Thursday, June 7, 2012
7 News Features: Paying It Forward
Whether you've got mounting medical bills or you're in desperate need of groceries, there's a new social network connecting people who need help with people willing to help. 7's Lynn Martinez shows us a website built on Paying it Forward.
WSVN -- Hahn Dinh knows what it's like to be in need.
The 30-year-old grew up in war-torn Vietnam and spent time in a refugee camp in Thailand.
Hahn Dinh, Founder, Helpcup: "In the camps, you don't have food, you're running around with bare feet. When someone comes to you and helps you when you're in that situation, it just feels so much better."
Since coming to Miami, she's made it her personal mission to help others, and she's using social networking to do it.
Hahn Dinh, Founder, Helpcup: "It just clicked to me that if Facebook and all these big websites can connect people, why can't we create something that will connect people to help each other?"
Hahn and her husband started Helpcup, a free, nationwide website that connects people who need help with others who want to help.
You simply create a profile page and post what you desperately need.
Woman: "It got to a point where we were over a month late for rent and had a shut off notice for utilities. We were going to get our gas shut off. I could not imagine not being able to give my children a hot bath."
Donors are able to look through profiles and see which story touches their heart.
Then, they choose who they will help.
Hahn Dinh, Founder, Helpcup: "You can donate monetarily, you can donate through volunteering your work, or if you have a business, you can also donate free services."
Fort Lauderdale resident Gina Watson had trouble paying her electric bill.
Gina Watson, 48 years old: "I'm disabled, my husband is working, but he is not making a whole bunch of money. I need the electricity, because I have a CPAP machine, and the CPAP helps me to stay breathing at nighttime."
After receiving a final notice from the power company, she posted her story on Helpcup. A few weeks later, an online angel came to her rescue.
Gina Watson, 48 years old: "The Lord sent someone to actually read this, and he found me, out of all these people."
We were there as Gina received a check to pay off the overdue bill.
Gina Watson, 48 years old: "Oh my gosh. This is so special. There are people out there who do care."
Thirty-eight-year-old Ronnie Sopena takes full-time care of his ailing grandmother, so money is tight.
Ronnie Sopena, Needed a computer: "I went from full-time employment to scarce part-time employment, because in our family, we promised her we would never put her in a nursing home. She raised me from the age of 6."
He wanted a laptop computer to pay bills online and keep his grandmother in contact with loved ones.
Ronnie Sopena, Needed a computer: "Unfortunately, she is limited as far as leaving the house. With the computer, we can get her to stay in touch with relatives and friends."
Someone on Helpcup bought them a new computer.
Ronnie Sopena's grandmother: "Wow."
Ronnie Sopena, Needed a computer: "Grandma was very happy when we got the package in the mail. People don't know me from Adam, and yet here, they care."
Helpcup asks people who've been helped to give back to someone else.
And Ronnie is ready.
Ronnie Sopena, Needed a computer: "Somebody wants to learn to drive. I'm a traffic instructor certified in the State of Florida, and I'm excited to help them with that."
One act of kindness can go a long way if we all pay it forward.
Lynn Martinez: "Helpcup has a strict certification process to make sure all the claims are valid. Since their launch in December, they've helped 29 people."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
199 E Flagler Street STE 1460
Miami FL 33131
Customer Service for Businesses and Charities