Dear Valued Client,
When it comes to changing your community, most people probably think you need a lot of money, fame, or power. But when a colleague shared the following story1 with me, I learned something important:
Sometimes, all it takes to change your community is a glass of water and some hot dogs.
It was a hot afternoon in Macon, Georgia when someone knocked on David Duncan’s door.
When David went to see who it was, he found an 8-year old boy named Jaden asking for a drink.
Naturally, David gave him a glass of water. He knew the boy lived nearby, but until that moment, they had never met. So when Jaden left, David figured that was the end of it.
Until the boy returned the following day.
Soon, David learned to expect Jaden almost every afternoon, often with several equally thirsty friends in tow. David decided to kick things up a notch by offering sodas in all sorts of flavors. But while watching the children guzzle their drinks, David realized something:
The children were hungry.
“What can I do?”
David was uniquely qualified to recognize someone in need – because at many points in his life, he’d been in need himself.
A survivor of eighteen different surgeries, David has two prosthetic legs, multiple transplanted organs, and is blind in one eye.None of those challenges ever stopped him for looking for ways to help people, but before Jaden knocked on his door, he was at his wit’s end.
“What can I do?” he would pray. “I have zero budget, and I’m losing my eyesight.”
Thomas Edison once said that “Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
But in David’s case, opportunity came in an even less obvious form – and it didn’t require much money to seize it.
The Hot Dog Club
David decided that, since the children were hungry as well as thirsty, it was up to him to feed them. So he went out and bought some hot dogs.
“Hot dogs were easy,” David said.“Every kid likes a hot dog.” So, he went onto social media and asked if anyone had a hot dog stand he could use – preferably the old-fashioned kind with the classic red umbrella. Inspired, a friend decided to raise money on David’s behalf.Soon, David had his stand, which he set up in his driveway.
Thus, “The Hot Dog Club” was born.
Every week, David would serve free hot dogs and drinks to local children. Sometimes he would show movies.It started small, but gradually, his humble club grew and grew. When local businesses got wind of what David was doing, they donated their own food – so much that The Hot Dog Club now no longer serves hot dogs!
Soon, other people began donating, too. Money, clothes, school supplies, you name it. Others would volunteer their time to help run meetings.Now, the club has expanded to the point where it focuses on filling children’s minds and souls as well as their stomachs. Kids who bring in their report cards receive $5 for every “A” they earn.
David has transformed his community, all thanks to a glass of water and a few dogs. All thanks to recognizing opportunity – and need – when he saw it.
When I read David’s story, it got me thinking: How can we transform our communities? What opportunities to recognize need are waiting for us?
I’m willing to bet they’re a lot closer than we think. Just around the corner, perhaps – or even right on our doorsteps.
David M. Gallagher
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about David Duncan and The Hot Dog Club, just search for “The Hot Dog Club+Macon” in Google, or type in the link below.
1 Ed Grisamore, “Hot Dog Club gives youngsters food for the soul,” The Macon Telegraph, January 4, 2019. https://www.macon.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/ed-grisamore/article223870770.html