If you were thinking the wealthiest man in the world is Jeff Bezos, or Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett…think again. The wealthiest man in the world is a dishwasher in Tampa Florida and his name is Delywn Collins.
“I grew up as a handicapped. I went to a special education school. I had a slow learning problem. I had a hard time trying to read and write and spell out words. What was so hard about it, I had people making fun of me,” shares Delwyn. But bullies didn’t break the spirit of Delwyn Collins…instead, he chose to be inspired by them. He chose to dedicate his life to showing children that there is someone in this world who loves and cares about them. And loving and caring about children is exactly what Delwyn has spent his entire adult life doing.
At 60 years old, Delwyn still rides his bike six miles to work every day. Delwyn is a dishwasher at Tampa General Hospital in Florida. You heard me right…he’s a dishwasher…well a dishwasher by day and then a Santa Claus by night. Because for 29 years Delwyn has been taking a portion of his own hard-earned money he earns washing dishes and he goes and buys presents throughout the entire year that he stores in a secret location until Christmas arrives. He then gives the presents to foster children throughout Florida. Over the years Delwyn has personally purchased thousands of toys for over a thousand children. But that’s not all he’s done…
For 29 years Delwyn has also set up a Foster Angels Giving Tree at the hospital where he works and he decorates the tree with paper angels that list the names, ages, gender, and the gifts that foster children in the county would like to receive for Christmas that year. Then he adds some handmade ornaments that he makes throughout the year himself. Oh, I should mention that on top of his learning disability Delwyn is also legally blind.
Delwyns Giving Tree, along with his personal example of generosity, has inspired his coworkers and hospital visitors to take the angels from the tree each year and return them with gifts for all of the children. Because of Delwyn over 7,000 kids in foster care have received Christmas gifts over the years. His humble response, “I just want to show these children there is somebody out there in the community who loves them.”
When asked why he didn’t let his childhood struggles stop him he states, “I show the people as a handicapped kid, what I went through, if I can make it on my own somebody else can too.”
When asked how he can afford to spend his meager wages buying gifts for so many children he responds that he already has everything in life that he needs. “My job is to help and give to others,” says Collins. “God doesn’t care if we’re rich or poor.”
Delwyn’s example is more powerful than the most eloquent words could ever write. Hearing his outlook on life and feeling his genuine love for his fellow man is enough to bring even the strongest person to tears.
“I had people who needed some money on the street so I gave them a couple of dollars for bus fare or to just get by,” he says. “I’m not a millionaire and I don’t own a car, but what I do makes me feel good on the inside.” To Delwyn Collins I would say, “If true wealth lies in the good you do then you, my friend, are truly the wealthiest man in this entire world.”
May we all take a page from the Delwyn playbook this holiday season.
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )