What You Can Do Today

January 14, 2021

By Josh Meredith

Pledge to Take Action

Over the past couple of years, amidst the challenges we continue to face, the number one question we receive in our inboxes, on social media, and from our partners and friends continues to be “How can I help?” This doesn’t come as a surprise to us, as every day we see you – our global kind community – supporting yourselves, your loved ones, your neighbors, and your world in kind, thoughtful, and creative ways. 

In response to these requests, last year our team put together a list of ways you could virtually volunteer for Born This Way Foundation and other organizations who are doing important work around the world to help us make it a kinder, braver place. With the help of our Advisory Board made up of 29 youth leaders representing every continent (except Antarctica!), we’ve revamped the list for 2022 with some additional opportunities for you to get involved – right there where you are! We invite you to check out the list below.

First and foremost, be kind to YOU:

It’s important to show yourself the same kindness you share with the world. To make sure you’re not pouring from an empty cup, take a moment for some self-care. Create a mental health routine with tools that help you check in with yourself and find balance.

Send kind notes:

Our Executive Director Maya Smith finds that writing helps her center and process her emotions, particularly writing letters of gratitude and encouragement. Our research shows that kind words can go a long way in supporting someone’s mental health. Here are a few options to help you put pen to paper:

  • Help us remind young people everywhere how important they are by writing a kind letter to them! Check out the guidelines and instructions for sending here. 
  • Send a ‘heart card’ or decorated bookmark to Catching Joy, a nonprofit founded by our Advisory Board member Max Suprenant. Your paper hearts with positive messages of love, kindness, and hope are distributed to people in need along with donations of toiletries, blankets, clothes, books, and toys. They’re also collecting hand-decorated bookmarks to include in their donations of books to underserved communities. You can send both your hearts and bookmarks to: Catching Joy, Inc., P.O. Box 125, Waban, MA 02492. 
  • Write cards for Letters Against Isolation, Love for Our Elders, or Stay Gold Society’s Happy Mail, all helping to combat loneliness in senior communities across the globe.
  • Through Operation Gratitude, you can pen personal letters of appreciation for deployed troops, veterans, first and frontline responders, and more! 
  • Send letters of encouragement to people with OCD or other mental health conditions through Solely Sunshine.
  • Our friends at Find Your Anchor Box are always accepting kind notes to support folks in a mental health crisis. Use a small piece of paper to create short notes like “you are so incredibly loved!” and send them to: Find Your Anchor 1050 Calle Cordillera, Unit 104, San Clemente, CA 92673.
  • Send a welcome letter to a resettling refugee family through our friends at Miry’s List, an organization that helps new arrival refugee families with the things that they need to get started in their new lives. 

No stationery? No problem!

  • Our co-founder Cynthia Germanotta enjoys surprising her loved ones with ecards. With Greet for Good, you can support and share the work of over 230 nonprofits while sending good wishes. 
  • Send a text, email, or DM to someone to check in and let them know you’re grateful for them! Young people have told us that one of the acts of kindness that would have the biggest impact on their mental health is having someone who regularly checks in on them!

Volunteer to support others:

Offering our time and showing up to support a friend or stranger is an invaluable and urgent act of kindness. The following tools and resources can help you get started:

  • Volunteer to be there for someone online through 7 Cups
  • Take 5 minutes on BeThere.org to learn how to recognize when someone is struggling and better lean into difficult conversations.
  • Become a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line.

Here are a few other ways you can offer a virtual helping hand to others:

  • Join our Advisory Board member Khawla in volunteering for the UN! Check out the numerous onsite and virtual opportunities offered to folks of varying skill sets around the world listed on their online portal!
  • Lend your eyes to help blind and low-vision people lead more independent lives through the app Be My Eyes.
  • Join our Advisory Board member Sophie Szew by engaging with the BreakBread Literacy Project, a cohort that meets virtually weekly to help edit a magazine to uplift marginalized youth voices. Their literacy apprentice program is open to youth all around the globe, so join now to participate in workshops and gain a variety of resources to further your own writing and editing career!
  • Decorate and donate brown paper meal bags for Kids Foods Basket!
  • Virtually volunteer with Bookshare and help provide e-books for people with reading barriers.
  • Help provide translations for nonprofits worldwide focusing on crisis relief, health, and education by applying to volunteer with Translators Without Borders.
  • Become a CareerVillage mentor to provide career advice to underrepresented youth from a wide range of backgrounds.

Be kind to your world:

The kinder, braver world we’re building needs your kindness too, check out a couple ways you can be kind to the planet from wherever you are: 

  • Our Advisory Board member Sarah Goody invites you to check out her organization Climate NOW! that aims to educate young people about climate change and the ways in which they can take action for a better future. There are several ways you can get involved virtually to support their mission.
  • Join our Advisory Board member Mauricio Correra in writing letters to help save the rainforest through Reserva: The Youth Land Trust! For every physical or virtual letter you send, they will match $3 toward a reserve project.  

Donate, if you can!

Nonprofits everywhere are seeking support to help meet the urgent, unmet needs of the communities they serve. Whether you’re able to give financially or donate physical items –  organizations are grateful for whatever you’re able to give. Here are a few ideas to spark inspiration!

  • In 2022, our Advisory Board member Max Surprenant’s nonprofit Catching Joy aims to collect and distribute 2,022 socks for both kids and adults in need. Socks can be sent to Catching Joy, 46 Arch Street, Needham, MA 02492. 
  • Our friends at Precious Dreams Foundation provide sleep support and mental health awareness to young people in foster care and homeless shelters. To help fill their ‘Comfort Bags’, consider donating new children’s pajamas (any size), stuffed animals, blankets, children’s books, journals, and MP3 players directly to: Precious Dreams Foundation 116 E 27th St. 12th FL New York, NY 10016.
  • Many nonprofit organizations have Amazon wishlists on their website to easily facilitate donations of items they need most. For example, our partners at Ali Forney Center have provided this wish list in order to directly help the homeless LGBTQ+ youth they serve.

Always remember what our co-founder Lady Gaga says, “Kindness is a free currency, and we all have it to give.” A world of opportunities to cultivate kindness exists within you and is right at your fingertips – it’s as easy as clicking a link, picking up a pen, or taking the time to be present.  

We’re always looking for more opportunities like these to share with our community, so if you have an idea you think should be included on this list, please share it with us in an email to [email protected]!

Pledge to Take Action