My brother Joe Hein was the most selfless person I have ever known. As an aide to Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, his commitment to world peace led him to Bosnia three times between 1997 and 1998 to serve as an international elections supervisor. He served young schoolchildren through the Everybody Wins! reading program, both in Washington D.C. and on indigenous reservations in South Dakota. He volunteered regularly at homeless shelters, and served on the board of Habitat for Humanity in South Dakota.
His selflessness was not only evident in the big moments, but in his day-to-day life as well. Anyone who walked with Joe anywhere knew that it was likely he would empty his wallet for people in need he would meet on the streets of D.C. Joe lived well below his means – in a nearly unfurnished apartment on Capitol Hill – in order to give freely of his resources to those who were in need.
This lifestyle wasn’t without protest from his friends and family, however. Even as a young child I observed several conversations where friends would ask him, “Joe, aren’t you at all concerned what these homeless people are doing with your money? Don’t you think they’re just buying cigarettes and alcohol? Isn’t this a waste of your resources?”
Joe’s answer was always the same: “If I give my money to one hundred people in need, and only one uses my money toward proper ends while the other ninety-nine waste it, then it was all worth it to me.”