Novelist Catherine Ryan Hyde said, “Because it proves that you don’t need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordinary ingredients. You can start with the world you’ve got.”
I recently read a story about Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia. Inspired by a customer — who was inspired by a café that asked customers to pre-purchase cups of coffee for those who could not afford one – the pizzeria started asking customers to pre-purchase $1 slices for the homeless that are redeemed by handing the cashier a Post-it note that is hanging on a wall. This act of paying it forward has made a real impact in Philly, which is the poorest large city in America. Mason Wartman, owner of Rosa’s is showing not only that acts of kindness can be contagious, but also how a small gesture of support can have a ripple effect of positivity.
Paying it forward also has several health and social benefits, including that giving makes us feel happy, giving promotes cooperation and social connection, giving evokes gratitude, and giving is contagious.
Reading the stories and noting the benefits of paying it forward helped me realize something. I began to think about my years involved with nonprofits and realized that in addition to the feeling one gets when they give, there has always been the hope that someone who was helped will turn around and help someone else. I have felt great joy when it was brought to my attention that this happened; that a person was able to pay it forward.
Hyde makes a great point that paying it forward “can start with the most ordinary ingredients.” Paying it forward can involve acts such as pre-paying for pizza, lunches, and tolls or it can involve doing things such as giving random compliments, being extra nice to waitstaff, or washing someone’s car. Paying it forward doesn’t have to cost money to be effective.
Paying it forward is not just for individuals. There are many ways that a business can pay it forward, including enabling employees to help support a “charity of choice” by offering services that might be of value, having a departmental challenge whereby each department competes with each other to make a big positive contribution to the community, and donating much needed funds to a favorite charity. A business could also give employees paid time off for service days.
My wife Jackie and I have made a conscious decision that Manchester Forward along with our future nonprofits and businesses are all going to have a pay it forward philosophy. From the way that clients, customers, employees, and vendors are treated to our community involvement, we are going to first look at how are actions will affect and “trickle down” to others…in other words how our actions will be paid forward
Random acts of kindness may seem different simply because we are not used to them happening. This may be due to people being focused on their own lives and their own to do lists. It may be because the United States is the most overworked country in the world, we don’t have time to even think about paying it forward. Whatever the reason for not paying it forward with random acts of kindness, it just isn’t common.
So here’s a challenge. Let’s make Manchester a place where Paying it Forward is common. Let’s become a community where we help one another in any way that we can. Let MHT be a place where the figurative walls are broken down and we treat one another with respect and know that we will be treated the same way. Our actions will not only benefit others and have a trickle-down effect, but they may also inspire people to become more involved in the community. Some may think this is a dream that won’t happen. And while I’m sure that some have no interest in Paying it Forward, it is still worth doing because it’s not about us…it’s about others. (Plus I believe that nothing is impossible).
This challenge will become part of an initiative sponsored by Manchester Forward, which will officially begin soon. The first phase will be revealed within the next week, so stay tuned.
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About the author: Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who moved to Manchester from Raymond in 1980 at the age of 8. He attended Gossler Park Elementary, Parkside and Southside Junior High, and West High, from which he graduated in 1990. After attending Notre Dame College in Manchester, Brian completed his undergraduate degree at Rhode Island College in Providence. Brian and his wife Jackie then came to Manchester in 2004 and were involved in various outreach organizations. Their two boys were born in Manchester during this time. After his position was eliminated in 2009, Brian and his family returned to Rhode Island. They have been living in Providence since 2010. Brian and his family love Manchester and are planning on returning within the next few months. Brian is currently working at helping the city move forward by connecting with other stakeholders and becoming involved with like-minded groups. Brian is also laying the foundation for an organization that will help strengthen the city and help it move forward.
Brian holds a Bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Grand Canyon University. Brian currently works at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also founder of a Facebook Group, Manchester Forward. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.