Moments of MESH: Random Acts of Kindness

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Our commitment to supporting the Mental, Emotional, and Social Health (MESH) needs of everyone has been fundamental to our work during the summer and aligned with our Open and Safe statement, which aims to develop a culture where everyone feels welcome and valued. We believe our commitment to MESH extends beyond the summer, especially given the current climate, and led us to form a MESH Task Force made up of parents, alumni, and others in our camp community with personal/professional experience in the field of mental health, to enhance and expand our MESH efforts.

To kick off this series, we are really excited to pass along this guide for checking in with your child about their mental health and emotional wellbeing from the JED Foundation. And, check out our MESH Moment of the Month each month leading up to camp (and continuing after camp), where our MESH Task Force will be sharing and highlighting different topics, ideas, and resources that we hope will not only be helpful in your lives, but also remind you that we care deeply about you! Notice our cool MESH Moment of the Month graphic and look for it in the future to signal a new post with a mental health focus. And thank you to David Rosenberg, for our first post!

I am excited and honored to be part of URJ Camp Harlam’s new MESH Task Force. We are living in interesting times. As we try and navigate life in a pandemic, and hopefully soon post-pandemic, it’s so important that Harlam is taking the extra step to support our community, let them know we care, and give people the skills to navigate life’s stresses and challenges, both good and bad.

Did you know that we just passed Random Acts of Kindness Week? (It’s also National Bird Feeding Month, but that did not seem nearly as meaningful). I love the notion of this week because there are so many ways to be kind and helpful. It can be as simple as helping with chores at home to volunteering at a food pantry to writing a letter to an older adult neighbor who may be isolated at home due to the pandemic. Your synagogue or local Jewish Federation or United Way may have a list of volunteer projects you and your family can do!

Connecting this month’s MESH post seems easy to tie to Camp Harlam’s Middot (character traits), which essentially serve as “the path to being your best self” and are infused into the Camp Harlam summer program. I am going to go big here and tie TWO Middot to Random Acts of Kindness Week. The first is Acharayut: thinking of others. Sometimes deeds are more powerful than words, and this is especially true with a good deed or act of kindness. The second is Rachamim: acting with your heart. An act of kindness is especially powerful when it is meaningful to you as well. Studies show that volunteerism can reduce stress and increase feelings of positivity and self-worth. What is meaningful to you? Do you like to cook? Reach out to a homeless organization and make sandwiches or donate meals. Are you into music? Visit a nursing home or assisted living center by Zoom (and eventually in person) and play music or talk to the residents about what music they loved when they were your age. The ability to recollect can strengthen memory and reduce dementia. Your act of kindness can be anything. The point is to make sure that your deed truly comes from the heart. I hope this gives you some ideas to consider and act on, but if you need more suggestions, check out this great 101 Random Acts of Kindness piece or learn about all of our Middot. Come back in March for more and Happy February!

Look for our Moments of MESH graphic, next in March, for more resources from our MESH Task Force.