Maya Smith is Executive Director of Born This Way Foundation.
In my house, we’re living in a season of repetitive reminders of “please” and “thank you”. My kids are good kids and when prompted, they always stop in their tracks and add the gratitude phrase appropriate for that exchange. It’s just hard to express appreciation along the way when their little bodies and minds are moving so quickly all of the time. My job is to help them slow down, learn about the power of gratitude, and appreciate the many things around us that we have to be grateful for like snacks, play time, clean air to breathe, and a carefree summer of cycles of dirt and pool time that counts as a shower.
So, in a quiet house before everyone wakes up to start the next summer cycle, I want to take a minute to say thank you. Things have also been moving so quickly at the Foundation and in the world around us that on any given day, my heart is broken and then my faith is restored before I’ve finished my first cup of coffee. It’s important for me to say thank you to the incredible Born This Way Foundation community that has propelled our work and our mission forward.
- This community helped us raise over $200,000 over the last month – thousands of you. I’m knee deep in thank you cards right now, addressing envelopes to people all over the world and whether you gave $5 or $500, your donation means so much to us. We’ll use these donations to build an urgently needed resource for young people facing crises – or just everyday challenges, making support and community even more accessible.
- Thank you to the hundreds of young people in our network who participated in preliminary focus groups around this resource concept. We’ve been blown away by your honesty, vulnerability, and resilience; thank you for sharing your time, treasure, and talent with us. If you want to receive updates on this project, please make sure you’ve joined our community and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Gratitude can also be bittersweet in times of transition. Last week was Rachel Martin’s last with the Foundation. Rachel has been my partner in kindness for more than three years, and she has shaped this organization and each of our team members in profound ways. I used to ask Josh to print Google Docs for me because technology…and now I know how to log in and even leave a comment or two. I am sad, proud, and so grateful about this transition and all she has contributed to the Foundation. We made this video to say thank you, Rachel.
- The Staples Back To School sale started this week and it’s too soon, friends. Nevertheless, it seems my six-year-old also got the message that he’s going to start school again next month and when we were out to dinner with some friends, he drew me a picture. Around our house, we call #BeKind21 “Hunter’s Campaign.” It was his experience starting kindergarten and navigating a new space that drove my desperate desire to use every platform and skill at my disposal to ensure his school would be a kind, inclusive, and welcoming environment. Hunter’s Campaign launched a movement that included nearly half a million of you and generated more than 8,000,000 acts of kindness. I’m not sure where he learned the phrase “OMG” but I share his excitement that it’s almost #BeKind21 time and I am so thankful that for every Fortnite doodle and Minecraft game, he also thinks about the actions behind the words Be Kind. Are you in for #BeKind21 again?
I try and pair my gratitude with action. I send greeting cards, give donations to my favorite non-profits, and participate in civic engagement – click here to register to vote! – all in an attempt to right the wrongs around me.
So please and thank you to the incomparable Born This Way Foundation community. You transform the world with your kindness.