How Small Actions Make a Big Impact Against Loneliness

By Sara Porcaro | Oct 21, 2020
Rhode Island, Charity, Community, Leadership, Loneliness, COVID-19, Coronavirus, Disabilities

"We're connected now more than ever," some will say. In fact, many might say it; getting to see to our loved ones both near and far via the internet, as well as hosting events online like parties, weddings, professional conferences, and more, is largely what kept our worlds turning during the COVID-19 pandemic. But when the chats close, and the cameras shut off, the quality of the silence left behind isn't the same as that where one shuts the door behind their guests or tidies the conference room before returning to their office. For many, it's the same silence they've already sat in day after day, the same four walls around them.
This year, the pandemic has exacerbated the already existing epidemic of loneliness, especially as the shelter-in-place had us in our homes and away from our friends and favorite places. However, where there's a problem, there are also generous and compassionate people out there looking to help--and recently, an organization of such people, called One Thing Helps (OTH), has stepped up to not only raise awareness for this epidemic, but to also provide the tools for others to make a difference in their everyday lives. Created this year by professionals accepted into the Leadership Rhode Island (LRI)'s year-long Coming Together Program, OTH sprang from the need for action to help ease the burdens of loneliness in our communities.
"We didn't want this to just be a public service announcement," says Richard Davia, Creative Director at (add)ventures and OTH's Chief Helping Officer (CHO). "We wanted this to be public service action, and that's why we've created free tools for our community to use, like our Kindness Kit."
"We didn't want this to just be a public service announcement; we wanted this to be a public service action."
Thanks to their partnership with Rhode Island College's (RIC) School of Social Work, the school offered their list of resources for the public to access any time on onethinghelps.org. Beyond that, RIC identified sixty agencies across Rhode Island to deliver the Kindness Kit to in person. The kit was customized with additional materials provided by RIC, including a jar of pure honey, sustainably sourced and made on RIC's campus. A version of the kits, customized with COVID-19 personal protective supplies, were also given to students living on campus at RIC to start their semester with. Richard, his LRI teammate and Half Full founder Rebecca Twitchell, and a group RIC students and staff went in person to drop the kits off at the identified business offices, at RIC's dorms, and other public locations. Among those agencies is Perspectives, where Richard delivered the materials to his friend, Senior Director Jim Simon, to share further with his colleagues.
That Kindness Kit is one that carries the spirit of the organization and inspiration for its name. With three simple steps--understanding, planning, and doing one thing--everyone can make an impact on loneliness--whether with their colleagues, their friends, or even with their immediate family in their own homes. This printable kit is accessible for free from OTH's website, and the goal is to inspire others with the tools and ideas necessary to take action--no matter what that action is. In OTH's philosophy, it doesn't require one person's huge efforts to make change, but many people's smaller, simpler, and genuine ones.
"People often ask, 'What can I do?' And it might feel daunting to try and do something about a problem this big," says Richard, "but that's why we decided to focus on getting people the tools to do just one thing to help--because it's still impactful and not nearly so overwhelming."
Loneliness is something we all face, no matter our circumstances or backgrounds, and it's also something we can all work to overcome together. That's why that impact Richard mentions can be seen right on OTH's website, and on their Instagram page, @onethinghelps. There, the organization has a hashtag, #onethinghelps, where those taking the time to do one thing for their community can share it and give others inspiration and ideas to keep the momentum going. During a time of social distancing and isolation, it's more important than ever that we reach out to those around us, and that we remember that doing just one thing for someone else in need is enough to make a bigger impact than we expect. Check out OTH's website today to learn more about this organizaiton's mission and find ways that you can contribute!


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