Carolyn Gable learned the joy of giving early.
"I remember as a little girl, the neighbor lady had six kids and a brain tumor," says Gable, who voluntarily walked over and washed the woman's hair. "Why wouldn't I do it? She needed help."
The Kildeer business entrepreneur is embarking on a much more far-reaching plan to help others. Through her not-for-profit Believe Project, Gable is giving away a $100 bill every day of the year to someone who will use that money to help others in need.
Gable, a single mom who worked for 12 years as a waitress before building a very successful transportation company in Lake Zurich, brought her Believe Project to the Daily Herald in 2014 with the desire to spread joy during the December holiday season.
"It went from 30 days to 60 days to 90 days," Gable says, explaining how it was extended not just because she chose extra winners, but because readers made donations to add to the fund. The Believe Project distributed $14,400 to 136 winners in more than 60 suburbs.
"I've always believed in abundance. The more you give away, the more you receive," Gable says. "The givers all get it. It's like we've got this code."
When she bought a home in Scottsdale, Arizona, Gable enlisted The Arizona Republic to promote her Believe Project, while maintaining her local project.
With her new website, believeproject.net, Gable is making her dream a worldwide, yearlong endeavor. Instead of just donating $36,500 to some worthy charity, Gable sees value in giving 365 people the power to do something good.
"We all want to give. It's all part of our human nature," Gable says. "But we don't always have the means."
A $100 bill might not be considered a life-altering windfall, but the value can't be measured in financial terms.
"It's so much more than that," Gable says. "It's a person saying, 'I see you. I see what you are going through. And here, here is the love I'm going to give to you.'"
When Gable gave $100 bills in envelopes with motivational sayings to all 28 families in one small Puerto Rica town recovering from Hurricane Maria, she got a phone call from a crying woman who said, "You have no idea what this is going to do." The mayor distributed the checks.
"It was such an outreach of love. This is what we're all here for," Gable says.
She used to own a home on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, where she painted inspirational sayings on a fence and turned her backyard into a rest area where people could pray, meditate, think and write messages in a journal along the lakefront path.
Known as the Expect a Miracle Mansion, the spot drew thousands of visitors who left thousands of messages of hope and love, Gable says. She's selling her home in Kildeer and is looking to buy another lakeside home in Lake Geneva so she can renew that miracle house experience.
"I didn't realize how much I was going to miss it," admits Gable, who works as a motivational speaker since selling her business.
A mother of seven and a grandmother of five, Gable says her family understands her need to give away money from what will be their inheritance someday.
"Having it all isn't all that," Gable says. "When the good things come, I know where they're coming from. God, for sure. Or whatever you want to call God. We do things out of love, and the love returns."