The Power of Trust: Helping #Daniela

January
7
2009

David Armano is one of the Twitterers I eagerly anticipate rather than just following. Aside from being the VP of Experience Design for Critical Mass, he’s also an extremely perceptive social media commentator whose Logic+Emotion blog posts are insightful and beautifully illustrated. At about 10pm EST on Tuesday, January 6th, David tweeted:

OK, here’s the favor. It’s a big one. For big hearts. Please help. » link to Logic+Emotion: Pleas Help Us Help Daniela’s Family Please retweet.

– http://twitter.com/Armano/status/1101001664

I actually missed the first tweet but I saw a few retweets, so I scrolled back to find it. Daniela’s story is — very tragically — not a unique or even particularly original one. She’s a Romanian immigrant and now single mom with three kids, the youngest of which has Downs Syndrome, who recently divorced her husband after suffering years of physical abuse. The family is now homeless after her ex-husband started drinking heavily and lost his job, and David and his wife Belinda have taken them in temporarily.

David’s request was simple: use ChipIn (and PayPal) to ask everyone he knew to contribute. The goal was to reach $5,000 to help Daniela get an apartment and start a new life. That would be a fairly audacious goal in the traditional offline world, especially in the midst of a recession and surrounded by so much online scamming, but it’s no match for the power of trust.

I’ve never met David in person. Other than following him through Twitter and having a few mutual contacts through Critical Mass, I don’t know him from Adam (as the saying goes). But I trust him far more than other virtual strangers because of the social proprioception created by Twitter and his blog and this crazy world of social media. There was no doubt in my mind that the story of Daniela was legitimate and that the money was really going directly to help someone in need. Maybe we shouldn’t be as trusting of people we don’t know — and maybe that’s part of what makes the Twitter community so vulnerable to phishing attacks — but a handful of retweets later and we raised over $7,000 in less than two hours for a family none of us knew personally.

I’ll repeat that for emphasis: we raised $7,000 in less than two hours for a family none of us knew personally.

Coming on the heels of the incredible #HoHoTO event that raised $25,000 for the Daily Bread Food Bank, I’m blown away by the generosity and willingness to help those less fortunate. Thank you to everyone who donated and listened to me tweet about it for hours, and to @armano, of course, for giving us a chance to shine. He snuck away from watching the donations to briefly record a heartfelt video thanks:

UPDATE: as of 2:10am, we’ve raised $9,422.17, which is 188% of the target. Joey talks about the spirit in his Help Daniela! post.

UPDATE: as of 3:19pm the next day, we’ve raised an incredible $12,883.60, which is 257% of the target. David has a great post up about Neighbors + Neighborhoods (or Neighbours + Neighbourhoods as I would spell it :), as well as some coverage from Beth’s Blog (the best source of info for non-profits and social media on the web), Content Matters, Laurel Papworth, Servant of Chaos,  and others. Here’s the ChipIn widget that should always show an updated total:

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