“Compassion, acceptance, and love is the cure to most of the issues that plague this world.” – Yvonne Pierre
It doesn’t take much to see that there are people around you who need your help. As the first month of the year closes, we’re still catching up on all the amazing ways you helped us #GetKind for the youth in your communities by becoming mentors and offering support and thanks to those who have blazed the trail before you. This month, we’re hoping you’ll channel some of that positive energy into a new and equally important cause.
For February’s official theme, we’ve chosen to #GetKind for those whose lives are affected by illness, disease, or physical, mental, and emotional impairments that leave them with an extra dose of stress or trauma. As with last year’s “Mental Health” theme, we’ve decided to turn a spotlight on a subject that society as a whole tends to skirt around or treat as taboo — not because we want to highlight these disorders and disabilities, but because we want to celebrate the people who live with them on a daily basis.
Here are a few ways you can help us #GetKind:
- “Simply being there can make a massive difference,” says Random Acts Assistant Regional Representative Emma Beattie. “Chronic illness can be quite isolating for some people and sometimes just having someone to talk to can be a huge help.” Don’t forget about friends and family who help as well! Sometimes all it takes is a cup of coffee and a good conversation to lift someone’s spirits and help them understand that they’re not alone in their struggle or their service.
- Volunteer your time at a local community center and help plan events which allow those who live with difficult conditions to feel welcome in a group setting. Finding solace in one another’s accomplishments and being able to talk with other sufferers can open doors to greater introspection and clarity. Many support groups and respite centers offer healthy activities on a regular basis, so check out your local organizations and see how you can lend a hand.
- Cook up a meal or make an errand-run for a caregiver. When support staff are healthy and refreshed, it makes their job of cheering and healing that much easier.
- Set up a fundraiser or donation drive for a local special-needs school. Oftentimes school fundraisers put emphasis on specific programs but overlook the students who need the most but are the least able to ask for help. Find a way to gather much-needed supplies for a classroom or academy and let them know you care.
- Do something small (but incredibly helpful all the same)! Writes Regional Events Officer Annie Houston, “Bring in trash bins on trash day or simply fetch the lids when they blow away; mow [someone’s] lawn or shovel [their] driveway; vacuum or dust their living areas if you see they need attention…. You can carry or pick up someone’s groceries even.” When someone is sick or has a friend or family member who needs their assistance on a regular basis, even the smallest chores can feel exhausting. So the next time your neighbor’s dog jumps the fence, do them a favor and don’t just grab the little pooch — get them a doggy treat and offer to play with them in the backyard for a bit. It’ll be one less thing your neighbor has to worry about.
- Offer car rides when you know someone might be too tired or stressed to jump in the driver’s seat themselves. Says Marketing Officer Kae Winters, “[Many people] have to rely on public transport or friends [to get to their appointments]. Knowing that they have several people they can call if they absolutely need is great.”
- Ask. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone what they need help with that week — especially when you show them that you’ve done your research on their particular condition and are ready to lend both your support and an open-mind.
- Be supportive — not exclusionary. Says Sarah Cavanagh, Assistant Regional Representative (Australia, East), “Be understanding: sometimes people with chronic illness have to cancel on you at the last minute or say no to invitations or leave abruptly. Don’t take it personally and don’t stop inviting!” If you’ve got an extra ticket to that play you’ve been dying to see, don’t be afraid to invite your friend who suffers from a debilitating disease (they’re probably just as eager to get out as you are), but also remember that if they aren’t feeling up for it two hours before you’re scheduled to be there, offer a kind word and let them know you appreciate their willingness regardless (maybe bring them a playbill as a memento!).
Above all, when working to #GetKind for family, friends, and brave strangers who put up with unfortunate or frustrating conditions, remember to treat them with the same dignity and friendship that you would give anyone else — they’re no different than you, after all. Listen with empathy and follow their lead. Provide a kind distraction from whatever it is that is causing them stress and be the kind of person that makes them realize that there is absolutely some good left in the world.
Let’s get out and #GetKind.
We’re here to help! If you’re looking for a few more tips or ideas, make sure to check out our Kindness Files and get inspired. Don’t forget to head over to our “Get Involved” page afterward and fill out an act proposal form — we offer financial assistance to those who need it to complete their projects.