When Bob Hoffman was cut off by another driver in traffic two years ago, his first reaction wasn’t to flick her off. (Well, maybe it was just for a second.) But mostly, he felt an urge to make her day better.
“She wasn’t thinking about anything else but getting home, just like anyone else out there, and I saw that she was just trapped in her own little ball of stress,” Hoffman said. “I started to imagine what I could do and I found myself imagining running up to her window and saying, ‘Here’s $50, I hope that makes your day a little better.’"
Then Hoffman realized the key wasn’t spending money but just committing a simple act of kindness, cost-free.
Thus, ePifanyNow Pass it Forward was born. Participants gather at a restaurant, discuss suggestions for acts of kindness, set out to commit said acts for a few hours then return and relate their experiences. The next Pass it Forward event will be Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Perspective 2 Gallery in Old Town.
“It’s really just about bursting people’s balls of stress,” Hoffman said, “saying we’re all in this together, and the really amazing part is the people coming back and sharing their stories afterward. It’s just so great to see how much it lights up their faces and how much of an impression such a simple thing can make on someone’s life.”
Hoffman’s project stresses that no acts of kindness are too big or too small.
“We just want to stress that we can help each other without spending any money at all,” he said. “We just find ways to burst balls of stress by touching people's lives no matter how small, simple, or insignificant the act of kindness.”
Some past acts of kindness are mowing a neighbor’s lawn, or filling a stranger’s gas tank. One group offered to wash dishes for an Michigan State fraternity and another brought letters and stamps to a homeless shelter for people to write their loved ones.
This will be Pass it Forward’s fourth occasion. Events occur twice a year, once in the summer and once in the winter. Pass it Forward events have also sprung up in St. John’s and Grand Rapids.
Hoffman stresses Pass it Forward is a family-friendly event.
“You don’t have to be an adult to come down and participate,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of kids from as far as Webberville to these meetings. We even had a 3-year-old once, who did it and said, ‘I want to do this again, Mom.’ Kids from all different age groups and interests participate, and it’s just a really great thing for them to witness. It’s quite an educational opportunity.”
Pass it Forward
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7
319 East Grand River Ave., Lansing