Arianna Huffington’s E-mail to

It was July 21, 2009, exactly 11:09 a.m. when I got this e-mail from Arianna Huffington:

Hi Toan, this is wonderful. We would love for you to blog about it. I’m Ccing our Living Editor, Alana Kornfeld and our Editor-at-Large, Russell Bishop to coordinate. All the best, Arianna


Speechless. Excitement! Deep breaths…Ohmmmm. Oh my gosh. Wow! I am speechless.

Did Arianna Huffington really just e-mail to ask me to be a featured blogger for the “Living” section of her amazingly popular site! Cell phone, where is it? Ok, let me call… oh wait, there’s a message from Russell, her Editor-in-Chief.

Is this for real? Ok, now that I am a little less numb and the shock of madame bloggers-sphere-mania is settling in, I need to gain composure and call Russell back. I think to myself, okay, do I call after I walk home from my meeting in downtown San Francisco? Or do I call him while out of breath, with the screaming sirens, traffic and the pitter-patter of several hundreds of people walking around the busy streets of SF, or should I wait until after I get home, or perhaps, while walking back to my apartment? I chose the latter and between walking up and down the San Francisco hills (and they’re craaazy), the humming sound of a busy metropolis that is San Francisco and the excitement, I probably sounded like a baffling buffoon. But an excited, passionate buffoon, nonetheless. Even with about 10 years of experience reporting for the local news, I thought I’d be able to regain composure and “calm myself” before the call — but that went out the door, didn’t it?! I was so exhilarated to get the invite, the nod, whatever, from Arianna, and to get the call from Russell.

Exuberant, not only because ‘The’ Arianna Huffington invited me to write a blog on her site, but also because I was never acknowledged or rewarded as a child, for being a voracious reader and writer. Growing up in a rough part of Sacramento, I never felt validated for my communication skills; as a reader, writer, or orator, for whatever reason, be it cross-cultural, generational, socio-economical etc., — that’s another blog post all in itself. It wasn’t until I went to the University of San Francisco and majored in print journalism that I got the “thumbs up” and compliments for my writing from my former college literature teacher Carolyn Weber and former journalism professor Michael Robertson. The validation was GOLDEN. I finally thought, for once in my life, that I may have a career in journalism! I always followed my instinct. OK, enough of walking nostalgically down memory lane…

Time to get working.

What will I blog about? Yeah, Russell told me the guidelines and I knew it was about a story on my website, but… OK focus. If you could see my thoughts painted out onto a canvas, my brainwaves, my thoughts would look much like a fuzzy TV set with “jankity” rabbit ear antennas = no clear picture.

What did I decide to write about and why?

I started banging on my keyboard on my little MacBook Pro laptop, and started writing about the latest story, about a little five-year-old girl, who was moved after seeing a homeless person begging for food on the streets of San Francisco. So, she’s setting out to try and solve the hunger problem in her community. One may scoff at such an overwhelming, seemingly insurmountable, lofty goal, but the only one(s) that may look foolish in the end, are the one(s) who doubt the power of a compassionate spirit. Phoebe saw a hungry person on the street, holding a cardboard sign, and asked her mother, about it, was sad, and wanted to help the way she knew best, collecting cans. She knew, through weekend trips with her dad and sister to recycle cans for cash, that she could earn money to give to the food bank to help feed hungry people.

Her goal, was to raise $1,000 in two months. Even her daycare teacher, who helped her draft letters asking for help, admits, “Caaans?” She thought it was too big of a goal, for young Phoebe, or any 5-year-old for that matter, but, like adults sometimes are, she was wrong.

Two months later…

Little Phoebe raised $3,336.30 to be exact. How many people will that feed? She’ll tell you, 17,000-something. According to the food bank, that amount will feed 17,800 people! WOW! Go Phoebe!!!

Think that’s amazing? I just got a call from the San Francisco Food Bank and more great news…

This five-year-old phenom, known as Phoebe, whose original goal two months ago (let me remind you) was to raise $1,000, just got another $1,000 matching donation! Her NEW total = $4,336.30! Hungry folks fed = 18,000+ WOW, congrats Phoebe!

Now, let me ask you, if a five-year-old can feed more than 18,000 hungry people… What can YOU do?!


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