Hi YuMMies,

I’m incredibly excited to introduce you to my friend and fellow YuMMie Brad Aronson, and to tell you about his special and uplifting book, HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time.

The book is full of stories about seemingly small acts of kindness that transform a life or thousands of lives. In HumanKind you’ll meet the six-year-old who started a global kindness movement, the teacher who changed a child’s life with a single lesson in shoe tying, the band of seamstress grandmothers who mend clothes for homeless people, and our very own You Matter Marathon. What’s more, you can find a list of practical ways each of us can make a difference at the end of each chapter.

And to top it off, all proceeds from the sale of the book go to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Praised by People magazine, Deepak Chopra, The Philadelphia Inquirer and others, HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time  has been called “one of the most uplifting and life-affirming books in years.”

Brad is a YMM participant and supporter, and he answers some questions about his book below:

. . . .

What prompted you to write HumanKind, and what is it about?

I was first inspired by a mentee’s high school graduation. All the students at her school are there because of some sort of adversity in their lives, and the vast majority of them are from areas of Philadelphia where it’s assumed that they won’t go to college. Contrary to the statistics and preconceived notions stacked against the students, 100% of that year’s graduates were accepted by colleges. These students beat the odds – it was a huge deal! This inspirational story never made the news, and I couldn’t believe it. I decided to do something about it, so I start sharing inspirational stories online.

Six months later, my wife was diagnosed with leukemia.

We spent a lot of time at the hospital, and a patient advocate suggested we create projects to give us purpose and focus during such an emotionally draining experience. So, I began writing about the friends, family members and complete strangers who rescued us from that dark time, often with the smallest gestures, and I found that I didn’t want to stop. I knew that like the high school graduation I attended, the world was full of other people’s inspiring stories that didn’t make the news, so I sought them out. I scoured the Internet, I talked to people at countless nonprofits and I asked everyone I knew for their stories. And I found what I was looking for. Amazing stories about those moments when a small gesture transforms a life, or, has a butterfly effect and transforms thousands of lives.

Can you preview one or two of the small acts of kindness that you mention in the book? (Other than YMM).

Here’s an abbreviated version of one of the stories in the book:

As a Jewish child growing up in Germany during World War II, Hilde Back escaped the Holocaust when a stranger gave her family money to flee to Sweden. When she grew up, Hilde was determined to give back. She started by becoming a teacher, and she gave what she could to charitable organizations like Save the Children.

And then she learned of a program that supported the education of Kenyan children. In Kenya, children have to pay to attend secondary school, so kids living in poverty don’t stay in school. They end up following in their parents’ footsteps, working in jobs that don’t pay enough money for food, medical care and other basic needs. To do her part, Hilde sent off $45 a year to help a child she didn’t know. She considered it a drop in the bucket and wondered if it could really make a difference, but it was the best she could do.

As it turned out, the child she supported did so well in school that he was able to go on to college. In fact, Chris Mburu received a full scholarship to Harvard. And now he’s giving back as a senior human rights adviser serving with the United Nations. He’s also the founder of a charity that funds secondary school for Kenyan children. He named his nonprofit the Hilde Back Education Fund (HBEF) after the benefactor whose name he knew even though he had never met her.

He and Hilde have since become great friends. After petitioning the Swedish embassy to find her, Chris introduced himself, and today he visits her in Sweden at least once a year. She’s also visited his village in Kenya, which honored her as a tribal elder. He calls her his second mom.

More than eight hundred children have been educated thanks to the HBEF, and that education has created opportunities that changed their families’ lives. In turn, many of the children have given back in their own ways. Some have started nonprofits, including a program that funds the education of poor children in Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city. And meanwhile, Chris’s nonprofit also inspired a program in Ghana.

It’s safe to say that Hilde doesn’t have to wonder anymore. She knows her $45 a year made a difference.

I love sharing this type of story because they show the massive ripple effect that one act of kindness can have.

What would you like your readers to get from reading your book, especially in this challenging time?

The smallest act can transform a life, and we all have the power to do so. The heroes in the book are everyday people. They don’t have an army of helpers or millions of dollars; they just took small steps to make life better. If we look for opportunities, we can make a difference.

. . . .

A huge thank you to Brad for taking the time for this interview. You can get his inspirational book, HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time from your local bookstore, B&N, or online stores including AmazonAll proceeds go to Big Brothers Big Sisters!

You Matter.

Cheryl Rice, Founder

(P.S. Check our social media pages tomorrow for details on how you can win a free copy of Brad’s book!)

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