Kindness creates opportunities

In this file photo from December 2016, Yaakoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School seniors Maddi Harper, left, Brian Reid, center, and Brandon Aguilia wish motorists a happy day and hand out hot chocolate. The students and their classmates will be offering Acts of Kindness over the next two weeks as a school project. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Is kindness contagious? This is a question we will see and hear answered in one of the upcoming Southeast Speaks Up segments that air on a local (CBS 11) TV station.

 

You know the ones: “Would you share the location of your favorite fishing spot?”

The questions are simple, but the answers are always surprisingly varied. Is kindness contagious? Has the Juneau Police Department’s yearlong Kindness Initiative created a sustainable mindset of kindness in Juneau?

There are only a handful of weeks left in 2017, but the JPD Kindness Initiative is still rolling out more Juneau-based, organization-sponsored events. In November, these sponsors include: SAIL, BRH Mental Hospital, NOAA, Alaska Peace Officer Association, and Harborview Elementary School.

The JPD YOK (Juneau Police Department Year of Kindness) Steering Committee will be hosting “Cocoa and Kindness” at the Dimond Field House, 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12. All are invited to run and walk the track, visit with the 17YOK organizers and have some cocoa. This will also be the introduction of our “banner project.” One or more banners will circulate around Juneau to collect signatures from anyone who has participated, wants to recommit, and otherwise supports Juneau’s Year of Kindness. Look for the banners at Public Market (Nov. 24, 25, 26) and at our year-end celebration.

Nominations for Juneau’s Kindest People, are still being accepted by the Steering Committee until Dec. 20 (give to committee or email 17YOK@juneaupolice.com, 75 words or less with contact information). They will be recognized at our year-end celebration.

In planning the year-end celebration, we have resisted calling it a “wrap-up party.” We aren’t finished being kind, right?

The year-end celebration will be on New Year’s Eve, afternoon (1-5 p.m.), in Thunder Mountain High School Commons. This will be an open house for all of Juneau to stop by on their way to 2018. The initial kick-off had us placing handwritten messages for the year ahead into a fire. At our final celebration, we will release our messages into water.

This year of kindness has created opportunities for events from marathons to vaccinating dogs who are companions to someone homeless; has involved a cross section of Juneau residents from the Shriners to school students; it enriched some of our annual community gatherings, such as the Fourth of July Parade; and, provided an easygoing commonality of topic of conversation beyond the weather.

This all underscores that kindness is an option and an opportunity.

It cannot be supplanted by the enormity of wave after wave of bad news. Facts prove disasters invite kindness. But, we have to act, to speak up in order to participate in the moment or larger event. Is kindness contagious? One answer is yes!


• Carol A. Kell is a Juneau resident, parent, substitute teacher, church volunteer and part of the JPDYOK17 Steering Committee. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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