Laura's Kindness Matters 365 Story
Hi. My name is Laura Reiss and I thank you for reading the Samaritans365 Kindness Matters story.
Back in 2007, I conceived the program upon which The Samaritans365 (S365) Foundation was built. My passion to “give back” and inspire others to do the same was seeded by my kind parents, and fueled by my commitment to raise my three young children with the values of compassion, gratitude, and kindness.
In 2008 I started a Samaritans program at Sunrise Park Elementary in Boca Raton, FL where my children were going to school. It started out as a free, after-school club with 35 children. Every time we got together, I spoke with the children about gratitude, being truly happy for who they were and what they had, and simply giving back where we could. We talked about saving the environment, the many ways to give back, respecting yourself and others, showing kindness to yourself, and about being kind in the home, school, community, and the world…and feeling really good about all of it!
We talked about a day when everyone is simply kind to each other; we talked about a new generation of kind-minded humans; we talked about being able to create that world through our own kind actions and inspiring others to do the same as Samaritans, 365 days a year… “Samaritans365”.
This beautiful concept and the results of Samaritans365 were so profound that we quickly developed a monthly program with an interactive, inspirational, effective format. Each month, a speaker from different philanthropic organizations came and shared who they were and how they found their ways to contribute to our world. We engaged in hands-on projects and school-wide drives to give back to the speakers’ organizations….dog toys for the Humane Society, thank you letters to our Forgotten Soldiers, get-well art for sick children in hospitals, kindness care packages for foster kids and so much more.
The intention was for all participants to listen, learn, interact and do something to give back at each meeting, and it was working! Beyond that, Samaritans365 meetings were always heart-warming, moving, inspiring and educational. I can’t tell you how many times I cried in these meetings, not only because of the amazing speakers sharing their stories but from watching the kids’ reactions. I hold so many beautiful memories and stories in my heart.
I began to put structure around our program and train volunteer “Ambassadors of Kindness” who could run additional Samaritans365 clubs in this same format. Our invaluable Ambassadors invigorated Samaritans365 with new energy and created our clubs in new grades, new schools, and new communities. At this time, I collaborated with local organizations and authorities (police and fire departments) to become involved, get support, and provide speakers. I enrolled and organized children in clubs; managed fundraising drives; collected, sorted and delivered items at all events; furthered parent and school administration involvement; and so much more. It was time to share, train and give it away so that others could implement their own kindness clubs and spread the kindness in their communities.
In 2014, after seeing the transformation of every child that went through the Samaritans365 program and considering the overwhelming positive response from our community, I decided to create the Samaritans365 Foundation, committed to a kindness conversation in every school and community in the world. I partnered with my dear friend, Jennifer Einhorn, to create a 501(c)3; we created a kindness training manual, trained hundreds of Ambassadors (in my living room!), and put together a dream-team Executive Board. We worked with timeline Video Productions to create a video training course, and partnered with Illuma Studios, our website designer, to put the kindness training course online so we could, in time, reach a world-wide audience and train Ambassadors to offer the kindness in their communities.
As more and more people heard about Samaritans365, they wanted to be a part of it. Our Foundation responded by modifying our program to include everyone from younger children to teenagers, and by introducing our clubs to all school levels, summer camps, community centers and more. We even created a youth leadership track for teens. Many of our Samaritans began serving as Ambassadors for other clubs, and others found their ways to give back by starting their own foundations! The Super Samaritans, Summer Samaritans, Kindness Givers, Healing Hearts and Hearts of Gold, Kindness Kids Samaritans365 kindness programs got started as well; these clubs are comprised of amazing adults who regularly go to different organizations and Foundations to give back where needed. Every member of our Samaritan family is making a contribution to the world…and there are literally thousands of us!
To date (October, 2017), we have thousands of Samaritan members, over 350 trained Ambassadors, more than 90 kindness clubs in 8 states and we have impacted the lives of tens of thousands. Our Executive Board, community, Ambassadors, and Samaritan members devote countless hours to our mission of spreading global kindness. This is something that I, personally, do all day, every single day: I eat, sleep, breathe, dream and speak the kindness.
My heart is filled with gratitude for our accomplishments so far, and I realize we have so much more to do. This is an exciting point for our Foundation as we have created and are expanding a global kindness movement. This kindness movement is for EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE… all colors, all religions, all ages, all beliefs, all sexual preferences, all genders, all financial situations. Together, we have and we will continue to make a profound, positive impact on the world – one person, one family, one school, one community, one state, one country at a time.
I believe in a world where we celebrate each other and I manifest it every day.