kindness activist

kindness activist

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kindness in Darkness

Today’s Kindness Activist is someone that I never met.  I wish I had, but I cannot. 

Last evening I became aware that a member of the Washington DC Theatre Community and yoga teacher had been reported as missing.  Her friends, colleagues, and family quickly gathered online and rallied.  People prayed.  People drove around and looked.  People lit incense.  Psychics suggested places that they felt she may be that should be searched.  People teamed up and walked in areas near her home.  And people cried.

During the night, police announced that they had found her car, and later announced that she was found deceased inside the vehicle.  A suspect, who police say she probably did not know, has now been arrested and charged with her murder.

Throughout the whole, terrible ordeal, friends wrote comments about her in a group that had been established.  And one thing that came up over and over was her KINDNESS;  that she was a KIND person. 

I think that is a legacy of her that will live on.  From the many comments, it is obvious that she was a myriad of things:  talented, funny, joyful, wise, caring…  And kindKind.

In times like this, my instinct is to be angry.  Angry that someone was taken away so violently.  Angry that things like this are so unfair.  Angry that, even with the thousands of people hunting, praying, and wishing, the result was not what anyone wanted.  And, to be honest, events like this make me question my own kindness.  She was taken on Christmas Day.  How can that happen??  How can a holiday meant to be full of love and sharing turn into something so awful?  Certainly there is no sense of KINDNESS in that world. 

And I question my own kind actions.  Am I gullible?  I talk to strangers all the time, I hand things out to them, I have given them rides.  I know that I like to think of it as having an open heart, but is that trait of mine something that makes me a target in this world?   Should I stop being KIND, and start being SMART instead??

And while I may wallow in anger and fear for a while, I know that I cannot stop believing in kindness.  Without it, I am not sure what I would have left to enjoy in the world.

So today, I am sad.  And angry.  And yes, decidedly unkind.

But tomorrow, I hope that I will be able to pick up the torch of kindness again.  And I hope that when I die (which, spoiler alert, we all will…) one thing that is repeated in remembrances of me is that I was kind.  If that happens, I think I will have done my job. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rainy Day Fund Kindness

Like many of the Kindness Activists I come across, I found Chad Taylor's kindness on Facebook.  Sure, it is easy to see negativity, hatred, and trolls on Facebook, but if you look closely, you also see kindness.  I saw him post this message and I KNEW I needed to ask for more details:

“It's THAT time of year. I have some money set aside to help out some families who may have a hard time affording Christmas. It's not a lot. Not even as much as I had last year (times have been a bit hard here too), but it may help out two or three families. We all know of SOMEONE out there that's having a harder time than we are. 
If you know of a family that needs help, please send me a private message (no need blasting their business on here) and nominate them. Let me know why and how they need help. If I think they're a good fit, I'll find a way to get the money or whatever they need to you and YOU can be the bearer of good tidings. I'd prefer it if I was able to just help from the background.
I'm going to keep it open until Friday and I'll make my decisions then. If you have a little extra that you'd like to put toward the cause, please let me know that too. Last year I had 10 families nominated and could only help five. The more the merrier!”

Here is Chad, the instigator of the kindness!
Seriously, who does that?  I mean, ALL of us could.  Literally every single person reading this COULD save up a bit of money all year – maybe $10 a month or so – and use it during the holidays to make someone else’s life brighter.  But WHO DOES THAT?  Who is organized, dedicated, and most importantly KIND enough to set aside money that they themselves could use to pay bills, to make sure that when the holidays roll around, there will be enough saved to treat someone else?  CHAD TAYLOR, that’s who. 

And before you think to yourself, “Well sure, he probably has loads of money, it’s easy for people like that to splurge on others…” - that is wrong.  He is NOT a wealthy guy.  But, like he told me, “I’m pretty poor actually.  But there is always someone who has less.  As I’ve gotten older I have seen that December is a really hard month for a lot of people for A LOT of reasons. It’s only now that I have my own bills to pay that I realize what an impact even a small financial donation can have for a family that has nothing. That’s why I have to save all year for it.  $20 here and there can add up after a bit.” 

I saw back in 2015 that Chad made the same offer on Facebook, and I asked him about it at the time and then completely forgot to share it.  So now I am making sure that his message of kindness gets out there so that YOU can hear about it, be inspired, and start saving a bit every month yourself to prepare to help someone out in 2017.  Now is the perfect time to start getting ready for next year’s holiday season!

$20 here, $20 there = a terrific holiday season for strangers, thanks to Chad!
I asked Chad what gave him the idea to purposely save up to help others out every year, and here is what he said, “It started about 8 years ago. I had a few single mom friends who would have trouble affording Christmas for their kids. I’d take them to ToysRUs and make sure each of their kids would be able to have two individual gifts and a communal gift. It got to the point where I had to start saving for it.  Eventually their lives improved (not due to me) and they didn’t need help anymore.  So, four years ago, I took the money and started helping strangers with it instead. It was something small that I could do to make someone’s holiday a little easier. We all need help this time of year.”

Just reading about that makes me smile so big!  It is such a deliberate, purposeful, yearlong act of kindness.  He saves and saves all year long, and then when it is the right time, he shares.  He doesn’t have children, and feels that the gift portion of the holidays is really for the kids, so is happy to help them have presents to open.  I love it so much! 

Like all Kindness Activists I have talked to, Chad had a great kindness role model.  His was his dad.  Chad said, “The desire to share came from my dad. He grew up in a group home and since then has always made sure to help out people whenever he can. He made a donation to a group home this year of a lot of toys so each of the kids can have a Christmas, even though he didn’t really have the ability to do so.  It’s hard not to want to live up to that when you see it your entire life.”

I AGREE, and that is one of the basic premises of this entire Kindness Activist project – that when people see, hear about, or read about acts of KINDNESS (like Chad’s), they, too, will want to “live up to that” kindness and emulate it.   Not everyone has a kindness role model like your father, Chad, but YOU are a great example for many people of how to be kind! 

Now get this:  Chad told me that he, “only had $500 so wasn’t able to give as much as I wanted” to help people out this year.  The word ONLY does not belong with the amount $500.  $500 is a ton to save to give to strangers!!  This year he had 10 specific requests come in from his query, and for the first time one person pitched in $50 to add to what he had saved up for the cause.  Chad wondered,  “Maybe people WANT to help, but they don’t know how. I’ve never asked for donations to help feed the fund before, but every little bit helps.”  

Chad "only" saved up $500 to give to strangers this year.  $500!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The 10 requests he was given this year ranged from people without resources to provide their kids Christmas, to medial costs and burial expenses for a family member, to vet bills for a dog hit by a car.  Each of the 10 requests received something from Chad.  Isn’t that fantastic??  If you would like to join in the effort and help out one of the causes, that would be amazing.  You can make donations to 3 of the causes that he supported directly: 


Chad is not looking for accolades for giving aid to these strangers, in fact, he makes the donations to the causes in the name of the person who recommended it, not in his own name.  I sought Chad out and had to add lots of “pretty pleases with cherries on top” to convince him to let me write about his awesomeness.  But I just think he is so inspirational, and I want more people to hear about his kindness.  He explained it well, “I think my main thing is that the focus is more on the act of giving than who is doing it. I’m a background guy, so having a spotlight put on something that I’m doing makes me a little anxious, BUT if it can inspire someone else to do the same thing than it makes it a little easier.  Finally I would probably just say this: the main thing I’ve learned from all of this is that giving shouldn’t always be an impulse decision. Just like we save up to buy a new toy or do something for ourselves, if we plan out our giving in advance, it makes things a bit easier to swallow. Most of us have a “rainy day” fund. Who’s to say that the rainy day it goes toward has to be our own?”

Chad, thank you for letting me share your story of kindness.  The concept of a “rainy day fund” to help OTHERS and not just ourselves is so brilliant.  My wish for this holiday season is that your kindness inspires others to plan ahead, save, and SHARE.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bathrobe Kindness

I have been thinking a lot about KIND KIDS lately.  Maybe it is because it is the holidays, a time kids usually adore.  Or maybe it is because of Bana Alabed, a child in Aleppo who has been Tweeting about her horrible plight there (and who thankfully made it out safely, though many others just as deserving did not have the same plight).  Or maybe it is because I personally am feeling disenchanted with the state of our country and looking to kind kids gives me hope that maybe they can turn things around and make the world a better place in the future…

Recently I wrote about Kind Kid Madelene Kleinhans, who saw a need for siblings like her and FILLED it, and is now envisioning growing her organization nationwide ( Heartfelt Kindness ).  Earlier in this project I wrote about Khloe Thompson, a Kind Kid who is making a big difference for the homeless in her community ( Karing Kindness ) .  Well, today let me tell you about BENJAMIN.  Oh sure, some of you might read about his creation and think it is all “fluff”, but I am here to tell you that Benjamin is onto something, friends.  Benjamin has come up with a kind concept that is exactly what we all need right now about now.
Benjamin, inventor and organizer of an international event

International Bathrobe Day is the brainchild of Benjamin Lahann, who came up with it at the young age of 10.  I asked him what inspired what has become an annual event, and he gave me the skinny, “I got a bathrobe for Christmas from my grandma.  I thought, ‘This is really comfy.  Why can't we just have a day to wear our robe and eat pie and watch movies?’ ” And THAT, my friends, is how a holiday is invented.

International Bathrobe Day (which we will call IBRD for short) is now in its fourth year.  Over 700 people have participated in previous events, and 135 people have already expressed that they will be there this year!  That is a lot of people in bathrobes!  Now when I say “be there”, I do not mean there will be hundreds of people congregating in Benjamin’s living room in their bathrobes.  No, the beauty of IBRD is that you celebrate it wherever you happen to be on the first Saturday after Christmas!  Here is the official blurb from this year’s IBRD invitation:  “(This is) a day to stay in your bathrobe, eat pie (or the comfort food of your choice), watch movies and read books. Started by my son who was 10 years old at the time after a hectic Thanksgiving/ Christmas season. Traditionally observed the first Saturday after Christmas. Held in the comfort of your own home (by yourself or with others). Can't celebrate the Saturday after Christmas? Celebrate on a different date :)”.

Best advertisement ever for International Bathrobe Day. 
As you can see from the official invite, IBRD is a bit of a loosey goosey holiday.  Sure, there is a suggested date (this year it falls on December 31).  And yes, there is a suggested food (pie).  But if that date doesn’t work for you, choose another!  And if pie isn’t to your liking, pig out on another comfort food!  The point about IBRD is – to relax, man, cuz, it’s all good!!

And maybe you noticed, but as the title suggests this is an international event…  Benjamin told me, “Because the title DOES have the world INTERNATIONAL in it... We've had people from Canada, Germany, Australia, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines join in.”  Isn’t that fantastic?  Imagine all of those people in different countries, in different time zones, all chillaxing in robes, watching movies, and eating pie…  Heaven!

Benjamin explained that, “One of the reasons we celebrate is because the school year and holiday season are so busy with activities and chores.  I like the fact that people are joining in on IBRD – they have a day when they can relax.”

Benjamin and his family in one of their annual photos with Santa.
I know Benjamin’s parents, and I can vouch that they are excellent kindness role models.  It is not surprising that all 3 of their kids are kind.  Besides being the organizer of an international event, Benjamin told me he also volunteers, “at my church with the kids and the annual Thanksgiving meal.  I also volunteer through Scouts, including helping the younger members of the troop with their requirements.  I put aside 10% of my allowance to donate to various causes, including Harvesters, our local food bank, the Red Cross and adopt a family programs at Christmas.  Mostly, I just try to be a good friend and a nice person.”

And really, in this time of uncertainty in the world, isn’t that what we should ALL strive for – to just BE A GOOD FRIEND AND A NICE PERSON.

And let’s close this out with the official greeting of International Bathrobe Day, shall we?  “Have a Magnificent International Bathrobe Day!”

If you would like to join in on this fabulously relaxing holiday, I would be happy to hook you up with an invite!  I have participated in previous years and know that it is quite fun (and relaxing!!).  Shoot me an email at or comment on the IBRD post on the Kindness Activist site on Facebook letting me know you want to join and I will include you on the official Facebook invite J .

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Heartfelt Kindness

Kindness Activists of any age inspire me – seeing the kindness other people put out into the world really makes me motivated to be more kind myself.  But when it is KIDS doing the kindness, CHILD KINDNESS ACTIVISTS, it inspires me in a special way.  I guess you could say that knowing these kind kids will grow into kind adults makes me believe that our world is in good hands. 

One of these inspirational, kind kids is Madelene Kleinhans.  She is 14 years old and has a heart of gold and a game plan to spread kindness all over the country.  And she doesn’t just sit around dreaming of how to do it, she rolls up her sleeves and gets it done! 

Here's Madelene!
Madelene created Heartfelt Hugs (by Madelene Cares) when she was only 12 years old.  She saw a definite need and jumped in to fill it.  Here’s the story: 
When Madelene was 8, her little brother Addison (age 5) was diagnosed with leukemia. He had 38 straight months of treatment and (now age 12) is now in remission.  But during the time he was in treatment, Madelene (who remember, was also quite young) noticed something:  practically every ounce of time, attention, and support that came her family’s way was directed at Addison.  Of course, that makes perfect sense:  he was critically ill and needed attention.  It was wonderfully kind of people to shower him with love, gifts, and support.  But, secretly in the background, Madelene needed all of those things, too, and so do siblings of other sick kids.  I spoke to her on the phone and you can believe me when I tell you that she is not a selfish person.  She is generous, smart, and giving.  But she is also HONEST, and when she told me that sometimes when her brother got so much attention, she sort of wished that she was sick. “I did not get it, I did not understand what he was going through.  People brought balloons every day.  Gift baskets.  People would come to the house to see him.  And I felt like I would get ‘wished away’.  Even on my birthday he got most of the attention.  I know it sounds kind of selfish, but I did not get as much attention even on my birthday.  I never wished for anything bad to happen to my brother, I just wished people would give me a little bit more attention…”.  It is sad to hear her express that, and obviously her brother’s well wishers did not mean to hurt her feelings, but it is understandable: her brother got all of the attention, and she is human so therefore felt left out. 

Addison in a recent photo - in remission and looking great!
Madelene went to a three day camp for children whose siblings were critically ill run by the American Cancer Society.  She really liked it, but it was shut down due to lack of funding.  She remembered what a difference the camp had made for her, and she came up with an idea to help other kids whose brothers and sisters had critical illnesses.  She said, “I decided instead of sitting around and just complaining about it I should start something to help kids like me get through it!”.  She wanted other siblings to know they are not alone. 

And that is when Heartfelt Hugs (by Madelene Cares) was born.  Madelene found a way to help other kids who were thinking and experiencing the same things she had gone through to have an outlet for their feelings.  The group meets every two months and hosts events like movies, roller skating, games, etc.  It is a chance for the siblings of the sick children to get together, do a fun activity, and feel special.  Kids whose siblings are in remission are also invited to come along.  The outings give kids and their parents a chance to get together and have fun and talk.  Sometimes the sick kids join in as well.  Her brother is really supportive of the non-profit and helps make goodie bags, flyers, etc.  He sometimes goes to the events, too.  The next event in the works is an ice skating outing in January, 2017.

A super fun Heartfelt Hugs event
When I spoke with her one thing was very obvious: Madelene is one MATURE kid.  I asked how her non-profit funds all of these outings for the kids (who do not have to pay to attend).  She quickly told me, “OH!  I ask for donations!  I let people know that we are out there.  If we are doing an event and need food, I call restaurants and tell them all about Heartfelt Hugs.  I explain we give tax donation forms and see if they want to donate or not.  If not that is totally fine, we understand!  And for individuals who give donations – that is amazingly kind.”  I asked Madelene how you, readers of the Kindness Activist project, can help out.  She said you can find them on Facebook (Heartfelt Hugs by Madelene Cares) or go to their website ( .  She explained that they give out goodie bags at events so if you have anything that could be included in those (appropriate for ages 8 – 16) those would be great.  If you have a business that could do something to support one of the outings (pizza vouchers, movie tickets, anything fun!) that would rock.  And of course, I would encourage anyone who can to give a cash donation to do so. You can trust that it will be put to very good use.

Have any goodies you can donate?  Heartfelt Hugs will be sure to put them to great use!
Madelene is “only” 14 years old.  She is involved in SO MANY activities!  She home schools, is involved in plays, makes her own really cool photo cards using photos that she takes and sells (I See Photography by Madelene), plays softball, and is involved in Kleinhans Kicking Cancer (look for them on Facebook), another organization her family runs (she helps make jelly and jam and art work for sales for that group, too!).  But even though she already has all of that going on, she has a huge goal set for herself that I can totally see her achieving: “My goal for Heartfelt Hugs is for it to go NATIONWIDE.  I would like to have a representative in EACH STATE.  I want to help people not only in Colorado but people everywhere.  I would like to help as many siblings as I can.”

First Colorado - next - the whole United States!
I asked Madelene how she thought she became such a kind person.  She wasn’t sure, but said, “I guess my mom mostly…  We always try to help out other people, because other people deserve it.  Everyone deserves to be happy.  That is the way I think.”

I agree with you, Madelene.  Thanks for being such a ray of sunshine in the world.  Your honesty and your action is making things better for kids.

·         To view the main Heartfelt Hugs website, visit: Heartfelt Hugs by Madelene Cares
·         To follow the group on Facebook, make sure to “like” Heartfelt Hugs by Madelene Cares
·         To find out how YOU can help out the non-profit, click:  How YOU can help
·         To contact Madelene at Heartfelt Hugs, go to:  Contact Heartfelt Hugs
·         Watch a TV spot for Heartful Hugs here:  Madelene on TV
·         To see Madelene’s cool photo cards, like her FB page:  I See Photography by Madelene Kleinhans

Just one of Madelene's gorgeous images that you can buy on a photo card

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pork Roast Kindness


Teresa is the type of person who would give you the shirt off her back.  Wait, that isn’t quite right…  Actually, Teresa is the type of person who would give you the PORK ROAST OUT OF HER FREEZER!  And that, my friends, is super kind!  And it is precisely why she is being named a Kindness Activist. 

Teresa with her sweetheart
I do not know Teresa very well, but when I saw this status on her Facebook wall, I knew I had to see what was going on.  She wrote: “Ok people, do you know someone that will be hurting to get a meal on the table for Christmas? I cannot provide sides, but I have a pork roast that will feed a family and their guest, too.  I would love to help them out.  If you know me personally and have my number, give me a call. Happy Holidays!!

Here it is - the PORK ROAST!
Hmmm, giving away a pork roast??  This needed some research!  I contacted Teresa and got some details.  It turns out that she got this pork roast when she was doing ANOTHER kind thing – cooking up a storm for a big parking lot party that the South Omaha Bikers (affectionately known as the SOBs) throw every year.  It is a fund raiser to collect money to use to remove graffiti in their community, and over the past 8 years (not counting 2016) they raised $35,000 for this important cause!  They take pride in their neighborhood, and I know that Teresa takes pride in handling the massive amount of cooking for their big fund raiser!  Here is a bit of media on the SOBs:  SOBs in the news

So anyway, this pork roast ended up in Teresa’s freezer when it was leftover and not needed for the party.  She told me she was cleaning her freezer and went to move the huge roast and the first thing that popped into her head was, “I wonder if someone could use this…”.  And that is when she decided to put the call out on Facebook.  J 

Here she is - slaving away cooking for the fund raiser!
Like I said, I do not know her that well, but from what I DO know, Teresa works hard for her money.  I asked her about that, and why she wasn’t using this meat to put on her own table, and she said, “I am not rich, I struggle like most people.  I so could have used this for my family, but we are fortunate enough to come together and make every holiday special with our traditions.  I am hoping someone out there needs it more than we do.  It feels great to offer it to someone less fortunate.  I could give it to just about anyone, but I felt like offering it this way was the best choice.”  Isn’t that sweet??  And so, so kind! 

One thing I have noticed about Kindness Activists is that they almost always have a kindness model – a “mentor” if you will – someone who taught them what kindness is all about.  Teresa told me her kindness inspirations are her parents; “My mom is kind and strong, she would help just about anyone.  She has ALWAYS been my inspiration.  My dad, well he would feed every person who walked through the door if they were hungry.  He had a huge heart!  I hope I have inherited both of their traits.  I love them both to pieces!  And I would like to pass these traits along to my children and grandchildren.  My life has not been easy, but I have been blessed to have a family that I am very proud of.  It’s time to pay it forward.”

Two beautiful, kind women - Teresa and her mother
Teresa, I think your parents raised you well and I bet they are super proud of the woman you have become.   As for the roast?  Last I heard it was still in the freezer, waiting for the post or phone call that melt’s our Kindness Activist’s heart. 

Teresa surrounded by LOVE - her family, who she hopes to inspire to be kind just like her parents inspired her
I think a perfect ending to this story of kindness is what Teresa told me: “No one should be hungry during the holidays.  Or ever.”

I totally agree with that.  If you have food you can share with someone less fortunate, or could pick some food or a gift card up at the grocery store, please follow Teresa’s example.  Let’s share what we have and make the holidays a special time for everyone.


Teresa found a great home for the pork roast!!!  She delivered "the baby" (a nickname for this big roast!) to Diane, who recently lost her job.  Diane will use it to make a traditional Mexican holiday meal for her family (including tamales, posole, and pork chili - yummy!!!).  What a happy ending to a super kind story. 


The pork roast found a perfect home

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

No Show Kindness

I met Andria Alefhi a couple of months ago when we teamed an interpreting assignment.  She seemed like a cool person, we functioned well as a team, and we got along swimmingly, so we became Facebook friends. 

The newest Kindness Activist - ANDRIA!
Yesterday morning she posted this thought provoking and motivating status: 
Interpreters: in the spirit of giving, for the month of December, I'm creating a No Show Donation Challenge. I just came up with it now. For every client that's a no show or is late, take 5 minutes of that wait time to find a new organization to donate to. If that organization doesn't directly serve the Deaf community, a donation is a great time to add a question or message about making sure they know how to obtain an ASL interpreter (if it's a service organization). If you like this idea, share the organization you find with me so I can check it out too. I just donated to The Bronx Freedom Fund, check it out.

Isn’t that a GREAT idea?  Maybe I need to explain a bit.  Interpreting, like other professions, sometimes has more “down time” than expected.  For example - you are booked to interpret a doctor appointment, but the patient doesn’t show up and so your work cancels.  Andria’s challenge to her cohorts is to USE that time that you suddenly have available to the world’s advantage!  Take just five minutes of the time you just got back to GIVE BACK to someone and make a donation to an organization/charity that you have never supported before!  Google makes it super easy to find a worthy cause to support.

I asked Andria how she came up with this swell idea and she told me, “I am not sure why I thought of this today! Donations for the recent fire in the Oakland art and music space were on my mind, and today I was sitting in the lobby waiting for a client, and the idea to use my time doing something productive for someone else came to mind.”

I would like to add, the NO SHOW DONATION CHALLENGE can apply to many, many professions!  How many of you have NO SHOWS/CANCELLATIONS as part of your professional life?  I can think of several right off the top of my head:  hair stylists, dentists, therapists, flight attendants/pilots, manicurists, doctors, fortune tellers…  ANYONE who works by appointment has cancellations!   Andria says, “I targeted the challenge to interpreters, and I'm calling it the No Show Donation Challenge, because, when we find out an assignment is a no show or has been cancelled, interpreters are often fortunate enough to be able to bill for that and leave, ending up with free time and 'bonus pay' if you will.  There are some fields of work where no client equals no billing.”  So, if you are in a field where “no show” does not equal “no income” for you, please follow Andria’s advice and USE your new found free time to find an organization and make a donation!  And if you are an interpreter, heed this gentle reminder from our Kindness Activist, “As ASL interpreters, we have an obligation to give back to the Deaf community, so consider donating to all kinds of service organizations; your money, or your time, or education and outreach.”

Andria and her husband Jonathan
An added benefit of the challenge is that Andria has asked her friends who participate to comment on the post and tell her what new organizations they found to support.  This means she (and her friends who follow the post) will get to find out about other worthy organizations that they, too, might want to give to.   Andria has her next no show donation ready to roll, “Next on my list is the Nyle DiMarco Foundation. I'll probably donate to 50/50 Deaf and general organizations.”

I always ask Kindness Activists that I interview how doing their kind actions made them feel, and almost unanimously people say how terrific they felt while doing whatever it is they are being recognized here for.  Andria was no exception, “I felt great donating to The Bronx Freedom Fund today. I've been meaning to do it for a month now and just kept forgetting. They serve underrepresented and poor people who are arrested and cannot make bail and are pushed into pleading guilty to crimes they may not be guilty of in order to not go to jail, all because they cannot make bail. I don't know if they have ever had a Deaf client, so, I added a note to my donation.  So now they got my donation plus education and a useful contact.”

In the spirit of the holidays, Andria has a good reminder for us all, “Of course, people can donate every day, you don't have to wait for a No Show client.”

Thanks for the great challenge Andria!  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Isn't this a lovely photo of our Activist?  
Here is some fun bonus stuff I found out about Andria that you don’t want to miss (though with all of these things going on, I am surprised she doesn’t use her cancellation time to NAP!):

Andria has an Etsy shop where she sells custom built clocks made from found and recycled objects!  Don’t believe me?  See for yourself here: New York Clocks

Andria and her friends run a funky business called Speakeasy Karaoke, where you can “Make your next event extra VIP with a private karaoke party. Speakeasy Karaoke has everything including a live band and thousands of songs to choose from.”  Follow them on FB and go sing your heart out.

Andria even PERFORMS WEDDINGS!  Yup, she can marry you in English or ASL!  Find out more about that and her interpreting work at her website:

And here are links to organizations mentioned in this article:

Nyle DiMarco Foundation -

The Bronx Freedom Fund -

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tea Light Kindness

A few nights after the recent presidential election, I saw that there was a peaceful candlelight vigil planned for outside the White House.  We live nearby and I have been feeling very upset and sad about the election results, so I decided that this vigil would be a good way to surround myself with like-minded people and focus on peace and love.

The White House the night of the candlelight vigil
As the event drew nearer, the organizers updated the Facebook invitation to clarify that no actual CANDLES would be allowed.  The Parks Department said they would drip wax all over, and the organizers would have to pay a fine for clean-up of the mess. Although it was disappointing to imagine a “candlelight vigil” with no candles, it made sense.  The invitation encouraged people to bring flashlights or glow sticks instead, but it really seemed like that wouldn't be the same, you know what I mean?

The night of the vigil we rushed around the house when it was time to go trying to find 2 working flashlights.  Why is it that every time you actually NEED a flashlight, the batteries don’t work anymore?  Happens every single time…  We finally found 2 lame flashlights and rushed to the vigil.  We settled in amongst the crowd in Lafayette Park (across from the White House) and waited for the event to begin.  There were quite a few people, and I soon realized that not only would real candles be MESSY, they would have been DANGEROUS, too.  With that many bodies close together, most wearing big coats and scarves, candles could have easily caused a fire.

As we were waiting, the sweetest, most kind thing happened:  a complete stranger was walking through the crowd handing out little battery operated TEA LIGHT candles.  He came up to us and offered them.  We had the lame flashlights, but his candles were SO PRETTY – they were delicate and perfect.  I asked if he was working for the vigil and he explained that he was not, he just bought a bunch of tea lights to hand out because he thought the vigil needed them.

Mystery kind man - passing through the crowd with LOVE
CAN YOU SAY KINDNESS ACTIVIST??  I snapped a photo of him, hoping to be able to do some P.I. work when I got home and figure out who he was, then interview him for this blog.  As luck would have it, another vigil attendee in the Facebook group saw my message that I was hunting for him and helped me discover his identity!  Meet JORDAN FIGUEIREDO – the kind man behind the tea lights.

Our Kindness Activist in action!
It turns out he is not even a LOCAL – he lives in the San Francisco, CA area!  He was in DC for work at just the right time for the vigil.  He told me, “I signed up on Facebook to attend the event and was reading some of the posts and noticed the Parks department said no candles because of the wax. I thought this vigil would send a much nicer message with candles so I found the battery-operated LED tealights at Bed Bath and Beyond. I ended up buying about 200 of the tealights for about $143.”  You read that right – this man spent almost $150 to hand out candles to complete strangers.  It was so wonderful!!!  I saw loads of people holding the beautiful little tea lights that he so generously shared.

A little girl on her dad's shoulders holding a tea light that Jordan handed out
I knew how happy I was when he gave us candles, but I wanted to know how other people reacted to his gift of a candle.  “It was so great to see people's reactions and hear their thank you s. Some people did look at me like I was selling something at first, but I understand that from other events and people with bags of things to sell. Mostly people were surprised and thankful and seemingly touched when they noticed the "LOVE" message on them.

Yes, Jordan had taken time to write LOVE on each of the little candles.  It made them so special!  They were beautiful.

My family - glowing with the kindness and love that Jordan shared
An unexpected side effect of doing kind things that many people don’t realize is how good doing them makes YOU feel when you do them.  Jordan said, “It felt so much better than I thought it would. I though the event just needed them and it would be nice to spread the love with the lights. It was so great to "light" the candle and physically hand it to people. I would totally do it again at another important event. I've never actually done anything like this before. I do volunteer my time and spend 20-30 hours a week (99% for free) raising awareness for food waste and ugly produce” (check out and click “press/about” to learn more about Jordan’s passion). 

Jordan told me that the tea light is a good reminder for people to bring home with them, and I know in my case that is totally true - mine is now on our fireplace mantle and it makes me smile when I see it there.  He said that writing “LOVE” on each tealight, can, “…hopefully send a ripple of hope and love with each person that receives one. It's a tough time for  love and hope in the U.S. right now but most of us value civil liberties, freedom, and our beautifully diverse and usually welcoming nation. We just need to never forget these things and  #LoveWillWin .”

Kindness and love
THANK YOU Jordan.  Thanks for the candle, and more importantly, thank you for the MESSAGE and the kindness.  Yes, let’s all work together and LOVE WILL WIN.

#UglyReallyIsBeautiful (in reference to the CARROTS, not to Jordan!!  He is LOVELY inside and out)
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