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Inaugural Invites for the Disadvantaged

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Earl W. Stafford
Philanthropist and businessman
Friday, December 5, 2008; 1:00 PM

Virginia businessman Earl Stafford has paid $1 million for more than 300 rooms and an array of amenities to create opportunities for less-fortunate guests to take part in the inauguration of Barack Obama. Stafford was online Friday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions about his plans for the project and the reaction he's gotten since its announcement yesterday.

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A transcript follows.

Read more: The Benefactor of the Ball * Red Carpet Rolled Out for the Poor * The Stafford Foundation

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Earl W. Stafford: Welcome to the online chat about the "People's Inaugural Project". I'd be happy to take any questions.

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Anonymous: Washington, D.C. -- How can we contact you? I know of some disabled veterans and wounded warriors that may be interested in attending.

Earl W. Stafford: I and the staff for this event can be emailed at inauguration@thestaffordfoundation.org. Thanks for your question and interest.

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Fairfax, Va.: What will be the process or criteria to be selected? How can I register?

Earl W. Stafford: Thanks for your question. The Stafford foundation staff and other coalition members are establishing a criteria that will be coordinated with our outreach partners such as the National Urban League, etc.

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Portsmouth, Va.: How are you reaching out to veterans?

Earl W. Stafford: Good quesion. We have been coordinating with DoD to help identify those disabled veterans who would be candidates.

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Charlottesville, Va.: No question - just a very warm thank you and people like you. What a magnificent soul you must have!

Earl W. Stafford: I thank you! That's kind of you and means a lot to us.

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Potomac, Md.: How can someone who does not work for Urban League assist the invitees in getting escorted through the inauguration/parade maze (that includes dressing, historical educator, etc.)?

I think this is a major undertaking and one to be highly commended. I just want to know if there is anyway a servant can help your organization?

Thanks again for your spirit to reach out.

Earl W. Stafford: Thanks for your interest in this effort. As mentioned previously, please email inauguration@thestaffordfoundation.org with your request or call 703-476-1000. Thanks again.

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Alexandria, Va.: Can names of individuals and/or agencies that provide services for the disadvantaged bye be submitted from from another state(s)?

Earl W. Stafford: Thank God. We have been getting an overwhelming response from individuals and organizations that want to volunteer their time, treasures and talents. It has been so great that we are organizing a volunteer committee on the staff to sort out the requests.

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District Heights, Md.: I too would like to commend you on your efforts in allowing those disadvantaged to participate in this historic event. I would like to know, however, how would those persons (not disadvantaged, but not wealthy) interested in attending obtain tickets?

Earl W. Stafford: Thanks for your question. This event has really ballooned. We are reaching out to other organizations who are partnering with the Stafford Foundation to identify individuals and familys of all economic and social backgrounds. We want this event to be as inclusive and diverse as we can make it. Unfortunately, we will not be able to accomodate all who wish to attend.

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Alexandria, Va.: How can members of ASBC help as volunteers, etc.?

Earl W. Stafford: I suspect this is a fellow Alfred Streeter who is asking. We already have quite a few volunteers from Alfred Street and want to include friends and family there without making this an exclusive Alfred Street event. Please call 703-476-1000 with your interest. Thanks for your email. See you Sunday.

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Washington, D.C.: You are making such an important contribution. You have demonstrated the difference one person can make in the lives of others. What inspired you to get involved in this way?

Earl W. Stafford: Good question. I was inspired by the Lord to do something for the underprivileged back in March 08. I didn't know what the outcome of the election would be, but I knew that I was being directed to do something. As they say: "If the Lord be your partner, make your plans large." God Bless.

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Alexandria, Va.: Why will you fill only 30 percent of the rooms with the disadvantaged while saving 70 percent of the rooms for those who, I assume, provide you with some sort of financial or political support? Why not reverse these ratios?

Earl W. Stafford: Thanks for your question. We will fill a "minimum" of 30 percent of the tickets for all the venues with those who are considered disadvantaged. We are also including those who may not be disadvantaged or distressed, but regular members of society. We're NOT reserving the other 70 percent for the wealthy or political. God Bless.....

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Alexandria, Va.: Let me play devil's advocate and ask -- Aren't there better ways to spend that $1 million on the needy rather than transporting them to something that is essentially a theatrical event (and one that can be seen on TV)?

Earl W. Stafford: A very good question that many might ask. First and foremost, this is not a Stafford event or theatrical production, but a God-inspired effort to provide some inclusion to a historical event. We believe that not only those included, but others will be blessed by our efforts.

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Durham, N.C.: Are there any mobilization efforts planned for empowering the people when they return to their communities?

Earl W. Stafford: Great question and thank you for it. We are planning to have seminars and other sessions that will help those underserved while they are here. Our intent is that they will use the newly acquired skills and information to better their situation and that of others in their community.

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Washington, D.C.: I read that you were hoping to get sponsors? How successful has that been?

Earl W. Stafford: We have been inundated with requests for sponsorship and volunteerism. There are just a lot of people in this great country who want to do good. We hope this is an avenue where many can do just that.

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Earl W. Stafford: I reall appreciate your questions and your interest in the People's Inuagural Project. I would ask that you pray for the event and more importantly for those underserved individual who will be attending.

God Bless....

Earl

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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