An Intern’s Journey to Kindness

We recently received this anonymous post from a Think Kindness intern.  Enjoy.

As kids, we don’t realize just how heavily the weight of our future rests on our shoulders. We don’t realize how heavily our world relies on those futures.

6 Years Ago. My heart should have been pounding. I didn’t appreciate the gravity of the thing I was doing. I was anxious, sure; mostly because our lookout was subpar. He couldn’t be bothered to put his phone down for more than a minute. Otherwise I was relatively relaxed. The country club’s alcohol went from the storeroom fridge, out the back door, across the roof, down the fire escape and in to the truck. We were 17 year old high school seniors. The only places that would sell boos to us would do so with the addition of a large “processing fee”. This was much cheaper. It was a prank, we believed, nothing more. And it wasn’t our first rodeo.

5 Years 19 Days Ago. The Saints had just defeated the Colts to become Super Bowl XLIV Champions. I was sitting on the couch in my parents’ living room trying to rub a 7-Layer bean dip stain out of my white T-Shirt. I received a text: “The gig is up, they are looking”. I felt an anvil drop in to the pit of my gut. We turned ourselves in. Our parents would be contacted tomorrow. The managers would have to meet to decide whether or not to pursue legal action. Legal action? Was I a criminal? February 7, 2010- the first sleepless night of my life.

5 Years 18 Days Ago.  We sat in a large conference room with our parents as the general manager of the club read off a list of potential charges- Larson, Grand Larson, Trespassing, Breaking and Entering, Destruction of Property, Organized Crime. They were not going to pursue any of these. We would make financial restitution to the club and perform 100 hours of unpaid service to the facility and grounds. My mom hadn’t stopped crying in 20 minutes. We left the conference room and she turned to me. She grabbed my hands in hers and looked me in the eyes; hers swollen and welled with tears. “You were supposed to be better”. “You should have been better”. February 8, 2010- the second sleepless night of my life.

5 Years 10 Days Ago.  I am a leadership student and I am ashamed of myself. I am meeting with my fellow high school leadership class, discussing spring semester projects. I am a criminal. What can I contribute? My hands are covered in grease and oil and calluses from the work I am doing all weekend at the club. We open an email from a Brian Williams. He wants us to organize an assembly to promote small acts of kindness and raise shoes? Sure, fine, whatever. Put it on the books for next week.

5 Years Ago. I walk out on the gymnasium floor and introduce Brian to the school. He begins slowly. He tells us about an orphanage in Kenya where children can’t afford their own pair of shoes. He says they can’t go to school, that they are hurting themselves and getting sick because they don’t have a simple pair of shoes to protect their feet. He says we can help. But he doesn’t just say it. His enthusiasm grows and it is obvious that he actually believes we can make a difference. He challenges us to raise 2,000 pairs of shoes in the next 15 days. When he finishes the audience roars in determination. Many students walk out to the center of the auditorium and donate the very shoes from their feet. I am inspired. I make it my personal mission to ensure we meet our goal. Those children need us to succeed. They need us to be better.

4 Years 11 Months Ago. It is late Saturday afternoon, day 14 of our challenge. I just finished my last hours of work at the club and head to Reno High to count shoes. It is 8 pm when I finish. We are at 1,700 pairs. We have one day left. We are not going to make it and it is unacceptable. We were supposed to be better. I know we can be better. My friends and I are up late making many, many phone calls. The next day students pack the downstairs hall full as they attempt to get a glimpse of the miracle- a mountain of shoes touching both the floor and the ceiling. 2,200 pairs delivered in one night. It had been the third sleepless night of my life. We weren’t done yet.

4 Years 10 Months Ago. We had extended our challenge by another 30 days. We had partnered with four local shoe companies, twelve local churches, countless local businesses and even Wal-Mart. I had spoken on three local news stations in the last 2 weeks. We were up until at least 3 AM every night counting and organizing shoes. In the end we raised just shy of 20,000 pairs. I feel like I had been given a second chance. I had done something meaningful. I had made a difference. I wasn’t done yet.

1 Year Ago. I am one year away from completing my undergraduate education. I will shortly begin my applications to medical school. I want to open clinics in underprivileged communities around the globe, giving children access to the necessary health care they are lacking. I am given the opportunity to partner with Brian Williams’s new organization “Think Kindness” on a project once again. In 4 weeks we gather funding sufficient to supply 80 girls at the Tareto Maa girl’s home in Kenya with hygiene supplies for a year.

One Month 11 Days Ago.  It is early Thursday morning, January 15th, and I am sitting on the couch in my apartment rubbing an oatmeal stain out of the carpet. I receive an email from my phone: I had been accepted to medical school. I rush to my parent’s home and find my mom putting away groceries in the kitchen.   I tell her the news. Her arms drop and her eyes well with tears. It is the second time in 5 years and 19 days that I have seen her cry. She wraps her arms around me and whispers, “I knew you could do it. I knew you could be the best.”

Today. I am sitting at my computer interning in the Think Kindness office. Brian Williams is in the next room making a call to a school somewhere; inviting them to participate in an assembly. I certainly hope they say yes. Our world depends on those small acts of kindness. It depends on those kids and their futures. It depends on us all being better, being the absolute best we can be.