kindness activist

kindness activist

Monday, January 25, 2016

Volunteered (Not Creepy Creep) Kindness

Matthew McGee is a performer in Washington DC.  I think he is funny, I thought that even before I met him.  That is because EVERY TIME my partner David would have some cool thing up on Facebook and I would say, “Who posted that?” and David would say “Matthew McGee” I would say, quite genuinely, “Do I know him?.  EVERY.  TIME.  I could never remember who he was!!! 

So when we were in the audience for the same show as he and his wife one night, David introduced us.  I laughed out loud.  I couldn’t help it!  And I explained how he had always been this mystery person to me, the guy who I couldn’t remember for the life of me!!  Now I am his FB friend, too, and when he posts stuff my brain goes, “Oh!  That is Matthew, the guy you never know who he is!”.  J  So that’s my mental connection to him.  Bizarre.

Preseeeeenting - Matthew in the snow!
Before Washington DC got socked with the blizzard, I saw a post on Matthew’s wall that inspired me.  He wrote:  If anyone in Takoma Park or Silver Spring needs anything this weekend let me know. Don't want anyone stranded anywhere without power or other essentials. I care about you people and want you safe and protected, so if you need a place to stay you are welcome here. For those who might live farther're dead to me.  J/K -  I like you too, but I can only go so far. Find some other friends, dangit! I can't save everyone!”

This made me smile and I contacted him right away to ask if I could share his kindness for this project.  He agreed, so I sent him a list of questions and asked if he could answer them for me.

Well, instead of answering about THAT act of kindness, opening up his house to anyone in need, he sent me a whole OTHER act of kindness that is also marvelous!!  Here is what he wrote:

“This morning I chose to get out of bed and see what could be done about the snow around my neighborhood. Now, I could have said, “I had that opportunity this morning to do such and such” but an opportunity is generally something you have to wait for, a door that opens that then you can act upon. While many opportunities for service come in this form, sometimes you can make the active choice to do something now. Which is what I did.

I knew it had snowed for two days, I knew neighbors were probably needing sidewalks and driveways shoveled, and I knew I was an able-bodied individual who could help. So I got up, kissed my wife, grabbed a shovel, and went looking.

I first started out by helping a neighbor from my complex shovel her car out of the parking lot. Then another couple neighbors came out to work on their cars, so I helped them too. When I felt like they were pretty free of their snow cave I went around the corner and found many people out and about on the street. Kids sledding down the roads, parents visiting with each other, and some shoveling.

This photo is not from Matthew's story, but I wanted you to get a sense of what he meant when he talked about shoveling out cars.  This is a police cruiser in our neighborhood.  Every car in the area had at least this much snow on and around it.  Digging them out was DIFFICULT.
In summation, I shoveled the porch and sidewalk of an older woman a neighbor lady told me about when I tried to help her, then went back to help that neighbor lady with shoveling her car out of the mound that had cocooned her car, and finished with another driveway of a young mother who lived right next to where the car was parked. The mother didn’t ask (none of them did, to be honest), in fact she commented on how nice it was that I was helping her neighbor with her car, and while she was talking to some of the other neighbors a couple houses down, I went ahead and started working on her driveway.

Acts of kindness don’t require an invitation. If you see a need, do it. Don’t be a creepy creep about it, but step in and help rather than wait to be asked, because people sometimes tend to be very prideful and therefore don’t ask for help (I use sometimes graciously here, because let’s be honest, people are prideful most of the time). The mother came back and was so grateful for the help. I found out her husband had a back injury and couldn’t do it himself so she was coming out to do it all by herself (with her little daughter). Now, granted, I’m sure she is fully capable of doing it herself, but now she can spend her morning with her kids and visiting with neighbors, rather than breaking her back and joining her husband on the giant massage chair that they hopefully own. The lady with the car was very grateful for my help too, not only for her but for her neighbors as well. Her husband and kids came out earlier and we were introduced.

It was great getting to know some of the people who live right around the corner from me that I haven’t met in the two years I’ve lived in the neighborhood. How selfish of me, I know. But now I know them. And they invited my wife and I over to their place for a visit sometime. It was great helping people in my community. To ease their burdens. To make them smile. To even learn their name. People may be less inclined to ask for help, but they are almost always glad when it comes.

Serving others makes others want to serve you back, in some way that they can. If we developed these types of relationships with our neighbors more often, think of how much easier and happier our lives would be. So now that I know some of my neighbors, I plan to continue to foster that relationship of kindness and service in the days to come. How will you turn your neighborhood into a community of kindness, service, and helping hands?”
Marvelous photo of Matthew in the blizzard.
Isn’t this a fabulous example of a KINDNESS ACTIVIST??  I think his point about not waiting to be ASKED, but just rolling up your sleeves and helping someone out, is so perfect.  He is right, so many of us are too proud or embarrassed to ask for help.  But when it is offered with a loving heart, we are very grateful to receive it.

Thanks for being such a great guy Matthew.  I promise I will remember you (and your kindness).  You will get your kindness activist button soon.

Are you a kindness activist??  Do you know one???  Tell me about it at: .  And check out the Kindness Activist Facebook page, give it a “like”!

P.S.  Matthew's original kindness that I contacted him about, opening up his house if anyone was stranded near him, caused a ripple effect.  He inspired me to open up OUR house.  And I am guessing that me doing that may have caused other homes to be open to people who needed shelter.  Kindness is like that - it ripples.  :)

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