Moorestown resident Nancy DiPasquale said there’s something about issuing people a challenge that makes them want to rise to the occasion and take action. This certainly proved true when the family challenged the Moorestown community to complete the “Tractor Trailer Challenge” to fill an entire 53-foot tractor trailer with supplies for those affected by hurricanes in 2017 and again in 2018.
Inspired by the outpouring of support, the DiPasquale family wondered what might happen if they continued issuing challenges intended to spread kindness throughout town. So, on Nov. 13, or World Kindness Day, they launched their nonprofit, the Local Acts of Kindness Foundation.
Following the success of the two tractor trailer challenges, the family talked about other ways it could get the community engaged. When there wasn’t a domestic need for hurricane relief this year, the family used the time they would have spent organizing another Tractor Trailer Challenge to create its nonprofit.
“People are more willing to participate in organized acts of kindness or challenges,” DiPasquale said. “Challenges really bring out people’s sense of competition in a way, but it’s good competition.”
They currently having several vehicles for spreading kindness in the works including “kindness programs” and “kindness challenges.” They started with a program called “Rescue Speaks,” which gives a voice to pets up for adoption at the Burlington County Animal Shelter. DiPasquale, who has a background in voiceover work, along with her husband, Henry, and son, Colin, have recorded voices for some of the pets so that perspective pet owners can find out more about the cat or dog they’re potentially interested in when they click on his or her photo.
In addition to Rescue Speaks, 14-year-old Colin has created the “Senior Serenade,” a program where musically inclined teens entertain local seniors at assisted living facilities. Colin, a pianist who regularly performs at CareOne at Moorestown, has reached out to fellow teenaged musicians with an interest in performing for seniors. The family is working on an app through which teenagers can register to perform and care facilities can accept musicians.
Their current challenge is the Trim-A-Tree Challenge, which the DiPasquale family has issued to the Moorestown’s business community. Local businesses are being challenged to decorate a tabletop tree with $5 gift cards, which will be donated to families in need during this holiday season.
The foundation is also planning on offering grants to other nonprofit groups, or “kindness couriers,” who are interested in starting their own challenges. DiPasquale said once they achieve 501(c)3 status, they’ll have grant applications up on their website.
The organization is also hoping to cultivate a section of kindness stories on its website. DiPasquale said they want to highlight and promote acts of togetherness and connection, so they’re encouraging anyone with a story about doing good in Moorestown to submit it for sharing.
While the family may be running the show behind the scenes, their purpose in creating the nonprofit is to take the focus off of them and put it back on the Moorestown community. DiPasquale said the slogan – “doing good in the neighborhood” – encapsulates the organization’s mission, which is to inspire and encourage their neighbors to get involved in spreading kindness.
“There’s more power in more than one person; there’s power in numbers,” DiPasquale said. “As a community, you can really make a difference.”
To learn more or to get involved, visit www.LocalActs.org.