Today we’re making Time to be Kind with Marly Q and Laura Reiss, founder of Kindness Matters 365, a nonprofit organization that is working to create a kinder world through educating children about being kind and grateful for who they are. You’ll be inspired by the story of how this one small after school club turned into a global movement to create a kinder world through teaching social and emotional well-being to kids and teens. You’re invited to join our global community, called Kind QREW, and engage with Marly Q and Laura after the episode.
Join Our Community Here: Kind QREW
Kindness Matters 365 with Laura Reiss
“My commitment is that one day this is a mandatory part of the school’s curriculum. We must teach children about being kind to themselves and navigating life, about being empowered.”
– Laura Reiss, Founder of the Kindness Matters 365 Foundation
Laura Reiss is the founder of Kindness Matters 365, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, that educates children about being kind to themselves and others. She has been working to create a kinder world for over a decade, and her organization has trained over 500 ambassadors and is in over 100 programs in 10 states.
Laura was raised to be grateful and kind, so when she had children of her own she wanted to ensure they were raised in an environment of kindness also. She started the Kindness Matters 365 Foundation, which began with the intention of teaching children about being grateful for who they are and how their actions affect others. Through her work, she witnessed the transformation of children, going from bullies to generous and kind individuals.
Her goal is to have a mandatory Kindness Matters 365 program in every school in the world, and she is well on her way to achieving this. She is dedicated to teaching children how to be self-aware and self-regulated, so that they can become a new generation of kind-minded people creating global kindness.
Listen to this Episode and …
- Be inspired by the story of how one small after school club turned into a global movement!
- Learn how kindness is transforming education in over 100 schools nationwide, and growing!
- Remember the importance of educating and empowering children to recognize their own value, be mindful of their actions, and show kindness wherever they go!
- Receive an invitation to join a global community of kindness ambassadors worldwide!
Connect with Laura Reiss & Kindness Matters 365:
Upcoming Event: https://kindnessmatters365.org/community-wellness-fest/
Connect with Marly Q:
Other Links & Resources:
Join our Kind QREW Private Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kindqrew
Join our Kind QREW+ Membership: https://marlyq.com/kind-qrew/
Programs & Courses: https://marlyq.com/programs/
Marly Q Speaking, Training & Retreats: https://sparkcsr.com
Other episodes you’ll enjoy:
00:00 Can you imagine living in a world where kindness mattered 365 days of the year? Our guest today believes we can all do our part to create a kinder world. And she’s been working to prove over the past decade that achieving global kindness is very possible. Wanna know how? Stay tuned for episode 31 of Time to be Kind with Marly Q.
00:42 Thank you for making time to be kind with me and our PARKer today. Laura Reiss. Before we jump into telling you about Laura, this is your first time in my world. Welcome. You must know right off the bat, I’m a serial acronymist and a PARKer is my acronym and a name for people who Perform Acts of Random Kindness. Like you listening, you’re a superhero PARKer, just like Laura and me, and we’re all part of what I call my Kind QREW. It’s a global community of kind minded people who are out being this spark of change that we all wish to see in the world. If you’re not part of my Kind QREW private Facebook group yet, I’ll go ahead and plug that in here. Make sure to join in after the episode and say hello. Laura’s in there. She was actually one of our founding members of our Kind QREW Facebook group, and she’s also the founder of Kindness Matters 365 a 501c3 nonprofit organization, which began as a small afterschool club in South Florida. And it’s become a global movement that educates children about being kind to themselves and others, and not just that it also equips these young kids and teens with the knowledge and the skills that they need for their social and emotional wellbeing. Oh yeah. Take a nice deep breath, everyone smile and get ready to receive a spark of inspiration today. Let’s listen.
Marly Q Welcome to the show, Laura Reiss, thank you so much for making the time to be kind today.
Laura Reiss Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m so honored to be here with you.
Marly Q Are you kidding? I was gonna knock on that door as many times as I had to knock in order to get you to answer. I know you’re so busy spreading kindness 365 days of the year.
Laura Reiss You got that right, just like you spreading kindness 365 days of the year. But I do appreciate you knocking on my door a few times and staying supportive of me being here today.
Marly Q Thank you. Yes, absolutely. Are you kidding? I follow your wonderful movement and your work. That’s what I absolutely love and admire and respect and celebrate about you and the great work that you’ve been doing for well over a decade. Could you please share with us your story? How did Kindness 365 and your Samaritan Clubs all get started? Tell us who you’re,
Laura Reiss Wow. Well thank you. Thank you for that. So my name is Laura Reiss and I’m the founder of the Kindness Matters 365 Foundation, which did start out with the name Samaritans 365. So we no longer are Samaritans 365. We are the Kindness Matters 365 Foundation. And truly the root of it all is that I was raised, well, my parents really did teach me about being grateful, showing compassion for others and being kind. And that’s the short version of my life. So that’s how I was raised, and that’s all I knew. That’s really all I knew. And you know, going through life and navigating like how to figure it all out, I was very aware of the kindness and very aware of the unkindness and continuing to be kind in my world and through my actions. And as a young mother raising my young three children, my three girls, I wanted them to be in an environment where they were kind and others were kind.
Laura Reiss So in 2008, I went to my oldest daughter’s elementary school and asked if I could start a kindness program. And in this kindness program, my intention was to really teach the children about being grateful for who they are, not for who they wanna be, not for who their next door neighbor is or what you have, but what do you look inside of your own life and what are you grateful for? Now, from that place of gratitude, be mindful about how you’re speaking, how you’re acting, how it affects you, how it affects other people. And then show kindness wherever you go. Show kindness to yourself. Show kindness at home to your siblings and to your family, and to your parents. Show kindness in the classroom on the soccer field, show kindness everywhere. And these programs, the kids loved it. They loved it. They were soaking it all up.
Laura Reiss They asked a ton of questions. Now, some of the children, they get it at home and so let’s reinforce it in school. Some of the children really had no idea what I was talking about. And so it was the first opportunity for them to really look at what are they grateful for in their lives? How are they speaking and acting, and how it affects others and where are they showing kindness and giving them more ideas about how to show kindness and more ideas about what they’re grateful for. So this program quickly turned into a once a month after school where I invited different foundations and organizations to come talk to the children about how they give back, how they’re of service, what they do. And then the really key part and component of this whole programming was that we asked the kids to do a hands-on project to give back to that organization.
Laura Reiss And it really was this amazing opportunity for kids to feel an experience at any age. And now this is elementary school. So, and let me give you an example. I think that would be helpful, right? So if the Humane Society, an animal shelter came in and talked to the kids about the importance of taking care of animals, saving lives, all of that, the kids ask questions and then they make pull toys. Or you know, they take t-shirts and rip them up and make pull toys to give to the humane society. They create adopt me banners and bandanas, and the kids don’t realize how important and valuable they are right now today, what, what positive change they can make right now today. So five years of running this one program at our local elementary school, sunrise Park, and I really got to watch the transformation of human beings.
Laura Reiss I got to watch these kids blossom into these beautiful kind to themselves and to each other, to their classmates. I got to watch the bully of the school become the most generous, opening up the door for their teachers, sharing pencils with their classmates. I really got to watch transformation. So I really saw that this was so valuable and so important and really was for every child in the world. So in 2014, I started a foundation with a commitment to have a kindness program in every school in the world. I’m gonna fast forward because there’s so much more I could talk about. To date. We have over 500 trained ambassadors. We are in over 100 programs in 10 states. We are growing strong, we are growing fast, and we see the value and the importance of really teaching, educating, and inspiring children to be kind to themselves and to others. Short version!
Marly Q My cheeks hurt so much from smiling
Laura Reiss <laugh>, <laugh>. I know. Welcome to my welcome to my world.
Laura Reiss You know, these, this is, you know, we as a foundation are committed to global kindness. And when I say global kindness, I am really talking about a new generation of kind minded people because the work that we’re doing now, educating, inspiring the spark in these children’s hearts and minds, they will grow up and teach their children who will grow up and teach their children. So, so global kindness is very possible. And actually the work that we’re doing now will benefit generations to come when my children, my children make fun of me. Because listen, we, I, you and I breathe, sleep, eat kindness, right? And I tell them that this is for them. This is not about me. This is for them raising their children who will eventually be raising their children in a kind world. Yes,
Marly Q Exactly.
Laura Reiss It’s a simple formula, don’t you think?
Marly Q I do. And I’m all about that formula and the simple acts of kindness and make a profound difference as you’re sharing your story. It took me back to elementary school and when I was, you know, in 10, uh, 10 years old in fourth grade, and this little seed was planted in me, and it was about being grateful for who I am. I couldn’t go on a field trip to go clean up the park. I didn’t have the money to go. My teacher and her kindness took me outside and like, Hey, you don’t need money in order to make a difference. What you need is to be yourself. And I see you and your kindness every single day. And she mentioned some of the things that you said, I see you smile every day and your smile lights up the room. I see you open the door and lend your pencils.
Marly Q And, and she just made me feel like I was already this superhero and I believed him. And look how that little seed, that little spark, that one minute conversation that she had with me, really, you know, made me feel important and seen and acknowledged, right? For just being myself. And I’ve never forgotten that I’ve shared this story a million gazillion times and I will never be tired of sharing it because it is about instilling those seeds of kindness in children. And it is about global citizens and creating a different world. You and I believe that the World can be a place where Everybody Performs Acts of Random Kindness. At least that’s my hashtag is #wePARK, it’s an acronym for World where Everyone Performs Acts of Random Kindness. It’s not about you, it’s not about me, he or she. It’s about we. And it is so simple. So I’m a brand new mom. And me instilling these seeds of kindness in my kids is, is honestly my number one priority. Like, if I do anything as a parent, it’s gonna be this. I even named my kid Parker, Jude Parker. Parker is someone who Performs Acts of Random Kindness.
Laura Reiss Great. That’s great, Marly. This is so great.
Marly Q He Knows who he is, right? And we’re celebrating and being grateful for who you are. You are kindness in your heart, and I love that you’re, you’re encouraging kids to start with themselves, right? Because it is about being kind to yourself first. Because from that is how we can create this ripple effect and this desire to be kind to other people and to our planet.
Laura Reiss Yes. And children deserve it is mandatory that we let these children know that they are valuable, that they are important, and that they can accomplish anything. You know, when we go into these schools, so we have a training, we train our ambassadors about presenting these programs, and there’s a whole conversation about really letting these children know how important and valuable they are. Some of these children, they really don’t get it. They really don’t know. And they are so precious and so important and so valuable. And that when they realize that they can give back now and that they Right, it’s a, it is a power tool for them. It really, really is.
Marly Q I believe that that’s exactly what happened to me. I mean, I felt super down and defeated and helpless. Like, oh man, I can’t, I was the only kid in class. I couldn’t go on this field trip. And I’m like, man, cause I don’t have the money to go. I’m not gonna be able to make a difference and I can’t. And all this helplessness is what I felt. And this teacher in an instant, it was this little spark made me feel like, no, no, no, girl, you’re already a superhero. You got this. And she made me valuable exactly what you’re saying and significant. And it’s carried me, my whole, everything I do is about right about spreading this message. So I believe it, sister.
Laura Reiss Yeah, our teachers are so valuable and so important. And they are, they are our, they’re our children’s cheerleaders. They are the other, the extension of our family home life, our, our teachers. And so my commitment, the real reason why I started these afterschool programs was so that one day, my commitment is that one day, this is a mandatory part of the school’s curriculum. So, you know, in school we’re teaching history, science, English, all that valuable, valuable, valuable. And we must teach children about being kind to themselves. We must must teach children about navigating life, about being empowered. So about a year ago, somebody, hmm, little over a year ago, somebody said to me, Hey, you’re teaching social emotional learning. Your gratitude, compassion, kindness formula is social emotional learning. And I didn’t understand it at the time. Fast forward to the eighth person who told me to check out social emotional learning, because that’s actually what I’m teaching.
Laura Reiss Sure enough, we are, we were teaching social emotional learning, which is really all about self-awareness and self-regulation, really helping human beings understand, being aware of their thoughts, being aware of their feelings, being aware of the information coming in powerfully processing it and responding and creating connection and communication and powerful relationships. This is, this is Kindness Matters. 365 Foundation is now providing, we have created a kindness curriculum. It’s a real curriculum that can go into schools. We are teaching and training teachers to bring this into the classroom so that teachers are inspired, teachers are empowered, teachers are connected and ready to teach, and the students are ready to learn and they are connected and they are empowered, and they are inspired. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a game changer for education. It is, when I say we are committed to transforming education, we are committed to, to really implementing this component of self emotion, social emotional learning and helping our teachers and our students be connected, calm, and ready to learn
Marly Q And kind. I, I love it and I love seeing the, the growth, um, and the natural progression of your movement and your organization, right? Started this one little afterschool club, which is powerful in it of itself, if it would’ve just stopped there. Uh, still super incredibly powerful. And then you started growing to teenagers and now you’re taking teachers, right? It is about including everybody in this process. It is about the WE.
Laura Reiss The we, it’s about the WE I love that. So, yes. So, so to your point, we are in preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, high school, college campuses, and we have an entire adult programming as well. And the state of Florida gave us funds, uh, about two years ago. They gave us funding to really work on our kindness in the school’s curriculum. So they gave us the funding to really work on our curriculum and to get, we have three entire schools that are trained to provide this content in their classrooms.
Marly Q Congratulations. That is so exciting. And as we celebrate World Kindness Day, right? Which I get it, it’s this one day that’s on a calendar amongst all these other random holidays that maybe people didn’t even know whose World Kindness Day. But I, I wanted to invite you to make time to be kind because it’s, it’s about world kindness Day every day. Yeah. And it’s about the little things. And sometimes people, I feel want to make a difference in the world, want to see the change in the world, wanna be the spark of the change that they wish to see. And think that it needs to be this like, massive life commitment and that you need to start a nonprofit or that you need No, it starts with you. It starts the number one leadership skill is emotional intelligence. That’s what you’re teaching. I see. That’s, that’s what you’re, that’s what you’re giving people. And you’re empowering. You can start that in your own home, in your community, in your church, at your workplace, in traffic when you’re at the grocery store or the gas station, right? It’s, it’s all about the little Kindness Matters. 365 is the perfect, perfect message, uh, to share on World Kindness Day. How can our PARKers listening support the organization and connect with you or maybe start a program in their own schools?
Laura Reiss Hmm. That’s a great question. So our website is KindnessMatters365.org. Everyone, please go joins, check it out. So KindnessMatters365.org is a great place for resources. We primarily run on volunteers. So if anyone is interested in volunteering and being a part of our family, our ambassadors are the heart of this foundation. They go through our, our Kindness Matters 365 training. And we really provide everything that you need to running your own program, from your training, all the way through to the materials that you need to be providing to your, to your participants. Video content, project ideas, reflection questions, speaker ideas. We, because of the na the, the pandemic, the Worldwide Pandemic, we actually pivoted and have everything available online now. So in the fall, our ambassadors are ramping up to provide our kindness programming online or in schools, in person or, you know, remote. What, whatever they, what, however, their new platform for providing these programs is gonna go. We’re ready for it. So becoming an ambassador, super important. And really it’s a gift. It’s a gift to the person who goes through the training providing these programs because you get to really see the transformation of these kids. You get to be the one that is inspiring and educating and we provide everything for you. And then of course, funding is always appreciated. We are a small non-for-profit, but we are very powerful and we’re growing strong.
Marly Q I mean, it’s really such a beautiful way to celebrate World Kindness Day, having you here with us today and sharing your light, your love, your energy, your spark of kindness,
Marly Q Uh, through the airwaves. Thank you, Laura.
Laura Reiss Thank you Marley. And thank you for all that you do, inspiring so many people to be kind and the many different ways to be kind. Thank you for your kindness in the world.
Marly Q You see, I knew you’d love this episode and would be inspired by Kindness Matters 365 and Laura, she gave us such great nuggets of wisdom. And hopefully you feel inspired today to PARK, to Perform an Act of Random Kindness in your home where you work or out in the world.
On behalf of the great team and the volunteers at Kindness Matters 365, I wanna invite you PARKers in Florida to attend their first ever Community Well-Fest, it’s coming up February 26th in Delray Beach, Florida. And listen, if you’re not here in South Florida, but you’re inspired to park, you do so right now by leaving a kind review or a comment referencing this episode 31 with Laura Reiss. And you might just win a prize by Kindness Matters 365. Go ahead and visit MarlyQ.com/31, the number three one for show notes and links to connect. Thank you again for making time to be kind with Marly Q today. See you next time.