Small acts of kindness help make our communities better places to live

“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”
– Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa’s words are so timely. Our city, our state, our country, and our world continue to face great challenges, and at times these challenges seem far too enormous to address. Although these challenges are complex, we must remember Mother Teresa’s words, focus on the small things we can do, and do them with great love and passion, for when we do that as a community, the result will be truly wonderful.

These small things – connections, kind gestures, or acts of service – are what will help us heal from troubled times together, as a community. At Catholic Social Services, we see what small things, done with great love, can do for our community and our clients each day.

For one guest at Brother Francis Shelter, that small thing is a hello. This guest recently explained to a staff member how much a genuine hello means to him. He told staff that he counts the number of genuine “hellos” or “how are you todays?” he receives throughout the day – remembering each one.

Another client was given a gift card donated to CSS. They told their case manager how much this gift meant – with this extra money, they were able to buy supplies for homemade banana splits on New Year’s Eve with their children, a tradition they have not recently been able to keep.

Small acts are also what we can do to build ourselves back up after failure or loss. Those small acts of kindness are similar to the small steps we at Catholic Social Services talk to our clients about making every day to get back on the path to independence, self-sufficiency and community connection. In our clients, we see that sometimes, focusing on others is a great way to move forward. So many of our clients say to themselves, “what can I do for my fellow shelter-guest or co-worker that can brighten their day.” Those acts take the focus off of themselves and put it on helping others. It’s funny how many of our clients and our staff naturally find that an external focus on kindness – another person to make happy – gives meaning and value to themselves.

Small acts of kindness will continue to accumulate until they eventually become that wonderful thing Mother Theresa speaks of. Like steps on a path, before you know it, you have traveled a great distance without even thinking about it. These small steps might feel daunting in the face of a great mountain, however. Right now, it feels like something extraordinary and large needs to happen to help all of us to get past the huge challenges we are facing. I believe, though, with small acts of kindness – single steps on the path – we can climb that mountain, and we can overcome the losses of COVID and the polarization of our politics and everything else. We can do this by our small acts and remembering what we all share as humans on this Earth and as God’s children. We are connected, and though the road is difficult right now, we can come together with shared kindness and love.

I believe these small acts will not only propel us to a brighter future, but they are also what connects us right now. We all want the best for our neighbors, and we hope to see them flourish. We all wish kindness, love, and prosperity to one another. This is what brings us together, and these connections will only further heal us as a community.

As we continue to move into 2021, I encourage you to remember the difference each small act is making and keep in mind what connects us – the hope for brighter days, love for our neighbor, and banana splits.


'Small acts of kindness help make our communities better places to live'
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