Author: Keith Maginn
Publication: January 4, 2013
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—and Maginn’s book fresh—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 to someone else. 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. Supplemented by quotes from Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Douglas Brinkley’s The Majic Bus and Try Giving Yourself Away by David Dunn, this book satisfies two longings at once: to have a fun, interesting journey and to motivate readers to have an impact on the people around them. With so much negativity in the news and so many struggling in a beaten-down economy, the public is crying out for a feel-good, transformative book like Goodwill Tour. Many have driven around the country for adventure; countless others serve their community. Maginn and his friend set out to accomplish both at once. Their 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.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce Keith Maginn to our readers. Keith is sharing his second book with us. With that I hand the floor over to Keith.
My name is Keith Maginn and I released my second book, Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward in January of 2013. GWT is a travelogue about a journey that I went on with my friend in mid-July of 2011. Emily and I set off from Cincinnati, Ohio on a 3,000-mile road-trip through the southeastern United States. We gave our own money to hand-picked strangers that we met along the way, with the stipulation that they had to pay the money forward to someone else. Goodwill Tour recounts how Emily and I tried to spread kindness and make a difference in the lives of others while having a once-in-a-lifetime journey.
The idea for the trip actually started out as a joke. Emily and I met through my memoir, Turning This Thing Around. A friendship developed over time and we started half-seriously daydreaming about doing a tour to sell my books. The two of us brainstormed how we could combine having an adventure with doing something philanthropic. Emily had read Bill Clinton’s book Giving and was well aware of the “Pay-it-Forward” cause. Ultimately, she came up with the idea to go out on the road, meet deserving strangers and give them money that they had to give to someone else. Meanwhile, I would be taking notes along the way that I would turn into a book.
The whole trip came about quickly and we didn’t have time to plan much of anything. Emily and I only had a 15-day window for our trip, so the route had to be within driving distance of Cincinnati, our hometown. We knew the Southeastern U.S. route would put us in the Deep South in the middle of a very hot summer, but that course would allow us to visit more places that we had never been previously. Just a few days before we were going to leave, Emily and I decided to go to Memphis, Tennessee - New Orleans, Louisiana - Savannah, Georgia - Charleston, South Carolina - Asheville, North Carolina…and many towns in between.
Other than a loose idea of destinations, Emily and I decided we would just take a leap of faith and trust our instincts. We wanted to put ourselves into positions to meet deserving people. In some cases we were able to work alongside volunteers, at a soup kitchen for example, and other times meeting our donation recipients was more serendipitous. Believe it or not, giving money to strangers was harder than we expected!
The people that we chose ranged from a nun to a mother of three young children to a monk. As you can imagine, all were quite surprised when complete strangers handed them cash. What struck me the most about these people is that they kept thanking us for what we were doing, while they were the ones really making a difference—Emily and I were travelling around for a few weeks, while the people we met worked or volunteered to help others on a daily basis for little or no credit.
Stepping off of the trolley in our first stop (Memphis, Tennessee) was when it first hit me—we were actually going through with this crazy idea! Emily and I had the next several days to do whatever we wanted. No deadlines, no 9-5 job, just a goal to have fun and to touch some lives.
Giving away the first donation to a special young woman in Memphis made us realize that things might work out after all. She was genuinely grateful and all three of us were in tears. (The first interaction also gave us a false sense of how smooth the trip and the giving would be, as things were not that easy the rest of the trip!)
Emily and I easily could have backed out of this trip, could have put it off for “another time”…a time that likely would never come. I am glad that we took a chance. No one can ever take that away from us. In the words of John F. Kennedy: “There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
You only live once. You don’t want to have regrets the rest of your life because you didn’t go after something you were passionate about. When my aunt found out that Emily and I were going on this journey, she said “One of my regrets is that I didn’t do once-in-a-lifetime things when I was young and unencumbered.” You will never know unless you step out of your comfort zone and follow what your heart is telling you to do. If you go forward, you might be surprised how things just seem to work in your favor. I hope Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward inspires others to take their dream trip and/or to make a difference in the lives of others.
[As an unknown, independent author, I am grateful to Wanted Readers for giving me a platform to help spread my message. I also appreciate people like you for reading my story. I would love to connect with you on Twitter (@Keith_Maginn) or at my website (keithmaginn.com). Thank you and all the best!!]
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