Reflections on a Year of Kindness

Dear Reader,

“I am not a journalist, but I am a helper, a fighter, and a storyteller.”

This was my mantra while submitting my Channel Kindness Reporter application in 2017. I knew full well that I would be working with some fantastic young journalists that had plenty of training in media, but what I didn’t know was that I would also be working with musicians, actors, athletes, and so many more. For some reason, I forgot that people are complex and used that tactic to scare myself into thinking I was obviously unqualified and unfit for the position.

Then came the training in January of 2018 when I met some of the most wonderful people I’ll ever know. It was remarkable to me that Born This Way Foundation could bring together such a diverse and complementary young people to create the 2018 cohort for Channel Kindness. There was an overwhelming sense of community in that meeting space, and it’s one that continued into the online platforms we use to encourage each other and share our work.

Being a part of Born This Way Foundation’s Channel Kindness program has given me a perspective change more than anything else. I’ve always looked for the helpers in any scenario, but now I also check to see if those helpers are being seen by anyone else. If not, what can I do to give them the recognition they deserve and help them share their story to inspire others to do the same? Channel Kindness creates such a thoughtful atmosphere for their Reporters to focus their energy in that it becomes second nature to be kind and recognize the kindness in others.

The program also helped me expand my comfort zone through conversations about kindness. Before joining the program, most of my kindness conversations were with other students in Philanthropic Studies department at my university. (For the record, philanthropy is understood as any kind of “voluntary action for the public good,” so kindness literally is the foundation for what I study in school.) With the Channel Kindness website as my homepage and the stories constantly floating through my head, I started to bring up stories of kindness to strangers in elevators or on the bus. I started calling my family members to ask how they’ve been kind to their communities and to themselves. The program encouraged me to make kindness a most frequent table topic.

The last takeaway from the program that I want to share is that the staff of Born This Way Foundation has taken every effort to help me and each Reporter find ways to integrate the work we’ve done with Channel Kindness to whatever avenue we pursue next. The team reaches out with opportunities we may be fit for or with ideas about work or school projects. I’ve had many work, intern, and volunteer relationships, but none were so intent on fostering my growth as my time as a Channel Kindness Reporter.

Born This Way Foundation emphasizes the urgency of kindness in every interaction they have, and I want to step in and say that my experience is proof that each work is genuine. I will never have the proper words to express my gratitude for this program, and I cannot wait to see all of the future Channel Kindness Challenges.

Readers, please continue to make the world a kinder and braver place because the work done here is nothing without you. Please continue to change the world.

Over and out, always in kindness,

Taylor M. Parker

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Taylor M. Parker

Taylor M. Parker, 20, is a graduate student at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Indianapolis, where she received her undergraduate degree focusing in women's and cross-cultural philanthropy. As a life-long learner and nurturer, she has strong passions for wide-spread civic engagement and the culture of kindness for all people. When she isn’t writing research papers or organizing fundraisers, Taylor enjoys volunteering with friends, writing letters and poetry, making themed mixtapes, and attending live performances.

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