When Paul and Ruth suggested I become part of the “Random Act of Kindness” movement for AHA Creative Strategies, I immediately called a family meeting and explained the premise to my husband and two children. “We have $20 to do something kind right here in Peterborough. What do you think we should do?”
We talked about the amazing men who drive the recycling truck, and about the always-friendly crossing guard. They had been kind to us – they were deserving of some kindness back.
And then we thought of something.
There’s been an ad on our local TV station recently, a fundraiser for the YWCA’s Crossroads Shelter for abused women and children. A child’s voice sings, “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…” while a voiceover makes the chilling statement that there are three calls every day about domestic violence in our small town. Three calls a day? 1,000 a year? How was this even possible?
Our decision was made. We all liked the idea of brightening the day for scared, but courageous women and their families at the shelter, who were taking their first steps towards a better life.*
The YWCA loved the idea, when we contacted them. We suggested flowers for the women, or perhaps toys for the children – but the YWCA opted instead for the Universal Canadian Symbol of Good Will: Tim’s gift cards.
Personal delivery to the shelter itself was out of the question, as security there is very tight. The shelter houses almost 300 women and children each year, and is only effective as long as it’s safe. As one former resident put it: “I’ve got a great job and my kids are all doing really well. But even now, so many years later … I wake up from the fear, from that horrible icy terror that makes my heart beat so fast I think it’s going to burst… You know what calms me down? The memory of my counsellor at Crossroads telling me… we’d all be all right—because we were finally in a safe place.”
So, instead, we delivered 10 identical $2 gift cards, each in a cheery gift envelope, to our contact person at the YWCA office. She assured us the cards would go straight to the shelter, and she thanked us with a warm smile.
I still feel the warmth in that smile, and in fact, I feel that really I should thank her. She gave me the opportunity to feel just a little better about being human.
P.S. There’s something I noticed about this Random Act of Kindness thing. All the kind thoughts or feelings in the world mean exactly nothing, without the actual ACT.
* A plaque on the living room of the YWCA Crossroads Shelter in Peterborough, says: “This space is dedicated to those courageous women who take bold steps toward a safer course, and to all those who help them find their way.” – Anonymous Supporter
Valerie Lapp is one of the AHA Crew based out of Peterborough, Ontario. Check her out her bio here.