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Founder of ‘Kindness Center’ speaks to WJHS students

posted Nov 3, 2015, 5:00 AM by Michael Richards
Author Michael J. Chase and founder of the Kindness Center in Biddeford refers to himself as the “Kindness Guy’ and, as a result, freely offers hugs and random acts of kindness to perfect strangers.  On October 14th, Chase spoke to a school-wide assembly of 500 students and staff at Wells Junior High School about how he came to be who he is and why.

Chase first offered some examples of meanness happening around the country reported in the national news. Then he offered a glimpse into his own childhood.  He said that his father was an alcoholic and his grandfather was so mean that he once tossed Chase’s toys into the trash.   Resembling Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining, Chase’s father eventually committed suicide throwing the adult Chase into a six-month sadness for not reconciling with his estranged father before he died.  Chase said his heart was shattered and he became withdrawn for months.   

But that all changed suddenly when Chase simply helped a small turtle make it across a busy highway in Gorham.  Chase experienced an unexpected and overwhelming sensation of joy by helping the small creature avoid being crushed by a car.  It changed Chase’s life when the turtle stuck its head out from under its shell and the two locked eyes.  It was an epiphany for Chase who decided to focus his life on kindness and random acts of kindness towards others. 

“Kindness creates happiness,” Chase said to the students after telling the turtle story. “Everyone deserves an act of kindness.”  Chase pointed out that there are many things one can do for others that cost nothing.   

Today Chase and his ‘kindness crew’ from the Center hit the streets to help homeless and others by offering meals, cups of coffee, smiles and hugs.  In 2015 Chase and his crew joined forces with other volunteers for what was called “24 Hours of Kindness” towards random strangers on the streets of New York City and New Jersey.  A video of a 24-hour kindness event was shown to the students. 

After the assembly at WJHS Chase offered hugs to students and staff.  Later he spoke to staff about ways they can continue motivating students to show kindness, empathy, and understanding to others.

“At Wells Junior High School we have great students, who make great choices most of the time,” commented Assistant Principal Robert Griffin on why this assembly was so important.  Griffin, who was largely responsible for the assembly, added, “When they do make poor choices it is often around issues of being unkind to one another.  Middle school is a great time to learn the important lessons of why being kind to one another will make our school, our community, and the world, a better place.”         

According to the Kindness Center’s website (http://www.michaeljchase.com/the-kindness-center.html), the center was created by Chase in 2007 with “the vision of creating a more peaceful and kindhearted world.  Rather than build a physical ‘center,’ he (Chase) decided to spread his message across the globe by creating ‘random acts of kindness’ events.”

Michael J. Chase offering hugs to students as they exit an assembly on kindness at Wells Junior High School

Speaking to hundreds of students at WJHS is Michael J. Chase

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