A week ago, I embarked on a journey of the soul with two SoulMates, Michael Chase and Bill Auld, at my side. A journey of kindness. 24 hours of kindness to be exact. A journey that I will never forget. But before I tell you about my journey, let me fill you in on how it all came together.
The Joseph Lapinski Foundation (JLF) was founded in 2007 by my husband Bill to honor his grandfather, Joseph “Pop” Lapinski. In 2012, the foundation established a goal to make a greater impact in the community via volunteering. Right away we knew what we wanted to do and we knew who could help us. So, we got in touch with Michael Chase, founder of The Kindness Center.
Bill and I had met Michael in 2010 at the Hay House Movers & Shakers seminar. We were immediately drawn to him and his message of kindness. The JLF’s motto “perpetuating a family tradition of charity and compassion” was so inline with The Kindness Center’s “creating a more peaceful and kindhearted world.” We just knew that someday we would be collaborating together.
The Kindness Center’s cornerstone event is The 24 Hours of Kindness. 24 hours of hitting the streets performing acts of kindness. Michael had done this event before in Maine and Massachusetts, but would he be willing to work with us and bring this event to New Jersey and New York City? I guess you figured out that Michael said yes.
The 24 hours were filled with amazing people and synchronistic events. Here are some of my favorites.
Here is the kindness crew that started the day. Wyckoff Florist generously donated flowers for us to give out on our journey:
Early in the day we went to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ. There we met two volunteers Tom and John. I felt a little awkward in the beginning of the day. What should I do? What do I say to people? Tom and John looked approachable, so I went in. I thanked them for volunteering and tried to give them some scratch off lottery tickets. Before I could, they wanted to know about us and what we were doing. Next thing you know, Tom and John were thanking us! They started to tell us why what we were doing was so important. They talked about love and loss. They told us how important a simple smile can be to person who is feeling down. We discussed the importance of community and how as a society we are losing it. It was the unexpected pep talk I needed. I no longer felt awkward thanks to Tom and John.
Another morning stop was a Eva’s Village in Patterson, NJ. We knew that they had a soup kitchen that served the homeless and the working poor. We partnered with America’s Grow-A-Row and donated five bushels of freshly picked corn.
We quickly learned that Eva’s Village is so much more than a soup kitchen. They service the community by providing emergency shelter, housing, recovery programs, dental services, educational programs, job preparation and more. Eva’s Village treats the whole person. What an inspiration.
In Englewood, NJ we volunteered some time with Habitat for Humanity’s program “A Brush of Kindness.” This program assists homeowners in need with exterior home maintenance. Here we met one of Habitat’s volunteers Mark. Mark was one of the foremen on the job instructing us how to install a walk. A few years back Mark had a brain tumor. During the surgery to remove the tumor he suffered a stroke. He told us he still has trouble with words from time to time and had to retire. In spite of all that, Mark volunteers with Habitat 4 days a week. Here’s Mark and Michael having fun on the job.
We spent our evening in New York City. This is Anderson. He saw us buying ice cream for a family and stopped for a chat. He gave us some advice on what we could do for the homeless in NYC. He was so full of joy and wanted to help/support us. During our chat we found out that Anderson came to NYC to make it as a musician. It turns out he too was homeless and living in a shelter.
Friday was the week anniversary of the Aurora, Colorado shootings. A nearby theater had a midnight showing of “Dark Night Rises.” We decided to give flowers to the people as they left the theater. No one asked us what we were doing. The movie goers just smiled and nodded their heads. Words just weren’t necessary.
This is Ronnie. Ronnie was a homeless man we saw struggling to get this cart up the steps from the subway. After we got his cart up the stairs, we asked him if there was anything else he needed. He asked for fish sandwich from McDonald’s. Some of us decided to stay behind with Ronnie while the others went to get the food. We found some steps to sit on while we waited. Ronnie refused to let me sit directly on the step. He took some newspaper out of this cart and gently laid it down for me to sit on.
We ended our day with a visit to Bill’s Nana, Rita Lapinski. When you think about it, Nana and her husband Pop, were the catalysts for this entire event. Here is Nana and her sister Dot. Don’t they look great in their t-shirts!
There are dozen of more stories I could share. It was an amazing 24 hours. I’d like to end this post with some shout outs of thanks.
- A big thank you to Connie Marchek, Anne Paine and Aron Slear for making it the whole 24 hours with us.
- Thank you to Rita Auld, Liz Lapinski and Kelly Bergeron for infusing the 24 hour group with needed energy when you were with us.
- To all the people near and far who performed acts of kindness. We felt your love.
- To Bill and Michael, thanks for the incredible journey and thanks for being my SoulMates!