Tony Tolbert

Tony Tolbert

A story that has been spreading around the country and the world for that matter is that of fifty-one year old attorney Tony Tolbert. The successful lawyer from Los Angeles has moved out of his home to move back in with his mother and father. Tolbert is not down on his luck, he is trying to give back. Tony has decided to move out of his home so that a homeless family can move in while they try to get back on their feet. In an interview by CBS News, Tony was quoted as saying, “You don’t have to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Oprah. We can do it wherever we are, with whatever we have, and for me, I have a home that I can make available.”

Tony is providing his home and its amenities to Felicia Dukes and her three children that had been living in a homeless shelter. It was decided that her fourth child was deemed too old to stay in the shelter leaving her eldest with no place to go. Dukes could not believe her good fortune when she got word at what Tony was going to be doing for her and her family. In a world of “me, me, me” Tony Tolbert is showing us that just one person can make a difference. “Kindness creates kindness. Generosity creates generosity. Love creates love. And I think we can share some of that and have more stories about people doing nice things for other people and fewer stories about people doing horrible things to other people. That’s a better world” says Tolbert.

Moving back in with your parents at any age is difficult and Tony’s mother was shocked to hear what he was doing for the Dukes family and was at first under the impression that he had lost it all. But when he told his family his reasons for what he was doing and how his own father used to loan out a spare bedroom to people that needed it when he was a child, they understood the decision. It is a rarity to see this kind of selfless act in today’s world of status updates and meaningless Tweets. Tolbert’s father was one of Los Angeles’ early African American entertainment lawyers was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s some 15 years ago and lives in a nursing home. Tolbert has said that “growing up, I cannot remember a time when there wasn’t someone other than family living with us—client of my father, friends of friends. He was always willing to open up our home to someone in need.”

Tony is now living with his mother in a West Los Angeles duplex with his sister living in the other unit. Fortunately for Tony, this personal project has made him even closer with his family. They have been very supportive of his magnanimous decision to do this for the Dukes family. Tony helps run the outreach program at UCLA’s law school and teaches a course called “Street Law” and says that “a large part of my (his) job is to help equalize the playing field in the legal profession. Why shouldn’t I do that in my life?” Tolbert hopes that his “Pay it forward” attitude will continue to spread across the country. Tolbert says “I’m just a regular dude. I’m not brave. I’m not a millionaire with houses to burn. I just wanted to do something to help somebody.”