A few months ago, our home was plunged into darkness when a storm knocked out the electricity. At first, we were alarmed, then we started to light candles and something special happened. The darkness softened, and sparkly fingers of light flickered throughout the room, shedding a comforting glow and brightening up the gloom.
So it is in life. When there are days that feel dismal and gloomy, a kind gesture, moment of creativity or beautiful image can provide a flicker of hope in the darkness and the promise of a better tomorrow.
The Good In Us is a Facebook group that shares and celebrates those moments. Here are some of them, and I invite you to join and share your own (or just enjoy the stories). There is no limit on goodness.
- Like many other business owners, Ethiopian Jewish restaurateur, Beejhy Barhany, was forced by the pandemic to close the doors on her popular Harlem, New York, Tsion Café. When she received a grant, she was able to reopen and decided to dedicate her resources to feeding frontline workers and those in need. She donated more than 800 meals throughout the community and provided live music performances through Instagram and Facebook events. ‘It’s all about giving back to the community, celebrating our diversity,’ Barhany said. ‘If we can uplift people’s spirit, if it’s music, healthy food, our job is done.’
- In the Kagurazaka neighbourhood of Japan, the Big Issue (best known for its magazine sold by homeless people) is getting into the bread business. On intermittent nights, local bakeries donate all the bread that has been unsold during the day so it can be sold at the night-time bakery in order to create an income for homeless people. On October 1, they had a trial run and sold out in less than an hour.
- When a Vancouver-based research project gave cash to homeless people and tracked their progress for a year, the results were surprisingly unpredictable. All 115 participants, ranging in age from 19 to 64, had been homeless for at least six months and were not struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues. After receiving $7,500 (£5,784) almost 70 percent of them were food secure within one month. Recipients spent 52 percent of the money on food and rent, 15 percent on items such as medication and bills, and 16 percent on clothes and transportation.
- One homeless man in the south of France made headlines with his incredible kindness. Jojo is a 52-year-old Romanian who sleeps on the steps of a museum in Nice and earns a small income selling a newspaper distributed by homeless people. In October, he was so moved when he heard about the victims of storm Alex that he donated his entire savings to them: 150 Euros. His story made the news and the City of Nice offered him a job in the cleaning department of the town hall, with another benefactor providing him with accommodation. So Jojo, who was abandoned at birth and raised in an orphanage, is destitute no longer.
- In October, a team of young women in Ireland were recipients of the 2020 Technovation World Summit with their invention of Memory Haven, an app that provides support for dementia patients and their caregivers. The app, which contains a photo wallet, memory games, health alerts, face and voice recognition feature, music playlist, and a feature that allows patients to contact emergency contacts and doctors was created by three Nigerian-Irish teenagers and beat out more than 1,500 teams from 62 countries.
- Lastly, in an incredible feat of strength and love, Greek athlete, Marios Giannakou, provided the gift of a lifetime to 22-year-old disabled student, Eleftheria Tosiou. Upon learning about her desire to reach the summit of Mount Olympus, the long-distance runner made it a reality: by carrying her on his back. Using a specially modified backpack, Giannakou and an eight-member support team spent ten hours scaling the 2,918-meter mountain so Tosiou could achieve her dream.
And if you wonder why it feels good to help others, a new study in the Psychological Bulletin suggests that performing acts of kindness and helping other people can be good for your health and well-being. “Prosocial behaviour — altruism, cooperation, trust and compassion — are all necessary ingredients of a harmonious and well-functioning society,” said lead author Bryant P.H. Hui, PhD, a research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong. “It is part of the shared culture of humankind, and our analysis shows that it also contributes to mental and physical health.”
Until next month. And please send any of your own stories about good deeds to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Gabrielle Yetter