Takae Shimizu takes her Pay It Forward Challenge money to the streets, helping a church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles keep things clean. When Takae asks members of the church what she can do to help them out, they tell her the area around the church is looking pretty run down.
Takae organizes volunteers for a cleanup day, then purchases cleaning supplies, T-shirts and food for the workers. "I hope those people living around the area will appreciate [the effort], or at least feel better about living here in Boyle Heights, where crime rates are high and a lot of violence still exists," Takae says.
She also has something special for one of the volunteers, Yoshiko Fujita. After six surgeries for a brain tumor, Yoshiko is on the road to recovery and ready to leave her wheelchair behind. Takae surprises Yoshiko with a new walker with wheels, so she can be more mobile. Yoshiko was happy to come out to help with the street cleaning project, saying, "Now I can take care of me, so next I have to do a good thing for other people."
The experience of "paying it forward" was so rewarding for Takae that even an accident totaling her car wasn't devastating. "I thought I would be depressed, but I was so happy that I went and helped others," she explains. "I was lucky, but who knows—maybe because I was doing my good deeds, someone was watching over me!"