Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Do You Yahoo?

It's been nearly a year since I posted this piece, but I'm already planning this year's Yahoo Day, and was feeling inspired to re-cap last year's event. In the end, I paid for someone's groceries via an anonymous envelope of cash (I got to watch from a couple of rows over because I enlisted the aid of the store manager; that was so much fun) and treated my town to free coffee for a day at our local Country Store. This year, however, I will be in NYC on business and get to Yahoo Manhattan. I already have some ideas, but I am also hoping some might come in via comments. How would YOU Yahoo Manhattan?

Zach, I hope that this year's recipients of your oh-so-coveted Yahoo Day paraphernalia go out and do their noble duty. I've had a particularly fruitful and amazing year since my last Yahoo, so the things I go out into the world to do this years will be especially celebratory.

My love to you, Zach. You amaze and humble me. Not just once a year, but at least every 6-8 weeks or so.

Posted February 2012:

I have a very important and very wonderful task ahead, and I need some creative input. On Sunday, February 26, I must Yahoo to the best of my abilities, and I want it to be good.

See, I have a friend named Zach Galvin. We have been friends for a very long time - thirty years, to be exact. Fifteen years ago on Sunday, he endured his last treatment for stage IV Hodgkin's Disease (A.K.A. very bad, advanced cancer).

Zach found out about his cancer at the same time he landed his first teaching job. He had a tumor the size of a kitten, snuggled up so close to his heart that they couldn't operate to remove it. He endured radiation and aggressive chemotherapy that year while he was establishing his home at Natick High School. I thought my first year as a teacher was stressful, and all I had to worry about was curriculum planning and test writing.

In 1996, Zach looked like this:

These days, he is the Vice Principal of Natick High School in Natick, MA, and looks like this:

He's wearing that shirt and that number on his chest because in the ten years he's been doing the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, he has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for cancer research.

But back to the subject of Yahoo Day. Every year on February 26, Zach and his band of friends all over the world, go out and commit a random act of kindness for someone, preferably someone we don't know. Over the years I have done all sorts of things in the name of Yahoo, but I want to make this year special.

Today, I received a package from Zach in the mail. He will be in Europe, chaperoning a school trip on this Yahoo Day, so he decided to make a t-shirt that he could wear in the spirit of Yahoo Day. One t-shirt became 15, one for each year he's been cancer-free. He chose 14 friends who have been active in the spirit of the Yahoo over the years, and we each received a shirt. It looks like this on the front:

...and like this on the back:

On his fifth Yahoo Day, Zach did this:

So whatever I do this Sunday, it's got to be good. I've done some pretty cool random and anonymous acts of kindness in years past, but I like to up the ante each year.

Any ideas? And why don't you join us? On February 26th, go on out and Yahoo. Do it for my buddy, Zach.


  1. I love the way you celebrate Zach's life. Ideas? Hum... There are things that have been done for our family that might interest you. Since there are many people out of work right now I'll share a specific act of kindness to us.

    A few years ago, my husband was laid off after 20 years of service. The company was kind to him in the process but we were still out of work. One evening the doorbell rang and there was a pizza delivery man there. He handed us an envelope with a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant. Nice huh? Then, he handed us a second envelope with $500 in it. The gift was anonymous. I was stunned. My children were so excited. They were old enough to understand our predicament, 15 and 12. A huge amount of hope was born that night. We felt less alone. We were happy.

    Here's one more for you. I have a literature club in my home for parents and kids ages 7-17. We read the classics, have dinner, discuss the book and the kids share projects. When we lost the job our literature club was 4 years old. One evening after everyone left I went to my room to get ready for bed and on my bed was an envelope with a sweet card and $800. I was speechless. Tears of joy ran down my face. You see this group is not what you would consider a wealthy group of people. We all work week to week like very one else. One family in the group was also facing a job loss. Out of their need they gave generously. Our family was so touched. We'll never forget it.

    FYI: We have a job now, a nice job in San Antonio, TX but it took us away from all those that we love and who loved us so completely in our time of need. This brings me to a second idea, people who are new to an area of lonely. Acts of kindness for people like us invitations, meals, coffee dates.....friendship, it's a really big deal.

    Hope these ideas spark an idea for you. I think your Yahoo Day is awesome.

  2. Oh, this is good. Really good. I love the pizza delivery idea. That's inspired. I will make sure Zach sees your comment. Thanks, Ali, and I'm so glad I discovered your blog, too!

  3. I'm glad I discovered you too. Let's keep in touch and please, please tell me what you end up doing.

  4. Love your blog. Just another way Zach has brought people together who otherwise never would have crossed paths. I have known Zach for 20+ years. I live in Nantucket MA but am celabrating Yahoo with family in Michigan. On Yahoo day 2012 we met for the first time my wife's 9 day old nephew. Much more Yahoo to follow as well as the pictures when we return home. Happy to have learner a bit about you and sharing just a bit of our lives.

    Dave Larivee
    Nantucket. MA.