Posted by: joshjasper | June 3, 2009

Pay It Forward

Have you ever seen that commercial where a person does something nice for one person, and then that person later in the day does something nice for another person,  all while improving the lives of each person in the process?  I love it.

I feel like this “pay it forward” type of mentality has been present in my life as of late, and for that, I am sincerely grateful.

For example, the Telegraph Herald wrote an article in Monday’s paper about the work that Riverview Center does and our need for an additional therapist in the Dubuque office.  At 10am that morning, I received an e-mail from a person that expressed appreciation for that article, sharing how she felt empowered to come forward and get the help she had put off for so many years.  The appreciation I felt profoundly impacted me.  I shared this disclosure with an employee on Tuesday and that person found that to be exactly what she needed to hear to reaffirm her work at the Riverview Center.  Because as you can imagine, working for a rape crisis center can very stressful at times.  At any given point, each of us question our place in our work and whether or not we are doing the best we can for the people we serve.  That e-mail shared was the just reminder she needed.

The stress of our job of course comes from the fact that we too often hear and see the worst in humanity.  Often times I am in our communities talking about Riverview and our vision and am presented with the same question; “what is wrong our society?”   (good luck answering that question by the way!)  My answer always seems to be different but typically comes back to the same point.

Not enough people are paying it forward.  I know from personal experience and from what others have shared with me that one act of kindness can go a long way.  The act can actually prove to change future behavior. (as depicted in the commercial)

If you don’t believe how simple it is to change human behavior, it’s time to conduct an experiment.  Tomorrow when you wake up, identify one person that you will come in contact with throughout the day and “pay it forward” to them.  Now when I say pay it forward, I mean really lay it on.  Rather than the customary “How you doing?” at the water cooler, ask someone how they are doing and PUSH the issue…change the script.

Make eye contact, actively listen to what is being shared, and ask other questions.  Take the time to really express an act of kindness toward someone and maybe do it a few times during the day.  The most important part of this experiment is to then observe.  Watch how that person interacts with others because of your contact with them.  With absolute certainty, you will see a change in behavior.  It may be slight, but change will occur.

Riverview Center believes in a community free of violence.  If everyone paid it forward everyday, I would be out of a job.



  1. This is the mind set that I operate from and totally embrace. It is so refreshing to someone else publically endorsing the same perspective.

  2. Continue Sharing Your Light and Vision!

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