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Spreading random acts of kindness

West Linn's UNITY Center celebrates its 'Season of Non-Violence' with 40 days of simple gestures

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The UNITY Center of West Linn is finding that a little kindness makes a big difference. At the left UNITY members Ava, Kelly and Olivia McBeain, along with Marty Bankhead, make a kindness offering to Julie Mankin and Rev. Tim Herzfeld-Kamprath at West Linn Lutheran Church.When the UNITY Center first brought “40 Days of Kindness” to Lake Oswego, the Rev. Victoria Etchemendy says, “there were lots of surprises.”

Young people from the center delivered cocoa and cookies to Lake Oswego police officers and firefighters, delivered plants and did many other “little big things.” On one occasion, a member of the UNITY congregation saw a homeless person in McDonald’s and proceeded to buy the man a hamburger, talk to him about his interests and then bring him several books to read.

“There are so many ways we can reach out,” Etchemendy says. “Now we’re excited about doing this in West Linn. We’ve got our sights set on things we can do.”

Starting Jan. 31 and continuing through March 6, UNITY Center members are once again putting into practice “the principles of kindness that begin with simple acts in our daily lives,” says Etchemendy, who brought the UNITY ministry to the area in 1990. “It’s a kindness revolution.”

The local congregation originally met at the Lakewood Center for the Arts, later moved to downtown Lake Oswego as the Unity World Healing Center and was renamed the UNITY Center when it moved to West Linn eight years ago.

UNITY itself was founded in Missouri in 1889 and has since spread around the world, practicing a progressive approach to spirituality that honors the universal truths in all religions and respects each individual’s right to choose a spiritual path. Among its key tenets are harmony, empowerment, love and world healing.

Those same values may have been on Anne Herbert’s mind more than 30 years ago when she scribbled the words “Practice random acts of kindness and perform senseless acts of beauty” on a coffee shop napkin and then posted the note on the shop’s bulletin board. Herbert’s napkin provided a jolt of inspiration that led to a best-selling book and a worldwide movement dedicated to performing selfless acts.

And that led to “40 Days of Kindness” at the UNITY Center, where Etchemendy says she enjoys all of the surprises that come from finding large and small ways to impact the community and inspire others to action.

“We’re going to keep track of all of our acts of kindness and share ideas,” Etchemendy says. “I like what the Dalai Lama said. I think kindness should be everyone’s religion.”

The UNITY Center is located at 20255 Willamette Drive in West Linn. For more information, visit www.worldhealing.org.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..