You have to become the solution for the problem you wish to solve.  It takes a community to save one.  Lately, everyone is looking for the someone else to solve the problem.  How about empowering yourself.  Get out there and start moving to get things done and get  involve.

Empower yourself and your neighbor

Drugs on my street is apparent.  We know where the drugs are being sold and the cops know.  Instead of standing by and doing nothing, we have empowered our neighbors to watch, record and report.  When they see something that looks suspicious they are encouraged to call the police.  

By working with the Mayor, City Council and the Police Chief we are able to be a force behind closed doors.  Then our street becomes a little safer and we have great relationship with our neighbors.

Empower the churches

Churches have stayed behind close doors.  The church I grew up with is loosing members everyday and there are hardly any young people in the seats.  The churches that understand their mission are ministering outside the church and in the communities and are  empowering their congregation.  The ministers I have worked with take to the streets to make change.  They have helped us clean up the vacant lots, paint fences, pick up trash and our community has noticed God in action.

It's dirty labor intensive work, but it's what has to be done.  When a community begins to rely on themselves and not just their neighbors to do all the work people come together.  These churches took a leadership position in our community.  They got God out of the church and into our neighborhoods.

Empowering others

It really can't be all about you, your organization, your ego.  If you want to be a great community leader you have to empower others.  Give them a sense of responsibility and pride in the work they are doing. Its been my experience as a community leader I find some organizations won't get involve if they can't benefit directly.  I get several request for money from them, yet when its time for some sponsorship from them, I don't hear from them.

Some non-profit organization I have worked with in the past are extremely reluctant to relinquish any identity to help other non-profits because this could interfere with raising money from donators for their peculiar projects.  It's a business and you appear to be competition.

There is a reason organization don't want to empower others they assume it's not to their benefit.  So a community becomes a little jaded over time.  People must be empowered.  If you don't empower your community you can't build the social relationships.  Mentoring others is empowerment.  Empowering others help accomplish projects beyond your imagination.  It's when a community really comes together to help solve problems.

What are you willing to do for your community

Do you have time?  Make the time.  It's not easy giving up precious time during the weekend or the week to help a neighbor but if you want things to change it begins with you.  Stop complaining and start volunteering.  Imagine if everyone on your block did one project during the year to help the community how much improvement would you see.

Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) might announce opening a new office today in Indonesia.  Will that send Twitter to a new high?

Investors are finally getting it, everyone is Tweeting.  At first they didn't know how Twiitter could make any money, but now with the increase in the Asian market Twitter is staring to make sense. Twitter high last year was $74 and plummeted afterwards.  Causing a lot of analyst to assume that Twitter was overvalued and couldn't justify the $74 stock price.  Twitter returned this week to $49.75 high making investors like me who own the stock very happy.

The tech market has been soaring lately because of great numbers.  Twitter and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) have been turning in profit which is what investors like to see.  Twitter has 40% of its market in Asia.  I believe since more younger people are texting and Twitter becomes the application of choice in poorer countries.  However, I believe the market is also inflated.  Many analyst are looking for market corrections.  

It's not all about making money.  It's not just about picking the right stock, mutual fund or real estate investment it's about keeping your head in the game and to not panic.   Have fun with learning about how to invest and where.  Where is more about real estate because location is key.  Making investment a life long commitment outpaces those daily traders, monthly traders that are fire bent on making instant profit overnight.  You are committed to an investor's life.  In the long run it pays off.

Investing is about patience and pacing

I love research.  Looking through numerous blogs, Google sites, magazines and investment journals give me a rush.  Taking notes and having research papers everywhere drive my wife a little crazy, but when I pick that right investment.  She doesn't mind the mess.  

Going over my research notes in 2009 today, I found I had discovered several great stocks that I was investigating. Verizon and AT&T I was looking at dividends paying a rate of return better than the market.   Also I found some stocks I didn't invest in and lost some cash opportunities.

Most of the people I talk to are afraid of the market because they don't understand it.  They shy away from investing in it because they find it complex.  Because they don't understand they believe its like gambling.  Every investment is a risk there is no sure deals just possibilities.  My investments don't always pay off and sometimes I loose money but that's part of the process.

Getting my feet wet in the market

I started with penny stock in the 1980's.  Penny stock is so risky but usually listed for less than $1. It was a prime opportunity for me at the time.  I was a security office and store clerk making minimum wage.   My first purchased was $50 in some casino stock and received 500 shares.  I was so excited when that stock certificate was in my hand.  The stock got brought out by different companies over the years.sold.  First, it went to 50 shares then to 5.  When I finally sold my shares it was worth $5.  But I got the bug.

Passion is what keeps me and other stock owners in the market.  They love what they do.  When the profits hit then you become even more motivated.  When I found out MasterCard was going public, I purchased as many stock as I could at $45.  When I sold out at $185 the bug really got a hold of me.

Currently looking for deals, know of any, any suggestions

Your money needs to work for you my father would often tell me.  He didn't have a business degree yet he operated his own business.  He was a general constructor who invested in real estate.  He found an investment to put his capital into that he understood.  He understood knocking down walls, plastering, wiring and purchasing property so low it was shameful.  

I own real estate but prefer stocks.  Real estate business is not as liquid as stock.  Yet, real estates where  I have most of my equity mainly because of the location of the properties where the property values have grown.  

I'm always looking for deals.  When China's largest movie studio was going public I was waiting.  When it failed to meet certain standards, I have to wait for another opportunity.  Currently I'm looking for IPO's that interest me.  As the market is on fire the opportunities become harder.  My portfolio is up over 21% this year following the market numbers so greed is in, buyers beware. 

Keep it fun, take risk, allow yourself to make mistakes

Making mistakes is maturity.  I have failed at a lot of things but I have grown in the process. Investing is a process not an event but a constant challenge to look beyond the analysts and so-called experts and take a risk finding and investigating opportunities. Developing your own investment strategy.  Even if you have a financial advisor and you should, you are responsible for your own money.

Two years ago, a small town experience a murder that rocked the community.  A football player from a local college was robbed and killed.

Several civil organizations including our non-profit joined together to March Against Violence.  Through cooperation with the mayor and president of the college we created a Unity Group that meets every month.  No one wants violence in their community.  Our first "March" ended on the steps of the college.  Many public officials promised to find the killer or killers involved.

The father of the slain college student spoke.  He mentioned that this wasn't about an upper middle class white man and it wasn't about the media attention this class was given it was no parent should have experience a murder of their child.   

The "Unity" group encouraged the creation of "Stop the Violence" group which recognized all victims of violence crimes.  STV group has helped other organizations.  The have help our non-profit The Highland Ridge Community Development Corporation with our citywide cleanup day.

Those the men were caught and tried today there are other victims where the murders are still open.  The community will not rest until they are also brought to justice.
Ashlyn is up early and if we are not she makes sure we get up

Our Ashlyn rolls into the bedroom and begins her routine of waking us up.  No she doesn't want food or water, she just wants to get us up early and make sure we're on our way.  But before we can get started, she meets us in the kitchen to make sure she gets her vegetable and fruit smoothie.  She wants to ensure we are eating healthy.  Then after a few scratches around her ear which she must have, then we can go.

Ashlyn works out after her healthy breakfast

Working out might consist of looking out the office and kitchen windows.  She's very interested in the surrounding world and might have an opinion on how we should interact with it.  She studies everyone and everything.  She is the watchcat of the house.  Not that she going bite anyone if they enter, but she's aware of them being there.

Ashlyn has grown since we have had her.  She's a foster cat but now she is really family.  She follows us all over the house and must be in every room we are in.  There are those moments when she tired of us and takes her quiet time near a window either in the bedroom or office where she can watch a very good looking black male cat who enjoys walking by.

Walking outside relieves tension from a busy day

Ashlyn like to take short walks from the kitchen to outside patio.  Though she has to be kept on a leach and she doesn't enjoy the collar she love the outside.  It relieves the tension from her busy workout.  

Ashlyn has been mainly an indoor cat, so we don't want her running around in our backyard without a collar and tied to a chair.  She's okay with the arrangement.  It relaxes her and prepares her for another day of extremely hard labor.

We wanted to do something for our neighborhood that was positive.  It's not a bad neighborhood but we have some problems with drugs and blight properties.  Our community development corporation Highland Ridge Community Development Corporation took on an idea of fixing every house on one block.

Three churches decided to help.  Life Church, Church of the Covenant and Washington Alliance Church wanted their summer camp of kids to participate in our dream.  "Serve Another Day" was born out of  scripture of helping your neighbor.  This is the video they produced.  Enjoy.

This is Day Three of Serve Another Day and the kids have done a lot of work and are having a bit of fun.  I talk about our community garden.

My wife and I got a call from Nancy Mosser Agency in Pittsburgh about commercial shoot yesterday.  The call included wearing Pittsburgh Pirates clothes.  We have worked with Mosser Agency on Batman Movie The Dark Knight Rises a few years ago.

It was a long day

We showed up for 6am call, ate breakfast which the production supplied and then it was moving around the stadium sitting in several different rows for the camera take several shots.  The director was attempting to get as many shots as he could before it rained.  

I'm being vague about the commercial detail not because of lack of information but because until the commercial comes out we were instructed not to talk about it.  I guess that means writing as well.

Making money doing extra work

In Los Angeles, I was extremely busy.  In 1980's I made between $1,500 and $3,500 a year.  I registered with several casting companies like Central Casting (which I believe is still in business) and Atmosphere Agency.  I had to call in to work everyday or you didn't get on the roster for work.

As an extra I've appeared in commercials like Burger King, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. I also did several films. My wife and I decided for fun we were work on a few films in the Pittsburgh area as extras since my wife had never done this before.  Pittsburgh is maturing as a film production city.  Not to the extent as Los Angeles or New York, but a growing business.  Several times we have been called, but with our busy schedule had to turned down roles.

For the commercial we were non-union players. We received $125 a day for 12 hours of work.  Bringing home $250 for a retired couple is not bad.  Production companies usually cater breakfast and lunch, so you get to eat as well.  

When this commercial comes out, I will share it on my blog and I might have a staring role.

Ice Bucket Challenge is where one of your friends challenge you to dump ice water on your head.  If  you fail to do this in 24 hours you have to donate a $100 to The ALS Foundation.  This is blowing up all over Facebook and Youtube and it becomes a great way to raise money.  What is ALS Foundation?

ALS was first founded in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. The disease ended the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time.  The disease carries his name The Lou Gehrig Disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. 

ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, such as the heart and lungs patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

Has the Bucket Challenge brought more attention to the disease?  Maybe.  But it was fun dumping a little cold water on myself.

Next time you will see my bucket challenge on YouTube.  I plan on donating to ALS Foundation.

The market is up over 20% this year and I'm beating that number by 4%.  In my numerous blogs  I have mentioned the stock I have invested in. I haven't really found any great deals out there so far.  The market is a "Greed" market now which means there will come some adjustments.  Riding out the market doesn't mean that I'm not an active investor it just means I watching the indicators are what I want next.

Keeping some cash for investments

I have 95% return since 2009 using  Scottrade  Dealing with a small brokerage like Etrade or Scottrade means I'm not paying premium prices on trades.  I started with about $500 and build my account from there.  Keeping cash in these accounts allow me to look for deals and when I find something I like I buy it.  

Should I sell my Dollar General

I'm still holding on to my Dollar General stock even though I sold a few shares awhile back.  I loosened up some cash to purchase stock from China's market that are doing extremely well.  However, Dollar General which has been up for last few days might have hit a high in its marketplace.  Discount stores are having some challenges as the economy gets better, so it might be something for me to consider.

Keeping my IBM and Berkshire and Hathaway

To tell you these stocks are keeping up with the market wouldn't be giving you an accurate account.  They do not.  IBM lags behind the market and this year showing only single digit increases.  For some investors that would shy them away from IBM and Berkshire and Hathaway (Warren Buffett's company) because they don't give you the big numbers.  These companies are steady and sold returns.  I don't look for them to build huge numbers but for them make a little bit even in a down market.

Other stock I'm riding out the market in

Facebook, American Homes 4 Rent, my Chinese stock (Baidu and Qihoo) I have no plans on selling any of these stocks this year.  They have kept up with the market except American Homes 4 Rent but maintain a steady increase.  Beware of the notion of jumping around every time some analyst tells you the stock market is about to crash or make a huge adjustment.  it's what the market does.  I'm holding on, looking for deals.