You may remember Tony Tolbert’s inspirational story. The California-based entertainment lawyer made headlines last year after agreeing to lend his fully furnished home to a poor family for one year. Now, 12 months later, Tolbert’s gesture has sparked a chain reaction of goodwill.
It all started after Tolbert reached out to Alexandria House, a shelter for homeless women and children, in search of a family he could help.
That’s where he met Felicia Dukes, a mother of four who had been sharing a single room at the shelter with three of her young children; her older son was over 18 and not eligible to stay with his mom and siblings.
So Tolbert offered up the opportunity of a lifetime: one year rent-free at his home so that Dukes could get her life back on track.
Dukes wasn’t on drugs or looking to escape a checkered past; she just fell behind on bills after having her last child and found herself homeless and in need of assistance.
“I got behind on my rent. After I had my daughter I wasn’t getting my regular paycheck,” Dukes said in an interview with Go Inspire Go, a charity organization. “I just couldn’t. My mom lived in a senior building. You can’t stay there.”
With few options, Tolbert’s offer was a godsend.
In a blog post published on Huffington Post this weekend, Go Inspire Go founder Toan Lam said Tolbert and Dukes have both grown spiritually as a result of the experience.
After staying in Tolbert’s home, Dukes and her children are now in an apartment and living on their own. But that’s not all: while the mother works to rebuild her life, others in the community have also been inspired by Tolbert’s example and are helping her and her children throughout their transition.
A personal performance coach named Orlando Bishop is volunteering to meet with Dukes to help her define and implement personal and professional goals. And a local dentist is donating services to the family, Lam said.
Dukes said that the experience of living in Tolbert’s home gave her both “freedom” and “stability,” calling it a “miracle.” She recorded her blessings in a “gratitude journal.”
She has also able to save money so that she will no longer need to live paycheck to paycheck.
But Dukes is not the only person who was changed by the experience. Tolbert, too, learned quite a bit.
“One of the big lessons in all this was literally letting go — letting go of my house from a physical sense, but also just emotionally, spiritually — letting go of any particular result or outcome,” he said. “For me it was a very liberating process in trying to tap into generosity in its truest sense — not giving like half giving … giving with one hand and saying, ‘I need to get something back.’”
And believe it or not, but Tolbert is planning to give his home to another family in 2014.
Watch the story below:
Tolbert described learning important lessons about helping others from his father, Jimmy, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, according to CBS News.
“Kindness creates kindness. Generosity creates generosity. Love creates love,” he told CBS last year. “And I think if we can share some of that and have more stories about people doing nice things for other people, and fewer stories about people doing horrible things to other people, that’s a better world.
Read more about Tolbert’s the backstory.
(H/T: Go Inspire Go)
Featured image via Go Inspire Go