It’s the sigh of relief that rushes over you when a driver kindly invites you to change lanes as you’re struggling to make your exit. It’s the unexpected burst of positive energy gained when the customer in front of you generously buys your coffee, too. It’s the wave of gratitude you feel when you’re short on your grocery bill, and a neighbor steps in to cover the difference with no strings attached.
The Urban dictionary describes kindness as “doing something and not expecting anything in return,” but the truth is, delivering kindness is a win-win for everyone involved. Not only does devoting resources to others bring about lasting well-being, but as Karyn Hall, Ph. D. recently explained in Psychology Today, “a sense of community is created when people are kind to those who need help.”
This idea of combining compassion and community is exactly what inspired a group of residents in St. Charles, Illinois to launch Random Acts Matter in February of 2017. Led by community leader Jim Di Ciaula, the organization has already performed over 130 acts with over 500 recipients; some nominated by their fellow community members.
For Stacy and Mark Lazzara, the organization was able to bring joy into their household just months after their 2-year-old daughter Averie was diagnosed with leukemia. “We are blessed to have the support of so many wonderful friends and family members, but it’s incredibly heart-warming when complete strangers reach out and provide support in your time of need as well.” The Lazzara family was deeply moved by all of the useful contents in the donation basket they were gifted and the care that went into the selection. “Having a tablet for those long treatment days will be a blessing to them,” said Random Acts Volunteer Coordinator Sharon LeGare. “We thoughtfully select items that would bring comfort, if even for a moment amidst the storm.”
In the case of little Averie, she could barely contain her excitement as she ran upstairs to put on the princess dress that would perfectly match her new crown and wand. “Averie’s smile says it all,” commented mom with a smile on her face too, and for a time, giggles and smiles replaced a difficult road filled with worry and concern.
The Lazzara family is just one of many who have been touched by Random Acts Matter since the organization’s inception—and “it simply couldn’t be done without the eyes and ears of those in the community” says LeGare, explaining that people play an important role in bringing awareness to those in need through nominations made at RandomActsMatter.com.
“It truly is satisfying to play a part in being an agent of change for the better in someone’s life,” adds local resident Sue Liechti. “I submitted a tip for someone who was driving their toddler around in an unsafe car because they couldn’t afford repairs. The Random Acts Matter group deployed an act that did more than I even asked to improve the condition of the car and ensure safe transportation.”
LeGare also expressed her gratitude for the generous donations of local businesses, adding that she loves hearing stories of how the positive momentum often continues when recipients visit the businesses to redeem their donations. “Our model is intended to create a ripple effect” explains LeGare. “We want everyone to feel blessed in this process; not only those on the receiving end, but also the donors, nominators and the volunteers delivering acts.”
Armed with the positive feedback of those already touched by the organization, and the inspiration that a million small acts could change the world, Random Acts Matter is continuing to search for ways to do just that—or at least in our small corner of the world in St. Charles, IL —one random act at a time.
And just as one single act can make a big difference, so can one single person. If you’re interested in supporting the ongoing efforts of Random Acts Matter, you are invited to visit RandomActsMatter.com to learn more about them and their 2018 fundraiser—a unique, Ravinia-style event taking place on Sunday, September 9 at Mount St. Mary’s Park in St. Charles. Also, stay tuned for how you can join forces with Random Acts Matter to help “Paint the Town Orange” with kindness the week of February 17-23. Together, we can make a difference!