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Forward movement: Upper Valley week of kindness starts Oct. 14 | Free movie showing Wednesday sets example
Whether or not kindness is contagious, Debby Peterman’s enthusiasm about it has to be. Just hearing her talk about Pay it Forward, a week focused on Valley people doing nice things for others, friends and strangers alike, is enough to inspire almost anyone.
“Just imagine, if we have a week of everyone doing these acts of kindness, helping each other and then passing it on, what kind of community would we be?” she asks. “What kind of reputation will we have to other communities?”
Peterman is a member of Kiwanis, Snoqualmie Valley Women in Business, and the obvious choice for chairperson of that organization’s first-ever Pay it Forward Week, coming up Oct. 14 to 21.
Beaming, she describes the events already lined up for the week of kindness in the Valley, starting with the free showing of the PG-13 movie “Pay It Forward” at 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 10), at the North Bend Theatre. The family-friendly movie is about a young boy who imagines solving world problems by doing three acts of kindness, then asking each of the three people on the receiving end to “pay it forward” by doing three acts of kindness to other people, and so on.
That’s the basic message for the week, says Peterman. What people do with the idea is entirely up to them.
“Our concept is not that the Snoqualmie Valley Women in Business (group) tells people what to do,” she explained. “We just want to create the venue for them.”
Peterman, along with fellow committee members and planners Louise Wall, Sue Mocker, Lindsey Oliver, Kathy White, Katie Hart, Megan Botulinski, Chris Fagan, Kim Arellano, Lindsay Masters and Heather Ryan, are promoting that message with things like the Pay It Forward cards they’ll distribute at the movie showing, and presentations throughout the community.
“We’re taking it out to the schools, we’re taking it out to the churches,” Peterman said.
And the schools and churches are responding. More than 400 fifth graders in the Snoqualmie Valley School District are participating in the Kiwanis-sponsored Pay It Forward essay contest, writing about acts of kindness they did, or received. Three award winners will be selected from each school. Also, Peterman noted that the fifth graders at St. Joseph’s schools “will be PIF’ing each other all week.”
Churches are playing a short video, from the SVWIB website, on the event “to give people a sense of what Pay It Forward is all about,” Peterman said.
For many church-goers, it’s not a new concept. Peterman said one man told her “this is what church is all about,” and wondered why a special week was necessary. Peterman had a ready answer.
“People may be afraid to help,” she said. They may think they have nothing to offer, too, but with an event and a card that explains it all — “You’ve been PIF’ed, Pass it on!” — they may be more willing to reach out.
“It’s a wonderful thing to discover that you have a lot to offer,” says Peterman.
Still more wonderful is the feeling you get from helping someone. Take a donation to the food bank, for example. That food goes to help a family that can’t afford basic necessities, Peterman said. It’s vital to them, but “you feel so much better than that family could ever feel,” she said.
Pay It Forward isn’t strictly about money or donations, she adds. There are lots of ideas on the PIF website (www.svwib.com/payitforward) and she hopes there will be more once people start sharing stories of how they PIF’ed someone, or were PIF’ed.
“We just would like to get a concentrated effort in the community for that week,” Peterman said.
“Maybe some new programs will come out of this, and people will get to know their neighbors better.”
Modeling Pay It Forward activities, Mount Si High School Key Club members did service activities last week, including splitting wood and picking up the bark. From left, Jakob Cramer-Gallgos, Brandon Billett, and Vaughn Cornett, finish a project for Anna Ash, a former Key Club advisor when she taught on the East Coast. Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo