Motivational Materials

When you need that extra kick to get you going or when you’re looking for just the right thing to say to start the perfect SA/TO event, this is the place! Look through:

Poems

Smile – Barbara Hauck, age 13
(from “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul”)

She smiled at a sorrowful stranger.

The smile seemed to make him feel better.

He remembered past kindnesses of a friend and wrote him a thank-you letter.

The friend was so pleased with the thank-you that he left a large tip after lunch.

The waitress, surprised by the size of the tip, bet the whole thing on a hunch.

The next day she picked up her winnings, and gave part to a man on the street.

The man on the street was grateful; for two days he’d had nothing to eat.

After he finished his dinner, he left for his small dingy room.

(He didn’t know at that moment that he might be facing his doom.)

On the way he picked up a shivering puppy and took him home to get warm.

The puppy was very grateful to be in out of the storm.

That night the house caught on fire.

The puppy barked the alarm.

He barked ’til he woke the whole household and saved everybody from harm.

One of the boys that he rescued grew up to be President.

All this because of a simple smile that hadn’t cost a cent.

Quotes

“True leaders are not those who strive to be first but those who are first to strive and who give their all for the success of the team. True leaders are the first to see the need, envision the plan, and empower the team for action. By the strength of the leader’s commitment, the power of the team is unleashed.” - Unknown

“In each life there comes at least one moment, which if recognized and seized, transforms the course of that life forever. The moment may call for you to leap, empty-handed, into the world.” - Ralph Blum

“One kind word can warm three winter months.” - Japanese Proverb

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have.” - Margaret Mead

“You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” - Rabbi Tarfon

“People come together connecting their lives in intricate patterns, creating a unique and beautiful world.” - Unknown

“When we do for others, we can’t help but be touched by the love and generosity we thought we were giving away.” - Kimberly Kirberger

“Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, help to make Earth happy.” - Julia Carney

“There are always two choices, two paths to take. One is easy. And it’s only reward is that it’s easy.” - Unknown

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” - Lao-Tzu

“The divine sings in noble deeds.” - Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” - Sally Koch

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” - James M. Barrie

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” - Amy Carmichael

“Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty.” - Unknown

“Everything depends on deeds.” - Rabbi Akiva

“Deeds, not talk, count.” - Pirkei Avot

“Follow the way of the good and keep to the paths of the just, for the upright will inherit the earth.” - Proverbs

“Seek the good in everyone; reveal it, bring it forth.” - Rabbi Nachaman of Bratslav

“If you do onto help a person with trouble, it is as though you have brought trouble to him.” - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

“Whoever does not help himself cannot help others.” - Yemenite Jewish saying

“When a person leaves this world, he is accompanied not by silver, gold, or jewels, but by Torah and good deeds.” - Pirkei Avot

Stories

Everybody’s Story

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry with that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody would not do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty – Story

It’s a crisp winter day in San Francisco. A woman in a red Honda, Christmas presents piled in the back, drives up to the Bay Bridge tollbooth.

“I’m paying for myself, and for the six cars behind me,” she says with a smile, handing over seven commuter tickets. One after another, the next six drivers arrive at the tollbooth, dollars in hand, only to be told, “Some lady up ahead already paid your fare. Have a nice day.”

The woman in the Honda, it turned out, had read something on an index card taped to a friend’s refrigerator: “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” The phrase seemed to leap out at her and she copied it down.

Judy Foreman spotted the same phrase spray painted on a warehouse wall a hundred miles from her home. When it stayed in her mind for days, she gave up and drove all the way back to copy it down. “I thought it was incredibly beautiful,” she said, explaining why she’s taken to writing it at the bottom of all her letters, “like a message from above.”

Her husband, Frank, liked the phrase so much that he put it up on the wall for his seventh-grade students, one of whom was the daughter of a local columnist. The columnist put it in the paper, admitting that though she liked it, she didn’t really know where it came from or what it really meant.

Two days later, she heard from Anne Herbert, who lives in Marin, one of the country’s ten richest counties, where she housesits, takes odd jobs and gets by. It was in a Sausalito restaurant that Herbert jotted the phrase down on a paper placemat, after turning it around in her mind for days. “That’s wonderful” a man sitting nearby said, and he copied it down carefully on his own placemat.

“Here’s the idea,” Herbert says. “Anything you think there should be more of, do it, randomly.” Her own fantasies include: 1) breaking into depressing-looking schools to paint the classrooms; 2) leaving hot meals on kitchen tables in the poor parts of town; 3) slipping money into a proud old woman’s purse. Says Herbert, “Kindness can build on itself as much as violence can.” Now the phrase is spreading, on bumper stickers, on walls, at the bottom of letters and business cards. And as it spread, so does a vision of guerrilla goodness.

In Portland, Oregon, a man might plunk a coin into a stranger’s meter just in time. In Patterson, New Jersey, a dozen people with pails and mops and tulip bulbs might descend on a rundown house and clean it from top to bottom. In Chicago, a teenage boy might be shoveling off the driveway when the impulse strikes. What the hell, nobody’s looking, he thinks, and shovels the neighbor’s driveway too.

It’s positive anarchy, disorder, a sweet disturbance. Senseless acts of beauty spread. They say you can’t smile without cheering yourself up a little – likewise, you can’t commit a random act of kindness without feeling as if your own troubles have been lightened, if only because the world has become a slightly better place.

And you can’t be a recipient without feeling a shock, a pleasant jolt. If you were one of those rush hour drivers who found your bridge fare paid, who knows what you might have been inspired to do for someone else later. Wave someone on at the intersection? Smile at a tired clerk? Or something larger, greater? Like all revolutions, guerrilla goodness begins slowly, with a single act. Let it be yours!

One Day – Story

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.”

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friend tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with my friends and me. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him! Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.

“Thanks,” he said. As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach… but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.

“Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse.

The Cleaning Lady – Author unknown

During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘Hello’.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.