Kindness Week embraced, expands into community

Now in second year, momentum builds

Photo/ Susan Chaityn Lebovits

Mariah Henderson '12 and Megan McGrath '12

Mariah Henderson ’12 stands in the Shapiro Campus Center and picks up a postcard. She tells how last’s year’s Kindness Day brought her out of a bad slump and how she now hopes to do the same for someone else.
“I was having the worst evening last year. I went to check my mail and found a postcard that said, ‘ You are Awesome. I just thought that you should know.’ It really made my night and everything was O.K. after that,” says Henderson. “It was one of the most exciting things.”
Now in its second year, Kindness Day has been extended to a week’s worth of outreach, including community service projects in the city of Waltham. It began Nov. 7 and runs through Nov. 11.
The purpose of Kindness Week is to show appreciation and thank people who positively impact one's daily life, from friends and family to staff and professors. It originated with the World Kindness Movement, which began in 1996 when a small group in Japan organized a conference in Tokyo inviting like-minded individuals from around the world who had started kindness movements in their own countries.
At Brandeis, a planning committee comprised of students and staff has organized two community service projects available to all at More Than Words in Waltham on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and at Cradles to Crayons in Brighton on Friday, Nov. 11, from 1 to 3 p.m. Free transportation will be provided to all participants to and from the Spingold Theater loop. Visit the Kindness Week website to volunteer and view additional information.
Father Walter Cuenin, head of Brandeis' Interfaith Chaplaincy, and a few students will head to Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy’s office Thursday to personally thank her for all that the city of Waltham does for Brandeis. Signs expressing the university's thanks to Waltham have been posted along South Street near the entrance to the campus all week.
Henderson says she has a list of people that she wants to thank for making a difference in her life. She is spending Kindness Week filling out free intercampus postcards, which can be found at tables in Usdan and Shapiro Student Center and sending free e-cards to family and friends off campus.
Michael Shemesh ’14 was introduced to Kindness Week on Tuesday when he stopped by a table in Usdan. Jennifer Camacho, program coordinator for the Intercultural Center explained the week and served up tips to Shemesh on how he could spread kindness to members of the Brandeis facilities and mail departments by signing two large thank you cards.
“These departments are often overlooked, yet are so integral in our community,” says Camacho. “We wanted to let them know that they’re very much appreciated.

Shemesh says he feels the week is a great idea.
“Kindness Week reminds people to take time out of their day to do something nice, like smile at a stranger-even if makes you feel strange or awkward,” says Shemesh. His personal to-do list includes sending kindness postcards to a few people in food services and apologizing to his neighbors for occasionally being too loud during house parties.
Human resources and employment coordinator Alyssa Cooke, one of the staff members on the planning committee, says the team explored numerous avenues to spread kindness through community service and volunteer initiatives. She says that while financial compensation is one way to recognize employees, “it’s also good to have non-monetary compensation to let everyone know that we do think of each other, that we’re all part of the Brandeis community. It’s really good to spread kindness both on and off campus to say thank you.”
Cooke says there will be Kindness Kops throughout campus on Friday, keeping an eye out for do-gooders and handing out reward buttons.
“This year I feel like we are taking things to the next level with events and initiatives throughout the week,” says Rebecca Bachman ’13, the student Kindness Day coordinator. “We’re reaching beyond campus through community service projects as well as thanking the greater Waltham community.”

Bachman, who has been facilitating the student committee, planned the Take Your Professor to Lunch Program through the Student Union and is overseeing tabling, which includes sending free Random Act of Kindness cards and pie sales, where one dollar from each pie will be donated to the Community Day Center of Waltham, the only day shelter for the homeless in the metro west. Order forms can be found through Dining Services or pies may be ordered online.

Alwina Bennett, assistant provost for graduate student affairs and a planning committee member, says that expressing one's appreciation for what others do is very important to the health of the university ​community. 

“People make a variety of contributions to our success and we need to value and acknowledge those contributions,” says Bennett. “Being a member of a community is partly a reliance on the goodwill of others. I can only wish that by celebrating this week we encourage kindness and gratitude all year long.”

Categories: General, Student Life

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