57-year-old Lorraine Jara of Toms River, New Jersey has a mission: to make the world a better place by inspiring kindness throughout the entire human community.
Her project, Be Kind To Humankind, wasn't inspired by a random act of kindness, however, but rather an act of indifference. Jara started her campaign in August 1988 after reading about two men in their 20s who suffered a boating accident in her hometown's waterways. She describes the incident on her website:
"They were in a small rowboat which overturned. ...as they clung to the overturned vessel, two young ladies in another boat pulled them out of the cold water. The ladies did not have a motor boat or a radio on board to call land for help. Two other boats with radio antennas passed them by, refusing their calls for help. One passing boater reportedly said, "We don't want to be bothered." When finally rescued, one of the young men died."
The indifference shocked her. That's when she decided to try to make a difference. After the dead victim's family declined her offer to build a memorial for him, she hit upon an idea.
"I then thought…well, they have a Be Kind to Animals Week so why not have a Be Kind to Humankind Week."
And so Be Kind To Humankind was born.
Be Kind to Humankind Week is celebrated around the world from August 25 to 31 every year.
This year, Jara teamed with Medical Daily to spread some kindness around New York City.
Medical Daily sent out a small team to Wall Street on a particularly bad day: Black Monday, when the DOW dropped over 500 points. They captured some of the reactions on video.
"We set out on a humid Monday afternoon to buy (if only slightly ambush) New Yorkers lined up at food carts for an afternoon snack," writes Medical Daily's Stephanie Castillo, "from green juice to ice cream. It wasn't without hesitation, but each person allowed us to pay for their snack and remind them something as small as this can have a big effect."
But there's more to Be Kind To Human Kind Week than meets the eye...
A scientific study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies suggests that performing acts of kindness can improve mood and emotional wellness.