Alan Ross, a Berkeley resident and current Berkeley High School parent, is the founder of a recent, local project called the Chris Kindness Award. The Chris Kindness Award is an award that honors and commemorates people who have positively influenced the community regardless of their age, profile, or how big or small their impacts are. It is to be given monthly with a reward consisting of one thousand dollars. Berkeley residents are encouraged to spread the word about the award itself and to nominate anyone they feel inclined to at www.chriskindnessaward.org. The award also motivates people to spread their own kindness as much as possible: to consider themselves, the earth, and the people around them.
The original idea for the award was inspired by Ross’s own loss of his parents, “I wanted to do something to honor them, in their name,” Ross said.
The idea was further pressed in the aftermath of the passing of his child’s preschool teacher and the awards namesake, Chris. Ross described Chris as “the kindest person I’d ever met.” Furthermore, the idea was encouraged by a girl giving away homemade baked goods during quarantine for the sake of kindness. Seeing this motivated Ross into finally pursuing the project.
A large aspect of this project is the community’s response to it. The goal of this idea is to impact Berkeley and all its citizens to not only provide materialistic recognition to one’s acts of kindness, but to also create a space and setting to acknowledge and truly appreciate them.
Terry Chytrowski, a friend of Ross and a marketing communications consultant, is also working on the project.
“I have never seen a community-based idea like this get so much attention, so quickly,” he said. “In less than a week of launching, we received calls from major media outlets around the country. People love the simplicity of the idea. They are inspired by it.”
BHS students agree: sophomore Parks Ramsdale is glad to hear that Berkeley citizens are putting in the effort to raise awareness for kindness.
“I’ve lived in places around the nation that are very different from Berkeley and I think Berkeley is a great place to initiate change,” Ramsdale said. “I don’t think a lot of people from other places would take the time to pay attention to this and I think it’s really important that we are.”
Ramsdale also included his perspective regarding the influence the award could potentially have on the Berkeley community.
“As it grows it will show that people still care about kindness. I also think that the award will offer incentive for more people to care about it and each other,” Ramsdale added. “If it attracts enough attention, I could see this on a national scale in some form. I think that the kindness being brought to light could make someone’s day and as an effect of that maybe even prevent negativity.”
Additionally, Ramsdale spoke to what he believes a worthy nominee would offer.
“Whoever wins shouldn’t have had to do something big, doing small acts of kindness is really what true kindness is and is what should be rewarded,” Ramsdale said.
BHS students are not only encouraged to spread the word wherever and however they can,but also to nominate whoever they feel is deserving. This could be a friend, peer, teacher, adult, or anyone valued and appreciated. Students are also invited to volunteer through the website and to show their support through mirroring behaviors that the award emphasizes. The Chris Kindness Award aims to remind people to be kind.
“If we start noticing it when we receive it, we might also start acting on it towards others,” Ross said.