Whenever I become overwhelmed by the world, I hear a mentor’s voice reminding me: “You cannot save the world, but you can make an impact.” He would go on to say, you only have 24 hours in a day, which is not enough time to tackle every injustice. If you want to make an impact, pick a lane! Determine what to stand up for, invest in that, and allow other people to take responsibility for other problems. Easier said than done.

Seven years ago, a group of us decided to invest in acts of kindness. We established One Community Many Voices (OCMV), a 501c3 charity that looks out for others through its network of like-minded people who carry out acts of kindness.

Every act of kindness, no matter how simple, has the potential to create a ripple effect that reaches far beyond the initial encounter. These acts can be seen in fellow Mainers’ hearts and mindsets. A simple act of kindness allows the recipient to be seen. When an individual feels he or she matters, self-confidence increases, and he or she is better equipped to face future challenges. Trust me, it’s a powerful transformation to witness, and often I wonder who benefits more – the recipient or the one being kind.

Since 2017, we at OCMV have quietly carried out roughly 2,500 acts of kindness, and the majority of recipients have continued the ripple by performing an estimated 3,700 acts themselves. Some acts require little effort, like providing a phone number to a recently-widowed, 84 -year-old man, so he can call with questions about how to use home appliances. Other acts require a few hundred dollars for paying the remaining balance of an invoice so
a child, who received only a partial scholarship, can attend summer camp.

People often ask me to tell them about my latest act of kindness. They enjoy hearing about why an anonymous individual was selected, the basic need, the solution, and the impact. Sharing stories has created another positive impact in the “lane of acts of kindness.” Hearing a story about a simple act of kindness resonates with most everyone. The quick feel-good stories put smiles on people’s faces. Often times, it makes the listener want to engage.

The best way to increase the number of simple acts of kindness being carried out in the Midcoast would be to offer a way for others to join us. In 2024, in collaboration with MaineStay Media and several community partners, OCMV is launching a call to action. We would like to have 50,000 acts of kindness be carried out within the readership areas of MaineStay Media. Please join us!

To keep this fresh in your minds and tugging on your hearts, each week this column will showcase selected acts of kindness stories and opportunities. We are seeking readers’ assistance by sharing their stories – either carrying out or being a recipient of kindness. We want this column to help make kindness contagious in the Midcoast. More details to come.

It’s been roughly 25 years since my mentor reminded me to pick a lane to make an impact. I found a lane, a lane that is small in the scheme of things, but its impact is mighty. Our helping one person might not change the whole world, but we can change the world for that person. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the state of the world, join me in making an impact in the Midcoast. All it takes is one simple act of kindness at a time.

Audrey Lovering is an entrepreneur, humanitarian, and CEO of Impact Philanthropic. She is one of the cofounders of One Community Many Voices, Inc along with Reade and Martha Brower.