“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have,” once said American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.
Keeping that philosophy alive is the newly formed, St. Charles-based, nonprofit initiative Random Acts Matter – or RAM – headed by St. Charles resident and Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank executive Jim Di Ciaula.
Staffed by five board-member and several committee-member volunteers, RAM's mission is to instigate and mobilize the community by providing care and compassion through random acts of kindness and service. Friends of Di Ciaula – the founder and president of RAM – encouraged him to create the new venture.
“I believe I have been blessed and have a responsibility to give back,” he explained. “Many people are going through many challenges. We want to provide a little care and compassion to those in need.”
As volunteers, donors and fundraising efforts are needed to keep Random Acts Matters operating, the initiative is assembling business owners who have agreed to provide services when needed, plus recruit volunteers to execute service-related acts and provide some level of financial support to people in need. Youth volunteers are also being recruited with outreach planned for both St. Charles high schools.
Random acts undertaken are fulfilled primarily on a referral basis and provide an element of surprise for all recipients. RAM has already donated to help purchase a therapy dog for a child with Asperger's syndrome, delivered coffee and meals to a local resident recovering from a fall, and assisted a St. Charles family injured in a car accident during the holidays. RAM's primary focus will be in the St. Charles area, but it hopes to expand over time as helping others helps sustain healthy communities.
Building the 'kindness' chain
RAM is officially launching during the week of Feb. 13, Random Acts of Kindness Week, which was created by the Denver, Colo.-based, non-affiliated Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
“We thought it appropriate to launch our new non-for-profit [RAM] during this week,” Di Ciaula said. “It’s just one way to encourage others to share care and compassion within our community.”
National Random Acts of Kindness Day, which launched in 2004 in New Zealand, takes place Feb. 17.
RAM plans to host An Evening of Random Acts – a Ravinia-style, inaugural fundraising event – on Sept. 10, starting at 5 p.m. at Mount Saint Mary's Park in Saint Charles, which will offer live music, wine, food and community. Attendees are asked to bring a table for two, chairs and a packed picnic basket. Food baskets may also be ordered when making reservations, and wine will be available for purchase.