Group hoping to SPARK kindness in the community

Charles Warner Editor

September 27, 2013

UNION COUNTY — The importance of showing kindness and how it can ripple through the community is the theme of the Arthur State Bank Junior Board of Director’s Project SPARK.

Five members of the board — Maizie Fisher, Andre Jeter, James Fore, Kadin Ivey, and Brianna Spencer — attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Union Rotary Club at Covenant Baptist Church along with board adviser Lori Dochterman and board director John Gregory. During the meeting, Fisher, Jeter, and Fore addressed Rotarians about the Junior Board, its history, and its current project.

“The Junior Board program is an educational program designed to expose students to area of the banking environment, promote civic responsibility, and educate students with schedule programs during monthly meetings,” Fisher said. “The Arthur State Bank Junior Board of Directors began in 2009 when Carlisle Oxner, president and chief executive officer of Arthur State Bank, decided to start a program to benefit the youth of Union County.

“Arthur State Bank has partnered with Union County High School to offer the program to Union County youth,” he said. “Through his vision the junior board program has become a growing membership with civic responsibility as a priority for its members.”

That civic responsibility has included projects the group has undertaken over the years to benefit the community.

“The first term the members chose Make A Wish and raised $7,500 to make a Union County child’s dream come true,” Jeter said. “The second term the members raised $3,500 to help the Potter’s House and also helped at the food distribution center as part of the project. The third term the members helped chose Relay for Life and as the ASB JBD Cancer Slayers were able to raise over $9,500 to help fight for a cure. During the fourth term the board chose The Miracle League and we raised over $10,000.

“A total of over $30,000 has been raised for Union County since the Arthur State Junior Board of Directors began,” he said. “But we did not do this alone, it took you and other Union County citizens to make all of the projects a success.”

The success of the board’s latest project will also require a response from and the participation of the people of Union County. Unlike in past years, however, the project does not involve raising funds but raising public consciousness about the importance and power of kindness.

“In the past, the Junior Board has sponsored a local project or charity,” Fore said. “This year we are doing something different. Instead of raising money for a charity, we are hoping to raise awareness of the effects of being kind.

“As stated on the Pay It Forward website, ‘Any random act of kindness can cause a positive ripple effect of restoring our faith in the love and compassion of the human heart,’” he said. “The Junior Board wants that ripple effect to take place here in Union County.”

Fore said the Junior Board plans to set this ripple effect in motion.

“You may question as to how we intend to do this,” Fore said. “How does one influence the actions and attitudes of every citizen? The Junior Board of Directors plans to lead by example.

“Each day you and I are given an opportunity to make an impact in the lives of others,” he said. “How we choose to do this can have a negative or positive influence on the life of others.”

Fore said the board is already working to have a positive influence through Project SPARK.

“We have implemented Project SPARK which stands for ‘Share & Promote Acts of Random Kindness,’” Fore said. “Many of you are familiar with the term ‘Pay It Forward’ or ‘Random Acts of Kindness.’ That is in essence what we are doing.

“Today, we have greeted you at the door, put inspirational quotes on your tables and taken your plates to the kitchen,” he said. “We did these things without expecting reciprocation. For the past three weeks our members been given an act of kindness to complete. The first week we wrote positive sayings on post it notes and put them throughout the community. The second week we held the door open for customers and gave them compliments at local businesses. This week we are leaving our SPARK card and one dollar on a random aisle in the Dollar Tree.”

Fore said that Dochterman has received many compliments about the Project SPARK activities from both the public and members of the board.

“Not only have we brightened someone else’s day, but we have also affected our own,” Fore said.

Fore urged the Rotarians to join the junior board in its efforts to bring about a ripple effect of kindness throughout the community.

“The Junior Board challenges you to perform acts of random kindness as you go about your daily lives,” Fore said. “We are sharing our SPARK cards with each of you. When you perform your act, leave the card and a message on it. Or keep the card as a reminder to ‘Share & Promote Acts of Random Kindness.’

Fore concluded with a quote from Margaret Meade.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world… it is the only thing that ever has.”

Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at cwarner@civitasmedia.com.