A Little Bragging

Recently, I asked my daughter JoAnna what would happen if I accepted as my personal reality, all the nice things people say about me.

She said, “Dad, I think you should do that. I want you to get started by giving yourself two affirmations every day starting today. ”

I replied, “O.K. I will. The first one is ‘For a fat guy, I don’t sweat much.’”

She laughed and said, “No Dad, I won’t accept that. You can do much better.”

That night, I dreamed that I was at a convention. At the convention, dozens of women came up to me wanting to go on a date. The next morning, I told Jo my dream.

I said, “My affirmation for this morning is ‘I am God’s gift to women.’”

She said, “Isn’t there something in between ‘For a fat guy I don’t sweat much’ and ‘I am God’s gift to women’?”

So, you can see that complimenting myself is not easy for me. It wasn’t easy for my kids growing up either. Let me illustrate.

There were six of us in our family; four girls and my wife and I. The six of us played a game with a die. The youngest girl was #1 on the die. Each of us took a number in age order ending with me at # 6. Playing the game meant that if your number was rolled, you had to respond in the manner the game was requiring.

One of the games called for responding with something for which you were grateful. Another version was to respond with your favorite Christmas gift. We played with dozens of variations of responses.

The variation that was the most difficult for us by far, was when you had to say something you liked about yourself. When we played that version, there were lots of long, thoughtful pauses while the person whose turn it was, thought up something positive they could say about themself and still feel safe. None of us wanted to appear conceited.

In a similar vein, I recently received this e-mail from a trusted friend after I had sent her funny stories I had written where the humor was at my own expense. She wrote:
“Now tell me an equally well written story about a great accomplishment
(besides laughing at yourself and making me laugh out loud!)…I want
it to be blatant bragging!!!”

The woman that sent the e-mail is much too prophetic for me to ignore her request. The rest of this essay will be me bragging. Continue reading at your own risk.

1. Both of my degrees were awarded by Azusa Pacific University. Recently, APU celebrated the 100th anniversary of it’s founding. As a part of the anniversary celebration, the school selected 100 graduates as Centennial Graduates. Out of the more than 20,000 graduates in the history of the school, I was selected as a Centennial Graduate.

2. I was president of Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. During my tenure, we worked to get a new $30,000,000 mission building constructed. I was a part of the planning, fund raising, city approval process, architectural design and the initial construction of the building. I was forced out by the board a year or so before the building opened.
The building is one of the most beautiful in downtown L.A. It came in on time, under budget, and paid for. The building was much cheaper to operate than the old building it replaced,despite the fact that it was about three times as large. It is state of the art and won national architectural awards.

3. After I left the mission, I came back to Main Street for a visit. I saw an old friend whose name was Jerry. I tell his story in a essay called “Jerry’s Story” on this website in the “Mission Story” category. Jerry had been a mission client both as a guest and as a program member. I knew him very well.

Here is a quote from “Jerry’s Story” spoken from my perspective:

“A few months later, the Mission pressured me out of my job. A year after that, I came back downtown and just walked the streets. I saw Jerry. We talked for a while and he filled me in on the gossip about people I knew. Then he said, George, if they put it to a vote of the homeless people, you’d be president of the Mission again tomorrow.

I was deeply moved. What he said helped me survive over the next few brutal years.” Jerry’s comment taught me that though I would never work in the new building, my work would always survive in the hearts of the street people.

4. Mayor Tom Bradley designated a day as George Caywood Day in Los Angeles.

5. Former President Jimmy Carter, came to URM for a visit. URM refused entry to reporters so there could be a two hour working meeting with Carter. I explained to President Carter that we planned to do more than give services. In addition, we intended to motivate, prepare, and to equip other people and organizations to serve. We also wanted to help others already giving services to expand and improve.

The Mission had already made the idea of motivating and equipping others work. The UCLA Clinic at Union Rescue Mission was being replicated all over the country. President Carter was impressed enough to offer to speak at the dedication of our new building.

6. The Religious Heritage Foundation awarded me The National Professional Person of the year award for my service to the mission and the City of Los Angeles.

7. In the early 90’s, my book “Escaping Materialism” was published. “Escaping Materialism” sold well. I was told that it was used in almost all U.S. seminaries in their Urban Ministries Dept.

8. National Public Radio has an oral history project called Story Corps. NPR has recorded tens of thousands of ordinary people interviewing important people in their life. The recordings became part of The Library Of Congress.

My daughter Gina arranged to interview me. The recording process went extremely well. A three minute excerpt of our interview was used nationally, as a part of NPR’s 2006 and 2007 Father’s Day programming. The excerpt and the full 50 minute recording are available on this site.

As Gina began to end the interview she said, “My three sisters and I wanted to do something for you Dad. We think you are a great man [choked up voice]. We don’t think you have ever received the honor you deserve. We wanted this interview to be your “Mister Holland’s Opus”.
I responded, “This honor means more to me than if I had received whatever they would call the Oscar for skid row workers”. My voice choked up too.


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