What Possible Difference Could It Make? Vol. 3: Acts of Kindness
February, Schmebruary. For some, there is no worse month. It may be short, they say, but when will it ever end?
I love February. February comes from a Latin word, “februa” — to cleanse, to purify. The Roman Februalia was a month of purification and atonement.
February is the month when your afternoon shadow can be as tall as a tree. Could the fact that February days steadily grow longer be a form of cleansing? A time to shake off the darkness and warm the earth for the spring growing season that lies just ahead?
Then, there is February 17th, Random Acts of Kindness Day. Behavioral health scientists suggest that kindness has a way of “cleansing” the mind and the body. Kindness, they have found:
- Can decrease blood pressure and the hormone cortisol, which directly impact stress levels.
- Can positively change your brain. Being kind boosts serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being and cause the pleasure/reward center in your brain to light up.
- Can release endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain killer.
Students who are part of the PIPs for School (P4S) program offered by the PIPs Education Fund can earn Positive Impact Points (PIPs) for acts of kindness, points they can accrue and convert into grants to pay college fees. In their own words, here are just a few examples of the many acts of kindness for which P4S students are being recognized and rewarded:
- “A neighbor of mine owns [two] cats, but recently had a change in their work schedule. I’ve been helping out during the week, feeding and cleaning up after them.”
- “I gave a ride to a fellow church member. She uses a walker. The day was extremely hot, and I didn’t want her to walk in the heat.”
- “I helped an elderly woman in KeyFood [get]the groceries she needed but couldn’t find.”
- “Over the weekend, I helped a friend move his belongings into a storage unit. They are moving to a new apartment and need to put away all unnecessary items.”
The P4S program “opened me up to the value of helping others and how I can find my own value when I’m assisting others,” explains Sammi, a Hunter College sophomore who set up a tutoring program for her younger siblings and friends.
Like the lengthening days of February, Sammi noted, “You continue to shine as you already are, and PIPs sees you glowing and helps you grow brighter.”
President, PIPs Education Fund