Feature stories

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Making Peace

By Terri Rimmer

A friend of mine used to do nice things for people and not tell the recipient or anyone else, like putting change in some parking meters for people.

My sister has always done random acts of kindness like these.

It’s hard to do something nice for someone and not tell anyone if you’re an egomaniac.

Two of my friends used to gather up all the shopping carts in the parking lot at Albertsons – just for kindness. Or sometimes they would pick up the litter.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation inspires people to practice kindness to others. Through the circulation of ideas and the development of materials and programs kindness coordinators incorporate kindness into thousands of people’s lives. So do educators, students, community groups, service clubs, and others.

Established in 1995 as a 501 © 3 non-profit, the Foundation is a resource for those committed to spreading kindness.

Ten years later you can see bumper stickers reading “Commit A Random Act of Kindness Today.”

The privately held and funded Foundation also links with various nations through a program within a program. This results in people from different cultures and all walks of life joining to spread the message of creating a powerful, synergistic action throughout the world.

“It only takes a moment to do something nice for someone,” said a friend of mine.

A couple I once knew used to go to the soup kitchen every New Year’s Day and sere meals all day.

My sister “adopted” a single-mom family one year and had a tree and toys delivered to them.

It doesn’t take any money to do random acts of kindness, either, necessarily.

You can give your time and assistance in all kinds of areas depending on your talents and expertise.

Even if you don’t have any talents or skills you can give of yourself, your time, your listening, giving people a ride maybe.

You can even create your own kindness site at actsofkindness.org.

Feb. 13-19 is Random Acts of Kindness Week.

You can even form your own Random club in your area.

Vicki, mother of two and a nurse, helps people who are elderly and helps children among others.

“I rocked my kids’ world the other day,” she said. “I gave an elderly man a ride. My kids were so quiet all the way home. Later they asked, ‘Why did we help him?’ I explained that you help people who are very young or very old.”

Program Named After Abandoned Baby

By Terri Rimmer

In May 1991 a three-day-old drug-addicted newborn came to live with Lisa Matthews, founder of Kid Net Foundation.

He had no name on his birth certificate and his mother was unable to care for him.

He was given the name Jonathan by Matthews and her two sons and adopted within a short time by a Dallas, TX couple.

Today he is a happy, healthy 11-year-old and The Foundation’s first major project, Jonathan’s Place is named in his honor.

Jonathan’s was the first licensed foster group home in Texas for drug-addicted babies and small children, created and operated by the Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1991 by Matthews and Phil Matteis to provide specialized services and housing to at-risk children in Dallas County and throughout the state.

The facility is a 24-hour, licensed emergency shelter for kids.

The 2005 Chi Omega Christmas Market has pledged $40,000 to establish an in-house therapy program at Jonathan’s House.

From June 1991 to June 1992 research was conducted on children’s services in Dallas County. The results were that there weren’t any facilities addressing kids in Jonathan’s situation under the age of 12.

In August 1992 a facility was bought and gutted and on Sept. 10, 1994 Jonathan’s opened its doors as a 12-bed long-term foster group home. In the fall of 1999 the license was changed to become an emergency shelter providing short-term care and expanding to 13 beds. Now they are seeking to more than quadruple the size to 61 beds with a goal of helping 1,000 children annually.

The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) was adopted as the Foundation’s community outreach component in June 1997.

The Foundation depends on public donations to continue their work. You can make donations online. There is also a Circle of Friends Campaign where individuals and corporations give monthly, quarterly, or annually by completing a pledge circle.

There are corporate sponsorships available and many times corporations hold events to benefit Jonathan’s.

“I believe children are our future. They are helpless and need someone to guide them,” said Case Manager Katy Cartwright.

For the eighth year in a row Jonathan’s Place competed with several charities at the annual Crystal Charity Ball and was selected as one of the beneficiaries. The formation of a Women’s Auxiliary for Jonathan’s began in 2002.

For more information, go to kidnet.org on the web.