Let’s Talk About Michael

We met at 2:55 PM on August 23rd, 2014, in front of the Union Square Barnes and Noble to hand over the pipes and we gave them to Malcolm then and there.

Hey guys! What a crazy and unexpected road it has been over the past few months. Thank you so much for following along! We went from excitement over a HONY photo to raising a significant amount of money – and now I have a pair of hand-crafted bagpipes custom-built by a Scottish master in my apartment. It’s incredible to see the desire for goodwill brought to life.

There have been a number of twists and turns in this story, and tracking down Malcom – mainly through Michael – has always been a challenge. Even after we knew who he was, and after I had met him, finding Malcolm hasn’t always been easy. He’s a unique, quirky individual, and no doubt a very talented musician. I’m sure that’s what Brandon saw in him when he approached him. Anyway, we’re at the finish line, and if all goes well, we will be handing over the pipes at 3PM tomorrow! There’ll be lots of pictures, video, and maybe even a little bit of media coverage (shhh!) I cannot WAIT to see the look on Malcolm’s face, and maybe even hear him play the brand new pipes!

I’ll be sending out an email shortly for those of you who want to join us.

This next part is a little lengthy, but I hope you see where I’m coming from as you read.

There is another twist to this story I want to share with you, though, and it’s one where I could really use your input. From the beginning of this campaign, I’ve been learning about the process of fundraising and charity “on the job.” Fortunately, with your support and constant stream of good wishes – I read every single one! – we are now about to wrap up this campaign. I’ve mentioned Michael a number of times through the posts, because I’ve spent the majority of my time with him over the past few months, and not Malcolm.Michael is very well spoken and fairly well put together. My understanding is that he has been on the streets for around half a year, and was working and living somewhere before that. My plan is to get his story to pass on to you guys in the next few days, once we hand over the pipes.

A number of you have suggested donating books and money to Michael, and I’ve been hesitant on starting another campaign. I’ve been on edge about it for a few weeks, so I want to share with you where we stand at the moment to see what you think. As you know, accountability and transparency have been my top priorities since day one. The thing that amazed me the most about this campaign was how trusting you guys have been to a stranger on the internet. I’ve been determined to show you where every cent of your money has gone, and the end result is very physically concrete – there’s a set of bagpipes in my room.

If we start another campaign for Michael, however, we run into a number of issues:

1) We’re donating money, not a musical instrument. I’ll be handing over a check.

2) Although I’ve spent time around Michael and he’s been nothing but helpful and nice, I don’t know him well. I have no idea how he’ll actually spend the money. I can’t bear any responsibility for it.

3) We would use a different service – YouCaring.com – which only charges the processing fee from WePay (2.9%,) to deliver more of your money. GoFundMe charges at additional 7% in its own fees. YouCaring is a trustworthy and proven service (many of my friends have used it,) but not as well known as GoFundMe.

As you can tell, I’m pretty hesitant about the campaign, because I value your trust above all. I want you to understand what you’re getting into. Moreover, as I said, I’m not looking to start a string of campaigns for personal charity. I was in the right place at the right time to help you change Malcolm’s life, and I was very fortunate to help with the campaign. If we start another one for Michael, it’ll likely be my last for the time being.

There are two other ways you can help.

One, which I very much prefer, is that you just stop by the bookstand (if you’re in the NYC area,) and donate to Michael directly. Several of you have asked about that. That’d be much easier, and you’d see exactly where the money is going.

Two is to donate books, as a few of you have offered! That’s actually not a problem at all. I spoke to Michael about that yesterday, and he loves the idea. You can send the boxes to my house (message me or comment with your email for my mailing address.) His only guidelines are – the books should be in decent/good condition, with dust covers on the hardcovers, and no more than two or three decades old. I’d be happy to facilitate the donations and physically bring him he boxes.

So, with that in mind, what do you think? Would you donate? Or can you think of a better way to help?


9 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Michael

  1. You are a great person, and I am really appreciative that you have done so much work to make the bag pipes a reality. For many (me), the decision to donate was a spur-of-the-moment act of altruism; it came with few strings. You, sir, have done the work and made our moment of hope and good wishes a reality. I thank you. As for Michael, I will defer.

    • Thank you very much for your kind response and for following along – I’m really glad to bring you the good news! As for Michael, I completely understand. With this post, I’m looking to gauge the interest, and as you can see, am definitely hesitant. Stand by for pictures from tomorrow!

  2. I’m so happy to have been part of this group of strangers who banded together to make someone’s life better. Bravo to you for taking the time to make it happen!

    • Cathy – thanks for the comment! I’m sorting out photos/video and will have it up in the next day or two. I definitely did speak to Michael, and he’s in all sorts of financial need as he looks to arrange housing with the city – one day he told me he had his sneakers stolen; another, it was his shirt. I think he’d love to see a check come his way – whether that’s the right thing to do is our decision.

  3. Greetings and thanks for all the good work!
    I have many good books that Michael may be interested in. I would be happy to drive them into Manhattan, if that is useful.

    • Marshall – absolutely! Your best bet is to contact Michael yourself. I’d stop by the bookstand in front of BN if I were you, or if you want to arrange it ahead of time, I’d be happy to put you in touch with him.

  4. I will definitely support to help a man get back on his feet and start doing what he truly loves.Thank you for restoring faith in humanity by not just talking the talk, but by walking the walk, Maxim!

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