Pacing around my bedroom on the phone with a dear friend and mentor when I hear “Riley’s Way” for the first time. I don’t know anything about it but within 30 seconds, I find myself wanting to know everything about it. He connects me to one of the staff members there and after a quick call. I am even more sold than I was before (and I didn’t even know that was possible).
Riley’s Way Foundation is a Brooklyn based nonprofit organization that believes in kindness. I am so excited to bring you this Service Spotlight with their Operations Associate, Raq Massey.
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a "Happiness is.."
Raq: Happiness is sitting in a park with my best friend on a sunny day. It’s going to the beach and just listening to the waves crash into the shore. To me, happiness is being at peace with yourself and being in a place that calms you or with people that genuinely care for you.
Liz: What is Riley’s Way?
Raq: I am working with Riley’s Way, an organization that works to empower teens to lead through the lens of empathy, kindness, and connection making. We have three main programs that allow youth to engage with each other and the world in a meaningful way.
Our Councils, made up of public and private school partnerships in New York, bring students together to practice empathy and build skills to make a positive impact in their communities. Pictured left is Nightingale-East Harlem Council: Speaker's Bureau with Circles of Support.
Our Youth Leadership Retreat brings together women-identifying young trailblazers from across the country to develop their kind leadership and engage a network of like-minded peers. Pictured below is the Youth Leadership Retreat in 2019.
Our third program is our Call for Kindness. This is a national contest open to youth ages 13-19 that asks them to develop a new project or expand an existing project to increase kindness and strengthen their community. Applications are open until March 31st (visit www.callforkindness.org for more information)!
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Raq: The driving force behind what we do is kindness. Inspired by the extraordinary kindness of an amazing young girl named Riley, our organization believes that the simple act of continuous, intentional kindness can change the world for the better and young people are the catalyst for that change.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Raq: Taking from one of our Call for Kindness fellows, Matthew, service means doing for others because you genuinely care and can. “...it’s about helping someone because you care about them as people. Service has much more to do with grace and care than with necessity.”
Liz: How can people get involved?
Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?
Raq: We would love to hear from you about kind leaders that have inspired you. Nominate someone that showcases kind leadership in action.
Liz: Any last favorite quote or piece of advice to leave us with?
Raq: “If it didn’t work today, change something, and try again tomorrow.”