This is Caledon’s week of Pay It Forward – the art of kindness

February 16, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

On January 30, a proclamation was sent out by Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson proclaiming  the week of February 11 to 17 as “Pay it Forward Week.”

The timing of this celebratory week was tied also to the week being, likewise, the National Random Acts of Kindness Week. Both encourage acts of kindness that do not look for recognition or return. Small acts of courtesy and pleasantries are also a large part of it. A genuine policy of benevolence amongst all of us is the key to the idea  behind these philosophies.

In a telephone interview with the Mayor and his assistant, Sandra Sharp, earlier this week, he said, “We decided to make the Pay It Forward Week coincide with Random Acts of Kindness Week.”

“Kindness is contagious,” he explained. “All the negativity there is at the moment all around us when we’re actually so blessed. We’ve been trying to make awareness of the Pay it Forward idea.

“The schools have really taken this on and we’re so lucky with the huge number of volunteers [that help with every event]. Social media can get ugly – let’s reset the clock. Let’s show we really care for one another.”

There is the notion of making videos about one person helping another but these are meant to be taken anonymously, as it were, without the participants necessarily being aware of it or being identified.

He commented, “Facebook has really gone viral with this. People taking videos observing others’ kindnesses.”

There is an organization of volunteers, MBC – Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon who stay connected via social media to assist where needed.

Ms Sharp explained, “They’re tapped into what Caledon is doing. Volunteers come to help with events.  They’re wonderful.”

“What I’m hoping is,” Mayor Thompson continued, “let’s take a look at the good in all of us. There’s so much negativity on social media and the newspapers pick it up but the goodness is in everybody – why don’t we capitalize on this?”

“They say for every negative comment, you need four positive comments,” Ms Sharp remarked about the effort needed to resist on line negativity.

People complain so much but the Mayor noted: “We are so blessed here in Caledon – are those complaints First World problems? Let’s get back to reality, observing what people can do for each other.”

What are children learning from this?

“I think, what I was hoping to get out is there is the good heartedness that there is. Look at recycling being taught in schools – they got the idea,” was the Mayor’s comment.

He went on to say, “But what about the way people drive now? No one will let you in –even if you have been signalling for five minutes.

“It’s February and it’s a long winter,” he said, “so, it’s time to feel the warmth of our hearts to make us all feel better.”

He observed, “Kids need causes to get behind. They want to feel part of something. If we can get them behind this, it would be good.”

In praise of  youngsters, he related, “There was a youth summit recently and we were blown away by some of the creative ideas – the raw creativity.  Sometimes, we have stand back and listen to our children too. They can have so much to teach us.”

The truth is people do just go out quietly and do things for others. To tell the world about that and show it, “brings the kindness out in everybody. The time for this is now. Saying hello to everybody on the streets – that used to be our way.”

Of his own family, Mayor  Thompson reported: “My gang is into it. Our guys have taken it on – they get it. When my kids were small, we went up to Moosonee and they saw what those children did not have. After we went up there, we noticed when we came home, there was a real difference in our kids.”

The Mayor went on a conference to Ouagadougou in the Upper Volta, West Africa, in 1985 for nine weeks, during which time there was a revolution. By the time he left the country, its name had been changed to Burkina Faso. The journey made profound difference to him, understanding just how “blessed” we are in this country.

For the sake of learning discipline and how to help in the rest of the world, the Mayor was fascinated by the  obligatory service in the military or “peace corps” for two years in Sweden. He went to a waste management conference there, where all citizens, usually in their late teens, early twenties, are obliged to enter the military or overseas service (peace corps equivalent) for two years in order to qualify for a pension later in life.

“You could tell who had done their two years and who had not yet,” was his observation. “There was just such a difference in their maturity. By ‘peace corps’, we mean it ‘s all about service to the community.”

The Mayor’s excitement to encourage the 70,000 residents of Caledon to embrace this initiative and join the week of Pay it Forward was evident.

“Every time we help another person, it makes us feel good. In helping one another,” the Mayor was clear: “we turn the wheel of reciprocity.”

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