Mission Accomplished!

Life Vest Inside’s Mission Day is a Huge Success! 

What would happen if a group traveled through various parts of Manhattan

engaging New Yorkers in kindness?

~by Tory Dube

May 15, 2012 marked the first Mission Day of New York City non-profit Life Vest Inside. Orly Wahba, educator and kindness leader, founded Life Vest Inside in September of 2010 in response to a tragedy in her community. In a fog of panic, wondering how she could ever comfort her young students amidst the community’s hardship, Wahba was presented with the epiphany analogy of a life vest. Inherently, a life vest stays afloat regardless of forces pushing it downward. Wahba poetically reasoned, ‘Through the kindness we bestow upon others and through the kindness others bestow upon us, we keep each other afloat through life’s rough seas,’ and hence, Life Vest Inside was born.

Almost two years later, Orly is now fully dedicated to the message LVI aims to spread. The organization works to cultivate the awareness of the individual’s ability to affect real and positive change in the world by ‘living kindness.’ LVI’s first short film, ‘Kindness Boomerang,’ has spread virally worldwide and continues to touch thousands daily via the Internet. After successfully inspiring millions through social media, Wahba decided it was time again to spread some love through genuine human connection! Enter Kindness Mission Day!

Objectives of the Kindness Mission Day:
*To increase our awareness to the kindness opportunities that surrounds us every day
*To get volunteers out of the “I” world and make them realize we are part of a larger whole
*To increase our appreciation for the things we do have in our lives
*To bring joy, laughter, and kindness to others
*To bring back human connection to the world
*Above all To Have FUN and GIVE LOVE!

Thirty women convened at the LVI headquarters in Brooklyn early morning May 15th. Although rain had darkened the skies, spirits were lively and anxious as Wahba welcomed the volunteers inside for orientation before the procession began. Most women expressed apprehension as Wahba eagerly explained they’d be approaching hundreds of people throughout the day in Manhattan as part of the Mission Day. The volunteers were to hand out ‘Acts of Kindness Cards,’ food, water and numerous goodies to strangers as they trekked through the city. Despite the blank and initially mortified faces, Wahba maintained insatiable passion and uncontrollable excitement as she predicted the response of the people they’d cross throughout the day.

The festivities began with kindness in flight. Every participant attached an Acts of Kindness card (AOK card) alongside a blank postcard to a red balloon. The postcard prompted a response to the sender detailing the completion of the ‘act’ described on the balloon. In unison, the group released the balloons and watched as they flew beyond sight, illustrating that once you send kindness out into the world you never know whose life it may touch.

To awaken everyone’s awareness and perception, Wahba then led the group to South Street Seaport’s ‘Dialogue in the Dark,’ exhibit. Together the women navigated replicas of NYC’s famous landmarks while in complete darkness, solely led by a visually impaired guide and amateurly wielded canes. The experience, which lasted an hour, left the women emotional, curious, inspired and, as hoped, newly inflated in their metaphorical life vests.

Because of the rain, Orly and group were forced to veer a bit from the initial schedule that included numerous outdoor kindness activities- and instead, everyone headed to Grand Central Station. (The rain did make handing out free umbrellas that much more exciting, though!) Once in Grand Central, the volunteers were divided into teams of four and given a bag of goodies and an elaborate Kindness Scavenger Hunt.

The scavenger list included tasks ranging from buy a random stranger a cup of coffee, to sing a stranger a song– all intending to make an impact through simple human connection.

 

 

The response was overwhelming. Soaked businessmen stopped mid-rush to share stories of bestowed kindness, seemingly grouchy strangers returned enthusiastic ‘free hugs’, an MTA worker (who had received a ‘thank you’ card for her service as part of one of the challenges) even went around flaunting her story of appreciation to random people in the station.

 

Even more moving than the response of those receiving, was that of the volunteers who dedicated their day to giving. Andrea Falack, in reflection of the day, stated ‘Your [Orly Wahba] inspiration, devotion, enthusiasm, optimism and perseverance have enabled me to see the world differently.’

 

Raquel Habert, who has already signed on for another LVI event on June 10th, responded, ‘When I gave that woman an umbrella in the rain she almost passed out from excitement! You gave us the perfect tools to work with and I believe we sent a beautiful message into the world today.’ The numerous other emails and calls were equally moving and full of thanks, every person claiming to be forever changed and newly inspired.

When asked about her take on the day, Orly commented: “We may have walked into the day not knowing one another, a bit apprehensive, and questioning whether or not we can take down our guard and be open to let others in – but we ended the day as one unit; a group of people brought together through the power of kindness. I feel honored to have shared the day with so many amazing people.”


Given the spanning success of just one day of deliberate human connection, the power of kindness is truly undeniable. Given the time in which 30 women blossomed from ‘friendly,’ to outright confident humanitarians, the consequence of empowerment is irrefutable. Orly Wahba/Life Vest Inside is a force to be reckoned with and with each Mission Day, event, fundraiser, AOK card passed on the street, free hug given on a train, quick flash of a smile…her kindness army is rapidly growing with passion and love enough to withstand even the stormiest of life’s rough seas.

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A special thank you goes out to Adele Laboz and Raquel Habert for preparing the lunches for the day! As well as Megan Gibbons for volunteering her time to design the AOK cards, Diane Mizrahi for designing the Kindness Mission sweatshirts and to NY Popular for printing the sweatshirts. And of course to all the women who stepped outside their comfort zone for a day and made the day such a great success.

Interested in organizing a Kindness Mission Day with Life Vest Inside???

Send an email to Orly at lifevestinside@gmail.com, subject line Kindness Day for more details. Join Life Vest Inside’s Facebook community and join the kindness revolution!

 

Thank you Tory for such an amazing recap of a phenomenal unforgettable day!

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