular Platelet donor.  (giving whole blood made me anemic so I gave platelets which replenish within 48 hours.)

Donating platelets takes much longer than giving blood and one day I was particularly pressed for time.  The donor clinic was crowded and the process that normally took a total of 2 to 2.5 hours took over 3.  I was getting impatient to make a meeting and sat sulking over my juice and cookie in the recovery area.  (mandatory observation time of 15 minutes to make sure you don’t faint or something) This was probably going to be my last donation.  I was just too busy to keep coming back.
A pretty young Latino woman came into the room.  She observed the brightly colored tensor wrap on my elbow (to prevent bruising and bleeding after platelet donations) walked straight up to me and thanked me for keeping her son alive.


I had no idea what she meant.  She took a photo off the wall.  I watched her open the frame and remove a piece of paper that was used as a caption.  A number was written on it.  She replaced it with a new slip of paper and brought it over so I could have a closer look.  Then she told me something that I will never forget.  Her son was born with a rare blood disorder.  He was required to undergo transfusions every 2 weeks in order to keep him alive.  Platelets were important for his existence.   She went on to explain that he was 2 and a half years old and without people like me he would never had made it to his first birthday.  I stared back at the boy in the photo and could barely see through the tears in my eyes.  She hung the frame back on the wall and left.  I took a bite of my cookie and finished my juice.  On the way out of the clinic I booked my next appointment to give.

Some folks have taken it a step further and given live organ transplants.  (I’m not talking about filling in donor cards in case of death, but do that too!)

Pay it Forward Kidney Donation

There are some things that money just can’t buy!

Sure, Money Makes the World go Around, but one good deed deserves another and with action comes change. Real measurable significant change!  I’m not saying, don’t send relief funds into Haiti or to stop sponsoring a child in an impoverished nation… if you have money to spare share it with those most in need. 

But what else can you do to improve the life of a stranger?

Let a car in during rush hour, hold a door open for the man with the cane (no matter how slow he moves), thank a policeman for keeping your neighborhood safe. (I actually made a habit of thanking the men in blue on the Venice Boardwalk near my home in California.) The police in Los Angeles are far from popular. Truth is, I felt sorry for them since they were always getting a bad wrap. The first time I walked up to a pair doing foot patrol and said “Thanks for keeping things in order around here! I live close by and it’s nice to feel safe” They stood stunned. I walked away and heard one cop calling, “Hey!” When I turned around they had advanced toward me and their faces had transformed from serious to smiles. The other cop said, “We got your back” and we all laughed. Apparently they get countless complaints each day… rarely positive acknowledgment. It’s amazing how two simple words, thank you, can change someone’s day.

Kindness is contagious, spread the germ!


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Libre, LLC, alison richards. alison richards said: Pay it Forward, Change the World: […]


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