The Rewards of Random Acts of Kindness
Have you ever been the recipient or provider of a random act of kindness? If you have, then you can certainly understand the value of self-worth that you have either provided to another or have received yourself. The wonderful thing about random acts of kindness is that both the provider and recipient are rewarded in ways that neither expect.
The month of February brings with it a day of celebration of love, friendship, and affection. We celebrate the 14th of February as St. Valentines Day. But did you know that the week of February 15-20th is designated as Random Acts of Kindness Week?
Many times we look at our situations and become discouraged. However, when we look outside of our situations to others and how we can provide an act of kindness, we can more readily appreciate our abilities rather than disabilities.
For many years, I wanted a guide dog. But it seemed that there was never an opportunity for me to leave my responsibilities at home to go to a training facility and train with one. When my son graduated from high school, I asked him what he desired as a graduation gift and he said that he wanted to give me a gift. He wanted for me to make plans to go for my dog. I was so excited and immediately went to work on the application for enrollment. What I didn’t know was that in order to be able to effectively work with a guide dog, I would need to have excellent cane skills.
As part of the application process, an instructor from the school visited my home and we went on a Juno walk. For those of you who do not know what a Juno walk involves, well, the instructor takes one end of a dog harness and you take the other and you go for a walk in order to determine your strength and walking speed. The instructor and I also crossed streets and navigated sidewalks as I used my cane skills. He determined that my cane skills were not proficient enough in order to work effectively with a guide dog and recommended that I attend a class that provided advanced mobility training.
Opportunity for Mobility Training
Although I was very disappointed that I would not be able to get into the guide dog class, I readily accepted the offer to attend the advanced mobility training.
In less than two months, I did attend the advanced mobility training class at Leader Dogs for the Blind and received excellent training with cane skills in every situation imaginable. At the end of the training week, I was instructed to go home and use all of the skills that I had learned and practice for several months then I could apply for enrollment in the guide dog program.
Freedom to Walk Independently
So when I returned home, I asked my family members to take me to our down town area and just let me walk around and practice my newly learned skills. What I didn’t know was that, along with my husband, son, and daughter, many of our friends had also decided to join in and walk around too.
For the first time in my life I was given the freedom to walk independently and cross streets and navigate steps and overhanging obstacles. It was really wonderful being able to go where I wanted to go. I knew that there was usually someone within visual range of my route if I got into a confusing situation and they could offer assistance if I needed it. Since we walked every evening, it wasn’t long before other pedestrians who routinely walked every afternoon also started looking out for me.
By the end of the second month of our daily walks, our local police department also got involved! The officer, who was making rounds, would occasionally stop and ask how things were going. He helped me with traffic signals and the timing of lights. I did not know that, after certain times of the day, the traffic lights can be programmed by the Department of transportation (DOT) to hold for longer or shorter periods of time depending on traffic patterns. After a week or so of walking around and dodging tree limbs and overhanging shrubs, I also noticed that some of the overhanging obstacles had been trimmed back. How wonderful was that! There was someone out there who offered yet another random act of kindness!
Importance of Understanding a Person’s Situation
How could I ever thank these wonderful friends and strangers for helping me? Something as simple as crossing a street or getting from one location to another may not seem that important to them but is so very valuable to me. I think that when we think about random acts of kindness, we should look through the situation of the recipient and that is just what these wonderful people have done for me.
Find Out More About Random Acts of Kindness
The mission of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) is to “….. inspire people to practice kindness and to pass it on to others. We provide free educational and community ideas, guidance and other resources to kindness participants through our website.” There you will some really great uplifting stories and a downloadable PDF file that provides Random Acts of Kindness cards that can be printed and shared when a random act of kindness is offered. In this way, the recipient of the kindness can pass along his/her random act of kindness to another person along with the card.
Read an interview with Sheila and find out more about her life and careers.