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Andy Mizrahi

Oakhurst, USA

 

Trusting The Message of Kindness

Andy spent the weekend as an advisor at a leadership event. Orly Wahba, founder of Life Vest Inside, also happened to be an advisor there and as she is well known to do, at the end of the weekend gave an Act of Kindness (AOK) card to Andy. An AOK card has an act of kindness prompting the person to perform the act and then to go the next step and pass the card to someone else. They remind us that small things do make a big difference.

The AOK card Orly placed in Andy’s hand said, call your grandparents. Andy only had one grandparent left, his grandfather and he hadn’t heard from him in a while. He realized he really didn’t know how his grandfather was doing. Andy did know his parents had been coaxing his grandfather to get away over the winter and enjoy himself, but his grandfather had been tentative the last time Andy had heard anything.

After receiving the AOK card Andy decided to trust the message. It was time to give his grandfather a call. He discovered his grandfather was doing fantastic, having just returned from his third cruise that winter! That call allowed Andy to connect with his grandfather as they shared the good things in each other’s lives and were happy for each other.

quote-openTo connect like that was awesome. I went on a kindness binge after that. Like a Netflix marathon.quote-close

As most people who find the kindness bug, Andy discovered some people were distrustful of his intentions. Reactions he received, ”Like why would you be nice to me? What do you want?” But that didn’t stop him as he “pounded through” the good deeds. Instead Andy’s response was short and sweet, “To do random acts of kindness, man.”

We wonder how many lives have been touched with kindness because Andy decided to trust the message on an AOK card and make that phone call.

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Laura Jenson

Myrtle Beach, USA

 

No Words Necessary

quote-openAlthough the woman spoke no English, and Laura no Chinese, it didn’t matter! They talked with their eyes, body language and communicated through smiles, nods and laughter.quote-close

Laura was on a quick trip to the drug store when she witnessed magic that needed no words! She was in line at the checkout behind four Asian Tourists. There was an elderly woman who stood behind the rest of them.

She turned towards Laura and looked at her, they both and smiled at each other. Then the woman looked down and slipped one foot out of her shoe, picked the shoe up and knocked it upside down. Sand came pouring out, A LOT OF SAND! They looked at the sand and then at each other and both laughed!

Although the woman spoke no English and Laura, no Chinese, it didn’t matter! They talked with their eyes, body language and communicated through smiles, nods and laughter. Laura then leaned over with her arms spread to hug the woman,who wrapped her small frame and arms around Laura in a massive embrace.

While leaving she turned to Laura with a huge smile, a sparkle in her eye and bowed as a part of her custom, and Laura bowed to her in return. She turned one more time to smile and nod and waved to Laura as she went out the door.

This brief, sweet encounter reminded Laura that love and kindness are all over the world, and no words were necessary to show it!

– Edited by Soumya John

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Melissa Maldonado

Berlin, Germany

 

Piercing Through The Cloud Of Confusion

quote-openIn an age when social media is so often used to disseminate insults and disparaging commentary, my friend took to her keyboard and pulled me out of my darkness by shining her beaming joyful light!quote-close

Melissa had just quit her job, ended her relationship and settled on taking a possibly permanent break from the country that had been her home for the past 15 years. Her family were thousands of miles away and she was choosing to leave her friends behind as well.

When all the pieces of the life puzzle get tossed about, it is terrifying. Uncertainty is a fog that seeps into your thoughts leaving you with confused, muddled, skeptical doubt that continuously threatens to rob you of your perseverance, at best, and your sanity, at worst.

There were may days Melissa spent questioning her choices. And the closer she got to her departure date, the louder and more persistent the voice in her head became. It told her that stepping outside the bubble of her life to find true happiness and purpose was nonsense. The voice began to consume her, telling her that she was naive and inadequate.

But all it takes is one bright ray of sunshine to pierce the cloud. For her, it came in the form of an unusual friendship. A girl she met about 10 years ago. They only saw each other in person for a few days when they worked together but remained in contact via e-mail and then through social media. Melissa had told her friend about her plans and fears. About her choices, the trip and her future.

She probably looked startled because he looked away and said, “I just thought you should know. I guess that was weird.” He started to walk away.

And this beautiful soul, who I have not seen in ten years, decided to lift me up by dedicating her Facebook status to me. This was her status:

“Just wanted to give a shout out to a fellow New Yorker, dancer, creative thinker, traveler, writer, photographer, and so many endless other qualities and talents, that’s taking on a walking trip in Spain for a few months starting in May. That trek, that reason, that upheaval, you know that this will change you in many ways, but it will also solidify you, nurture and cradle you. I am bowing to that spirit within you that carries out the ideas it sets out to. Thank you for the inspiration. It’s always noticed and ever remembered. Be safe! And conquer your fears. What is a life without inspiration and friends that inspire you? I say it’s no life at all. Thank you and I and everyone that will like this post will wish you a great journey.”

– Edited by Soumya John

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Ann Rosen

Westfield, USA

 

An Unexpected Compliment

quote-openSomehow someone thought I was beautiful just as I was, in the middle of Target!quote-close

Ann clearly remembers the moment that she decided to make a conscious effort to share compliments, positive thoughts and kind words as they occurred to her.

She was in the pharmacy section of Target, pushing her youngest daughter, Tatum, in a cart loaded with flip-flops, diapers and Band-Aids adorned with cartoon characters. She had my face pressed up close to her daughter’s as they sang “You are My Sunshine” to each other. They both had big smiles.

It was otherwise just another weekday morning of running errands and Ann was wearing a nightgown she had mistaken for a summer frock. It was an oppressively hot, thick summer day that made her want to wear something that felt like nothing. Tatum liked to pick out her own outfits, so she rocked a dainty floral pattern of one color scheme with a loud plaid of an entirely different one. Her wispy pigtails were beginning to go a summer blonde and her sandaled feet swung happily from the cart.

A man walking by them smiled at Ann as he told her, “You are beautiful.”

She probably looked startled because he looked away and said, “I just thought you should know. I guess that was weird.” He started to walk away.

“Thank you,” she said, starting after him. “I’m sorry. I just wasn’t expecting that.”

He smiled and said, “It’s true.”

It was a strange feeling to receive a compliment like that in the middle of a regular day. Ann didn’t feel particularly beautiful. In fact, she thought she was downright bedraggled, trolling around without a stitch of makeup in flip flops and, unbeknownst to her, pajamas. She was a mom, still working on the baby weight, checking little things off my list and living life. The idea of being beautiful at such a moment was mystifying to her. She had to stop and process it. And that is exactly why that compliment had been so special.

As they returned to singing our song, his words rang through her mind like a lovely bell. It occurred to her then that what she felt most in the moment that this stranger had chosen to highlight was “happy”. She had been truly in the moment, connecting with my little girl. She wondered whether a person really could radiate the beauty of a moment.

Since then, Ann decided that everyone can radiate beauty and tries to acknowledge and appreciate it. At the very least, it gives energy to things she wants to see more of in this world. And it feels good to notice.

– Edited by Soumya John

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Ahmed Janabi

Baghdad, Iraq

 

The Healing Effect of Kindness

In 2008, Ahmed was going through a dark time in his life, when he decided to visit Paris.

He was living with diabetes and epileptic fits, feeling depressed and having thoughts about ending his life. Ahmed considered optimism as a big lie spun to make people who suffered tough luck forget their misfortunes. He found himself constantly surrounded by negative thoughts.

One day he was walking through one of the most crowded streets of Montmarte with a frown on his face. All around him were people enjoying life with their friends and lovers. Nobody looked at him or saw the frown on his face.

He walked on for a couple of hours, lamenting his sorry life. When suddenly, amidst the crowd he saw an old woman who was looking at him.

quote-openShe smiled deeply at me and my face. She inevitably made my frown bloom into a smile. It was mutual. She was the only person there to share her happiness with me and I was smiling for some time without evening knowing it!quote-close

At the time, Ahmed realized for the first time the true effect of a small act of kindness, one even as small as a smile. He looked through the alley again, but could not find the woman.

Ahmed hopes to someday see her again and tell her thank you because since then his life changed. He began to be known for his smile and positivity. He entered medical school and will soon graduate to heal people and remind them that their smile is always the best remedy!

– Edited by Soumya John

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Lorelei Phillips

Halifax, Canada

 

The Power to Change

Lorelei Phillips grew up in the small, rural town of Digby, Nova Scotia. She is the oldest of three sisters, and was always involved in leadership roles throughout school. She was chosen to represent her town in regional and national exchanges, was a solid B+ student and was even prom queen in her graduation year. To this point, all the good things in her life just seemed to happen with very little effort on her part and she took for granted that’s just the way it is.

At 22, Lorelei found herself a victim of date rape and from there spiralled into dangerous patterns of self-sabotaging behaviour. She began to socially detach, found it difficult to trust friends or make new ones and eventually developed symptoms of anxiety and depression.

After therapy and a lot of personal healing, she finally understood that she had the power to change the course of her life by being kind to herself! This began a decade long journey of self-discovery and forgiveness culminating in the realization that the power of her mind could be used as a force for good!

She was asked to help bring a project to life that eventually blossomed into a non-profit called Start with a Smile; whose aim is to change the world by starting with ourselves! Her work through Start with a Smile reaffirmed the power of consciously choosing how to exist and interact with the world on a daily basis.

quote-openFor Lorelei, it wasn’t about being positive all of the time, it was about accepting that we are all human, herself included, and to her that meant that some days we have the strength and power to lift others in dark times and sometimes we need to be gentle with ourselves and lean on the strength and power of others to lift us!quote-close

It’s about positive social interaction with people who genuinely care and it’s about being mindful of how she chooses to show up everyday.

Today, Lorelei looks at life as an adventure with ups and downs, successes and failures and incredible opportunities for growth! She has learned that life isn’t always the plethora of positivity and good fortune she experienced in high school but that it is her choice to make the best out of every situation by loving herself first!

She has since started a business that connects with her passion for helping others be gentle with themselves, takes better care of her health and is working with a personal trainer, actively faces fears (ex. tubing on the Gaspereau River and moving across the country!), volunteers in the community and makes having fun a priority by letting it all go once a week (at least) with some dance therapy! She is now excited to see what the next decade has in store and knows that through self-compassion anything is possible!

– Edited by Soumya John

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Eddis Herrera

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

 

Giving Kindness A Chance

It was in the beautiful city of Utila in 2009, that Eddis had an encounter which was an opportunity for him to put on his kindness cloak.

He saw a man sleeping on a public wooden bench for two days straight. This worried him since he knew that backpackers usually stay in dive centers or hostels. So he approached the man and asked, “Why are you here?”

The man told Eddis that he was from Mexico and was invited to a week of partying by a friend he had met in Mexico who was from Utila. He said that when he got to the city, someone stole his wallet and his friend seemed to have forgotten about him as well.

After speaking for a while, Eddis discovered that the man had worked in a cafeteria and knew how to cook well. So he said to the man, “Well, if you cook for me, I have a 3 bedroom house, a softer bed and food.”

Upon hearing this proposal, the man’s mood completely changed. He lived with Eddis for close to three months after that, where they helped each other out every day in little ways. Before he left, Eddis gave him enough money to take the ferry to La Ceiba, and a flight from there back to Mexico City.

quote-openI don’t have any sort of communication with him, but I did what I thought was right!quote-close

says Eddis, who was glad to be a part of helping a stranger get back up on their feet and keep moving onward.

– Edited by Soumya John

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Debbie Saporta

New York, USA

 

Debbie’s Motivational Turn

Life is quite infamous for throwing us curveballs every once in awhile. Some of us dodge these while there are some who fall down, pick themselves up and throw the ball right back.

Debbie Saporta is a woman whose curveball was met and thrown back with some serious determination and gusto.

Debbie’s amazing journey began when she had a rather unfortunate fall which resulted in a horrible concussion with vertigo. She instantly knew that this would compromise her cognitive abilities and decided that she felt too spacey to stand before a classroom, albeit still loving her job as a teacher.

Debbie didn’t let this stop her from being productive. She believed that expressing her feelings on paper would help her and so she began to write as she slowly recovered. This lead to the creation of the motivational facebook page, Debbie Saporta.

Debbie’s page is sprinkled with motivation, inspiration and humour that most people can relate to on an everyday basis and has reached out to over eleven thousand people as of date. She believes that her followers are just like family to her and she continues to grow from all she reads and posts.

“I started to see familiar names & faces that were benefiting from what I wrote. I have continued this over the last two years because I saw how much some of these inspirational posts were helping people. People will private message me and tell me how timely the story or quote is,” says Debbie, who upholds that spreading love and kindness is addictive!

Debbie knows all too well that life can be hard sometimes and wishes to continue giving back all the love, support and compassion possible to those she can!

Link to Debbie’s page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Debbie-Saporta/336499473130635

quote-openI am proud to have taken my negative situation & turned it around to a positive. I think being kind and remaining grateful for all our blessings are the keys to living a fantastic life.quote-close

– Edited by Soumya John

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Philip Abrams

Pacific Palisades, USA

 

It’s Going To Be Alright

Having a son on the autistic spectrum has taken this family on a journey of wonder and challenge, teaching them patience, new perspectives, and an appreciation for the present moment. It has held incredibly joyous times, some harrowing times through which they have been strengthened, deepened their spirituality, and learned compassion.

After a wonderful vacation the resilience this family had built was tested when they found themselves stuck in the Atlanta airport after having missed a connecting flight by mere minutes when returning from Jamaica. People on the spectrum often find deviations in any plan very traumatic. Philip ponders, “Imagine falling into an abyss and not knowing when you will hit the bottom – I think that must be what it is like for him at those times when the order and structure of his life is disrupted.” This was definitely a deviation from the plan.

His son’s reaction reflected the dark miserable weather that met them upon their arrival and he was unable to contain his own fear, frustration, and anger. Upon arriving at their hotel after a thankfully brief cab ride he announced himself by flinging his suitcases through the open front doors.

Surprisingly, the woman behind the counter remained calm, promptly processing the keys for adjoining rooms and presented him with his keycard. She even ignored another guest’s rude protest about the boy’s behaviour. The woman turned to the bedraggled parent and said,

quote-openIt’s going to be all right. My brother is on the autistic spectrum and it’s going to be all right.quote-close

Philip says, “Emotion welled up inside and I wanted to crumple into her arms. Someone who understood. Someone who didn’t respond with fear. An angel in the guise of Some One!”

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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    Everyday Kindness: When Resilience Runs Low, Kindness Steps In

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Gagandeep Singh Sehgal

Stratford, Canada

 

When Resilience Runs Low, Kindness Steps In

When one of Gagandeep’s colleagues and good friend was diagnosed with MS, he knew it wasn’t the first health challenge she had faced. He also knew he wanted to help. Gagandeep says that despite everything his beautiful friend went through, she met it with resilience and a smile on her face. She is an amazing photographer with a happy-go-lucky personality, and Gagandeep credits her as the most courageous person he’s met so far.

Although government health care covered many of her treatment costs, unfortunately when a different medication was prescribed full coverage was unavailable.

quote-openAdded travel costs for checkups in a distant city all began to take their toll on the fiery red head’s bright smile.quote-close

Gagandeep knew he had to do something that would help her reclaim her smile and become an inspiration to all others who might be going through the same challenges so he started a GoFundMe campaign to help with the costs. Many amazing people were able to raise money to help. Gagandeep is happy to report that his friend’s treatments are going well and her smile has definitely returned.

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Andy Mizrahi

Oakhurst, USA

 

Trusting The Message of Kindness

Andy spent the weekend as an advisor at a leadership event. Orly Wahba, founder of Life Vest Inside, also happened to be an advisor there and as she is well known to do, at the end of the weekend gave an Act of Kindness (AOK) card to Andy. An AOK card has an act of kindness prompting the person to perform the act and then to go the next step and pass the card to someone else. They remind us that small things do make a big difference.

The AOK card Orly placed in Andy’s hand said, call your grandparents. Andy only had one grandparent left, his grandfather and he hadn’t heard from him in a while. He realized he really didn’t know how his grandfather was doing. Andy did know his parents had been coaxing his grandfather to get away over the winter and enjoy himself, but his grandfather had been tentative the last time Andy had heard anything.

After receiving the AOK card Andy decided to trust the message. It was time to give his grandfather a call. He discovered his grandfather was doing fantastic, having just returned from his third cruise that winter! That call allowed Andy to connect with his grandfather as they shared the good things in each other’s lives and were happy for each other.

quote-openTo connect like that was awesome. I went on a kindness binge after that. Like a Netflix marathon.quote-close

As most people who find the kindness bug, Andy discovered some people were distrustful of his intentions. Reactions he received, ”Like why would you be nice to me? What do you want?” But that didn’t stop him as he “pounded through” the good deeds. Instead Andy’s response was short and sweet, “To do random acts of kindness, man.”

We wonder how many lives have been touched with kindness because Andy decided to trust the message on an AOK card and make that phone call.

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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    Everyday Kindness: When You Need To Trust – The Gift of Wisdom

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Alina Negoita

UK

 

When You Need To Trust – The Gift of Wisdom

Before he passed away, Alina was given a wonderful gift by her dear friend and talented artist Jonathon. She shares his gift of wisdom with us, a gift many of us will do well to take to heart.

Be patient.
Focus on what you are really good at.
Work hard.
Don’t take for granted the luxury of time.
Put your game face on and destroy obstacles.
Be selective.
Don’t compromise.
Stay real.
Be a dream.
Express deeply.
Fear not.

As I pondered Jonathon’s eleven points I realized at their heart is trust. Trust timing, trust your skills and talents, trust your ability. Trust your plan. Trust yourself. Trust.

Alina also gifts her own gift of wisdom,

Please, never give up on your dreams.
Stand up for your beliefs.
What you plant now, you will harvest later.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop working on the art that is a mirror of yourself.

Remember your dreams
Remember your dreams
Remember your dreams

And again the echo of,

quote-openTrust… trust yourself…. trust, believe, remember.quote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Tam Pham

Pittsburgh, USA

 

Love Is Patient Love Is Kind

There was always a little voice inside her that said “I’m worthwhile,” but from the age of 2 that voice grew steadily softer and softer. Eighteen years of abuse by someone she trusted stole Tam’s self-worth, her dignity, trust, and childhood. The abuse taught her to be fearful and silent. She jumped when someone touched her. She cried for what appeared to be no reason. Dating seemed completely impossible.

As Tam reflects, “I was always that ‘weird girl’ in the corner.”

Aaron was twice her age when they met but he was the first man Tam fell in love with. It was his kindness and his patience that turned the key and opened the lock.

Tam’s traumatic experiences had dramatic impacts yet Aaron showed nothing but kindness and love. When they first dated, Tam couldn’t be in the house alone with him unless the front door was wide open. If she felt threatened, she needed to know she could run. They didn’t even hold hands until 6 months had passed and his first kiss was on her cheek 2 months later. During the time they dated Aaron was understanding, compassionate and kind.

quote-openI used to imagine me not falling in love…actually; I used to imagine someone not falling in love with me. But [he] came into my life and showed me that it was possible to not only fall in love with someone but also have someone fall in love with me! Aaron proved to me that I am worthwhile.quote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Lee Babird

Buffalo, New York, USA

 

Where You Find Courage

While regaining her own health, Lee met a loving family caring for their father dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Soon Lee’s daily routine included a visit with the man, his wife and four children, who were his caregivers and companions. To alleviate the pressure the family felt, she helped where he could whether it was tackling homework, playing catch, or doing dishes.

Lee was honoured when invited to live with the family and assist with end of life care as the father approached final stages of the disease. Without hesitation Lee gave away everything in her apartment, moved into their basement and proceeded to master tube feeding, the suction machine, catheterization, shower, transfer and more. Beyond those skills she learned a lot about herself and the importance of putting others first.

Through this journey Lee says, “I had developed a deep relationship… It was hard to see a father sitting in a chair without the ability to hug and kiss his wife and children… He never complained…

quote-openHe taught me so much about life through his slow death, without saying a single word… His testimony through dying, ignited my fire to live and to love unconditionally…quote-close

I consider that the ultimate gift of kindness.” Lee was with the family when the father passed. Mingled with the sadness was a heartfelt joy knowing his suffering with such a terrible disease was over. Lee says this experience was just the first of many, all teaching her more about kindness and putting others first. She reminds us,

quote-openVery often, we have to put ourselves in a vulnerable state in order to achieve an act of kindness. There is where you find courage.quote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Mykel Dicus

West New York, USA

 

Super Hero, Super Kindness

Mykel is a committed artist and business owner. For more than 20 years part of his plan for success has been to find housing for no more than $550 a month. However, reality greeted Mykel one day when his roommate informed him he wanted him to leave. Mykel’s friend Tomo was the first person he contacted and Tomo opened his doors to Mykel. Talk about kindness! Tomo didn’t want Mykel to pay rent! He gave Mykel his other room with a king size bed, private bathroom and gigantic kitchen to use, 10 times the space that Mykel had lived in EVER! Tomo offered his warmth, his silly laugh, his trust, his superstitions, his zest for adventure. Tomo’s generosity also helped Mykel get his financial house in order both personally and in his business.

quote-openTomo taught me to see the kindness within myself and reminds me everyday how giving is a beautiful miracle. I thank the universe and my superhero Tomo everyday for being there when I needed it most.quote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Lara Heller

Brighton, UK

 

Sowing The Seeds Of Happiness

Lara remembers how how her father always loved nature. Lara and her siblings grew up in the tiny mountain village in Germany that had a grand total of 100 people. Upon moving to Brighton her father missed the wild flowers he’d enjoyed so much in his homeland. He was sad that little children passed on the street every day and the trees were bare. He decided to take it upon himself to make a change and proceeded to plant daffodils under one tree.

The children all looked at the pretty little bed of bright yellow. The tree stood out. Elderly people smiled walking past. Children stopped and showed their parents. It was amazing and beautiful how a single tree decorated with flowers could attract so much attention!

Sadly, one morning the Town Council put out wood shavings on all the trees including the one with daffodils crushing all the little flowers. Devastated, the family ran out and asked why. The reply was also devastating, ‘Council orders-it looks different to the others. They need to be the same.’

Lara’s father chose not to become angry. Instead he proceeded to plant daffodils under all the trees! The next spring the whole street looked the same, each tree an explosion of yellow flowers. Children laughed again and neighbours sent Lara’s family letters as a thank you.

LaraLara reminds us beautifully that,

quote-openDaffodils like kind deeds multiple. Every year there are more little yellow trumpets waving in the wind. And our neighbours have planted more flowers under their trees. Kindness isn’t always encouraged but that doesn’t mean we give up. As my father taught me-plant enough seeds and suddenly they’ll all blossom.quote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Pavan Kumar Raja

Telangana, India

 

That Awkward Moment

We’ve all experienced an awkward moment. If we’re lucky they are fleeting, if not they can hang in the air and make time stand still, and not in a good way. Like everything else in life what we do with those moments is a choice. Pavan’s shares his experience with one such awkward experience and how his choice to embrace that moment made a lasting difference.

A few years ago Pavan was on his way to surprise his best friend on his birthday. As he arrived filled with festive greetings he was instead surprised to find his friend crying beside the body of his father who had collapsed from a heart attack. Pavan had also been rather close to his friends father and grieved along side his friend also supporting him during the time before his father’s pyre.

As the time passed Pavan realized how from this time forward his friend’s birthday would be marked by the memory of his father’s death and filled with sadness. He and a group of their friends took it upon themselves to help their friend crawl out of the depression he had fallen into and reclaim himself.

Pavan said “That day, I came to know how life changes as even the happiest moments can overlap with the most grieving moment at any given time and made me realize worthiness of those small precious happiness in life…”

Realizing how fragile life can be, Pavan decided he didn’t want to take anything for granted. He began to live much more in the moment and decided to never miss the opportunity to celebrate a birthday with a friend. He thanks his friend for being the reason that he is a much better and kinder person today. Pavan says,

quote-openFriendship [is] always the best kindness relationship as it [is] always pure, unconditional and selflessquote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Marwa Ben Njima

Testour, Tunisia

 

The Power of a Smile

Many of of us remember an adult from our childhood who stands out as someone extra special. For Marwa it was a sweet, caring elderly neighbour she describes as a pure hearted woman who showed the little girl love and a joy of life, despite the woman’s own difficulties. Each day as she returned home, Marwa looked forward to stopping in for a visit with her neighbour.

Eventually Marwa realized her neighbour had cancer and as could be expected she and her family had a hard time dealing with the devastating news. Marwa and her family did the best they could to support their neighbour through her experience. For them that’s just part of the kindness lifestyle. Over time they cried together and hugged and Marwa gently reminded her that her beautiful eyes didn’t need to shed anymore tears, that she was a strong person able to face whatever came.

Marwa promised herself she would be a ray of sunshine for her friend through the illness and visited as often as she could, sometimes three times a day.. Marwa says, “in the morning to kiss her, in the evening to hug her, and in the night to kiss, hug her and say I want to see your smile all the time.”

Within a few months it was clear the cancer was too advanced and when Marwa last visited, her old neighbour smiled. Marwa was saddened by the death of her friend but she kindly reminds us that her friend’s beautiful smile is in her memories, her neighbour found peace. Most importantly, her friend lives in every smile Marwa gives and receives. That’s a legacy.

For Marwa,

quote-openIt’s the hope, the love, the affection the smile [that] make the difference even [if] it’s small, even with your smile you can make someone happy.quote-close

And Marwa reminds us that nothing makes a face more beautiful than a smile.

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Steve Mermelstein

Brooklyn, USA

 

A Heart Of Gold

Street lamps illuminated the road as I walked home one Saturday night shivering against the cold wind. Silence filled the air with most people comfortably inside their warm homes. My footsteps grew louder and my pace increased to keep away the chill. When I reached the corner of what I thought was the last block of my journey, a whisper emerged from the silence, “Sir, hello sir.”

So focused on my steps I believed I was hearing things, but the whisper grew louder, “Sir,over here sir.”

An old woman was standing at a bus stop, metrocard in hand and a sad expression on her face. “Can I be of assistance,” I asked.

She had been waiting for the bus a long time but the ice and darkness made her afraid to walk the few blocks home. My house was only one block away, but in the opposite direction and I was so cold. Yet, I agreed to help her home, slowly walking step by step.

Steve reflects, “When I reached my house later that night I discovered I did not have frostbite and the next morning I was not sick with a cold. Then I remembered a saying,

quote-openKindness can warm the coldest times and illuminate the darkest of nightsquote-close

Kindness triumphed over the elements that night and sparked a moment of relief for an old lady nervous and afraid of the weather and dangerous terrain. This act of kindness brought the saying to life. Kindness has more value than any currency, gold, silver or any precious gems because kindness shows that you have a golden heart.”

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Javier Roman

Leon, Mexico

 

A Little Piece Of Heaven

When Javier and a friend were turned away from an exclusive nightclub he didn’t let disappointment spoil his evening. While grabbing a hotdog from a nearby vendor a street kid asked them for money. Instead, Javier invited him to join them and bought the boy two hot dogs. Javier noticed another street kid’s wide eyed amazement and invited that boy over too. Soon there was another and by the time he was done, Javier was sharing an impromptu meal with 12 street kids.

His friend was amazed at the sight, Javier with all these kids sitting on the sidewalk eating hot dogs and drinking sodas while sharing funny stories. After they were finished, all the kids gave Javier a huge group hug, a very touching moment for him. They said goodbye and parted ways.

Javier says, “The guys at the entrance of the nightclub noticed what happened and approached and told me I can enter the nightclub if I wanted. I thanked them, but I had already spent all my money with the kids. And honestly I didn’t care for entering the nightclub anymore. My heart was full with what happened. This was one of my best experiences ever. I loved the time with the kids and their stories. I needed nothing more. My friend told me I would be going to heaven for what I did to this kids, but I told him I was in heaven already while I was with them. and I really believe it’s true.

quote-openThese kids gave me more than what I gave to them.quote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Breelagh DuHaime

USA

 

Making A Better Tomorrow Today

Driving home one night from her boyfriend’s house, Breelagh was contemplating forgiveness. Specifically all the times she remember God’s forgiveness, and how many times her boyfriend had shown her forgiveness and compassion. She felt horrible for some of her past choices and thought how marvelous it would feel to let all of that go. In that moment she decided to forgive herself for everything she had done to others, to God, and to herself. She knew she needed to let all of that go so she could feel happier, and be a kinder person to others. Now Breelagh is so grateful that she had that moment with herself in the car one late night in the cool air.

quote-openI had to forgive myself for my past so I could live a better tomorrow.quote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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June Rachelson-Ospa

New York, USA

 

The Best Kindness Ever

At the young age of 5 June’s mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. June was raised by her dad and Grandfather until he found Freda Hotte, a housekeeper/nanny. She came to this country from Germany where her family lost everything. Her misfortune continued when her husband attempted to murder her, and when she stepped on a nail she was told she may never walk again. Freda could have become a bitter, resentful woman. Instead she became a woman who always said to me, “Life is short, so you may as well smile.”

Initially Freda offered to work for 6 months till June’s dad found someone permanent but after one look at June, she stayed for 16 years until she remarried. Freda lived with the family during the week and went home on weekends. Pretty soon, Freda would have June over on weekends too. She was Catholic and we were Jewish. Freda taught June about all religions and holidays and she lovingly called Freda a “Jewca.” June learned to be open to all people through Freda and celebrated every Holiday. Freda and her Grandfather even spoke to each other (when June wasn’t supposed to know what they were saying) in German and Yiddish! Even after Freda remarried and moved she and June remained close.

“Freda was the kindest, most gentle person I have ever known. She became my Mom, the light of my life. She is long gone, but it was Freda who taught me how to love and be loved and how to be a loving mother. The odd thing was, Freda had the exact same birthday as my birth Mother. September 27. The best day on the planet cause Freda was born that day. Through Freda I was also able to forgive and love my birth Mom until she passed away 2011. I have so much love and gratitude for this kind, kind woman. I will never forget her.”

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Daniela Calderon Napoles

Mexicali, Mexico

 

A True Friend and Three Little Words

Sometimes self-care means accepting the kindness and caring of someone else for a change. Daniela describes a true friend as someone who knows what to say or do when you need it the most. She’ll never forget the day she felt she had lost everything. Even in a crowded room Daniela felt lonelier than ever. Sitting in silence with her intense sadness about how dramatically her life had changed, she received a text message. It said, “Hello brown girl :)”. The text was from the girl sitting by her side. Although she knew nothing about what Daniela was going through, the girl somehow saw through the brave exterior and knew Daniela wasn’t okay that day.

quote-openThat single message from this girl changed my whole day, it made me remember that I’m not lonely and that friends are there no matter what. We never spoke about that day, and nobody noticed her act of kindness; but for me it meant everything. I’m very thankful to have her as my friend. Small actions bring great reactions when you care about someone.quote-close

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Yanina Llantada

Mar del Plata, Argentina

 

The Best Kindness Ever

Working at a remote school in Argentina made getting places challenging for Yanina. It was no different the day she was trying to be on time as she rushed to a job interview. Travelling by bus required a transfer halfway to her destination and it wasn’t long before Yanina realized she would be late for her interview. Undaunted she came up with Plan B, when she arrived at her transfer point she’d take a taxi instead of the bus.

However, Plan B had a flaw, Yanina knew she didn’t have enough money for the fare, but she continued anyway. There was only one taxi at the stop and just as she got there, a man who’d been on her bus opened the door. Since he had gotten there first, Yanina graciously told him to take the taxi though it would make her even later for her interview. He suggested they share the cab but it became apparent they were actually travelling in opposite directions. Surprisingly, he insisted that they share the cab. Yanina insisted she pay her portion of the fare. The man asked why she was in such a rush and she explained about her hopes for a new job.

Upon arriving, Yanina offered the money she had but instead of accepting it, the man told her to go and take it as a sign of good luck. All Yanina found out about him was his first name, Marcos.

quote-openHe kind of kicked me out of the cab. I could only ask his name, Marcos. It was the best act of kindness I ever experienced. I really believe he was sent to me…He paid twice the price to take me on time to my interview and he didn’t even know me. And… I got the job!quote-close

Yanina believed that it would all work out and sometimes Plan B just needs a kind stranger in the right place at the right time to make the pieces all fall into place. Allowing others to be kind to us is one of the greatest gifts we can give and receive.

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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    Everyday Kindness: Empowering New Beginnings Through Kindness

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Jeff Kuske

Florida, USA

Empathetic

Empowering New Beginnings Through Kindness

Jeff may work with men who suffer from various forms of addiction, but his ability to see beyond the addiction, to see the person is what paved the way for a little love, a little kindness, a little laughter, and a whole lotta dancing to take form.

I work at a residential substance abuse treatment facility. I do NOT work with addicts, druggies, or drunks. I work with men who suffer from the disease of addiction. I tell them this as often as I can. I feel that referring to them as a person above all else can empower them to recover from their addictions.

This year I participated in Dance for Kindness for the first time. I was really excited to be a part of this amazing event for the first time. When I showed the men I work with a video of last year’s DFK, many of them asked if they could participate too. After getting approval the work began.

While a little intimidated by the length of the dance, after two days of hard work and practice we were ready to take on the challenge. They were not only excited about being able to participate, but were grateful for the opportunity.

Unfortunately there is a stigma that goes with substance abuse. Many of my guys have been discouraged for years. Many times friends, family, and others will tell them that they are “just an addict,” “Just a druggie,” or worse yet “You’re going to go back to using, it’s just a matter of time.”

DFK2016 allowed these men to participate in an event that was bigger than themselves. It gave them the opportunity to do something for others, all of them strangers. One of my guys told me after the dance,

quote-openA couple of months ago I never would have cared about something like this. Thank you for showing me that I can make a positive difference in the world.quote-close

We had a couple of technical difficulties, but they were never discouraged. Once we got everything figured out, we danced! We danced with dignity. We danced with pride. We danced with respect. We danced for Kindness! This event has made a huge impact on everyone who participated. I would bet that it just may have made the biggest impact on these six men. Thank you for Dance for Kindness Orly. Thank you from myself, and especially from the guys at New Beginning!

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Karina Wright

Texas, USA

Empathetic + Honest

The Sweet Side of Kindness

When Karina heard Orly speak about her own life struggles, and Life Vest Inside, it resonated with her heart. She signed up and committed to buying someone a meal but what resulted was sweeter than she ever expected.

Karina learned about Life Vest Inside while listening to inspirational podcasts to help boost her morale as she faced the challenge of building her business, healing from surgery and caring for her elderly father during his own recovery.

Hearing Orly speak about her own life struggles, and Life Vest Inside resonated with her heart. Karina signed up and committed to buying someone a meal as her kindness pledge. Later when Karina found a crisp twenty dollar bill she says it was, “As if the universe was telling me, ‘Here don’t worry I will provide so you can be kind!’”

Karina was confident she had found the right person when she met a homeless man and his dog. Not wanting to cry and embarrass him, with a slight nod she handed him the folded bill. As he walked away, he realized what it was and the look on his face was the perfect reward. Pained by the necessity that made him grateful Karina said a prayer that this small act would renew his faith that life can be kind.

quote-openKarina believes that if you keep putting kindness out into the world, it will start to come back to you.quote-close

After all, she shared with us that shortly after her experience, she won a pie from her favorite bake shop. A lesson that sharing kindness can result in receiving your favorite desserts.

– Edited by Jewel Fries

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Lisa Durden

Newark, NJ, USA

Reflective

Tough City, Kind Neighbor

“But Lisa stepped back and learned to accept this newfound notion of kindness being given to her and came to expect it. It was a great feeling and she began working on giving back to others.”

When Lisa first moved into the neighborhood in 1994, her neighbor James was very friendly. So much so that he was always helping her around the house, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, and more! Sounds great, right? But something seemed a bit off for Lisa. Why was this man being kind to a stranger? What did he want in return?

Whenever James would do something kind for Lisa, she would return the favor by buying him a thank you gift to show her appreciation. But James’ kindness was so fast and constant that Lisa couldn’t keep up and had a meltdown. One day, Lisa came home and just let it all out. She yelled out loud asking her mother what James’ problem was and why he keeps helping. She wondered, “What does he want from me?” and “Why is he always helping me?”

After taking a few moments to calm down, Lisa’s mother looked at her and simply said, “Lisa, James doesn’t want anything from you. Some people do nice things because that’s who they are.” For Lisa, the notion of being kind just to be kind had never crossed her mind. While her mother had grown up in the South in a neighborhood where kindness was common, Lisa grew up in a big city and said she learned from birth, “you don’t get something, for nothing!”

quote-openBut Lisa stepped back and learned to accept this newfound notion of kindness being given to her and came to expect it. It was a great feeling and she began working on giving back to others.quote-close

James has since passed away, but for Lisa, the lasting memories of his kindness continue to live on through her own acts of kindness.

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Andy Smallman

Seattle, WA, USA

Amazing

Four Teens, Four Elders, One Heart

“The barista waved to us and we walked out, united in what felt to us was an act of superhero proportions.”

For over 20 years I’ve facilitated kindness classes and throughout this time, it seems, participants in the classes have most enjoyed and felt good about those kindness actions they completed anonymously. One of my favorite kindness stories comes from when I was facilitating an in-person intergenerational kindness class in a Seattle retirement community. The class consisted of elderly residents and teenagers. We met weekly to chat about kindness and, more importantly, to complete a group action.

One day, one of the teens suggested we go to a nearby coffee house and anonymously pay for the coffee of a random stranger, someone who arrives at the counter, orders, only to find her/his drink has been paid for, a kindness act familiar to most people interested in the subject. I was a little nervous about this as I had not taken any of the elders outside of the retirement community before. But the enthusiasm was palpable and, I dare say, contagious. I checked with the Activities Coordinator, a woman I greatly admired, knowing full well she wouldn’t try to stop me. So off we went, walking about 5 blocks to a nearby Starbucks. There were probably 9 of us who went, 4 teens, 4 elders, and me. We were pooling our pocket change as we walked, planning who would say what, and trying to figure out how we all could inconspicuously sit in the coffee house in order to see our unknown recipient receive our intended kindness. Can you picture it, 4 teens, 4 elders, and me trying to be inconspicuous in a small Starbucks? It was probably 2:30 in the afternoon – an odd time to be out.

In we went and up to the counter our chosen representatives went, a teen and an elder, with a couple of dollars in loose change. They tried explaining the idea to the barista, who at first didn’t understand. But after a second or third explanation, she got it and broke into a huge smile. I still remember the line she was supposed to tell the recipient of our kindness upon presentation of the drink, “You have been the victim of a random act of kindness.”

Meanwhile, the rest of us had tried fitting around a small table as far away from the counter as possible but still within eyesight of it. The two rejoined us and we didn’t have long to wait. In walked a person and up to the counter she went. Around our table we tried hard not to stare, each of us individually excited, the collective excitement seeming to scream out our presence. It went down just as you’d expect it to, the person ordered her drink, was told it had been paid for and that she was a kindness “victim.” At first she didn’t seem to understand, then took a second to see if it was some kind of joke. Assured it was legit, she accepted her drink and with a warm smile she walked out of the store. All of this took less than two minutes. Upon her exit, we exploded with happiness.

quote-openThe barista waved to us and we walked out, united in what felt to us was an act of superhero proportions.quote-close

The elders seemed younger and the teens wiser. It wasn’t 4 teens, 4 elders and me any more. It was 9 people.

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Malek Labidi

Gabes, Tunisia

Kindhearted

The Simple Things

“I felt so happy, and it’s emotional when you see old people hurting inside. I felt a happiness for once with strangers.”

It’s easy for most of us to go through our day and be able to do something kind for a random person like buying their coffee, holding the door for someone, or just simply paying them a compliment. But for those who are unable to get around easily such as those in nursing homes, they can often feel forgotten. When Valentine’s Day came around in Gabes, Tunisia, one woman decided she’d ensure that a few extra people were remembered in a way they would never forget.

Malek Abidi headed to a local nursing home along with 25 flowers, perfumes, clothing and a heart filled with kindness. Malek was overcome with emotions and happiness as she talked with members of the nursing home, some of whom expressed that they felt as though their children had forgotten about them.

quote-openMalek connected with them and played games throughout the day, bringing her a sense of happiness she had never experienced with strangers.quote-close

“I felt so happy I could help! It’s emotional when you see old people hurting inside.”

Malek walked into the nursing home to bring some joy to strangers, but they ended up bringing her a sense of joy and an experience she will never forget.

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Mark Shaw

London, United Kingdom

Heartwarming

Selfless Kindness of a Stranger

“I felt so happy, and it’s emotional when you see old people hurting inside. I felt a happiness for once with strangers.”

As a medical student, Mark sees uplifting and heartwarming moments of kindness, love, and empathy all the time in wards and clinics. But one encounter stood out.

Mark and a few other students were in a bus station in a small Scottish town during their holiday when an elderly lady fell over nearby hitting her head. It was a twenty minute wait for an ambulance and a small crowd gathered around them as they started checking on her.

But one woman in particular stood out. Like all of the other strangers in the crowd, this woman could’ve gone home as soon as the ambulance came. But she didn’t. She accompanied the elderly lady to the hospital.

The next day, the elderly lady was discharged with a clean bill of health. She was surprised to find her family there waiting for her. The kind stranger hadn’t only stayed with her overnight, she reached out to her family to keep them in the know. Twenty-four hours of one stranger bestowing kindness onto another.

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Etan Efrati

Jerusalem, Israel

Thoughtful

Bouquet of Kindness

“Her entire face lit up – she was so surprised! She told me that I had made her day.”

Going on a first date is usually nerve-wracking for most people. People spend hours upon hours getting ready to make a good first impression. But for one young man, being over-prepared led him to brighten the day of an unexpected stranger.

As Etan prepared for a first date he gave some thought as to what might help him stand out from the rest and so Etan picked up a bouquet of flowers. As he gave it some thought he decided that tulips would be the flower of choice, worried that roses may be a bit romantic. After purchasing the flowers he began questioning whether his gesture would be misconstrued as being too forward and so he decided he would throw away the bouquet and simply keep a single tulip to gift to his date.

He began walking down the busy streets of Manhattan and suddenly he spotted an opportunity for kindness. From the corner of his eye he saw a woman in a wheelchair that seemed distraught as though the weight of the world was on her shoulders. It was evident that she could use a pick-me-up.

Without hesitation, Etan approached the woman, smiled, and simply said, “I’d like to give you these flowers!”

Her entire face lit up! It was clear that she was pleasantly taken aback. Etan recalls,

quote-openHer entire face lit up – she was so surprised! She told me that I had made her day.quote-close

He may have started off the evening with the intention to make a good impression on his date, but his willingness to spot an opportunity for kindness was most impressing of all.

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Sparky Garrett

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Gratitude

Kindness Refueled

“This fellow has forever earned my gratitude, and reminded me to keep an eye out for a fellow human that could use a hand.”

Filling up our gas tank is something that many can occasionally forget and can potentially leave us stranded at the most inconvenient times. In Sparky Garrett’s case, running out of fuel opened the door for a stranger to earn his gratitude for a lifetime.

About two blocks away from his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sparky’s motorcycle ran out of fuel. Now, he had a few options; phoning a few friends or reaching out to AAA. But an unexpected stranger presented an unexpected option. Before he could get his bike into the nearest parking space, a kind stranger pulled over and after learning Sparky’s predicament he drove home without hesitation, picked up his fuel can and returned to Sparky’s aid.

He did more than pour some fuel in Sparky’s motorcycle; he infused gratitude in his heart.

“Did he save my life?” Sparky said. “Would I have died lonely and abandoned in a cold gutter that night? No. But kindness does not have to only be about severe cases.”

quote-openThis fellow has forever earned my gratitude, and
reminded me to keep an eye out for a fellow human that
could use a hand.
quote-close

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    Everyday Kindness: Warm Hearts Prevail on A Cold Winter’s Night

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Anthony Ogundey

Edgware, Greater London

Humanity

Warm Hearts Prevail on A Cold Winter’s Night

“Anthony felt deeply touched and humbled by the sincerity of his words and Anthony’s eyes welled up with tears.”

In many instances kindness, just like magic, happens when you least expect it. Sometimes the opportunity presents itself but whether we choose to take it can make a world of difference. For Anthony his car breaking down on a cold winter’s night could’ve been the beginning of a bad story, but instead, it’s the beginning of one he’ll never forget.

Anthony was on his way home when his car stopped running. He did everything he could to get the car going again but to no avail. He flagged down a kind taxi driver who tried his best to offer assistance, but they were both stumped. The taxi driver kindly offered to drop Anthony to the taxi headquarters where he could keep warm, grab a coffee, and perhaps find an experienced mechanic to check the car.

While at the office, two kind drivers offered to fix his car. They made their way to the car and an hour later it was as good as new. Luckily for Anthony, the same taxi driver who was kind enough to drive him to the headquarters offered his services free of charge to bring him back. Anthony insisted to compensate him, but he refused simply telling Anthony that whether he knew it or not, Anthony was known in the neighborhood as being an upstanding person and in his own way Anthony has impacted the lives of people in his small town.

Anthony felt deeply touched and humbled by the sincerity of his words and Anthony’s eyes welled up with tears. Anthony felt even more touched by the fact that he’d been helped by people of a different race and culture to his, which further illustrated that we’re all part of the “human race.”

Anthony finally headed home without experiencing any further issues. He did however head home with a warm, peaceful heart and the feeling of love, appreciation, and gratitude.

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Marianne Perez de Fransius

Maputo, Mozambique

Everlasting

Marianne’s Unexpected Lesson

“You know what I remember most about you? That you were kind.”

Twenty years after finishing middle school, Marianne ran into Mme. Michel, her teacher from 6th to 8th grade. Marianne remembered working really hard to get good grades and that she was always in competition with a couple of other students to be first in the class. So when she saw Mme. Michel, she was expecting her comment to be something about how studious she had been.

Mme. Michel immediately recognized Marianne and told her about a little ritual that she had. She said, “You know, I keep all my student lists from all the years I’ve been teaching. Every once in awhile I go through them and think about each student that I’ve had. And you know what I remember most about you? That you were really, really kind.”

That really struck Marianne because she didn’t remember that period as one in which she made any particular effort to be nice, but rather as one in which she focused on her grades. It drove home the point that the things we focus on in school aren’t necessarily the ones that matter most nor the ones we’ll be remembered for.

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Aashish Jagini

Columbia, USA

Thoughtful

An Extra Kind Mile

“We often get into situations where we can take the easy path out or put some effort and make it special to someone. Don’t hesitate for the small effort you will have to put in, the result will be worth it.”

Aashish Jagini’s kindness journey began at his restaurant when one day he made a decision that would change his life and many others.

A year ago when Aashish took over the family business, he realized that after parties were hosted in the family’s restaurant, a lot of food remained. He and his family see many people suffering from hunger every day and so when he heard that leftover food was discarded, he was greatly bothered.

Despite it being a bit late in the evening, Aashish picked up the phone and immediately called a few orphanages to see if any of them could pick up the food from his restaurant. Fortunately he found one that was in need of food and also close to the restaurant. But they had no means of transport to collect the food and not nearly enough space to hold so much of it and for a long time.

Aashish didn’t allow this to stop him from the kind act he had set out to perform. He instantly knew that he had to go the extra mile, so he arranged for transport and allowed the orphanage to borrow his vessels.

The next day, Aashish called the orphanage and was touched to hear from the children who were overjoyed to have received such delicious food. At that moment, Aashish decided to make it a tradition and send food every time he could.

quote-openAashish believes that kindness is not a duty or a responsibility but a unique feeling that makes you happier as you share it.quote-close

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Jeremy Swanson

Denver, USA

Kindhearted

Jeremy Swanson’s Bouquet of Kindness

“He was in complete and utter shock but he gave me the biggest smile I have ever seen! The type of smile that could change your life.”

For Jeremy Swanson, being kind and wanting to help others is something he does daily. He’s a fan of Life Vest Inside’s Act of Kindness cards, each card with a specific act of kindness to complete, and he carries out most of them on a daily basis. There was one act of kindness though that even this kindness veteran couldn’t seem to get to. But when he did, it led to a moment he’d never forget.

One day while sitting in the college library, Jeremy was thinking about that one act of kindness card. The card read, “Bring flowers to a hospital to give to patients who may not get any visitors.” Having a two hour break in between classes, a light bulb in his head went off and he told himself, “You know what? I’m going to do that one right now!”

He visited the nearest flower shop to get a big bouquet of flowers and then went to the Denver Health Hospital where he stopped at the front desk and simply asked, “Who may be in need of these flowers today?”

He was asked to go to the third floor. From there he was guided to a room by a nurse who said “I know the perfect guy! He had a knee replacement surgery. He’s been here for a few days and no one has showed up for him since then.”

When Jeremy walked in with the flowers the man couldn’t believe that they were for him, and from a complete stranger at that! “Are those for me?” the man asked in disbelief. And with a smile and joy, Jeremy replied, “They sure are!” The man’s face lit up with a huge smile that moved Jeremy and inspired him to continue going back with flowers to the hospital every month!

quote-openJeremy believes that such acts truly give us a one of a kind feeling and encourages each of us to join in and explore this amazing world of kindness!quote-close

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Deanna Liderman

New York, NY

Empathy

Deanna’s Calling Card of Kindness

“She understood that more than any one thing, the greatest gift she could give was her time and getting to know the man behind the homelessness.”

“We, as human beings, have become desensitized to pain and hardship because its omnipresent and overwhelming. We, collectively and individually, feel powerless to change it because it’s one person against the world.” Deanna Liderman says. It was a chance encounter Deanna had outside a pharmacy across from Grand Central Terminal that gave her an opportunity to infuse kindness into the world.

As she walked into the pharmacy, Deanna saw a young man sitting on the ground in tattered blankets – a sight that unfortunately is not so uncommon in New York City. In the same situation, others may continue walking on by possibly thinking, “Well, I’m just one person, what can I do?” But with a kindness mindset in place, Deanna stopped, looked up at the man’s face and asked if he needed something from the pharmacy.

He shook his head as if to say no, but instead of jumping at the chance to just walk away feeling like she did her part, Deanna stood there until the man simply replied, “I haven’t spoken to my parents in a while, can you get me a phone card?” Not money, not food, not anything else, but a phone card.

As Deanna went into the pharmacy she heard the man shout “Thank you!”

When she returned she could have handed him the card and went on her way, feeling a sense of satisfaction that she helped someone. But simply handing over a card wasn’t enough – not for Deanna.

quote-openShe understood that more than any one thing, the greatest gift she could give was her time and getting to know the man behind the homelessness.quote-close

Little did she know that the short conversation would provide her with more inspiration than she could have hoped for with an invaluable lesson to be learned. A lesson in perception; to look beyond the negative perception that many have of homeless people and to realize that you are talking to a fellow human being. A person, that as she came to learn, was more than just a man sitting on the street. He was an artisan, a jewelry maker, a talented man who was just down on his luck.

What Deanna saw in him was something many of us fail to see in each other – possibility.

Reminiscing on that day and her unexpected inspiring talk with a stranger, Deanna says, “this was as close to happiness as I have felt in a long time.”

Deanna now confidently tells the world that kindness is the key to happiness.

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Amanda Yates

North Carolina, USA

Caring

Our Warm and Fuzzy Kindness Ambassador

“…what he said to me I will never forget. He said ‘you are the best person I’ve ever met.’ I know that may not mean much to some people but I could just see how grateful and sincere he was in his eyes.”

Amanda Yates was on her way out of the bathroom when she heard someone crying in one of the stalls. Caught off guard and awkwardly placed in this position, she didn’t know what to do. Afterall, communicating through a bathroom stall is a bit awkward. With a pen and paper in her hand, and love and empathy in her heart Amanda started writing. She slipped the paper under the stall and SUCCESS – the crying stopped and an idea was born! ‘Warm and fuzzies’ she called it. Small notes packed with lots of love that she handed to random strangers in need of a bit of cheering up.

Amanda may have questioned her idea before, but an unlikely encounter with a homeless man proved that “warm and fuzzies” were in greater demand than she thought. She could have walked on by, thrown a few dollars his way, or possibly a kind head nod – but not Amanda. She grabbed some snacks, walked on over and what started out as a short convo quickly turned into 30 minutes. She didn’t just make his day, she learned his story, gave him a voice, and made him feel important. You can imagine what Amanda did next. She reached into her pocket, handed him a “warm and fuzzy” card and realized that she too was left with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

quote-open…what he said to me I will never forget. He said ‘you are the best person I’ve ever met.’ I know that may not mean much to some people but I could just see how grateful and sincere he was in his eyes. Ya know, some people just need someone to listen. Someone to let them know they aren’t alone in this world, someone DOES care about them!?quote-close

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louise zarback

Louise Zarback

Hernando USA

Compassion/Empathy

Kindness and the Avalanche of Love

“Large and small donations came in, but it wasn’t the amount of money given, it was the pure desire of each person to give what they can and express their compassion and love.”

When Louise and her daughter set out to make a difference, they never envisioned that their act of kindness and compassion would start an avalanche of love.

“My friend’s 9 year old little boy has Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease with no cure that affects the lungs and digestive system. My daughter and I love this family and admire their courage and unwavering faith in G-d to see them through.”

Louise and her 12 year old daughter set off on a quest to raise awareness and money to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

“My daughter and I went around to local businesses asking for donations. She did all the talking and told everyone about her friend who was suffering. As a mom, I am so proud to see my daughter show so much love and compassion for her friend and wanting so much to help find a cure for him and others battling with CF”

“I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of the people we approached for donations. Not only did the business managers and employees contribute, but their customers donated as well. We collected $285 in 2 hours.”

A small desire to make a difference inspired Louise and her daughter to approach their local community as well who they found to be anxious to make a difference in any way they could.

quote-openLarge and small donations came in, but it wasn’t the amount of money given, it was the pure desire of each person to give what they can and express their compassion and love.quote-close

It’s true what they say, one act of kindness begets another.

 


 

To learn more about Jared, the 9-year-old boy mentioned in this story, and help him in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis, click here. Since the time the story was submitted to Life Vest Inside, Louise has met another little 2-year-old boy, Tobias, who also has Cystic Fibrosis and has become a huge part of her, and her family’s, life. To learn more about Tobias, and help him in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis, you can click here.

Both Team Jared and Team Tobias will be participating in the Great Strides Walk in Memphis on May 7th.

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Isabella Grass

Barranquilla, Colombia

Thoughtful

Small Budget, Big Heart

“Despite her small budget, Isabella’s heart is larger than life and she would soon find out that it would be her greatest asset in making her wish a reality.”

Christmas is a favorite time of year for many people, including Isabella Grass. But for Isabella it was also a time of reflection; as she would think about the poverty in her home country of Colombia. Isabella was committed to making an effort during the holiday season to help children feel the privilege and joy of receiving a little gift, especially a new toy.

Several years ago, Isabella met a few nuns who had created a foundation of their own. These compassionate nuns gathered money and created a small school for poor children on the outskirts of the city. Today, they’ve since added a nursing home on the property which they have expanded.

Since the moment Isabella met the nuns, she has admired their work and dedication. Every Christmas, Isabella tries to gather funds to bring toys and bags for the children in the school. This past year, Isabella arrived back to her home country only days before Christmas, making it harder than ever to collect funds and purchase toys in time.

Although she tried her very best to encourage friends, parents, and family members to contribute to her worthy cause, she was still short on money to cover the costs.

quote-openBut that didn’t stop Isabella; her compassion for the children pushed her forward.quote-close

Needing to buy affordable toys for sixty kids with one day to go before Christmas, is no small feat.

quote-openDespite her small budget, Isabella’s heart is larger than life and she would soon find out that it would be her greatest asset in making her wish a reality.quote-close

After searching endlessly and traveling to the farthest zone of her city, she found a store that made it possible for her to purchase a toy and bag for each child. It turns out that Isabella’s unwavering commitment and compassion inspired her father to buy snacks for the children as well.

It was quite a journey, but at the end Isabella managed to make it to the foundation and spend Christmas morning dancing and participating in activities with the children. Above all, she finally received what she had been looking for all along; to bask in the smiles of the loving children who excitedly accepted the gifts.

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Ken Burns

Somerset, NJ

Determination

Warmth Amidst the Cold

“Sometimes amidst the hardships and struggles life throws our way, we miraculously find a strength within ourselves that we never knew we had.”

In 2009, I lost my job of 7 years, and I found it impossible to restart my career. My heat and power had been turned off several times, the first time being a cold December night. Unable to pay my mortgage and my house listed for a Sheriff’s Sale, I did all I could to find odd jobs. Unfortunately, without a permanent professional position, those odd jobs just didn’t cut it. It may have been something, but it wasn’t enough to save my home.

Then in 2013, I finally found steady work in a coffee shop. Being that I only earned about 30% of my former income, I worked 2 nights a week in a medical office to offset the loss as best I could but it still didn’t cut it. Fortunately, A coffee shop customer was kind enough to offer me a few works hours every week in his gas station.

On my first day I asked, “What should I wear?” He told me I could wear anything I want, but mentioned that good, sturdy boots would be essential. I cringed inside recalling my only pair of boots, which I had to duct tape around the front to keep the sole from falling off while I shoveled snow the year before. “What would I do? How would I manage?” I must persevere.

I posted about my first shift at the gas station on a social media site, and mentioned the inadequacy of the worn out shoes I wore each morning at the coffee shop. Joanne, a friend of mine, messaged me asking my shoe size. I suspected her son or husband had an unused pair she might give me.

Within the hour, Joanne pulled up to the gas station with a large box. It wasn’t an old pair of shoes she was gifting to me. She purchased a new pair of brand-name, steel-toed boots, and several pairs of thick work socks for me! She also included the receipt, in case any changes were needed.

How do you react to something so touching, so loving and so thoughtful? As for me, tears came streaming down my face and my heart was suddenly filled with gratitude.

quote-openThe boots protected my feet from the bitter cold, but Joanne’s gesture protected something far more important and valuable; she protected my heart from freezing over. quote-close

Being hit with a Kindness Boomerang can change your life, and I welcome each time it happens, because it reminds me that someone notices and someone cares.

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Sasmita Jaspreet

Bahrain

Perseverance

Visited By Kindness Not Once, But Thrice

I was fourteen when my dad got into an accident on Oct 20th, 2008; an accident that would change my family’s life. Without health insurance, the fees for his surgery and medical expenditures were sky-high and took a toll on our family’s bank account. Not to mention, the heavy travel fees my mom had to pay to travel back and forth between Bahrain, where we live, and India, where my father was receiving his treatment. Kindness showed itself through the generosity and loving care of my aunt and uncle who looked after my brother and myself while my parents were away.

On March 24th, my dad and mom returned from India. It just so happened to be the day of my final examination results. As I headed to school to check out my academic performance, I saw my name on the notice board but instead of my grade I saw something that made my heart drop. “Withheld”. Assuming this meant I had failed – I broke into tears and was shattered.

Thoughts began running through my mind, “How would I tell my parents?” “How would I handle the embarrassment of being left behind?” Upon inquiring further at the school office, I found out that I hadn’t in fact failed but rather I was being “Withheld” because school fees hadn’t been paid. I knew the situation at home was bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad.

After confiding in my mom, she did something I can only imagine was very difficult. She reached out to friends of hers to help get us through this time, and luckily they donated to help cover my previous and upcoming academic year. Kindness, yet again, showed itself at a time we needed it most!

quote-openKindness, yet again, showed itself at a time we needed it most!quote-close

While my academic success was secured for another year, we were far from being out of the water. My dad required physiotherapy to fully recover. My mother reached out to everyone and anyone she knew about a physiotherapist that may be able to assist for a lower fee. A physiotherapist, more like a true angel, called my mother and agreed to do private therapy. The very next day, there he was ready and excited to help bring my father to a full recovery.

“Good thing we started off today otherwise he would have not been alive by next week,” he said. When my mother asked him about the fee he simply said, “We’ll take care of this later.” Night after night he came to our home after a long day at work and spent several hours with my dad. Yet at the end of each night he would simply tell my mom that he would let her know the price at a later time, but that later never came. He understood the hardships we were facing and that life had simply dealt us a challenging hand.

quote-openHe didn’t just do his part, he went above and beyond and because of his kindness, generosity and empathy my dad is alive and well today. quote-close

It was an act of kindness that pierced our soul in one of the most extraordinary ways.

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