Mike Rowe used to climb into mud pits, crawl through sewers and slop pigs to get your attention. His show Dirty Jobs was a favorite in our house. It served two purposes. It was wildly entertaining in that Rowe was never really good at job he was highlighting. But his self-deprecating wit combined with his sincere appreciation for those working in the trades, agriculture and other jobs, made the show both heartwarming and funny.
We were sorry to see the franchise discontinued. So I was thrilled when I found Rowe’s Facebook series Returning the Favor. I have been watching since Season 2 and eagerly binge watched Season 1 like it was Netflix’s newest Marvel series.
Rowe and his team take nominations through the Facebook page Returning the Favor Effect. They are in search of “bloody do-gooders” who take their time, talents and often their own money to improve the communities they live in. They have featured teens running food banks, a myriad of veterans organizations and programs that serve at-risk youth just to name a few.
Rowe’s advance team learns everything about the “do-gooder” and the challenges they face in continuing to serve their community. Then he and his team “return the favor”. Whether it’s seeking corporate sponsors to provide thousands in equipment, renovating a substandard facility or cutting a substantial check, they provide resources to those selflessly serving others.
I’ll be honest, I have teared up more than once during the “reveal”. The reaction of people who are just striving to make the world a better place is humbling. For all they have given, they are often shocked by the recognition and the assistance.
The episode from two weeks ago marries the idea of giving back to the givers with Rowe’s other passion, showcasing the trades. He has been an avid proponent of careers in the trades since his Dirty Jobs days. He funds scholarships for trades education through his foundation Mike Rowe Works
For me, the series restores my faith in people. Our endless news cycle is filled with so much animosity and stupidity, it is hard to escape the noise. But for 20 minutes every week I cleanse my palate watching ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
It makes me want to be a better person. So I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what I can give back. Not so I can get a visit from Mike Rowe. I am such a huge fan I would probably faint. Rather to give myself a sense of purpose beyond myself now that my children are fully functional (most of time) human beings.
Do yourself a favor. Log on. Pull up Returning the Favor. Meet a few bloody do-gooders and restore your faith in the innate goodness that is in all of us.
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