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Marshaling the power of Facebook to pay it forward across the Treasure Valley

We first met Erin Askew when she nominated some else for a Pay It Forward. She told us Theresa Drury and her family would be great for our big, Pay It Forward Christmas. We agreed.

And yet, as we learned more about Erin, we came to realize that she deserved one too.

For Erin, “Pay It Forward” is a guiding principle. She and a few friends run a private Facebook group that’s dedicated to doing good. “Paying It Forward Across the Treasure Valley” has been up and running for four years now. Erin told us, “We have about 5,000 group members.” And so far, they have helped more than 2,500 people.

The help comes in all forms. She observed as she scrolled down the group’s news feed, “There's a girl right now that needs a car seat.” She pointed to another posting, “And then here's a lady right here who posted she has some warm clothes that she wants to donate to a family.”

That’s how it goes. It is all free form. Whatever is needed.

The idea for the group came from a dark time in Erin’s life.

“This group was me not giving up,” she explained. “Because I had to see good. I had to see the good in the world because there was just so much bad around me.”

Erin and I talked in a kitchen worthy of “Parade of Homes.” She designed it herself and she and her husband did most of the work. In this environment, it is hard to picture Erin as homeless. But there was a time when the Army Vet was homeless.

“Being homeless and struggling was the best thing that happened to me. It taught me compassion…” and it motivated her.

Erin is also motivated by a woman who helped her along the way.

“She was just really... Really kind. And she said to me, ‘Erin, one day when you can, pay it forward.’ I didn't think at that point there would ever be a way that I could be able to pay it forward to anybody.”

And yet now she and her army of Facebook friends do it on an almost daily basis.

And for that reason, the person who was once a nominator, became a nominee for a “Pay It Forward.”

After the surprise presentation of $500 from Angela Nelson of Mountain America Credit Union, Erin gave credit to all the people who are paying it forward now. “There is a lot of good people here. I'm glad that I know who a lot of those people. It’s Heartwarming.”

What will she do with the money? Part of it will be used to buy a new car seat for that young mother mentioned in the Facebook post. Paying it forward.

Nominate someone for a Pay It Forward here!

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