The Significance of Empathy and Kindness Today

By: Arianna, Riley’s Way Council Member, The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem

“Mr. Edwards was a great person to have at our meeting. Not only did he make us realize things we already knew, but emphasized them in ways we never even thought of. He was very informative, but also funny and happy to be with us. And we were happy to be with him. It was an awesome experience.”

       – Nicole, Riley’s Way Council Member, The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem

In today’s modern society, it’s easy to focus on ourselves instead of others. This past Tuesday, my Council and I had the opportunity to meet the wonderful Special Project Manager of Circles of Support, Thomas Edwards.  He captivated me when he spoke about his work with Circles of Support and how it is imperative to focus on mass incarceration now, more than ever. He is clearly passionate about change and feels it is attainable, no matter the degree. Notably, he was able to raise thousands of dollars for charitable causes behind bars, even without a  “credible” platform. As the meeting progressed, it became clearer to me that everyone in the room believed empathy and kindness are two values that we hold near and dear to ourselves. By focusing on the issue of mass incarceration, we are deriving change by using some of our most cherished values.

Essentially, Mr. Edwards was very direct as to why he believes we need change now more than ever. His own experience of being in prison for most of his youth still inspires him today to help people recently released from prison to get their life back on track. He said many things that resonated with me, especially, “If I’m walking down the street and see the police, I shouldn’t have to worry about how my hands are in my pockets.” Although the divide between citizens and the police is prevalent in society, he stressed to us how it especially affects people of color. We were able to empathize with his story and discussed how we’re going to do more for the women in the Talk2Me support group. It was so helpful to hear his advice so we can reach our goals with ease. I also found it remarkable how he realized from us that he uses empathy and kindness in his work with the people in Circles of Support, more than he thought he did.

I am confident that the relationship my Riley’s Way Council holds with Talk2Me will continue to flourish with the work that will be done this year. With all our combined efforts, we’ll be able to get much done this year. And with the support from the Circles of Support organization, change is definitely attainable. We all loved Mr. Edwards’ inspiring presence and we thank him for taking the time out of his day to be with us. It was a wonderful experience and we are all so grateful to have received his useful guidance. Ultimately, I’m feeling very hopeful about what we will accomplish together. Until then, I thank everyone who has been a part of this journey thus far. So, thank you!