From March 29 through April 4, Natick business, organizations, town departments, local citizens and artists celebrated the town’s second annual Kindness Week.
Hosted by SPARK Kindness, a non-profit based in Natick, Kindness Week is a community wide effort to shine a spotlight on good deeds that happen every day, and to inspire people to promote kindness through simple acts. The week’s theme of “Kindness Connects Us” inspired interconnectedness at a time of social distancing.
“Collective kindness has the power to offer hope during the darkest times because it reminds us of who we are and that we are more united and resilient than we ever imagined,” said SPARK Executive Director Christine Fortune Guthery. “Kindness Week was a way to harness all of the good in the community and showcase through virtual means in order to bring strength, hope and support during a challenging time.”
The week kicked off on March 29 with a set of daily inspirations containing one of seven pillars of kindness: self, others, neighbors, schools, community, nature, and online. The Morse Institute Library decorated all of its windows and its lawn to showcase the theme of community kindness and connection.
The Natick Center Cultural District kicked off a town-wide collaborative art project titled “LOVE 01760” that can be worked on in-home by Natick families by downloading or copying a template in the shape of half of a heart. Citizens were asked to decorate their half, write their name on the back, and drop off. At a later date, all the individual heart halves will be assembled into a large scale installation allowing the town to come back together and celebrate its resilience. “SPARK Kindness is an integral part of creating and continuing the strong sense of community and care that Natick possesses and their outreach and programs provide much-needed information, inspiration, and opportunities for compassion in our town,” said Athena Pandolf, Executive Director of Natick Center Cultural District. “The Natick Center Cultural District has been fortunate to work with SPARK on many occasions to strengthen our small businesses and outreach to community members.”
Natick Recreation and Parks created an online form to write “Community Thank You Notes” to fellow citizens and town departments that are serving the community during this outbreak. The Natick Public Schools and the Board of Health were prominently recognized by community members for stepping up to serve the community during the COVID pandemic. Though Natick schools buildings are closed, messages of kindness are being shared online while the district engages in virtual learning and the notes are posted on the Natick Recreation and Parks and SPARK Kindness websites.
“I can honestly say that I have seen so many kind moments in the time since closure with notes, gestures, moments of care and love from our community,” said Anna Nolin, Superintendent of Natick Public Schools. “While closure will bring ups and downs throughout it’s the spirit of kindness, flexibility and assumption of good intentions that will get us through.”
SPARK also partnered with local sign language interpreter Christa Lambert, who is running the 2020 Boston Marathon for SPARK, to create a video on how to show kindness in American Sign Language.
Lt. Cara Rossi of the Natick Police department expresses her gratitude in these unnerving times. “I served our community during 9-11 and I serve today and feel that these scary and tumultuous times truly bring out the humanity in us all and show the best of mankind.” She expressed her thanks to everyone who is showing love and gratitude to all front lines workers. “It’s the kindness of our Natick community that’s keeping us going strong. Together, we will get through this.”
Other online resources included kindness reading lists, projects, crafts, activities and helpful articles that are available at SPARKKindness.org.
More shoutouts from Spark:
The Charles River Rotary recently made a ‘ donation to Cops for Kids with Cancer in honor of the Natick Police Department. “We are so grateful for what the Natick Police Department does every day in the Natick community and especially now during the coronavirus crisis,” said President June Szretter.
This donation was made to Cops for Kids with Cancer, a charity that the NPD has supported and serves children and families who are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic.
Thank You Natick Fire Department for a mask-making tutorial. The tutorial was created by Jenny Shearley, the daughter of Natick Fire Department Lt. Shearley. She has been making masks for First Responders, senior centers and others! Way to go!
Patrick’s Promise Foundation, a Natick-based nonprofit, recently made a donation to the Natick Education Foundation (NEF) Hardship Fund in honor of the Natick School Department for their leadership during the pandemic.
As you may know, over 90 NPS staff recently were furloughed due to the financial impact of the pandemic. Donations to this Hardship Fund will be used to offer help to “those who support Natick Public schools and are impacted by the events caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” Patrick’s Promise is dedicated to bullying prevention and making sure that no one feels alone.
MetroWest Massachusetts is so lucky to have two groups of volunteer sewers and kindness heroes that have provided thousands of free masks to First Responders and others.
The Natick/Sherborn Sewing Support Group “has donated to medical centers like Beth Israel, New England Center for Children, and Newton Wellesley Hospital as well as local fire department and senior living buildings.”
Masks Made with Love is a group of volunteer sewers with a goal “to coordinate mask-making efforts and get masks into the hands of those who need them.” As of mid-April, Masks Made with Love has made thousands of masks at no charge for first responders and others in need.
SPARK Kindness is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Natick, Mass., that serves more than 4,400 members in over 22 communities in MetroWest and greater Boston with free programs and events. Our mission is to build a kind, resilient and welcoming community where no one feels alone, bullied, unsupported or unconnected. We support families, schools, organizations, coaches, artists, faith and community leaders in building a culture that empowers youth and promotes kindness and respect. For more information, visit www.sparkkindness.org.