Napa Valley Be Kind - Kids Lead with Kindness
Napa Valley natives, and sisters, Talulah and Ruby Finkelstein (12 and 9 years old respectively) were inspired by a close family friend a few thousand miles away several years ago. While visiting that friend Laurie Philips, who lives in New York, they noticed that she wore a simple, yet bright and impactful, pin with a clear graphic that included two simple-yet-powerful-words: Be Kind.
“We got inspired by our friend in New York who actually created and made the Be Kind pins,” said Talulah, “We went to visit her and we liked it so much. She was really feeling like people in New York were either on their earphones all the time, never saying hello or good morning, so she kind of created the pins to get people to start talking to each other, and have a conversation. The big city really needs it, but little towns need it too.”
This experience marked the beginning of the youth-driven “Be Kind Movement,” which the Finkelstein girls, with the support of their parents Judd and Holly Finkelstein, decided to bring back home to the fertile Napa Valley, to plant the seeds for something that they continue to work hard to tend to, nurture and grow.
Armed with thousands of pins, the girls set out on a mission to distribute the pins, which are actually conversation starters, and kindness starters, throughout our local region. People began wearing them, it worked! “Once we saw a lot of people in the Napa Valley wearing them, and people posting pictures with Be Kind pins on Facebook, and strangers wearing their Be Kind pins, we got this idea, a vision, to do a Be Kind Event,” explained Ruby.
This past summer, the third annual Be Kind Event gathered in August in Yountville. “We gathered in Yountville Memorial Veterans Park with signs with messages of kindness on them and people brought them. It was really fun! We had speakers there, and it’s not religious or political or violent or advertising in any way. It’s just to be kind,” Ruby continued, “We walked through town with our messages up to the Napa Valley Museum and had a Be Kind Festival with music, speakers and treats.”
This year the momentum continued to grow. Nine local youth-focused, or youth-driven, groups participated in the festival including: The Gigg, Teen Connect, Napa County Kids Care, Alaina’s Voice, Team Rescue, 100 Kids Who Care, The Hero Foundation, VOICES Napa and Napa Valley Kid.
“We were excited because Talulah and I didn’t’ want it to be all about ourselves and just about us,” Ruby added, “We are the Be Kind people, but these organizations are doing kind things in the community also. So we wanted to spotlight them. Each had a table so they could talk about what they were doing and share information.”
Something else wonderful Judd Finkelstein explained is that several, perhaps even 100%, of the other non-profits at the event advised that they were not aware of the other groups. The event reached out to the community, but it also connected like-minded groups of youth-oriented change leaders. “They traded information and there is now this master list of youth-based, youth-led organizations that work together,” he added.
The growth of the local Be Kind movement led to the development of the Napa Valley Kindness Kids, led by the Finkelstein sisters. “We do community service projects such as birthday parties for homeless kids. We do coat drives and we cook for The Table, and this year we are going to be doing more of that stuff,” Talulah explained. Kids of any age can participate in Kindness Kids.
The girls have traveled all over the world, passed out pins, and also given them to others to take to places far, far away. To date more than 10,000 have been distributed worldwide!
The early results include setting up Be Kind events in other regions. A young girl named Phoebe heard about the work that the Finkelsteins had done, reached out and asked if she could do one in Chicago. The three are now really good friends. The girls report that it was really cool to help her set it up and see it happen successfully in Chicago. They are also setting one up in Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Washington.
Talulah and Ruby have been invited to speak at numerous schools and present to several organizations. They recently went to a school in Hawaii and talked to the principal, as well as the classes and report that it was very powerful to see that kindness matters.
Their shared goal is to get the whole world involved in Be Kind and see everyone wearing the pins. Their advice is this: Do not give up on your ideas, ever. You can always make it happen.
“This was Talulah and my idea, and look what’s happened, it’s spreading!” added Ruby.
When asked if there was anyone who inspired them, other than Laurie Philips, Talulah said that there have been many people that have inspired her efforts.
Ruby has been inspired by John Lennon, “Because he was all about peace. That’s all about kindness.”
Their hope is that in the future, people really notice and are aware, and actually think about it, fully realizing all that kindness can do and the importance of it. “It can be as simple as smiling, to doing a national event,” said Ruby, “It really makes people’s day JUST by smiling. I hope that people realize that, and that’s what we are doing here.”
In the future, Ruby plans to keep on, “I will continue to spread the word of kindness around the world. Not only to one another, but to yourself and to the earth. You have to be kind to the earth, like everything. You just HAVE to be KIND,” she emphasized.
“I think that in the future I will always continue to be spreading the word of kindness,” Talulah added, “Wherever you go, you just can’t take a break on kindness. That is just not a thing.”
“Even just a smile could to lead to something huge about being kind!” Ruby concluded, “A little act of kindness never dies.”
To find out more, learn about where to get a Be Kind pin, get involved with the Kindness Kids, or learn about the latest news, like Be Kind at Facebook.com/BeKindNapa or visit the non-profit website at