Kinney Center's Acts of Kindness Spread Gratitude and Seasonal Cheer

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

by Chris Fastiggi '18

In the midst of the holiday season, the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support has chosen  to brighten the daily experience at Saint Joseph’s by booking the calendars of its adult  students, assigning them simple acts of kindness to bestow among members of the campus community who support the center’s activities.

Now in its second year, Kinney Acts of Kindness — which are facilitated by Kinney SCHOLARS — are fast becoming an annual tradition of appreciation. From Dec. 1-15, the surprise acts of good will can include writing a thank you note to a caring colleague and bringing a treat to a friend. The little kindnesses are also extended randomly to those the students may not know, and include buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, high-fiving a passerby on the way to class or work, or leaving a friendly note where someone will find it.

Ryan Hammond  ’13 (MBA), executive director of the Kinney Center, says this idea of giving back stemmed from feeling grateful for the acceptance and support the Kinney Center experiences at the University.

“The campus community has done so much to embrace the adults of the Kinney Center,” says Hammond. “The holiday season is a perfect time to thank those who have provided us with this inclusion.”

The 11 days of kindness are not just a sign of gratitude —they are also an opportunity to teach the Kinney Center students valuable lessons.

“It’s important to emphasize the social skills we want our students to employ,” says Abigayle Jayroe ’14 (MBA), director of operations at the Kinney Center. “These are skills and lessons that we have built upon throughout the semester.”

Kinney Center students have recognized campus colleagues and friends with whom they interact daily, such as the staffs of the O’Pake Recreation Center and the Office of Public Safety and Security.

“We are aiming to recognize the help that has been graciously offered to us,” says Hammond. “Being a part of a Jesuit institution, it’s natural for us to embody these values.”

Final exams can be an intense time for the campus community. The Kinney Center staff and adult students hope that it’s Days of Kindness provide moments of welcome distraction.

“The University community is the main advocate for our population of students,” explains Hammond. “If we can brighten their day through an act of kindness during this busy time, that means the world to us.”

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