Posted by Dec 6, 2013

Around this time of year, we are all bombarded with a sweet, sticky overload of Madison Avenue hype about the season and how giving is better than receiving. These marketing campaigns are designed to get us to open our wallets in the name of giving. But there are simpler and more fullfilling ways to give, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year. Small gestures go a long way: a smile, a compliment, giving someone the right of way on the road, giving up your seat on the subway. These small acts, restore our faith in humanity and lighten our daily load. Just last month, such a simple act of kindness went viral on the Internet. A subway rider snapped a photo of young African American man in a hoodie who had fallen asleep on the shoulder of a religious Jewish man wearing a yarmulke. The photographer asked the Jewish man whether he should wake the sleeping youth, but the man simply said "He must have had a long day, let him sleep.'' Inspired by this, the photographer posted the photo and story on the Internet and overnight, the man, Isaac Theil of Brooklyn, became a celebrity. But unlike Joe the Plumber and other media created heroes who milk the spotlight, Theil simply shurgged off the deed, saying it was no big deal. There is a Yiddish term that fits a person  like Theil - a mensch. Definition: A person of integrity and honor.

On our 125th Anniversary, Hudson Valley Hospital Center aims to encourage more of these acts of kindness with a contest that asks people to nominate the Isaac Theils in our community for the recognition they deserve. At the same time we are challenging people to pledge to perform more acts of kindness in the New Year. Our goal is 125, but the sky is the limit. Afterall, it was an act of kindness that started the Hospital in 1889 when a small group of community-minded women purchased a pre-revolutionary house on lower South Street in Peekskill, which became the Helping Hand Hospital. And Hudson Valley has dedicated itself to fullfilling that 'Helping Hand' mission ever since. 

So if you know someone you'd like to nominate for our 125 Acts of Kindness Award, please e-mail us at JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING . In addition to the person's name and reason for your nomination, please include your own contact information so we can follow up. We would like to post these nominations - and the stories behind them - on Facebook, but we will keep nominations anoymous if you so choose.

So nominate a mensch. It can be your first act of kindness for 2014 (you can count it even though we're not quite there yet) Happy Holidays.