Carolyn Gable, an agent with Compass in Florida, used to survive on tips as a waitress while raising two small children. So, she’s no stranger to hard times. “I was struggling night to night, trying to pay the babysitter and the bills,” she says. “I knew I had to get out and do something different, but I was limited. There weren’t many opportunities for a woman without an education.”
Since then, she’s found success, founding and running her own company in the trucking industry for 30 years before a career shift into real estate. She was far removed from those days of struggle and started contemplating how she could help others who are in the situation she once was. “Somewhere along the way, I realized I can’t take anything with me, and I wanted to figure out how I could leave the world a better place,” she says.
Then, an idea formed when she met a woman who reminded Gable of her younger self. The chance meeting occurred at a fair at Gable’s granddaughter’s school. “We were all waiting in line, and I found out that the woman in front of me had recently lost her mother to cancer,” Gable says. “When we got to the register to pay for the simple things that these school fairs sell, I realized she couldn’t pay for it.”
Gable says she couldn’t ignore the woman’s situation and paid for her items. Then, she contacted the school’s principal to get in touch with the woman and give her family an extra $100. The gesture made Gable realize how many people need a little help to keep going. She needed help at one point herself, and she knew the gratitude she felt like for small gestures of compassion from others. So, Gable started The Believe Project, inviting anyone to send her a note online about someone in need.
“A lot of people want to give, but they don’t have the money,” Gable says. “So, I just say, ‘Send me a note and tell me who in your world could use $100.’ And that’s how we got started.”
After reading the notes, Gable sends an envelope with inspirational cards and a $100 bill to whomever is listed as the recipient. For a while, she wasn’t sure if it was making a difference. “You know, I get these letters from people who tell me about their sisters or cousins or friends going through difficult and, sometimes, terrible things, and I thought to myself at first, ‘Is $100 really going to make that much of a difference?’ But it does. People write me back and talk about how much it helped.”Gable isn’t only focused on her immediate community: She says she receives requests from all over the country and does her best to fulfill them. More than the money she sends, Gable also receives thanks for the motivational cards she sends with the cash. No matter what, though, she hopes that the small gesture translates to a moment of hope and help for whomever receives it.