Reflecting on Good Deeds Day

Brought to DC and Virginia by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Good Deeds Day has a home at George Mason University, thanks to Mason Hillel, the Center for Jewish Campus Life at Mason, and the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. The event kicks off Mason’s annual six-week Spring Into Well-Being awareness campaign.

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By Megan Sipos with Penny Gilchrist

On George Mason University’s Good Deeds Day, Thursday, March 19th, a handful of volunteers wandered the North Plaza while carrying rectangular mirrors, asking passers-by to write what well-being meant to them. This kicked off Mason’s six-week Spring Into Well-Being awareness campaign, which ended on April 30th.

Brought to DC and Virginia by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Good Deeds Day has a home here too, thanks to Mason Hillel, the Center for Jewish Campus Life at Mason, and the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being.

The university celebrated the day by inviting different organizations to set up tables on the North Plaza from 10am-4pm. Students and employees visited the tables, collecting stickers for performing various “good deeds,” such as learning to perform hands-on CPR, registering to be an organ donor, and making cards to empower future patriots.

After filling a card with stickers, participants chose from an array of prizes: t-shirts, water bottles, sleep masks, vouchers for free yoga workshops, and healthy snacks.

At the Ask Me About Well-Being Tents, people were asked to gaze at themselves in one of several full-length mirrors and think about the question: What does well-being mean to you? Then, choosing from a set of colorful markers, they wrote their answers directly onto the mirror.

By the end of the day, a rainbow of loopy scripts, along with a few lopsided smiley faces, painted a variety of reflections: being happy, balance, “feeling like Jell-O after working out,” and “spreading joy through good deeds.” In all, over 800 people participated.

Nance Lucas, the Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, explains that this event dove-tailed well with the goals of the Well-Being Initiative, an effort to build vitality, resilience, and purpose for Mason students, faculty, and staff in every sphere of their lives. “The whole purpose around Good Deeds Day is about the other 364 days of the year – inspiring others to do good deeds small and large,” Lucas says.

Ross Diamond, the Director of Mason Hillel, agrees. If you save or change one life, he says, it’s as if you have saved or changed the world. He dressed up in a silly costume and wandered around the North Plaza, encouraging people to strike up a conversation about the importance of doing good.

“I will never truly know the impact that one conversation had today on the outcome of someone’s life,” he says. Good Deeds Day is an opportunity for people in the community to do good, but it’s more than that. It is a movement in which even the smallest thing can make the biggest impact on someone’s life. What the mirrors show us is that we have that kind of power. The Ask Me About Well-Being Tents sprung up again on Wednesday, April 29, with the mirrors in tow, telling us that all we need to do is harness that power, and, in turn, re-reflect it back to the world.