A heart-‘warming’ story

Published 8:40 pm Monday, February 21, 2011

Last week, I got the chance to see one of my favorite movies in real-life action.

I’ve always loved the movie “Pay It Forward” — and not just because Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment are some of my favorite actors.

If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, here’s the briefest synopsis I can give (no spoilers): Spacey’s character, a social studies teacher, gives his class an assignment to come up with a way to change the world. Osment’s character, one of the students, concocts the idea of paying favors forward, rather than back — a continuous chain of good deeds. The project winds up having a profound effect on his own family (Helen Hunt plays his mom) and an ever-widening circle of people whom he doesn’t even know.

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Apparently, business owner Basim Mansour also was inspired by the movie.

Mansour owns Michael and Son Services, Inc., a company that provides heating and cooling services, among other things, in the Hampton Roads area, Richmond and Northern Virginia. Inspired by the idea of “paying it forward,” Mansour started the Michael and Son Cares program to provide discounted services for needy and deserving people in the communities they serve.

When one of their technicians went to the Rogers home in Suffolk recently to give them a quote for work, it turned out to be the biggest Michael and Son Cares project yet.

Jacqueline Rogers and her two young children had almost fallen victim to carbon monoxide poisoning because of a faulty gas heating system. Fortunately, the family had recently installed carbon monoxide detectors, and so knew they needed to get out of the house.

The company wound up donating about $8,000 worth of labor and equipment to the single-income military family to replace the gas system with a new electric system.

This family’s experience stands as a reminder of two very different, but equally important, lessons. First, ensure you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and keep their batteries changed regularly. And second, always pay it forward — you never know whose life you could change.