According to “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali “A friend is someone who is always doing for others and never expecting anything in return.”
How many friends of yours meet his definition? I can count my friends on one hand!
For the past 43 years I have been married to a wonderful and great lady named Hattie Bell. We have coordinated Christmas toy parties for elementary school children from DC, Maryland and Virginia during those 43 years.
This effort has been hosted by our non-profit organization KIDS IN TROUBLE, INC. without grants or loans.
The last decade I have been promising Hattie “This is going to be my last year” promises made promises broken. I was once a kid in trouble and going to hell in a hurry. There is something special about a little child’s smile at Christmas that is addicted.
We usually try to average at least 100 kids for every toy party but this year because of financial difficulties we had to cut back to 50 children.
During the week of December 18, 2011 I was out on a rainy night to pick up a donation from a friend of KIDS IN TROUBLE Dr. Anthony Mays. He is the President and founder of BREAKTHROUGH BIBLE COLLEGE. His office is located in Temple Hills, Md. His trusted assistant Dr. Julia Doctor was waiting for me to pick up the donation.
Since it was raining I decided to park in a “Handicap Parking Space” without the designated sticker! Needless to say when I got back downstairs my car was gone.
I stood in the rain trying to figure out where my car was? I returned to the lobby of the building when this brother who had been sitting in the lobby approached and asked “Are you having a problem?” He delivered the bad news that a tow truck had taken my car.
His name is Milton Hill. After delivering the bad news, he offered to give me a ride to my mother-in-law’s home in Suitland (5 minutes away). He dropped me off, we exchanged numbers and wished each other a Merry Christmas and promised to stay in touch. I have since made him an honorary “Santa’s Helper.”
I also promised I would attend a presentation at his home in January of 2012. I felt that was the least I could do for the kindness he had shown me.
I called the number on the sign in the parking lot to the tow truck company and was told it would take $175 if I wanted to retrieve my car.
I borrowed $25 each from my two brothers-in-law, Weldon and Steve who were visiting for the holidays. My wife Hattie came up with another $25. The $100 donation from Dr. Mays brought the total to $175.
My “Friend” and Santa’s Helper Gus Banks lived nearby. I called him for a ride in search of my towed vehicle! In “The Hood” this is known as HUSTLING BACKWARDS!
To make a long story short, thanks to donations from Santa’s Helpers like Dr. Mays, Ms. Michelle Madison of Unity Health Care, Giant Food Stores, Ms. Carla Carter (The Cup Cake Lady), Pat Gray and Gus Banks, the 43 Annual KIT toy party was a success.
Children from the First Baptist Church of Suitland in Forestville, Md. and the Simba Maritials Arts Academy in SE, DC were the happy recipients.
On Monday January 9, 2012 I received a telephone call from Milton Hill my honorary Santa’s Helper wishing me a Happy New Year! He also reminded me that on Tuesday January 10, 2012 he was having a presentation at his home in Clinton, Md.
The presentation was the one that I had promised that I would be in attendance. I reminded him that I was a MAN of my WORD because it was the only thing that I really owned outright in this system.
The system can and will take everything that you own (material things) but once you allow it to take your WORD you will never be able to help anyone including yourself!
Tuesday January 10, 2012 would turnout to be a rainy, rainy day and night in Prince Georges County. First, I don’t like driving at night and second I seldom if ever leave the house on a rainy day unless it is an emergency. My wife looked at me and said “You gave your WORD!”
Traveling from Bowie, Md. to Clinton, Md. is like going cross country especially when it is dark and raining! Since I was not familiar with Clinton and without a GPS to guild me I traveled to my destination on a wing and prayer.
Milton would have to come and rescue me again after I got lost because of the poorly lit street signs leading to his home.
He was expecting a full house but knowing some folks I warned him “We don’t like to leave the comfort of our homes if it is raining and dark!” He laughed and agreed.
I still didn’t have a clue on what the presentation was all about until a young preppy
well dressed brother named Sulaiman Rahman from Philadelphia made his way to the basement.
His presentation would be about “Coffee!” I don’t even drink coffee but I said, “What the hell I’m here now, why not listen!”
I have heard all kinds of presentations and invitations on “How to get rich quick or die trying” starting with Mary Kay, World ATM Company, to my last encounter in 2011 with a so-called global telecommunications CEO.
The encounter with the CEO left a bad taste in my mouth. If I had known that my trip to Clinton would be about another get rich home based business scheme there was the possibility my WORD would not have been kept!
This is the same CEO I had met in the 90s when he was driving a bus and spinning records at local night clubs. He was brought to my home in Suitland, Md. and introduced to me by another young man I was mentoring.
In the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s my reputation as an athlete, youth advocate and out spoken radio and television sports talk show pioneer had already been established. In DC it was nothing unusual for young men to stop me on the streets or come to my home for advice.
When I was introduced to this young man I had already broken bread with drug kingpins and the President of the United States of America. I had been from “The Outhouse to the White House” and interviewed some of the greatest athletes of our time.
Despite the success in the community and sports media I never lost sight on who I was and where I came from!
Honesty and integrity and “You Cannot buy him” were characteristics already associated with the name Harold Bell.
In the summer of 2011 almost two decades later I was called by another young friend associated with the CEO. He was calling to invite me to hear a presentation on the campus of the University of Maryland.
He sold me when he said “Harold it is time that you get paid for all of your contributions made to our community.” Like many in the black community I was facing financial difficult times and this sounded like music to my ears!
When I arrived at the Marriott hotel for the meeting there was a “Show & Tell” exhibit of about 12 brand new BMW automobiles and a Bentley parked out front!
Inside the room where the presentation was being held there were wall to wall black folks who looked like they had just stepped out of Esquire Magazine. I was escorted to a seat in the front of the room for the presentation.
I listened to about 4 presentations and testimonies on the advantages of owning a home based business. I was impressed by the presentations, but I was surprised to see the last presenter. It was the same young man who visited my home in the 90s seeking my advice on his next move to stardom and success in DC!
During his presentation I discovered he had literally gone from driving a bus to driving a Bentley. He gave me a wink as he bragged about his success. I nodded my approval with a smile.
Shortly after the presentation I was escorted to the front of the line where he was signing his book titled “From the Bus to the Bentley.” It was here he gave me a hug and told everyone waiting in line about how he had visited my home back in the day and had seen on my basement wall pictures of me with Muhammad Ali, Don King and other celebrities.
He then autographed in his book “To Harold Bell thanks for opening the door for me.” The praise brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes, but the smile would later turn upside down to a frown!
I would attend several more presentations to check out the clientele. I would later discover another young man I was familiar with. He thought he wanted to be a fight promoter.
He was now a member of the organization. It was during the Mike Tyson “Na Mas” against Kevin McBride in Washington, DC at the Verizon Center in June 2005. The wannabe promoter was taken to the cleaners by one of the most notorious frauds in the boxing.
During the promotions I forewarned the young brother to watch his back. But he got caught up in the bright lights and wanting to be a star. He allowed the Don King wannabe to go to the bank without him.
He screamed “Foul” to me after the fact. The blow by blow profanity laced e-mails between him and the wannabe promoter had smoke coming from my computer!
My next move was to request a meeting with the CEO. I laid out exactly what my plans were for the future and how we could form a partnership to enhance both organizations. The projects included, a soon to be book and a film documentary as it related to my pioneering efforts in the community and sports talk radio.
He took my DVD promo and a draft of my book and asked me to put everything in writing. I e-mailed him my proposal two days later (August 2011). He has avoided me (phone calls, e-mail, and texts) ever since.
On January 2, 2012 we met face to face at the conclusion of a NBA Celtics vs. Wizards’ game at the Verizon Center. He was coming up the steps exiting the game and I was going down the steps to the floor. The look on his face when he saw me was “Priceless.”
In passing he said, “Harold I have not forgotten you I still have your package on my desk at home.” I wished him a Happy New Year and kept on moving!
His behavior has become the norm in the black community where it use to be our teachers saying “I got mine and you have yours to get” success and two dollars more than the next brother starts the same process of memory lost in the streets!
The next day after I had absorbed his declaration of “I have not forgotten you” I e-mailed him my response—it was not pretty.
His response was typical “What did I do to you sir?” He tried to play the victim and make me the Bad Guy for asking him for a Helping Hand instead of a Hand Out in writing as he requested. His wife even got involved. I received an e-mail from her saying “Do I know you? It sounds like you want someone to give you something!”
I learned an important lesson from my Grandmother Amy Tyler Bell after I became a local celebrity I think she sensed that I was beginning to smell myself! She said, “Remember to always tell the TRUTH because there is no defense for the TRUTH, a LIE will change a thousand times but the TRUTH never changes.” It is the best advice I have ever received.
This from the Bus to the Bentley charade made me close the chapter on a Home-Based Business. I decided this was not my way to financial success. This was until my encounter with Santa’s Helper Milton Hill.
The presentation at Milton’s home by Organo Gold rep Sulaiman Rahman and the presentation in Greenbelt, Md. by rep Antonio Adair on Saturday January 14, 2011 made me a believer.
In Greenbelt there was no display of a caravan of Mercedes parked out in front of the building or brothers bragging about how they recently took poor kids on a cruise who had never been out of the inner-city or look at the regulation NBA basketball court I built in my backyard for my kids!
The standing room only presentation was an easy to understand and down to earth one. Antonio made you laugh and say “WOW” out loud to yourself on how to obtain success if you are willing to work.
The most important part of the presentation to me was, egos were checked at the door and there was no “I” in the TEAM concept!
I made the right decision to become a TEAM member and distributor with Organo Gold. The “aha” moment came when I read the March 2012 issue of Success / from Home Magazine. There was the story titled “Charitable Souls Shine Bright / OG Cares Gives Back.”
In the story Co-Founder and Global Master Distributor Shane Morand said, “We are teaching our leaders to give back, its part of our culture.” I am definitely in the right place at the right time.
Next year with God and Organo Gold willing, the 44th Annual Kids In Trouble Christmas toy party for elementary school children will have its own Santa Claus delivering toys, door to door. This is one offer and cup of coffee I could not refuse. Happy New Year!