What Acts of Kindness Touched You This Year?
Rethink Homelessness is all about stories: stories of people who have faced personal tragedies and struggles that many people cannot even imagine, and the stories of people who step up and try to make a difference in the world.
One year ago, Central Florida experienced an tragic act of violence. After 49 people were killed and 58 were wounded at the Pulse nightclub, community members sought ways to grieve and give back: lining up for hours to donate blood, donating pallets of water and food, hotel rooms for victims’ families, and much more.
After witnessing the community’s response, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said, “We’ve been defined by our response, and that’s with love, with compassion, with unity.” Local leaders declared that June 12, 2017 — the first anniversary of the shooting — would be “Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness” during which local residents would be encouraged to go out and continue the spirit of giving back.
In honor of that day and in keeping with our commitment to tell important stories, we collected these stories of love and kindness from our community. Some are related to helping homeless individuals; others are not. If you are participating in spreading Acts of Love and Kindness today, we hope you will tell us your story in the comments so that we can add it to this post.
“When I was drawing a mural at SAK Comedy Lab a couple of years ago, I was struggling to hold the front doors open so I could roll in some large scaffolding. A homeless gentleman who I have seen around our doors, ran to my side and grabbed the door in one hand and the scaffolding in the other and gently guided the heavy metal structure over the threshold. I thanked him. Then I tried to give him some cash as a thank you for his kind gesture. He waved the money away saying “No sir, and thank you sir. I reached out to help because you needed help. That’s all any of us can hope for. It was my pleasure to help out a friend in need.”
“Well Hello to you Mr. Grant Hill! I am having a fine day, sir. And how about you sir? Why thank you sir! Thank you very much sir! It was an honor just to meet you sir!!”
(Grant Hill was one of the Orlando Magic’s superstar players at the time)
The gentleman comes bursting in the doorway clutching a $20 bill in his hand. “I just met Mr. Grant Hill on the sidewalk!” He beamed. “I didn’t ask nothing of him and he gave me this $20 bill! You were so right about that Karma, my friend. So right.”
Kindness comes back. Always.”
“Today I saw strangers sharing their stories of breast and ovarian cancers in an intimate setting. Seeing other strangers respond to them and recommend strategies, doctors and empathy was the strongest sense of kindness I’ve witnessed in months.”
“The company I work for got a job to film these PSAs (one English, one Spanish) to let people know there is still free help available to people suffering related to Pulse. We got paid enough to pay the labor for the people, and asked contractors to donate the use of their equipment and they said yes. We asked people in the community to participate for free and got this amazing list of talent:
English- Joey Fatone, Mayor Buddy Dyer, Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Transgender Activist Nikole Parker
Spanish – Commissioner Tony Ortiz, Osceola County Outreach Director Bethzaida Garcia, Channel 13’s Ybeth Bruzual, and Channel 9’s Jorge Estevez.
In addition, my friend Robin Maynard (who runs Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation and was very involved in the response to Pulse because of her personal connection to the owner and staff), she had established a friendship recently with Breast Cancer Survivor Melissa Etheridge who wrote a song after Pulse called ‘Pulse.’ We wanted to use that song as the score for the PSA. Robin was able to connect with Melissa and get us free license for the song.
And lastly, we needed permission to use the parking lot at Se7en Bites to get the big Orlando Strong mural and we needed access to their power. Again, a mutual friend connected me to Trina, the owner of Se7en Bites, and she made every thing available for us.”
“In the middle of May, we were rehearsing for PechaKucha Night, at which eight presenters from around Orlando talked about issues of importance to the community. One of the speakers was Imam Muhammad Musri, the leader of Central Florida Islam. After the rehearsal, the Imam came up to me, rather diffidently and shyly, and asked me if it would be okay if he left the theater immediately after his performance. The reason? The night of the show, May 26, was the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, and he would have literally hundreds of Muslims waiting for him to arrive and lead the first ceremony. Anyone else in his position would have put his own needs first, but the Imam was thinking of our show, and asking permission. This thoughtfulness, and honoring of a commitment, touched me very deeply, all the more so because only the two of us knew about it. The audience for our show had the benefit of hearing the Imam’s passionate and important presentation, and his congregation had him leading services as planned later that same night.”
“I have a group of friends who often hang out, go out together, celebrate holidays together. One of them – let’s call her T – is the glue that holds us all together, the one that says: “Happy hour Friday at 530!” or “Who wants to go catch this band in town?”
T has a cat, super sweet, full of personality, always greets people at the door. He suddenly got sick, and had to go to the vet, several times in just a few days, and then unexpectedly passed away.
T was heartbroken. Many of us spent time with her in the following days – but we wanted to find a more enduring way to honor her and her beloved furry friend. So we assembled a secret FB discussion, looked through her old posts for pics of her kitty, voted on a favorite, and commissioned a local artist to do a portrait of him.
Then we staged a little dinner party – which we do often enough not to be suspicious – and between dinner and dessert, interrupted the meal to present her with her portrait! She cried. We all cried. But it was so sweet, and so much appreciated! And so sneaky – she had no idea! And now he’ll live forever over T’s mantle to shine that sweet smile down on her and everyone who comes to visit.”
“One day while attempting to pay at a McDonalds drive through, I was told that the car in front of me had paid for my meal. I didn’t know the people in front of me and was surprised by the amazing kindness they had showed. It was such a small, simple gesture but went such a long way. I then decided to do the same and paid for the car behind me, and hopefully continued the trend of spreading a little love in our community that day.”
“In November 2016, the Orange County Public Library decided to launch a program to recognize and honor veterans. It was called Vets! Our Heroes!
Every branch in the system participated, and we invited veterans to come to libraries to talk to kids about their service and what it means to be a veteran. We then had the kids engage in an activity related to the branch of the military they were talking about that day – there were obstacle courses to mimic boot camp, craft projects, etc. Then all of the kids who participated were asked to sign a pledge board promising to respect and thank veterans for their service to the country. The act of kindness, though, was that at the end of the program we collected “thank you” cards from the kids, and we presented them to veterans organizations in Central Florida, along with the pledge boards, so they could give them away to veterans they interacted with who might appreciate hearing a word of thanks.
It was a really cool program, and everyone who participated really appreciated that we did it. It was just our way of saying thanks.
“Those we marry do not have to be kind. But being a giving, caring spouse is an ongoing act of kindness that is worth more than just about anything else positive we can do in life.
Since our first date, my husband has always been extremely kind to me, and anyone else who has come along. But here’s one specific example from thousands:
When we moved into our first home, we had very little money. I didn’t have any bedroom furniture, but my husband had a full nice set, which he had owned for many years. Without hesitation, and certainly without my asking, he moved his clothing onto an old bookcase, and gave me both pieces of his nice bedroom furniture. I used those for many years, and he used the old bookcase. That simple act of kindness lifted my spirits, and made me love him, more than I can put into words.”
“We are a young married couple, and recently bought a house in a new neighborhood. We had not gotten to know our neighbors very well just yet. Last weekend, we began work to dig up a large patch of bamboo that had been planted beneath power lines and were causing problems. It was a large growth and we were struggling to even loosen the roots. Our neighbors saw us and came over, and spent their whole afternoon helping us dig it up, chain it to our truck, and drag it out of the ground to the curb. Afterwards, our other set of neighbors invited us over for a beer. Wanting to make sure we had something to eat, they sent us both home with sandwiches for lunch.
These were small, neighborly acts of kindness but made us feel very welcomed and cared for in our new neighborhood.”
“I’ve been thankful to do and witness many acts of kindness. Recently at WUCF, we organized 49 Days of Kindness, where we performed something each day in honor of the Pulse victims. Some of the items were related to reaching kids about being kind through our resources with Daniel Tiger. Some days were spent reading to kids and donating books to the Coalition For The Homeless. We passed out seed packets to help spread the idea is spreading seeds of love.
Personally, I’m also involved in the nonprofit, Cocktails & Chemo. We help provide resources and give special attention to caregivers of loved ones dealing with Cancer. Monthly, we send out care packages. But we also like to do random acts of kindness in the names of the loved ones we’ve lost. Just randomly giving someone a $5 Starbucks card can completely change someone’s day!”
“The [Pulse memorial] event happening at Lake Eola on Monday night is being driven by Commissioner Patty Sheehan. PRG and OPAV and LMG are donating tons of AV equipment and labor. (In the industry, these are usually competitors who don’t get together at all.)
edgefactory is managing the entire creative side of the event with major contributions from community members like D Squared Productions, and Blue Star and Come Out With Pride donated $1,000 to help cover the incidentals that needed covering. Even the Amway Arena offered their use if we get rained out!
Talk about a community coming together!”
“I spent the last two years working with homeless individuals. One of the most heartwarming experiences in my journey with homelessness was to witness the love and compassion of so many people in the community. Churches, agencies and families across Central Florida joined efforts to help decorate the future homes of those who didn’t have a place to sleep. It was a wonderful act of kindness to see people working together to help those in need. I believe that the Permanent Supportive Housing initiative made a positive impact in our community.”
“I was in a Dunkin’ Donuts two weeks ago and a scruffy looking older man in tattered clothing approached the counter next to me. A dapper gentleman on the other side of me leaned across me and said to the old man, “Order whatever you want. It’s on me” The old man was taken aback by this generosity. Then he ordered two jelly donuts and a cup of coffee. When the well dressed man, reached for his wallet to pay for his order and that of the old man, the young man behind the counter said “That won’t be necessary. We saw what you did there and we decided that breakfast is on us today, for both of you. All three of us walked out of that restaurant feeling pretty good about the state of mankind.”
– Bob K.
“On April 29 the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando’s Millenia Leads Group came together to give back to the community. The group participated in the spring event for Feed & Fortify, a non-profit organization that helps children and families in need in Central Florida.
In partnership with one of the members, G World Properties, the group was able to organize activities for the families. They donated clothes, toys, food, and coins for laundry. The group spent the day doing activities with the kids and helping the families.”
-Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando
“When I was in elementary school my family went out to dinner with some family friends. There was at least nine people and and as we were leaving, a homeless man had walked up to us asking if we had any money. It was one of the first times I can remember something like that happening and after everyone turned him down, I remember asking my mom why he asked and her explaining that he probably didn’t have a home or a job. As we were getting in the car, someone had that “duh” moment and realized almost all of us had a carryout box with us so we started driving around looking for the man who ended up being across the street on a bench at another restaurant. We gave him all of the leftovers. I’ve never seen someone smile so big. He graciously thanked us and said how he had some friends who hadn’t eaten in days and got up to go find them.”
“Last month, I felt overwhelmed. Anyone feel me? My plate was fullfullfull, and my tank was emptyemptyempty. I felt down on myself, not because things were going wrong, but because my self-care level was nonexistent.
Then, I received the opportunity to change a life.
I was handed an envelope with $1,000 in it. My friend is plugged into a group of philanthropists who give away $1,000 a week to people whose lives it can impact. The project is called Surprise and Delight. I happened to come across someone to whom this could make a big difference, shared the story, and – gloriously – that person was chosen.
Next thing I know, I’m handing over an envelope to a friend, shaking and hugging, both of us in tears. As if this wasn’t enough, they thanked me later by sharing the scripture they’d read that morning.
I teared up. That scripture was exactly the message my soul needed to hear. And just like that, the envelope meant to change one life, changed two. Surprise and Delight, indeed.
This is how light is spread, friends. Look for it everywhere, and shine some of your own. ❤️”
While waiting for my cardiologist appointment the other day, a very sweet and elderly lady handed me a gift. She said she made these and chose to give them out, one every day to a stranger. She handed me a handmade scissor holder, fashioned from a pot holder! It is very useable, just like her lesson in kindness!”
“A few weeks ago I was at City Hall and got in a hurry. I put my daytimer on the saddlebag on my motorcycle and drove off, leaving it behind. It had 3 years’ worth of notes, appointments, business cards, credit cards, tickets to a concert, and more. Three days later a gentleman dropped it off at my department, untouched and everything still intact… completely restored my faith in humanity.”