Clarkies for Kindness didn’t have a chance to hold its first meeting before the COVID-19 pandemic sent Clark University students home for the rest of the semester. But instead of waiting to resume in the fall, its founding members are executing their mission of delivering positivity — only now they’re doing it remotely.
“We want people who are struggling during this isolation — particularly those who may not have a support system at home or don’t feel comfortable or safe where they are — to be able to find some happiness,” says Alex Dursin ’22, who helped create the new group. “If we can provide even just a couple of smiles for them, that’s a victory.”
The student club was established to spread kindness and empathy throughout the Clark and Worcester communities. With most people hunkering down in their homes to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the members say that work is even more vital.
Dursin and fellow founding members Olivia Shull ’22 and Natalie Zaba ’22 have begun developing a list of ways to promote positivity — both among their fellow Clarkies virtually and within their own hometown communities. They hope others will be inspired to do the same.
“We’re all so used to being on campus and surrounded by our peers that this is obviously a big change for us to be back home,” Zaba says. “Letting people know that we’re all going through the same thing and taking a positive spin on this is an important reminder.”
Recently, the club solicited uplifiting messages from its Instagram followers and sent them to other Clarkies anonymously. The club received equally uplifting responses, Shull says, and plans to continue the effort as it builds its online chapter.
“Being in isolation or with your family can be really lonely. Letting people know we’re here for you and we want to make sure you’re OK — even if you don’t know who we are — is really powerful,” Shull says.
Clarkies for Kindness will post inspirational messages on its social media platforms in the coming days and eventually wants to engage with other student clubs and organizations to help promote their agendas. The group’s work isn’t solely online — its founding members are developing a list of activities through which students can circulate cheer wherever they are.
Before leaving Clark, Zaba came up with the idea of painting inspirational messages on rocks and leaving them in public places. As she was moving out, she noticed that someone had already placed brightly colored stones inscribed with messages across campus. Zaba has since collected rocks from her backyard and decorated them with phrases like, “It’s a good day” and “Be happy.” She plans to leave them throughout her hometown of Braintree, Massachusetts.
“It’s a little reminder that we’re all still here, even though we’re not physically together,” she says.
When stay-at-home advisories are lifted, Clarkies for Kindness plans to organize a clothes-pinning day. Compliments or other positive messages will be written on clothespins and attached to people’s jackets when they’re not looking. The group has also discussed holding a virtual kindness challenge with a different activity each day for a week.
Shull, Zaba, and Dursin hope their work will have a snowball effect. If 10 people do something kind for two people each and the outreach continues, they say, then the effort can grow exponentially.
“It will be a wave of kindness spreading through Clark,” Dursin says. “That’s the dream.”