American novelist, Henry James, once said, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”
If you are like me, you might be wishing there was a bit more kindness going around. I am increasingly frustrated with what is making the news these days and sick and tired of the senseless violence, crime, abuse of power, divisive politics, and the never-ending blame game at all levels of government. Sometimes there are moments when I am just about ready to stop watching the news and shut off my social media accounts.
We probably could all agree that our community, and the entire world for that matter, needs more kindness. A couple of weeks ago, I got to witness kindness in action, and it was reassuring and inspiring to see individuals and companies display genuine goodness to benefit those in need.
Each year, Wegmans Supermarket offers a two-minute, $500 “shopping spree” to help encourage people to donate to the work of the United Way of Wyoming Valley. Wegmans is a very supportive company and helps the United Way in a number of ways throughout the year. Store manager Dave Grossi and his wonderful team of associates are always happy to do what they can to advance our work of addressing childhood poverty throughout the Wyoming Valley. That’s kindness.
This year’s winner of the shopping spree incentive was Anne Opiela, a generous United Way donor and an employee at Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance. Upon notifying Anne that she was the lucky winner, she immediately offered to donate the items she could gather in the allotted two minute time frame to Ruth’s Place, the area’s shelter for homeless women operated by Volunteers of America. So, not only did Anne donate to the United Way, she donated her incentive prize to help others. That’s kindness.
The story doesn’t end there. When Anne’s employer, Berkshire Hathaway GUARD learned of Anne’s gesture to support Ruth’s Place, the company’s leadership decided to match Anne’s gift with an additional financial donation to support the women’s shelter. Berkshire Hathaway GUARD has a long history of supporting the community and is one of the United Way of Wyoming Valley’s most supportive corporate friends. That’s kindness.
Two minutes goes very quickly and just as the spree was wrapping up, Dave Grossi, without anyone else knowing, gave an extra 15 seconds to the shopping effort to help the women of Ruth’s Place. When the total came to $651.37 and the $500 limit was exceeded, Dave, with a smile from ear to ear, immediately approved the total. That’s kindness.
As frustrating as local, national and worldwide events could be at times, it is easy to get discouraged. Yet, Henry James reminds all of us that the three most important things on our “to do” list are to be kind, to be kind, and to be kind.
The power of kindness can overcome the darkness we sometimes face. Whether it is smiling to a stranger, mentoring a child, lending a hand to someone who needs help or an ear to someone who is lonely, sharing a positive thought, giving time or money to a cause, or forgiving someone who hurts us, we all have the ability to bring joy and make a difference in the lives of others. That’s kindness. And we need more of it.
Bill Jones is President and CEO at United Way of Wyoming Valley. He can be reached at 829-6711 ext. 1230.