Radical Acts of Kindness is returning to New College with a new name but an old mission: to be, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the change you wish to see in the world.”
“When I was a student, the club was huge on campus,” said club creator and alum Maria Fidelibus. Fidelibus graduated in 2004, and currently works at New College as executive assistant for the dean. “I chose to name it ‘Radical Acts of Kindness,‘ because the original title is protected, being a non-profit, and because I believe radical change is needed on campus if we are going to foster a more positive atmosphere.”
The club currently meets on Fridays at 7 p.m. in the Gender and Diversity Center for about an hour at a time. Newcomers are always welcome. “The club is about paying it forward,” Fidelibus said. “It’s about doing something and expecting nothing in return.”
Current members are brainstorming how to best serve the students and ways to surprise various campus departments with kindness.
“When they used to do it in the past, for Valentine’s Day week they got flowers for the entire campus, they put one in everyone’s door, of course we were a lot smaller back then, there was only Pei, B Dorm, Dort and Goldstein. It fostered a positive energy on campus,” Fidelibus said.
Radical Acts plans to focus on a different department on campus each month, as well as host a weeks worth of events for students.
“Eight different departments are going to be treated in some way, and in addition to that we will be doing some off-campus charity work,” Fidelibus said. Students voted on each department as well as chose four charities: Children First, the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, Community Haven and Mothers Helping Mothers. Volunteers also receive community service hours for their time.
Children First offers an array of early childhood services. It serves more than 600 of Sarasota’s most vulnerable children – birth to 5 years old – and their families, with the ultimate goal of kindergarten readiness.
Community Haven serves children, teenagers and adults with disabilities by providing therapy, education, socialization, housing, fitness, vocational training, job placement and recreation.
A community anchor for more than 60 years, the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex is a public facility dedicated to providing residents with a safe, clean, affordable and modern recreational facility for all ages.
Mothers Helping Mothers has been providing basic necessities such as clothing and baby items to families in need since its establishment in 1990 and currently helps more than 6,000 families each year.
“I was kind of test piloting this before I had the first club meeting,” Fidelibus said. “I made some strawberry lemonade and brownies and handed them out to students in front of Ham Center, and they were asking ‘why? What do you want?’ We are so conditioned to think that everyone has a motive, that we don’t trust good deeds, and it is just unfortunate. In light of recent events on campus, this campus is in dire need of some positivity, and I think everyone can agree that doing something nice for other people is a good thing.”