Acts of kindness: Making a difference one person at a time

By Joan Hunt - ReminderNews Managing Editor
Statewide - posted Thu., Feb. 21, 2013
'The little unremembered acts of kindness and love are the best parts of a person’s life.' - William Wordsworth
'The little unremembered acts of kindness and love are the best parts of a person’s life.' - William Wordsworth

American journalist Charles Kuralt, best known for his “On the Road” segments on the evening news, once said, “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” More recently it came to light that Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School massacre, had written in her journal, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

In answer to what has become known as “Rachel’s Challenge,” people all over the country in schools and communities are putting her theory to the test. In what often appears to be a world gone wrong, people still have the power to make some things right by their own actions and the way they react to others.

The best part of this is its simplicity. While we at the ReminderNews are collecting stories about people who volunteer their time and talents to help others in their communities, it becomes clear that their overriding motivation is kindness. The man who is helped out of his home into a waiting ambulance, the woman who is visited by Meals on Wheels, the hospital patient who is guided through the unfamiliar halls of a hospital – all of these people were most impressed by the friendly smile and listening ear of a volunteer.

Some of us might be reading these stories and saying to ourselves that we would love to be part of this group or that group, but we may lack either the time or the transportation or in some other way the ability to participate at that level. Still we can be part of the solution. We can help counteract the bad headlines by being good to one another.

Start with a smile. When you walk past someone on the street or in a hallway, it doesn’t matter whether it is someone you know or not, it is just as easy to smile at them as not. It will make both of you feel good.

Give someone a compliment, encourage a good idea, hold the door for someone, pay the toll for the driver behind you at the toll booth, let the driver merge into your lane even if you are late getting home from work. These are small civilities that don’t take much time, but the rewards are many.

Change the way you interact with people. When you have a conversation with someone, put away your Smartphone, give your full attention to the conversation and listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t interrupt until it is your turn to talk. Take a minute to send a note to a person who is going through a tough time or to someone who has done something nice for you.

Go the extra distance. When you are shoveling snow, clear the walk of a neighbor who you know is out of town or laid up inside with a cold or flu. Offer to run errands for someone can’t get out. Help a friend pack who is getting ready to move. Offer to baby-sit for a single mom, take a friend’s dog for a walk, take somebody out to lunch for no reason at all.

Send me your stories and photos that reflect the “Heart of the Community” at or to my attention at ReminderNews, 130 Old Town, in Vernon, CT 06066.

To submit your own 'Heart of the Community' story, click here.

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