BERLIN – A man on a mission to share his kindness movement with children and adults around the nation visited library patrons in Worcester County this week.
This week, Bob Votruba and his Boston terrier, Bogart, made their way to each of the five library branches in Worcester County to promote One Million Acts of Kindness.
In 2009, Votruba bought and decorated a blue bus, hit the road and began his 10-year journey around the U.S. to encourage others to practice kindness each day. In the last decade, he has visited every state in the continental U.S., racked up hundreds of thousands of miles on his Kindness Bus – which broke down and had to be replaced five years ago – and attended thousands of speaking engagements to convince as many people as possible to start a lifetime goal of performing one million acts of kindness.
“Having kindness as a goal is a very prodigious goal,” he said. “You really have to work on it. But if you do 50 acts of kindness every day for 55 years, really anyone under the age of 30 can reach that goal. And older people can have that as a mindset.”
Lisa Harrison, adult program and public relations manager for the Worcester County Library, said the teachings of One Million Acts of Kindness supports civility programs already taking place at the library.
“It really fits into our Choose Civility programming that we are promoting this spring …,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
While this is the first time the library system has invited Votruba to share his mission with others, he said this will be his fifth visit to the Eastern Shore since 2010.
Votruba said he decided to launch a kindness initiative in April of 2007, shortly after a shooting at Virginia Tech killed 32 people.
“After three days of watching this on the news I drove down to Blacksburg, Virginia, about a seven-hour drive from my home in Cleveland, Ohio, and was there for four days …,” he said. “I thought ‘How does a person take 32 lives? What sort of hurt has to be in someone to make them act out in such a hateful way?’”
But on his way home, Votruba said he had an idea.
“I thought that maybe I could do something about this,” he said. “I was driving home, and as I prayed and meditated about what I could do to make a difference, the thing that kept coming to me was kindness, but making it a goal. That’s what One Million Acts of Kindness is.”
Each year, Votruba meets with people at schools, college campuses, libraries, clubs and more to encourage acts of kindness. In addition to visiting the public libraries this week, Votruba also made appearances around Salisbury to share his mission.
“It’s not just about the physical acts of kindness – holding the door, smiling, saying please and thank you – there are also kind acts from the heart, wishing and wanting goodness for anyone you see or think about during the course of the day,” he said. “Those acts are what we’ve grown away from in this world, wanting goodness for others instead of judging.”
Votruba added it is never too late to practice kindness.
“Life at any point presents us with a new starting line …,” he said. “That can start with kindness.”