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Community members participate in The Big Table®, a day of community-wide conversation, on October 11, 2023. Challen Brown/The Columbus Foundation.

Acts of kindness come in many forms. Neighbors coming together to lend each other a hand. Students sending thank you cards to health care workers during the pandemic. Individuals volunteering their time and talent to improve the lives of people they will never meet. Every kind act—big or small, seen or unseen—makes a difference.

The merits of kindness have been affirmed by many cultures and faith traditions over thousands of years as a call to care for and treat one another with compassion. But like any skill, kindness is strengthened through regular practice.

The Center for HumanKindness at The Columbus Foundation is on a mission to cultivate a culture of kindness in our region alongside community partners and residents to strengthen our social connections. Through the generosity of our donors, the Center for HumanKindness spreads awareness on the transformative impact of kindness, supports related nonprofit programming, and creates and promotes opportunities for community members to demonstrate and cultivate kindness in their communities.

We see kindness as an intentional commitment to honoring one another’s humanity. When we commit to kindness, we shift our mindsets to become more empathetic in our thoughts and feel more connected to others. One of the simplest ways to demonstrate kindness is to connect with and be present for others. Strengthening our connection to others— whether it’s our neighbors, coworkers, friends, family, or even strangers—is a powerful way to foster a sense of belonging and boost our individual and collective well-being. In fact, research shows that socially connected communities are more trusting, safer, more prosperous, and healthier.

However, in the United States, social connectivity has declined steadily in recent decades. It is no surprise, then, that more and more Americans report experiencing loneliness. In May 2023, the nation’s top doctor, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, raised the alarm about the negative effects of loneliness and isolation on our health and well-being. For example, the risk of premature death from sustained loneliness is comparable to that of smoking up to 15 cigarettes daily. The surgeon general’s framework calls us to build a movement of connection to mend the social fabric of our nation through efforts like strengthening community connection and cultivating values of kindness, respect, service, and commitment to one another.

Informed by the surgeon general’s public health advisory and other research, the Center for HumanKindness partners with the community to promote social connection, grow in empathy, deepen our commitment to one another, and celebrate those in our region who are championing kindness. From offering a free World Kindness Day toolkit to K-8 educators and facilitating an annual day of community-wide conversation called The Big Table® to administering a program called Gifts of Kindness to support neighbors facing an unexpected setback, we believe that how we treat and show up for one another is crucial for our region to flourish.

Social connection and belonging are fundamental social needs. We all can choose to take individual and collective action—with kindness—toward healing and showing that we are stronger together. We invite you to join our efforts by visiting, where you can sign up to receive our monthly InsideKindness e-newsletter and learn more about the transformative impact of kindness.


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