Laura Reiss started a kindness club when her oldest daughter was still in elementary school. Ten years later, Samaritans365 Foundation is in nine states and L’Oreal Paris has chosen Reiss as one of 10 Women of Worth. She’ll be honored at a gala in New York.
Boca Voice talked to Reiss, founder, and executive director. Her oldest daughter Marissa went on to start the kindness program at Eagles Landing Middle School and ran the club at West Boca High.
Q: How did you grow this little after-school club in Sunrise Park Elementary School to 4,050 members in 90 chapters. I remember covering one of the first meetings at your house.
A: One club at a time. Some are summer camps. Some schools have four clubs. It has grown into a kindness movement.
Q: What exactly is The Kindness Matters movement?
A: It educates and inspires children about the importance of being grateful for who they are. To show kindness to themselves and others. It shows them how to make a positive impact in their own communities and the world.
Q: You received $10,000 for the foundation. But people can register to vote through Nov. 30 for another $25,000. How can they do that?
A: Visit WomenofWorth.com and register with an e-mail address to vote once per day. “Like” a post about an honoree on the L’Oréal Paris Facebook page. Re-tweet a mention about one of the Women of Worth made by L’Oréal Paris on Twitter
Q: What do the clubs accomplish?
A: As part of their service-learning and community service projects, the clubs have collected and distributed $1,347,300 in goods. They have supported 45,800 individuals and raised $2.5 million in disaster relief. They reported 613,213 community service hours. That’s what we could document. There’s, even more, we don’t even know about.
Q: What’s next for Samaritans365?
A: My vision and commitment are to have a Kindness Matters conversation in every classroom. So, we have created a social-emotional kindness curriculum. Once an ambassador goes through training online, the curriculum is available. Everything they need to run a successful program is online.
Q: Why is this so important to you?
A: I believe this the perfect time. Everyone’s eyes and minds are open. This is the beginning of a better world. It starts here with all of us. This is about teaching a new generation of kind-minded people.
By Marci Shatzman