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Day 352: Leo

Today has been a great day. I finalized details on the Year-End Celebration – which you should come to! It’ll be on Jan. 5th from 4-8PM at McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont. Come and meet many of the people who have been recipients of my letters as well as a few who even penned me a handwritten note as well. If that wasn’t enough – it gets better. If you make a tax-deductible donation to Street Sense, a nonprofit that is close to my heart, you’ll get some great drink specials and a special gift from me!

Today’s recipient has played a key role in my Year of Letters. It’s Leo – my mail carrier. He is friendly and courteous and always delivers a smile when I see him. My neighbors and I are extremely fortunate to have Leo and I thought I would give him a small gift to show him my appreciation. I wrote him a check and tucked it in today’s handmade card.


Day 352



You are always a pleasure to when I am fortunate enough to run into you while you are delivering the mail in my neighborhood. Thank you for your kindness and friendship. Best wishes to you and your family for the holidays. 

Reed Sandridge

P.S. You’ve been a critical part of my Year of Letters – making sure all my mail is picked up and delivered properly. You’re the best!

Day 352-2

Day 133: Alex

A photo from my Eagle Scout Banquet, May 12, 1990. From left to right: my grandmother and Alex's great grandmother Virginia Sandridge, Scout Leader Don Stevens (I think), me, my grandfather and Alex's great grandfather Paul Sandridge. Photo: Ryan Sandridge

A photo from my Eagle Scout Banquet, May 12, 1990. From left to right: my grandmother and Alex’s great-grandmother Virginia Sandridge, Scout Leader Don Stevens (I think), me, my grandfather and Alex’s great-grandfather Paul Sandridge. Photo: Ryan Sandridge

Twenty-six years ago yesterday I was presented with the Eagle Scout Award – the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts of America. I don’t think about that day very often, but I do think about how being an Eagle Scout has affected my life.

Professionally, I found myself in leadership roles at a young age. It seemed to come naturally to me. Outside of the office, I was driven toward ways to engage with my community. My training and experiences in scouting surely had an impact on my life.

Doug, Alex and me taking a break durin Alex's Eagle Scout Project in Goochland County, VA. Photo: Ryan Sandridge

Doug, Alex and me taking a break during Alex’s Eagle Scout Project in Goochland County, VA. Photo: Ryan Sandridge

This Sunday my cousin Doug’s son Alex, I think that makes him my cousin once removed, will receive his Eagle Scout Award. I wanted to attend the ceremony in Colorado, but I’ll be traveling for work unfortunately.

I was thankful that I got to participate in his Eagle Scout Project where he revitalized a historic family cemetery outside of Richmond, VA that was in dire need of repair and maintenance.

Congratulations Alex!

Day 133

Dear Alex,

eagle scout awardCongratulations on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. I am very sorry that I cannot be with you this Sunday at your Eagle Banquet.

Sunday you will join an elite group – only five percent of those who join scouting, and one tenth of one percent of all young men your age achieve the rank of Eagle. You are truly outstanding. I encourage you to continue to apply the skills and knowledge you have attained to improve the community in which you live and help those around you. Be the one who steps forward to lead and create the good you want to see the world.

I’m extremely proud of you.

Your cousin and fellow Eagle Scout,

P.S. I have a small gift for you that you will receive in the coming weeks.

Day 97: Reyes

Postcards that Reyes sent me from her travels through the south of France.

Postcards that Reyes sent me from her travels through the south of France.

Buenos dias! I lived in Valladolid, Spain 20 years ago as part of an exchange program between Indiana University of Pennsylvania and La Universidad de Valladolid. It was a fantastic experience. I lived with a host family while I was there, studied a little bit, explored the city and had a girlfriend for a while too: Reyes.

We’ve stayed in touch on and off for many years – with Facebook it makes it a lot easier. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a nice handwritten note from her along with some post cards from the south of France recently.

I should have written to her in Spanish – but I was feeling a bit lazy this morning and besides, she’s living in London, so English is fair game!

Day 97- Reyes

Day 97- Reyes-2Dear Reyes,

It was so nice to receive your note and beautiful post cards from the south of France. I’ve actually been there about 8 or 9 years ago. It was amazing. Winding through the countryside, you find the most breathtaking little villages.

I know you love France – how about the U.K.? I don’t remember how long you’ve been in London. I’ve really only been to London twice, so I don’t feel that I know it very well. Didn’t you spend some time in Ireland? I love it there.

Thanks to social media we are still in touch 20 years later – but there is nothing like receiving a handwritten note from someone you care about. Thank you and stay in touch.


Day 62: Anonymous

I’m in New York City and discovering that writing letters is more of a challenge when you’re on the road. Anyways, I decided to leave my second anonymous letter today. It was either that or a post card!


I snapped this photo quickly before leaving the letter at the Starbucks.

I got caught in a blizzard that tore through the city around 4pm today. Horizontal snow was pelleting my uncovered face. Seeking a bit of refuge, I ducked into a glowing Starbucks at 55th and Lexington and bought an expresso to warm me up. I had some time to burn so I took over a stool looking north across 55th street at an antiques shop that has several ivory items in display window that are probably illegal.

I felt nervous about this again – not about the ivory. I mean they should be nervous, but I was nervous about leaving the letter without someone seeing me. I’d already been in a Starbucks on 57th between Park and Lexington and couldn’t seem to find the moment to leave the blackberry envelope without being “caught.” Even at the second Starbucks I was quite certain that that woman sitting closest to me was going to look up from her Macbook Air and say, “Hey, you left your letter!”

Day62-2Nope, not today. I bolted straight for the door much like you see in the movies right before a bomb goes off. My pulse quickened…I could have been robbing a bank for all my heart knew. Thankfully I managed a clean getaway.

The letter features a quote (at right) from Ross McCammon who is an editor with Esquire Magazine, columnist with Entrepreneur Magazine and author of the forthcoming book Works Well with Others. He works in New York so I figured a quote from him in the letter I was leaving there was appropriate. And I just love the quote. Anyway, I tweeted a photo of the card this morning and tagged him in it. I didn’t really expect to get a response but he promptly replied saying…

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.33.32 PM


Classy guy. You should Google him – I enjoy a lot of his writing and am looking forward to reading his book.

Here’s my letter – hopefully the recipient has a sense of humor.



A handwritten note is worth more than a $100 gift card but probably not more than a $200 gift card.” – Ross McCammon


I did a little embossing on the front of the card.

I love this quote and in many cases I think Mr. McCammon is correct. I hope you have a great day and hopefully you will be inspired to give someone a handwritten note this week.

All that said – I bet you’re pissed there was no money in here.

Day 55: Chef Marc Vetri

Chef Marc with father Sal making meatballs

Chef Marc with father Sal making meatballs

Marc Vetri, famed chef from the City of Brotherly Love, has the best recipe for meatballs on the planet. And he has shared it – it’s the equivalent of putting Prozac in the water. They will make you very happy.

The recipe was coupled with this quote from Vetri, “My father instilled three things in me: (1) Always work for yourself—no matter what, be the boss; (2) Always have integrity—you are only as good as your word; (3) Always use veal, pork, and beef in meatballs. Life really is that simple!” Good advice.



Dear Marc,

Congratulations on your recent article in the Huffington Post regarding the state of restaurant reviews in this country. You are spot on! I remember talking with local (DC) restaurateur Andy Shallal once and him saying how when his first restaurant was reviewed he woke up at like 4am to drive over to the Washington Post to get a paper and read the review. It was glowing and his restaurant was booked for months after that.

My hope is that you and other chefs continue to pour your energy, precision and knowledge into creating delicious meals for your customers, because the rest is probably out of your control.

Here's a shot of my recent batch of Sal's Old School Meatballs

Here’s a shot of my recent batch of Sal’s Old School Meatballs

A few years back I stumbled upon your recipe for Sal’s Old School Meatballs. They are the best meatballs I have ever had. Thank you, thank you, thank you – and thank your dad!

If you choose to write back – I’d love to receive another recipe that you love. I promise to try to do it justice.

All the best to you and your family – I hope to some day have the pleasure of dining in one of your restaurants.

All the best,
Reed Sandridge