Kindness Is Contagious

CLICK HERE to listen to one person’s commitment to help the homeless and hungry.
Big donations from philanthropists like Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker’s $100M gift to name Northwestern University’s Law School or 64 million shares of Microsoft stock donated by Bill Gates to the Gates Foundation valued at $4.6B make the headlines.  After hearing such news, many of us can never image being philanthropists because, in our minds, our gifts will not make a difference.  We believe our donations won’t change the world.

Our society often refers philanthropy as money gifted from the wealthy to the poor. Lesser known definitions focus on philanthropy’s altruistic aspects and improving human condition for others.  This leads to the main point of this post.

“Everybody deserves a meal! You should not be hungry. Not in this country. There’s a whole lot of things you can be, but hungry is not one of them.” -Rosalyn Young Johnson

Saturday, October 21st is my dear friend Rosalyn (Roz) Johnson’s 55th birthday.  Last year, instead of having a party, she chose to give back by doing an act of kindness for homeless people.  Roz cooked 54 dinners and gave residents of “tent city”, a viaduct on the north side of Chicago where homeless people live, a meal.  Along with her husband Tony, her brother Derrick and two friends JoJo and Tanya, they gave meals to grateful recipients.  See Derrick’s video of their 2016 experience. That day, the crew gave out meals in three locations before heading back home to the south side.  It was transformative for Roz.

Today, Roz and her crew will distribute 55 meals to homeless people on the south and north sides of the city. This year’s menu will include her highly regarded macaroni and cheese. I can vouch for it!

In my world of philanthropy, we talk about giving of time, talent and treasure. Roz is giving her time (delivering the food), her talent (excellent cooking skills) and her treasure (buying the food).

A native of Chicago and a life-long south side resident, Roz and I talked about what it means for her to give back to her city and why she wants to start a Kindness Is Contagious Movement.  Our conversation on the South Side Weekly Radio Hour can be heard on Soundcloud or iTunes. You can feel her commitment to making a difference throughout our conversation.

Roz may not have the big bucks of an Oprah or a Mark Zuckerberg.  She doesn’t run a big nonprofit organization.  She doesn’t serve on numerous boards of nonprofits.  However, she is a philanthropist. Roz is doing the work, she has passion and determination, and she found a way to help others in need.

As you go through your day, week, month and year, keep Roz in mind.  When you do something kind for someone, share it on social media using #KindnessIsContagious. Let’s help Roz build a movement.

Here’s the video of Roz’s 55th Birthday Gift to the Homeless on Friday, October 20th.  Please watch and share using #KindnessIsContagious.

Updated October 23, 2017

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