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World Kindness Day: Centier Associate Spreads Smiles Across Community, Country

November 13, 2022

A lot of people would agree that the world needs more kindness. It’s no secret that acts of kindness can have positive impacts on the world around us—no matter how big or small they may be.

On Nov. 13, World Kindness Day will be celebrated around the globe to promote kindness in big and small ways. This year’s theme is “Be Kind Whenever Possible.” Whether one is demonstrating kindness or receiving kindness, an act of kindness overall is enough to boost someone’s self-esteem, optimism, and confidence.

This is an important observance to Centier Bank CEO and President, Mike Schrage and his wife, Jill, who in 2020, resurrected a bank wide initiative from the 1990s devoted to random acts of kindness.
 

With help from Centier Bank's Human Resources Department, a committee called Spreading Smiles was born. Spreading Smiles set out to begin a do good/feel good movement within the company. Over the past few years, the committee has worked to “infuse” random acts of kindness between associates, the communities we live and serve, and to our clients. Stories of positivity, sharing, helping, fundraising, and going above and beyond for others have been shared from every corner of the company while bringing smiles to the faces of those that have received and passed along special gifts of kindness. 

One Centier Bank associate, Jami Bradshaw, was the recipient of a random act of kindness when she walked into work one day in June 2022 and saw a book on her desk. The book titled, “Simple Acts of Kindness: 500+ Ways to Make a Difference,” had a message written inside of it from Mike, congratulating Jami on her 5-year corporate anniversary of making a remarkable difference in the lives of others.

Jami was so touched by the gesture and the ideas listed in the book that she declared acts of kindness as her personal theme for the summer.

“The book and the note from Mike really touched me on that particular day, as I was feeling a bit troubled by the world around us,” she explained. “I often pick random themes when I travel, and this was a perfect fit. For the trips I had planned for the summer, I wanted to somehow incorporate kindness and the ideas in the book into each place I visited.”

Jami, who lives in Northwest Indiana, embarked on an endeavor she called “60 Days of Kindness,” which recently wrapped up. She chronicled her kindness journey on social media, choosing one random act of kindness each day from the book and posting about it with a personal anecdote.

One of her favorite Days of Kindness took place when she visited Downtown Louisville, Kentucky on a trip. She and a family member created cards ahead of time that had compliments or positive messaging written on them, such as “You look nice today,” or “You Are Important,” and they handed the cards out to strangers and passersby.

“It was rewarding in a way I can’t quite explain,” she said. “Being kind to others sort of shifts your energy and brings you a sense of peace, because you know you’re bringing some positivity to another person and hopefully inspiring them to do the same to people they encounter.”

According to a study from Dartmouth College, engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins (the brain's natural painkiller) and perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population.

This exercise, which was born out of a movement that began at Centier Bank, was able to create a ripple effect of positivity in communities near and far to enrich lives while spreading kindness. Jami said she was most surprised at how fun it became to chronicle her journey on social media and inspire others that way, while opening a dialogue about everything from body image to being a good neighbor to buying small gifts and donating blood.

She said with everything going on in the world right now, people can easily slip into a dark emotional place, and she wanted to shine light on how beautiful the world can be.

“I touch more people with kindness each day than I realized,” she said. “Even a ‘good morning’ or a smile with eye contact is powerful and we need more of it these days, so much more.”

Jill Schrage said Centier Bank’s associate culture of kindness and generosity is what the bank was built on. Through Centier’s Spreading Smiles Committee, random acts of kindness are promoted and encouraged to perpetuate positivity in the world.

“Today more than ever, we’re failing to see and hear one another,” Jill said. “The power of kindness can mitigate the ill effects of our increasingly online social world. I feel we need more individual acts of love and kindness. Holding a door, paying a compliment, or bringing someone a cup of coffee is so simple—it puts a smile on someone’s face.”

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation suggests 7 ways to start incorporating kindness in everyday life:
1. Send an uplifting text to a friend or family member.
2. Let that guy merge into traffic with a wave and a smile.
3. Include intentional moments of kindness, laughter, and delight in your daily routine.
4. Go slightly outside of your comfort zone at least once a day to make someone smile.
5. Share a compliment with a co-worker or a friend.
6. Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
7. Treat someone to a cup of coffee (a friend, stranger, or even yourself).  

To read more about Jami Bradshaw’s 60 Days of Kindness Journey on Facebook, click here. For more information on World Kindness Day, go to https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/world-kindness-day.

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