Sunday, January 31, 2010

Got an Opinion? Why Not Sell it For a Profit?

Tonic blogger Darragh Worland came and spoke to my Reporting New York class and she had us write a piece based off of a trending Google topic. We wrote the pieces in the same blog-style that she uses on Tonic. Here's the story I wrote...


We all have our opinions about a wide array of topics and we are typically more than willing to divulge these opinions to whoever will listen. Well, there are companies that want to listen. They want to hear what you have to say about anything and everything and will even compensate you for taking opinion polls, testing products, or being a secret shopper.

How simple, right? In exchange for simply giving my opinion or trying out something new, I can get a gift card or credits on PayPal. And in these challenging economic times, who would complain about getting some extra cash?

But wait. Isn't there a phrase that says if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is? This can be the case if you don't avoid the scam websites that require a membership fee or send out unsolicited emails. So you're safe with this as long as you stick to credible opinion poll sites, such as or

One of the greatest benefits to all this is you are making money whenever you have the time to take the polls or test the products. But the perks don't end there. You make your own schedule, there's no dress code to follow, and you can have some fun in the midst of it all. It may not make you a great amount of money, but during economic struggles, who can complain about having any type of additional income?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ping-Pong Club Helps Raise Money for Haiti Earthquake Victims


MANHATTAN— Franck Raharinsy decided to use bad news to do good.

“You take one of the poorest countries on Earth and you give them the most powerful earthquake,” Raharinsy said of the Haiti earthquake that killed more than 100,000 people. “There must be a message for all of us from somewhere.”

Raharinsy, the co-founder of SPiN New York, a ping-pong club in Gramercy, desperately wanted to help. He teamed up with New York modeling agency, Modelina, as well as artists, designers, and actors to put together the Haiti Disaster Relief Fundraiser.

Raharinsy said he made a few calls to friends and before long the list of participants had reached a group he describes as “believers in a good cause.”

“It also doesn’t hurt to have an activist such as Susan Sarandon as a close friend and partner,” Raharinsy said.

Sarandon hosted the event and told attendees, “Even donating ten dollars can help.”

Donations are going to the Friends of the Orphans Haiti Initiative, which focuses on helping to improve the lives of orphaned children.

There was a suggested donation of $20 to attend the fundraiser, which was open to the public, as well as a silent auction, with these proceeds going to the charity Friends of the Orphans Haiti Initiative.

The Friends of the Orphans Haiti Initiative focuses primarily on helping to improve the lives of orphaned children and is teamed with a doctor at the sole cost-free pediatric hospital in Haiti.

“It is best to give and help organizations that are already up and running in Haiti since a lot of them have been destroyed,” Raharinsy said. “You have to help the survivors.”

The event was held at SPiN and Raharinsy felt it drew in a large crowd of donators not only because of the good cause, but also due to the fun atmosphere. SPiN offered free games of ping-pong all night and the opportunity to play games with celebrities as well.

“Ping-pong brings people together, opposed to sitting down at a charity dinner for hours with people you might not want to sit next to,” Raharinsy said.

Jennifer Rayno, the director of Friends of the Orphans Haiti Initiative described the evening as energetic and fast-paced and considered the results to be fantastic.

“We are so indebted to SPiN, Modelina, Susan Sarandon, and all the other celebrities who lent their names and presences to really attract attention,” Rayno said.

Other celebrities in attendance included Russell Simmons, Veronica Webb, New York Knicks player Al Harrington, 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander, Top Chef’s Gail Simmons, and many others.

Although Rayno knew that this event would bring in a crowd, she didn’t expect to feel so humbled by the final results.

“Friends of the Orphans appreciates the effort more than we can say,” Rayno said. “Money raised will be put to immediate and good use.”

The event brought in $17,088 and Raharinsy felt this was a lucky amount and tried to see the positive in what he considered to be lucky numbers.

“Seventeen is my lucky number and 88 is the Chinese lucky number,” Raharinsy said. “The zero is the beginning.”
Raharinsy acknowledges that this is a time when not everyone has spare money to donate, but he said that there are other ways to help.

“They can offer some of their time for free to a charity as a sweat contribution,” Raharinsy said.

Even though the fundraising event has passed, this doesn’t mean the organizers work is done. They are also doing an online auction at Charity Folks, with the proceeds also going to the Friends of the Orphans Haiti Initiative.

What originally began as a tough day for Raharinsy just a couple weeks ago turned into something positive for those who are facing an even larger battle.

“Sometimes you’re having a bad day,” Raharinsy said, “and then you remember that you’re lucky to be where you are.”