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A kinder, gentler West Linn

UNITY Center gets busy with 40 Days of Kindness

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.If West Linn is starting to seem like a much kinder place you can thank The UNITY Center and Rev. Victoria Etchemendy.

The UNITY Center, an organization dedicated to promoting truth, peace and healing in the world, is raising its mission by designating 40 Days of Kindness and performing a mountain of good deeds in West Linn. This could be a cookie, a kind word or doing something really difficult like making someone’s wish come true. Etchemendy says the possibilities are endless.

“It’s a kindness revolution,” said Etchemendy, who brought the UNITY ministry to this area in 1990. “There are so many ways we can reach out. We’re excited about doing this in our new community of West Linn. We’ve got our sights set on things we can do.”

Etchemendy is optimistic because the first time UNITY tried 40 Days of Kindness in Lake Oswego it was a big success. The urge to be kind seemed to catch on even beyond the congregation of UNITY. Youth from the Center delivered cocoa and cookies to Lake Oswego police officers and firefighters, delivered plants and many other “little big things.”

Sometimes UNITY members did something quite different. On one occasion a UNITY member saw a homeless person in McDonald’s and proceeded to buy the man a hamburger, find out his interests and ultimately bring him several books.

“There were lots of surprises,” Etchemendy said.

All of this goodness started over 30 years ago with a doodle on a napkin. A young woman named Anne Herbert was sitting in a coffee shop when she scribbled down the words “Practice random kindness and perform senseless acts of beauty,” then posted the napkin on the shop’s bulletin board. Herbert’s napkin provided a jolt of inspiration that ended up with her best-selling book and a worldwide movement dedicated to people performing selfless acts.

One of the most enjoyable things about 40 Days of Kindness are all of the surprises it provides, and Etchemendy has some doozies in mind. West Linn police officers and firefighters should expect to soon be receiving cocoa and cookies. All participants will be pumped for the International Day of Kindness on Feb. 17.

“We’re going to keep tracks of all of our acts of kindness and sharing ideas,” Etchemendy said. “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 go to worldhealing.org.