Lake Cowichan encouraged to be the change

Cowichan Lake Community Services counsellors (from left): Emma Girard, Amanda Sawatzky and Sarah DeBodt surround the Be the Change box outside the office. - Diana Hutton
Cowichan Lake Community Services counsellors (from left): Emma Girard, Amanda Sawatzky and Sarah DeBodt surround the Be the Change box outside the office.
— image credit: Diana Hutton

We are confronted with it on a daily basis. In newspapers, magazines, radio, television and online it is a constant that we have become accustomed to; a seemingly never-ending litany of bad news.

The list seems endless; from our battered economy, to war and atrocities abroad, local crime, poverty, not to mention our fragile environment.

Thankfully, if you look for it, there is also a bounty of good news out there and a local organization wants us all to help that good news spread.

The  staff and volunteers of Cowichan Lake Community Services challenge you to “Be the Change!” by performing simple acts of kindness and positive change and in doing so, helping to make our little corner of the planet a much kinder and better place.

“This is about the little things that we sometimes take for granted but can have a big impact on the people around us. Things as simple as holding a door open for a stranger or just giving someone a smile as you pass them on the street,” said Cowichan Lake Community Services counsellor, Sarah DeBodt.

The program’s start-up coincided with International Random Acts of Kindness Week which took place from Feb. 10 to 16,  but will continue on an ongoing basis. Anyone, of any age can participate as often as they like, with staff hoping that some of the positive actions suggested become part of people’s daily routines.

The ideas are simple, mostly free and totally do-able —from giving a pedestrian a smile as you stop to let them use the crosswalk, to helping a neighbour with chores when they’re under the weather, to letting the mum with the fussy toddler go ahead of you in the grocery store line-up. All these simple, decent acts are what help make the world a better place.

“We’ve got our “Be the Change” mailbox hanging right outside the door at Community Services if people are stuck for ideas to get started,” says DeBodt.

The bright yellow cards have a task on one side and on the other, directions that are simplicity itself; 1) Pick a card, 2) Perform the task and 3) Be the change!

Participants are encouraged to tell the world about their experiences on Cowichan Lake Community Service’s Facebook page, then to either recycle their card, pass it on to someone else or return it to the box so someone else can choose that task.

You can also drop in to the office and fill out a “Be the Change” post-it to share your experience.

DeBodt was inspired to initiate the program after seeing a similar one organized by a yoga studio in Lantzville. She got the kids of the Youth Drop-in group that she was heading involved and was thrilled by the excitement and creativity the group displayed for the idea.

At a Community Service’s staff meeting, she shared her story with other staff and the team decided to adopt the program at home.

“We want people to realize that so often a simple act of kindness can totally turn someone’s day around,” says DeBodt. “This program provides us all with the opportunity to pay it forward and really make a difference in our community.”

The program and the whole concept of the random acts of kindness movement were inspired by the words of a simple man, who by his quiet resolve did more than his part to change the world. Mahatma Gandhi said “We must become the change we want to see in the world”.

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