BEVERLY — Finding yourself the recipient of a random act of kindness in the Beverly area this month might not be so random after all.
A campaign encouraging such behavior in February was launched four years ago by the Beverly Therapists. And the group's Random Acts of Kindness effort has returned to again spur good deeds. Beneficiaries are encouraged to pay it forward.
The psychotherapy group at 10725 S. Western Ave. designed the kindness campaign to build upon itself by printing out small cards that are placed at area businesses, schools, churches and elsewhere.
Those who perform a random act of kindness are encouraged take a card and give it to the recipient of their kind act. The cards briefly explain the campaign and invite others to participate.
Each person involved in the effort is asked to perform five random acts of kindness throughout the month. And the therapy group has seen demand for its cards triple since the the campaign's inaugural year, said Lisa Catania, a founder of Beverly Therapists.
"We do believe that Beverly is a kind place. And if Beverly can be known for its kindness, we would love for that to manifest," said Catania, who also works as a therapist.
Aida Pigott (top), Lisa Catania (right) and Christina Sprayberry are all on the team at Beverly Therapists. The group is behind both the Random Acts of Kindness campaign and the We Welcome Diversity signs in the neighborhood. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]
Further encouraging random acts kindness throughout the neighborhood is a social media campaign. Those participating in the effort are asked to use the hashtag #KindnessInBeverly, Catania said.
"The hope is that it gains momentum," Catania said. "A simple act of kindness can make a world of difference."
She said the kindness campaign originated from an anti-bullying effort nearly 12 years ago. The effort evolved to promote kindness, taking the emphasis away from the negative behavior of bullying.
"At a certain point, we said, 'What is the opposite of bullying?'" said Catania, who has heard of strangers receiving bouquets of flowers with a kindness card tucked inside. Others have paid for a struggling neighbor's groceries, and one family delivered fresh-baked cookies to a nearby firehouse.
Lisa Catania is a therapist and founder of Beverly Therapists. The group is behind the We Welcome Diversity signs shown here on the front door. Catania's team is also in its fourth year of promoting the Random Acts of Kindness campaign. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]
Beverly Therapists is also behind a sign that reads, "We Welcome Diversity." The group originally designed the sign to hang in their own front door, but they soon realized others might be interested as well.
"We felt very strong with coming up with a statement, and we feel it can be a model for other businesses," Catania said. "This is about promoting unity."
The therapy group has handed out several of the signs to area businesses and community groups. It has also made the signs are available for free to download.
The signs come in response to what many of the therapists have seen as a heightened sense of fear and stress in the wake of the recent presidential election. In fact, several therapists said that many clients requested additional sessions both in the build up and at the conclusion of the political cycle.
"I think people are feeling more stressed," Catania said. "There is more generalized vulnerability."
Stacey has received positive feedback for both efforts and credited Catania and her therapy group for promoting these positive messages.
"When you feel good it makes it easier to pay it forward and share that feeling with others," she said.