Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day

It was a scorching hot Canberra day, and I desperately needed fuel. After pulling into the nearest service station, I filled up, locked the car and went to pay. There was only one problem – I had my toddler and baby in the back seat. 

I hate leaving the kids in the car when I go to pay for fuel (I’m actually pretty sure it’s illegal), and I usually try and fill the car up when they’re not with me. But on this occasion I had to fill up or we wouldn’t get home. The other option was to get them both out of the car and take them in with me, but my baby was asleep. There was already a queue of cars behind me waiting to fill up, so I thought it best if I ran in quickly – the queue inside didn’t look that long. 

Once inside, I regreted my decision. There were only two other people in front of me, but the customer being served was taking an incredibly long time (choosing the chocolates that would give him an additional $5 off his fuel). The middle-aged man in front of me could see I was getting increasingly anxious as I kept looking at my car, hoping both children were ok. When the customer at the front of the line had finished, the man in front of me said “Please jump in front of me – I can see you have two little ones in the car you need to get back to”. 

Normally I hate jumping queues, but on this occasion I gratefully accepted his offer. This small but incredibly kind gesture made my day. Not only had he sensed my tension, he had worked out what the problem was and offered a solution. The only thing it had cost him was time, but that and our health are our most precious resources these days. 

I often find myself going about my day ‘blinkered’. I’m ashamed to say I don’t see the person who has dropped their shopping, or the person behind me in the supermarket queue with only one item (when I have a full trolley). I still think of the kindness this man showed me and it reminds me that we should never take these actions for granted, no matter how small. 

One small act of kindness could just make someone’s day. 

Tuesday 17 February is Random Acts of Kindness Day, so to honour this day we caught up with Karen Chaston from www.karenchaston.com.au, who shares her thoughts on random acts of kindness: 

1. What was the last Random Act of Kindness shown to you? 

Karen: Almost daily, I get a smile, a nod from total strangers, though the other day, I was at a coffee shop waiting and a lady started chatting to me and then said she would like to pay for my green tea. 

2. What was the last Random Act of Kindness you showed someone else? 

Karen: Just this morning I was walking back to my car and a teenage school girl was walking to school with her headphones on. I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her if she reads. She said sometimes… I then said if it was a book about how you can have higher self-esteem, value yourself, understand your body bio-chemically and physiologically would you read it. She said yes, so I handed her a copy of my book, with a card and asked her to contact me with any feedback or questions 

3. What are the best types of Random Acts of Kindness? 

Karen: When you do something randomly – like give a total stranger a compliment, initially they may be taken back and then they’ll thank you saying ‘Wow you have just made my day, it was not going so well up until now!” 

4. How do you think we can perform Random Acts of Kindness more frequently? What are some simple Random Act of Kindness we can incorporate into our daily life? 

Karen: Smile at a stranger, give them a compliment, ask them how they are feeling, make them laugh, buy them a coffee, give them something, help them out, give a random “heart to heart” hug. 

About Karen: Karen Chaston inspires women to become their own best friend, which allows them to be more aware, grateful, healthier, energised and live in Essence. www.karenchaston.com.au 

What was the last last random act of kindness you showed or received? We’ love your thoughts – please comment below…

Why Movember matters to Paul and his team

It’s that time of year where we start to spot more men (than usual) sporting crazy-style moustaches. Movember is now in it’s 12th year, and this year Paul’s Cleaning have joined the movement to help raise funds for men’s health. Here’s the reason they’re doing it, and how they’re going about it…

1. Why did Paul’s decide to get involved in Movember this year and why does the company feel passionate about this cause?

Before we answer this question please consider the following numbers:
• Approximately 170 million years of healthy life are lost due to the four main types of cancer: lung, breast, bowel and prostate;
• 1 in every 7 men is diagnosed with prostate cancer in Australia; 
• There are 20,000 new instances of prostate cancer every year in Australia;
• Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men; 
• Prostate cancer is avoidable and curable if treated early;

It is no secret that Paul’s Cleaning is a customer-oriented company. What we want people to know is that we also care about their health. Our company’s talent is not just in delivering convenient and high quality services, but also in making people’s lives easier and better. It is only natural to join a cause of such significance as Movember.

2. How many team members are participating and what sort of Mo’s are they planning to grow? Do you have before and after pics?

We have around 10 people who have joined already and, funny thing was, that we managed to recruit a lot of Mo’ Sistas. Apparently our female employees embraced the charitable cause and decided to help in other ways by raising awareness and hosting fund-raising parties in their local communities.

As for the moustaches it is a bit too early to say what kind of Mo’s will be grown and everyone is being secretive about his.

3. Do Paul and the team have any strategies/tips they’ll be following to grow a great Mo?

Our most important tip is to grow your Mo’ with love and with the clear idea what you are doing it for. It can literally save lives! 

Hopefully this will be enough of a motivation to help you endure the itching during the first few weeks. Other than that you have to be very patient the first few weeks, the hair on your upper-lip won’t be nearly enough for any styling. When it grows fuller you can start styling. 

As any of our cleaning experts would advise, keep your Mo clean. Simply rinse it in the shower and check it out after each meal. You don’t want any of leftovers on your great Mo. 

You might want to avoid some of these foods and drinks:

  • cappuccino
  • glasses of milk
  • Singapore crab
  • fairy floss
  • toffee apples
  • souvlaki
  • tacos
  • spaghetti carbonara

4. Will Paul’s have a Mo shaving ceremony or celebration at the end of the month when Movember is over? 

We haven’t thought about a Mo shaving ceremony much. Although it sounds like fun, we decided that maybe not everyone will manage to attend. What we will do is have a Mo contest, where the best Mo wins a special prize. Our Mo sistas from the “jury” will judge it.

5. Does the Paul’s team have a goal amount that they would like to raise by the end of the month? How can people get involved and support Paul’s?

We will try to raise as much as we can, but we are not going to be aggressive in our approaches. We hope people join and donate to our team, because they like our Movember concept and approach. Employees, clients, friends and family of the company can help our efforts to raise funds and awareness by donating to our team here.  

Thanks Paul’s! We loved listening to your story (especially about the types of food to avoid;) and wish you and the team all the best in your fundraising efforts. If you’d like to support the Paul’s team, please follow the above link to donate. 

The Gift of Giving: Harriet Kempton

Harriet Kempton puts me to shame. I’m ashamed to admit I don’t currently volunteer for any organisations – although I’d like to change this. I’m in complete awe of people who do volunteer, hence the reason for this blog series. Most people are doing well if they volunteer for one organisation. Harriet is involved with three charity organisations! Check out Harriet’s story below…

1. Which organisation do you volunteer for and why?

Melbourne CityMission – because it gives me the opportunity to help people with disabilities enjoy a social outing and their carers a break
Down Syndrome Victoria – my brother has Down Syndrome so this gives me the opportunity to help an organisation that has helped my family over time. Down Syndrome is something I am very passionate about and therefore I enjoy giving back to this organisation.
Red Cross blood donation – because it doesn’t take long to do and if it means helping someone who urgently needs blood then it must be a good thing.

 2. How long have you volunteered for? What attracted you to volunteering and what has kept you coming back?

I started volunteering in 2008 and have done it for various organisations on and off ever since.


Harriet Kempton, volunteer for Melbourne CityMission, Down Syndrome Victoria and Red Cross Blood Donor

3. Describe your volunteer role and what you do each time you help out – do you do the same thing each time you volunteer, or something different each time?

Melbourne CityMission – I take people with disabilities out to the movies and for coffee each month.

Down Syndrome Victoria – I usually help out in the office and do administration tasks. I also assist with events when they are on.

4. What advice would you offer to other people considering volunteering?

I have written a post on this for Inside Trak – check it out here

Check our Harriet’s blog, Queen Kempton

About Harriet Kempton: Harriet has recently set up her own new blog and business, “Queen Kempton“. Owner & Creative Director, Harriet Kempton is a 24 year-old with a passion for making life fun and fabulous. This is combined with a strong work ethic, motivation and the determination to deliver quality information in an accessible manner.

A specialist in work-life balance and Generation Y, Queen Kempton’s focus is on helping employees achieve their ideal work-life balance and helping school and university leavers with decisions post study.

Harriet writes weekly tips on her blog about work-life balance and the transition stage and will come to your school/university/organisation to deliver a specified presentation that is relevant to the audience.

Check out Harriet’s blog, www.queenkempton.com to learn more…


The Gift of Giving: Bruce Higgins, volunteer for Adssi HomeLiving Australia

In Australia, there are over 6 million people volunteering annually, who represent 36% of the adult population. From 1995 to 2010, the estimated number of volunteers in Australia doubled, which indicates there’s no shortage of organisations warmly welcoming the assistance of their volunteers. Today we caught up with volunteer, Bruce Higgins. This is Bruce’s story…

1. Which organisation do you volunteer for and why?
Adssi HomeLiving Australia, a not-for-profit organisation providing home care services to frail aged and people with a disability.

Through my experience as a carer for both my parents, I developed a strong understanding of the isolation that can occur for people as they age.  I also experienced the challenges faced by carers.I volunteer with them because I strongly believe it’s important to help people stay living in their own home, primarily frail aged and people with a disability. This enables them to retain their sense of community and independence which can be lost if you move into residential care.

Adssi HomeLiving Australia, a not-for-profit organisation providing home care services to frail aged and people with a disability


2. How long have you volunteered for? What attracted you to volunteering and what has kept you coming back?
I’ve been volunteering for over 2 years and I continue to do it because I get to see the difference myself and other volunteers make in the day to day lives of our clients.

3. Describe your volunteer role and what you do each time you help out – do you do the same thing each time you volunteer, or something different each time?  
I have various responsibilities including administration, customer service, accompanying clients on social outings and the Safe Access and Eco Garden (SAEG) project. The SAEG project transforms clients gardens to make them safer (reducing falls risks etc) and more manageable, lower maintenance and generally more accessible, reducing a lot of worry for our clients.


 “Just do it! Even a few hours a week can make a difference in someone’s life,” says Bruce Higgins

4. What advice would you offer to other people considering volunteering?
Just do it! Even a few hours a week can make a difference in someone’s life. There are so many ways you can help out by volunteering at Adssi HomeLiving Australia.

About Bruce: Before my retirement a few years ago, I worked with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the public service. This took me all over New South Wales and I held roles in customer service and administration.  Volunteering allows me to keep my mind and body active and allows me to interact with both colleagues and clients, keeping me engaged with my local community.

About Adssi HomeLiving Australia: Adssi HomeLiving is a not-for-profit organisation that helps frail aged and people with a disability to stay living in their own home longer. They help by providing assistance with personal care, domestic assistance, transport, home modifications, as well as rehabilitation through occupational therapy and lawns and gardens. Check out their website, www.adssihomeliving.com.au
for more info.

The Gift of Giving: Bryan West, volunteer for Bush Heritage Australia

The power of giving is something that should never be underestimated. I’m not just talking about material gifts, I’m referring to something that’s precious to everyone these days – TIME. Between work, family and friends, there never seems to be enough time to go around. Yet, there’s an incredible group of people in our community that never seem to have a shortage of time to dedicate to other community members that need a hand.

It’s National Volunteer Week here in Australia this week, and we’d like to celebrate by sharing the stories of some remarkable people who volunteer in our communities. We hope you enjoy our first story from Bryan West…

Above: Bryan and Amy

“I truly believe that the best gift is the one you can give others, and there really is so much to be gained and learned from sharing our time and skills with others.”

Bryan West, volunteer for Bush Heritage Australia.

1. Which organisation do you volunteer for and why?

My family and I are currently volunteers at Bush Heritage Australia’s Carnarvon Station Reserve. It is about a 3 hour (dry weather only) drive to the nearest town of Augathella in western Queensland.

We decided to offer a year to Bush Heritage because the great conservation work that they had been doing was severely hampered by two years of substantial flooding which made the property inaccessible.

It is a way for us as a family to live in a most wonderful place, work with incredible people, develop new skills, and to provide a first-hand experience for our children of the joys that
come from serving something larger than our own immediate needs.

At the same time, I am taking advantage of the UN Online Volunteers portal to do some volunteer work for other organisations. At the moment I am developing a website to enable a Nicaraguan girls’ craft cooperative to be able to sell their goods to a global market.
Prior to this, We have volunteered in a number of other roles, from the local Kindergarten’s Committee to an Overseas Development Organisation to a local gardening group to running a weekly session for mentally ill men who were moved into the community…

Bryan conducting weed surveys

2. How long have you volunteered for? What attracted you to volunteering and what has kept you coming back?

I can remember volunteering for things as a child. More recently, we have been here since January, and are already feeling a bit sad about having to leave at the end of the year! I think the reason we keep doing things like this is simply because of the thing called ‘The Gift of Giving’ – I truly believe that the best gift is the one you can give others, and there really is so much to be gained and learned from sharing our time and skills with others.

Above: Bryan, Tom and Amy

3. Describe your volunteer role and what you do each time you help out – do you do the same thing each time you volunteer, or something different each time?

At the moment, we are heavily involved in conservation related activities at Carnarvon Station. This includes weed mapping and spraying, feral animal control as well as a broad range of maintenance activities related to the buildings, vehicles, roads and fences.
In general terms, our volunteering activities are many and varied.

4. What advice would you offer to other people considering volunteering?

Try to be clear about what you want to get out of it, so that you don’t end up feeling a bit ripped off or used. Remember that ultimately it is about relationships, so tread softly with other people. If you are not sure, then ask!

An example of how Bryan West Digital Art Studio can turn a digital photograph into an amazing oil painting

About Bryan: “Oil paintings have always been a perfect way to capture a moment, a memory. Now you can have your favourite photos converted into digital oil paintings that will hold pride of place in your home, or on the wall of a loved one,” says Bryan as he explains the service his company, Bryan West Digital Art Studio offers.  Bryan West Digital Art Studio is a boutique studio that blends traditional and digital art. They transform your digital photographs into beautiful pieces of art that capture your memories with the timeless warmth of an oil-painting. Their commitment to quality is reflected in a simple guarantee: if you don’t like it, you don’t pay for it. Check out their work at www.stilllivingart.com

Find out more about volunteering for Bush Heritage Australia here