“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.” – Rachel Scott
In case you missed it, this month Southern Dutchess News published a great article about the chain of kindness perpetuated by the LaGrange Challenger Bowling League, an organization near and dear to our firm. Created in 2007, the league serves local families in the Hudson Valley by providing recreation for children and adults ages five and over with physical and developmental disabilities. Now, the families of the league are uniting to give back to other organizations in the region in hopes of paying kindness forward.
Founded by Kurt and Sharon Beale, with support from The Town of LaGrange, the LaGrange Challenger Bowling League presents a safe, judgement-free, recreational environment for those with physical and developmental disabilities to socialize, build confidence, have fun, learn life skills and give back to the community. Additionally, the volunteer-run program allows parents and guardians the opportunity to support one another and exchange valuable insight related to their caregiving experiences.
In late February, bowlers aging from five to 70 gathered with their families at Spins Bowl in Wappingers Falls to sort hundreds of donations for the Dutchess County SPCA, the latest Hudson Valley non-profit to receive support from the league. An assortment of pet food, cleaning supplies, paper goods, blankets and more were acquired and organized to be donated in the coming weeks.
Last year, the LaGrange Challenger Bowling families donated to food pantries throughout Dutchess County, as well as the Grace Smith House, and they plan to collect school items for less fortunate children in the county this summer. In her interview with the Southern Dutchess News, Beale said, “Our kids are capable, caring, smart, purposeful people and we wanted to show the community that they can make a difference too. They can give back to the community that gives so much to them.”
According to Dartmouth University, kindness is contagious and yields great benefits for givers, receivers and witnesses. Side effects can include boosted mood, energy, happiness and even an extended lifespan. Relatedly, kindness can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of social isolation – negative feelings that commonly affect those with physical and developmental disabilities.
Christine Carter, author of “Raising Happiness; In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents,” says: “People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.”
For those participating in the LaGrange Challenger Bowling League, volunteer opportunities are not always easy to find, according to Michael, Ellen and Leonard Viggiano, a family involved with the league. The feeling of being needed and contributing to the community has boosted morale for their family, and for others involved.
According to The Arc, a national non-profit dedicated to promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it is a common misconception that people with disabilities can only receive service and cannot give back to others. Existing barriers include insufficient staff support and training for volunteer coordinators, inaccessible volunteer locations, lack of transportation for volunteers and lack of information about inclusive volunteer opportunities. Committed to inclusion, The LaGrange Challenger Bowling League is breaking through these barriers and creating opportunities for participants and their families to give back, and have fun while doing so.
Let’s take a lesson from these kind bowlers, and intentionally spread kindness through our words, actions and volunteer efforts. By doing so, you may just start a chain reaction.
To learn more, or to support, visit the website at https://sites.google.com/site/lgchallengerbowling/.