NEW CANAAN, Conn. --- In three years, B.kind , an organization devoted to encouraging acts of kindness, has grown organically into a national movement.
The group was founded in 2013 as a way for sisters Jojo and Virginia Mahoney, then 18 and 15 respectively, to honor their father, Bill, who died of pancreatic cancer.
According to mom Alice, the girls, while at the time in a great deal of pain, also thought a lot about celebrating their dad's life and all he instilled in them. "One thing that stood out was to be kind," said Alice. "I remember Bill telling them how proud he was that they were such kind people."
After his passing, during the celebration of Bill’s life, bumper stickers with the "Be kind" message were handed out to friends and family. That then segued into Virginia starting a club at her school -- St. Luke's School in New Canaan -- which included everything from writing Christmas cards to individuals at local nursing homes to participating in kindness challenges outside the classroom.
From that grew a Facebook page, Instagram and other social media then, due to an overwhelming response, the forming of a foundation with a plan that now includes 10 schools throughout the country. (Local schools and organizations include Norwalk Grassroots Tennis in Norwalk, and Greens Farm Academy in Westport.)
New as of this year: B kind scholarships of $2,000 to students who show an aptitude for going out of their way to help others and are actively spreading the message of being kind through simple acts of kindness. So far, four students have been awarded including Melany Rodriguez from the Sacred Heart School in NYC, Julia Chen from The Hotchkiss school in Lakeview, Conn., Laksmi Amin, from Sewickley Academy in Sewickley, PA and Alyah Fresnel of Norwalk Grassroots Tennis.
The B kind Award Scholarships help to further the recipient's education either in high school or college.
Alice said they hope to increase the scholarship program as B Kind evolves. "It's been such a wonderfully organic process which grew with how our lives were changing," she said. "As we move through it, we find we're able to put a lot more love and effort behind it."
And, thanks to Norwalk-based HooplaHa, a streaming and video organization devoted solely to good news, B Kind is on the brink of more nationwide awareness. According to HooplaHa CEO Missy Godfrey, a New Canaan resident, Virginia was recently featured in a video that's part of a new partnership with Al Roker’s Roker Media. The first slate of live stream original programs will start around Monday, Aug. 22 and include a teaser of Virginia interviewing fellow New Canaan resident Tony Goldwyn, aka Mr. President on the popular ABC show "Scandal."
"Virginia interviewed Tony asking, 'If you were the real president, what would you do to inspire kindness?'" explained Godfrey.
HIs quote? "We have the ability to engage in micro-transactions of kindness every day to make a difference."
Added Alice: “We thank the people of HooplaHa for picking up the strength of our message.
Godfrey says they’re discussing, too, the possibility of starting college ambassador B kind programs -- Jojo is an incoming junior at Boston College and Virginia will be a freshman in the fall — making kindness a message that continues to spread well beyond Fairfield County's borders.
Go to www.bkind.today/ for more information.