Kindness is contagious even when your 1,532 miles away.
The word selfless is an adjective that defines a person who is completely devoted to others welfare or interest and not ones own. We never really met anyone that we could honestly say was completely selfless until this past summer when we were given the privilege of meeting 10 young girls from Haiti. After all, our culture is made of people who compete with one another to be the best. Most people equate "best" with more money, more things, more attention and prestige -- you know the old saying, "Keeping up with the Joneses". Although they do exist, it's rare to find people who don't care about the "Joneses" and give completely of themselves.
In June, our team of PROUDgirls from Smithtown decided they wanted to take action and raise money for the people of Haiti. The devastation from the January 2010 earthquake was so great that they knew something had to be done. But where do you start when there are an estimated three million people affected? After researching various websites and reading about various organizations, the girls discovered a small orphanage in Haiti. H.O.P.E is home to 10 young girls ranging in age from birth-12 whose ongoing mission is to house, feed, clothe and educate orphans in Haiti and provide for these children to adulthood. PGOM thought it would best benefit the girls by raising funds that would allow them to purchase the everyday things that they needed most -- things we take for granted.
The Smithtown PGOM team decided to host two large sporting events within each high school, which included a flag football game and a softball tournament. They designed and created t-shirts for the event and charged a fee to participate. Both events had the support of fellow students who caught the kindness "bug" from our PROUDgirls and had lots of fun participating. They sold enough $15 dollar tickets to raise seven hundred dollars for the orphanage.
Delivering the news to the children of H.O.P.E. would prove to be the most exciting part of this project. We set a date for a video conference call through Skype that connected the 10 girls from Smithtown, N.Y. to 10 girls from Haiti who lived 1,532 miles away.
That morning when we saw their sweet faces pressed up against the computer monitor we were forever connected. We watched and listened in awe as the Haitian girls sang to us in their native language. Their voices were angelic and they told us they loved us. But what happened next was the most contagious moment of kindness we have ever witnessed.
After graciously thanking us for the donations we had raised, they began to tell us what they planned to do with the funds. Our donation would not be used for their needs, but instead be used for children who were less fortunate and living in tent cites after being displaced from the quake.They would use our donation to buy school supplies for the children who lost everything. They felt were much better off then the rest and chose to give our humble donation to help those who needed it more. Sure they needed new clothes, art supplies, soap and toothpaste but their choice was to give to those who were fighting everyday to just survive.
The "Joneses" don't exist for the girls at H.O.P.E., nor should they for us. We should all think twice about balancing our need to be the "best" and showing kindness. As the PROUDgirls and the girls from H.O.P.E. proved, kindness is in fact contagious, even when you're 1532 miles away.
"If compassion were the motivating factor behind all of our decisions, would our world not be a completely different place?"
- Sheryl Crow
Follow Carla Alpert And Diane Prefontaine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PROUDgirls