Rebecca Maloney was having a tough day. We’re talking grocery-store-with-a-hungry-infant-in-tow tough. There she was in the checkout line at the Fred Meyer store in East Wenatchee, groceries half-bagged and just minutes from getting out the door, when she realized she’d left her wallet at home. As Rebecca explained her situation to the clerk, a woman standing behind her in line — a complete stranger — stepped in and picked up her tab of more than $60. The generous woman’s one request was that Rebecca do something kind for someone else in the future.
This exchange epitomizes “paying it forward,” an expression invented a century ago and a concept that’s been around since ancient times. The idea has caught fire in recent years with promotion from a global Pay It Forward organization, and local Pay It Forward groups popping up in communities far and wide. Thanks to Rebecca, we now have one of our own.
Tired of negativity in the media and all around her, and inspired by the benevolence of that stranger in Freddy’s, Rebecca formed Pay It Forward NCW to promote random acts of kindness in our region. Along with her work organizing last month’s inaugural In Our Valley event with Kelley Kennedy, Rebecca sees Pay It Forward NCW as another way to make North Central Washington a stronger, more supportive community and a happier place to live — one kind act at a time.
The popularity of the Pay It Forward movement may stem from its inherent notion that there are ways for those of us without charitable foundations in our names to do good in the world and positively impact other people.
Acts of paying it forward range from overwhelmingly generous gift-giving — both financial and of the self — to small and unexpected kindnesses, like paying for the coffee order of the guy behind you in line. (Pro tip for the kindhearted on a budget: If you’re considering doing this in the Starbucks drive-through, maybe just glance back to see how many passengers are in the car behind you, guess at whether or not they look like $4-a-cup Venti Caramel Frappuccino people, and then cross your fingers that the driver isn’t on a coffee run for his entire office.)
A few months ago, Rebecca invited The World to partner with her to promote Pay It Forward NCW. The World’s involvement with the organization is a natural fit. Promoting random acts of kindness, we hope, will fight civic apathy and eventually lead to a greater sense of community-mindedness — a major focus of this newspaper. It was out of this partnership with Pay It Forward NCW that The World’s new Local Solutions page was born.
You can find Pay It Forward NCW on Facebook, where we post uplifting stories about folks helping each other in unexpected ways. And every Friday, look for #PayItForwardFriday posts on The World’s Facebook page that offer ideas for passing on the kindness to others. Last Friday’s post suggested parking toward the back of a parking lot, leaving a spot up front for someone else. It’s a small thing that will almost certainly go unnoticed, but it may make someone else’s day easier.
Have you been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Please find Pay It Forward NCW’s Facebook page, like it, and share your own stories of unexpected generosity with us there.