Posted Jan 07, 2013 11:29 am CST
Last January, Los Angeles lawyer Tony Tolbert decided to give back to society by moving out of his home.
The new occupants—a woman and her children living at a domestic violence shelter—paid only $1 for a month for their one-year stay, the Los Angeles Times reports. Tolbert didn’t know the family; the shelter chose them. Now Tolbert is once again opening his home to a woman and her three children, this time chosen by a different shelter.
Tolbert made the arrangement possible by moving in with his mother in one unit of a duplex he owns; his sister lives in the other unit. The two women are Buddhists, and Tolbert likes its concepts. “I’ve learned about how karma works,” he told the Times. “Blessings flow from making sure that others are taken care of.” He also acknowledges learning about sharing from his father, an entertainment lawyer now in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s disease. When Tolbert was growing up, his father often shared the family’s home with needy clients or friends.
Tolbert is a Harvard law grad who teaches street law as an adjunct professor at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. He also works as associate director of outreach at the school. “A large part of my job is to help equalize the playing field in the legal profession,” he told the Times. “Why shouldn’t I do that in my life?” He spoke to the newspaper in hopes it would inspire others.
CBS News has a video that includes an interview with the new mom who will occupy the home, Felicia Dukes. “My heart just fills up,” she told the network. “I’m just really happy.”
The previous mom who occupied the house, according to the Times, was “thankful but not effusive.” The story does not say whether the family took good care of the house, though it quotes Tolbert as saying the experience was “a good exercise in not grasping and hanging on to stuff. …. Short of them burning the house down, I had to accept that whatever they tear up, it can also be repaired.”