Random Acts of Kindness: New Yorkers Share Their Stories
Random Acts of Kindness: New Yorkers Share Their Stories

NEW YORKThe morning of May 20 was like any busy day in New York City: people rushing to work, lines of cars stuck in traffic, construction workers on the street doing what they do best. Some people are outside restaurants chatting with friends—there was a lot going on that day—it was rush-hour after all. However, this morning was different—people appeared to be really happy. Perhaps it was the improving weather.

We decided to capitalize on the fine weather to discover the sunny side of New Yorkers. We asked people what good deeds they had done for others—and who knows, maybe it will inspire others to do the same.

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Mark Gwyan, 48, Entrepreneur, Brooklyn

Gwyan told us about his most memorable good deed: Helping a pregnant woman whose water broke in an elevator. 

“We were stuck in an elevator at a subway out on Lexington, and the woman was panicking, and I started to panic a little bit too,” he said.

There were four people in the elevator, he said.

“We were pretty much feeding off the energy of each other, then later her water broke. I didn’t help her deliver,” he said, “but I held her hand and helped her get through it until the paramedics arrived.” 

The people in the elevator, including Gwyan, took turns assisting the lady—except for one woman, who kept her distance, he said.

One gentleman laid down his shirt on the floor so the woman could lay on it, while Gwyan placed a book bag underneath her head.

“I rubbed her head,” he said, to calm her. “I told her to breathe through her nose.”

He said at first, he was feeling a little bit claustrophobic, but helped the lady the best way he knew how. 

The incident happened a month and a half ago, and lasted about 40 minutes.

“It was intense in there,” he said.

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Samantha Jones Toal, 18, University of Illinois

Samantha is an undergraduate at the University of Illinois. She said there’s a student who is constantly getting mocked by other students, so she steps in to be the person she could talk to.

“There is someone in a class of mine, and every time they would speak, people would just roll their eyes and laugh,” she said. “The person is just an awkward person, but a good person … they do not deserve all of the ridicule, and I just try to be someone [they can] talk to.”

“I like to think I am nice to people when other people aren’t—usually people who might be considered an outsider, I try to include them.”

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Brian Walsh, 30, Marketing director at Brewie, Baltimore, Maryland

Brian’s random act of kindness consists of babysitting for a couple who lives in the Upper East Side. Every time he comes to New York on business, he babysits their child.

Since he started his new job in the Big Apple, he has babysat for them three times.

“I’ve got some good friends that live in New York, they’ve got a young kid, so, whenever I can, I come in and spot them for the night … do a little baby sitting so they can get out and enjoy being a young married couple. You know it’s tough when you have a kid, so I try to help whenever I can.”

“They appreciate it,” he said.

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Cassidy Kely, University of Virginia

Cassidy’s story is simple, but sweet. There are many people who are in college and cannot afford a meal, so she helped out.

“I swiped in a random guy at my university—he had a free meal.”

He was visiting the college, she said. “I felt good because I thought it was crazy that they were trying to charge him $10 for dining hall food.”

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Celina Goldso, 20, Stony Brook University

Celina’s kind deed has helped her realized that she enjoys working with kids. She said she worked at a public school in the Bronx last year, helping children with their English.

“I worked with bilingual children for about a year; they didn’t really know how to speak English,” she said.

“They were, like, second and third graders, so I worked with them on their English.”  

L-R  Lily, 15  Erin ,16, high school students  from New York and Stephanie, 28, occupational therapist from Orlando, FL
L-R: Lily, 15, Erin ,16, high school students from New York; and Stephanie, 28, occupational therapist from Orlando, Fla.

These three ladies shared their experiences with volunteer work. 

“I worked at a camp over the summer for kids with special needs and disabilities; so helping them is like a good deed that I do,” Lily said.

The camp is called Camp Ancho, located at Little Beach, Long Island. 

“It’s fulfilling and rewarding to know that I made these people’s day, ” she said.

Stephanie, too, has had some similar volunteering experience. 

“I have volunteered at a center in Miami with adults with disabilities,” she said.  

Volunteering made her feel “awesome,” she said. “They are a great crowd of people to work with.

“They [adults with disabilities] put on a talent show, so we assisted them in the show, helped get them on the stage and helped get their pictures taken,” she said.  

Erin recalled a memorable experience she had at her workplace.  

“I worked at Dunkin Donuts, and there was this lady that would come in … she had cancer.  So whenever she comes in we would give her free tea, we’d sit with her, we’d take a break from our job and sit and talk to her, and just be there for her,” Erin said.

“I guess she was very lonely—she kept coming in to talk, so we all would take a break to talk with her,” she said.

Erin said she hasn’t seen the woman lately, but “it was nice to be there for her” during that time.

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Gabriella, 34, Nurse, United Kingdom

Gabriella, from Ghana, said assisting members in her church is her good deed, and it’s ongoing.

“Right now, I am just going to help a lady, she lost her son. So in the Ghanaian culture, they do a funeral ceremony; we have a small get-together, we prepare food, we mourn with her, and we encourage her, ” she said.

“We are preparing the food today, and tomorrow we’ll do the funeral.”

She said the church is very supportive.

“We support her with prayers, and we call her to keep her spirits up.”

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Gestvall, 40, Graphic Designer

Gestvall, from Sweden, is part of a marketing team for a culture carnival in Sweden. He says he works for free because increasing awareness about all types of culture is fulfilling.  

“[The culture carnival] shows different cultures. You know, Sweden is not as multicultural, [as] the United States. So most people come here [from] Sweden, maybe because they don’t have the resources to express the culture.”

There are many people who are not open to immigrants, he said, so the culture carnival is a way for people in Sweden to welcome all different cultures.

“People are different, but they are quite the same,” he said.

“So the culture carnival consist of Latin American groups, Chinese groups, Asians, African dance groups, exhibitions, theater—it’s a multicultural event.”

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