In spite of the coronavirus pandemic changing the ways we live our lives, every day, it is refreshing to bear witness to all of the acts of good and kindness that many are offering and receiving.
And in Westborough, the volunteer group, Westborough Connects, hopes a weeklong community initiative that focuses on kindness, will help bring residents a sense of hope and community spirit as well.
Kelley Petralia, the group’s executive director, Laura Cerniglia, co-chair of the Programming Committee, and Meghan Gavalis, who is also co-chairing, have been busy planning for this second annual weeklong event which kicks off on Sunday, March 27.
“This event was hugely successful last year and in spite of what is going on right now, we felt it was really important to still move forward with the week’s events with the understanding that things might have to be done a little differently this year. We shifted gears quickly,” said Cerniglia.
Last year’s event began with a big community kick off event with Megan Murphy, the founder of the Kindness Rocks Project and author of The Kindness Rocks Journal, as the featured speaker. Events were then held throughout the town.
This year, because of the pandemic, the group has quickly re-strategized.
“This year, there will be a daily communication sent out from our mailing list with a theme of the day along with suggested activities and links to children’s books and activities and more. We are 1200 people strong. We hope to get the community to do the same activities each day,” Petralia said. “We are trying to provide a focus each day so that even though we are physically apart, we can feel like we are doing it together. We hope this will bring a sense of community and connectedness.”
Westborough Connects is a grassroots organization that works with other local organizations and partnerships on programs that deal with topics such as resilience, anxiety, substance abuse and more. They also have a monthly newsletter that highlights positive things in the community, and all of their programs are free and accessible to all.
“The upcoming event’s mission is to help build a more connective and kind community where everybody feels that they belong. A big part of our mission is to work in partnership with other organizations like Rotary, Youth and Family Services and more to offer resources and provide a framework to bring everyone together,” Petralia said. “Almost everything we do is in partnership with others so that really brings the strength of the community together. Westborough Connects provides a lot of the framework to do that.”
On the final day, Saturday, April 3, the hope is that everyone will take the energy of the week and keep it going. Planned activities for that day will include a scavenger hunt for hearts that homeowners will be asked to place in their windows as well as lighting a candle to mark the kindness that they sparked during the week and hopefully, beyond.
“Kindness Week is important every day. The week amplifies and brings people together. It’s an amazing thing to think that the community is all coming together and it is a bit of a positive distraction, which we could all certainly use right now,” said Petralia.
An Interactive Space to Work through Difficult Times and Create Inspiring Messages to Share with Others
Now more than ever, people are longing for kindness and connection. During these uncertain times, daily news reports focus on disturbing events such as drug addiction, acts of terrorism, gun violence, airplane rage, senseless murders and political bickering. We are being bombarded daily with images that evoke a sense of fear and hostility. The Kindness Rocks Journal provides a positive counteraction to all this negativity. The tagline for The Kindness Rocks Project is “one message at just the right time can change your entire day, outlook, life.” Sometimes, all it takes is just one simple positive message or thought to change your perspective and that is what this journal aims to do.