Earlier this month, it was Dillan's 15th birthday. He's one of our summer interns, who has become very passionate about spreading kindness, so we asked our coordinators from around the globe to send him an email with b'day wish and a personal reflection on kindness. For those that didn't know him too well, we sent this introductory note ...
When Dillan first approached us, he wrote a candid essay about why he wanted to volunteer with CharityFocus: "What I hope to get out of this is being able to realize and appreciate what I have, understand that volunteering is not what most people misconstrue it to be; not something you do because it looks good on your college apps, you do it because you truly want to and know that the act of generosity will make you feel good. Finally what I hope to get out of this is learn all the life lessons I can, maybe as I converse with the people I volunteer with or listen to the homeless guy whom I always see in front of the library I will learn what I don’t expect to."
Since that day, he's kept pushing his own bounds. Once he told us that every night before he goes to sleep, he pulls out his iPad :) and reads kindness stories on HelpOthers.org and give "smiles" to other people's stories. He gets good sleep that way. Soon after, they started doing all varieties of kind acts themselves, ranging from giving up their seat for an elderly couple to sharing lunch with the homeless to listening patiently to someone who "hated my guts". He single-handedly created a website, organized a Relay For Life fundraiser, and got deeply engaged. When he volunteered at Karma Kitchen the first time, he not only took amazing photos but also made a stunning booklet as a thank-you for us! And of course, the trackable Smile Cards (the audio of his talk was so cute!) and many other CF projects that he continues to work on.
When he came to Wednesday meditation for the first time, he couldn't really sit for the whole hour. But he kept at it. By the third week, he decided to even let go of his cell phone (previously he would text in between, as we later learned :)) and while he still has a hard time keeping his eyes closed, he's decided to "conquer meditation by the end of summer". Read his blog entry for more. :)
It really has been amazing to see how much he has grown in a matter of 6 weeks. At one of our meetings, he privately turns to Nipun and asks, "Nipun-bhai, does the CharityFocus internship have to end at the end of summer?" After a pause, "I mean, I'll have homework and stuff once school starts, so it can't be this intense, but I'd really like to continue." We assured him that if he wants, he can be a CF'er for life. :)
So that's Dillan. We really adore him in so many ways. Sometimes, our weekly calls inspire me so much that I wonder who is the mentor and who the mentee :)
To write Dillan a few lines, just click here, wish him a happy birthday and share something with him about kindness. It might go a long ways.
Sure enough, everyone blasted him with b'day wishes and a personal reflection on kindness. Someone else tagged him with a fruit basket, and random strangers at KK signed a big thank-you collage for his spirit of service. When Dillan received all the notes, he was totally rocked and spontaneously wrote:
"I don't know where to start. For all that CharityFocus does, no one person can thank you enough. Its just so inspiring and man I hope everyone including me can be like all of you. You all are like the roots in a tree setting the example and creating the foundation and leading everyone else -- with small things like always smiling, giving hugs, and thanking everyone. It is just so touching and amazing. I honestly do not know what to say. At the point I got the fruits and read all my emails, I felt like crying in joy. Thanks for all you have done for others and making CharityFocus the great success it is today. I hope to continue as an intern forever."
Now that's a note that MasterCard would call priceless. :)