Kindness Matters 365 Interview & Community Wellness Fest Interview
Laura Waldorf Reiss & Julie Lohr Prout
Kindness Matters 365 is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation that delivers innovative programs to support the well-being of kids and teens. Grounded in the principles of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and providing skill-building through experiential learning activities, KM365’s unique approach teaches kids to discover how to care for themselves, each other, and our world through exploring self-awareness, self-navigation, empathy, a growth mindset, and a dedication to service-learning.
Today I had the honor of interviewing Laura Waldorf Reiss & Julie Lohr Prout from Kindness Matters 365. Laura is the founder of Kindness Matters and Julie an amazing volunteer who is in charge of spearheading the Community Wellness Fest with Laura on February 26th, 2023 in Delray Beach Florida at Old School Square.
Listen as we talk about all the work that this foundation is doing in our community and beyond for our kids, teens and adults.
It truly shows you that with gratitude, compassion and kindness we can change the world. I know you are going to love this interview.
COMMUNITY WELLNESS FEST
February 26, 2023
Old School Square
Delray Beach, Florida
Sunday | 9am - 2 PM
FIND KINDNESS MATTERS 365 ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Web Site: KindnessMatters365.org
Hi everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Connected Body Podcast. Today I have two amazing ladies here with me. I am so excited. I have Laura Waldorf Reiss of Kindness Matters 365, and I have Julie Lohr Prout, who is spearheading the community Wellness Fest that we're gonna be talking about. These two ladies are movers and shakers. So welcome Laura and Julie.
Thank you. Thank you for Having us. Thank you, Laura. We're super excited to be here today. Thank you. I'm excited. Alright, I am going to shoot my first question to Laura Laura. I want to know about Kindness Matters, like a little bit, about your background and how it all got started. Great question. So a little bit about my background.
To sum it all up, I was raised, well, my parents really, that's to sum it all up. My background is I was raised well. Oftentimes I meet with educators and rabbis and priests and many important people in the world. And after meeting with me and hearing all about kindness matters, they say to me, what are all your degrees?
Where'd you go to college and graduate school? And all that stuff they wanna hear. And what I say is, I was raised well, and really my parents modeled for me, Laura. They really modeled for me the importance of taking care of myself and showing kindness. Hmm. So as a young mother, sharing those same values and teaching my children the same way and modeling for my children,
kindness, generosity, compassion. I saw that it worked. My parents had something, my parents had something. And I saw that my three children were growing up with compassion and empathy and, and understanding that it's okay for them to have feelings and emotions and to show kindness, to take care of themselves, and to show kindness. So Kindness Matters. 365 really got started with a,
it was a passion project of mine to share what I was taught as a child, what I was teaching for my children. And I saw the value in that. It really does work, if you take the time to teach children to, to really share with them that it's okay, whatever they're going through, to give them tools to powerfully navigate life and to support and empower them.
Miracles happen. So the Kindness Matters 365 Foundation really got started out of a zest and a passion to contribute to our community and to teach our children the same things that I was taught and the same things that I was teaching my children. I love that. I mean that it's like so simple and so huge because, these kids are our future,
you know? And if we can teach them kindness and love and respect, they're going to, you know, like the domino effect to share that out into the world. And it's so beautiful. Yes. And many children get it at home. Many children are getting that education and that love and that support. They're getting it at home and not all children are.
So for the children who are getting it at home, home, fantastic. Let's reinforce it in the schools and for the children who are not getting it at home, let's give it to them in the schools. So what I did was, in 2008, I went to our, my daughter, my, my oldest daughter's local elementary, sunrise Park Elementary,
across the street. And I said, can I start an after school kindness program where I'm teaching children about the importance of taking care of themselves, how to do that, how to give back to the community. They loved it. The first, the very first program was 35 children in the Media Center. And I talked to them all about sel-care, eating organic,
showing kindness to your classmates, showing kindness at home, cleaning a room, reading books, I mean, everything. And after around three or four meetings, a lot of the kids I noticed started to to say to me, okay, Laura, what else? We want more. We want more. They were so thirsty for how can they be kind?
How can they show kindness? So I started to invite a lot of different organizations and foundations from our local community that were already being of service and giving back. And I invited them to talk to the kids about what they do, how they do it, why they do it. So that we were giving these foundations an opportunity to shine a light on what they're doing.
And we were giving the children an opportunity to see what is happening in their own backyard. Yeah. The good and the bad, and how they can be of service at any age. And the children loved it. So our programs are now provided for preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, college. And we have adult programming. Our programs are mostly an after school club where a local foundation comes to the school to talk about what they do,
how they give back. And the children do a hands-on age appropriate project to give back to that community that is speaking to them that day. So it's an opportunity for the foundation to shine and share. And it's an opportunity for the children to get what a beautiful community that we live in. And that there are people who need our help and our service and our own backyard and beyond.
And the kids, when they do these service projects and hands it to the organizations, you'd see their souls light up, their souls light up because they get that they can be of service now at any age. Right. So, I'm so grateful that we as an organization, and yes, I did start the foundation. 2008 was the very first program.
2014 we became a foundation. But I am now surrounded by the most amazing human beings that volunteers, staff, executive board, advisory board. We are a beautiful, strong foundation spreading light and love all around and really empowering our children's social, emotional, and mental health. We are giving these children the tools that they need to powerfully navigate through life and be the best versions of themselves,
the best versions of themselves. We talk a lot about no competition, no comparing, let's just be the best versions of ourselves. Yeah. And that, that's so important, especially in this day and age where we have all the social media and the comparing. I think that's really huge when they can feel from in here that they, they're in control.
And, and, and it's so important. It's so important. And I wanna tell everyone on the website, Kindnessmatters365.org Get on the Facebook page and all the social media, just go and look at the pictures and see these children and their faces. It's like shining off this screen how happy they are with, with what they're contributing to the community and and to their selves and their families.
I love it. Love it. Thank you. Thank you. It feels good. Yeah. Oh my gosh. For sure. All right, Julie. So I know I want to talk to you first, introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself and what you are doing at Kindness Matters. Well, hello everyone. My name is Julie Lohr Prout,
and I've lived in South Florida for about 11 years. And I met, well, I heard of Kindness Matters when I first came down here through social media. And I saw all the amazing things that Laura and her team were doing. And I was working for a large corporation at the time, but I noticed that they were doing some adult programming, like Lunch and Learn series.
So I started to sneak out of work and take advantage of that. And I met some amazing people that I'm still connected with to this day. I was introduced to Yoga Journey and the wonderful teachers there. I was introduced to becoming a vegetarian slash vegan. There was many different programs about different modalities for healing. Yeah. Such as breathing and meditation. So,
and a lot of these modalities, which I had never really heard of or used, I'm still incorporating them today. And I think that's one thing that not everyone knows about or something that you're not, brought up with, is that in this crazy world that we live in, that there are different kinds of modalities for healing, whether it's meditation or sound bowls or just,
you know, getting together with your TRIBE and, and just talking. So, so a couple months, actually, it's been about six months now, Laura called me and said, would you like to be in our committee? I wanna do the Health and Wellness Festival. This was really two years after Covid. I mean, COVID really had an impact on kindness matters Sure.
In terms of the programming. And obviously Covid had an impact on everyone. Right. I think we all retreated, some of us had health issues. I know Laura has a story. I was diagnosed with cancer. Right, right. At the same time Covid was in full bloom. And she said, do you wanna be in the committee?
And I said, absolutely. Let's, you know, bring to our community this education. Because there are a lot of people suffering in this world. Yeah. And, you know, knowledge is invaluable. So we, you know, got together and talked about different people. We wanted to be at our event. Right. And we have an amazing lineup.
So what's going on, Laura is that we're having this on February 26th of next year, 2023 at the old school square in Delray. Yes. So it's a huge venue. There's a stage, we're going to be having yoga, we're having Sound bowl healing, we're having martial arts demonstration, we're having drumming and an amazing DJ. And then top of all that,
we'll have somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 vendors. Wow. So there'll be different educational platforms. There'll be people selling merchandise that are healing health and wellness related. And we're going to actually have food vendors as well, healthy food vendors. So we really have quite the lineup, and we're excited and we are looking forward to sharing this with the, the community.
Yes. It's, I have to say, this has, this is a huge undertaking and, and you guys are doing it so beautifully, so beautiful. Thank you. It is a huge undertaking. And the two of us are like the perfect partners for each other, like left brain, right brain, I don't know what to tell you, but everything that she's good at.
I'm not, and the things that I happen to excel in, not So, not such a strong suit for Julie. It's like, it's magic. The two of us. And I, when I started to talk about creating a community Wellness festival, a few people said, Julie Prout . So I called Julie right away,
just intending her to be on the committee. She is my partner. She is running this show with me. I could not, I took it on, but I now know that I could not do it without her. I, I really, I couldn't do without her. And I'm grateful every day for the, for the partnership and the fun and the playfulness and the contemplation and the consideration and,
you know, it's really, it's such a pleasure to be doing this again. Well, it really is. The Feelings are mutual and you know, I, I'm, I've always said, I'm, I'm always learning. So you can always learn something from somebody. Right. And I continue to learn through the process of meeting new people and just organizing.
And so really excited to bring this to the community. So during the pandemic, I had my own health issues and I really had to step away from life. I had to step away from the foundation. I had to step away from so many of my obligations and commitments because what I knew was that my, mental health was not okay. My spirit,
spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health was not okay. And I was in breakdown and I had to really just wrap my arms around myself and say, okay, we are in breakdown. What are we going to do now? Yeah. So I let it, I let my very small community know I'm going to go in and take care of myself. And I did Laura,
but I'll tell you, it was hard. It was hard trying to figure out what was going on, what to do about it, how to heal myself, and then to actually do those things, to heal myself and to stay constant and consistent. So I'm on the other side of that. I have, I'm in a really healthy place mentally, physically,
spiritually, and emotionally. Right. Two and a half, three years later. And I'm definitely feel better having gone through it, because what I know now is that there are so many people suffering and we don't have to suffer. Right. There is suffering in the world and we don't have to suffer so much. So Julie and I got together and shared our stories and hugged it out.
And we said, you know what, what we wanna do is really provide a, platform for all of the healers and all of the beautiful people in our community who are of service. Let's give them a place to shine and share themselves. And let's have our community come in and either engage with modalities that they already know about and find new healing modalities that maybe they've never even thought about.
Right. I mean, everything from a lot, a lot of us know about crystals and dream catchers and sound bowl healing and meditation and movement. But there are so many other, when I was going through the worst of the worst of mine, the healing modalities that I was used to were not working anymore. Even a little light alternate noil breathing, it wasn't working.
My, my go-to healing modalities were no longer working. So I had to really reinvent and find new healing methods. Yeah. And so this community Wellness event, it is free to the community. It is free to, andeverybody is welcome and everybody is involved. And so what we're really hoping for is that everybody comes out on February 26th, Old School Square in Delray Beach, Florida and they really enjoy the day of healers,
vendors. We're going to have a kid zone with about 15 different tents. We're gonna have a, a clothing swap. If you have clothing to give, bring it. If you have clothing that you wanna fill up your closets, come take it. How amazing. Rock Painting. Rock painting. I mean, we could, we could probably talk about the community festival for hours,
but I feel like it's gonna be a jam packed family fun day. Yeah. For all ages, all color, all religion, all identities. Everybody. Everybody. Everybody. Yeah. The kids are gonna have a ball. And, and I have some things here I was gonna share because I'm doing the music tent with the children, so I have You sure.
Are a couple, a couple things that we're gonna be playing with. Oops. Almost dropped it. Ooh. We've got all sorts of things going on. Isn't that cool? Oh my god. So, oh, I love that. Laura. What do you call that? It's a little tongue drum. I love That. The kids are gonna love that.
Yeah, they're gonna love that. And then we have, I'm gonna have big drums, so we have lots of stuff just, it's gonna be so much fun. Everything that's going on. It's gonna be an amazing event. I know. It's gonna be, I have a feeling it's gonna be a yearly event. So one other, one other day.
Oh, look at them. They're like, we gotta get the first one first, but yeah. Yes, Please. So kindness Matters 360 five.org on your website. I know there are many ways that people can also be involved. Can you share some of those ways that people can be involved? Yes. Thank you for asking. So there are, we are all inclusive.
We really welcome all different kinds of people. So volunteers are a big ask because what we wanna do is we wanna, we wanna hear from you, what do you love to do? What are your talents? What are your passions? And come participate and play with us. So volunteering is also a wonderful way to get involved, right? Becoming an ambassador,
one of the most important things that we really want is a Kindness Matters 365 program in every single school in the world. So if you're somebody who does not have a Kindness Matters 365 program in your school, please reach out to your administration, send them to our website, become an ambassador. Ask your friends to become an ambassador. It's really easy. You can go to our website,
you hit that, become an Ambassador button, you fill out the application and then you start to get emails that will step you along the process of becoming an ambassador. All of our training is online. It's easy, it's accessible, it's about an hour and a half. And you're an ambassador. You also have ambassador support, which is really around the clock.
Somebody to reach out to. I have some, I need some, I have some questions. Once you become an ambassador, you have access to our dashboard with all of our content to create your programs. Our programs, our programs have a monthly topic. Every single topic, every single month is a different topic. That topic is specific to supporting our children's mental,
spiritual, emotional, social health. So our topics are self-awareness, optimistic thinking, kindness to yourself, gratitude. Like we have these great, great topics that we get to talk to the kids about. Yeah. How People can get involved, Awesome. Yeah. Okay. So be,
so becoming a volunteer, becoming an ambassador, and bringing a program to your school or enrolling another ambassador at school. Huge. We also don't mind donations. You know, becoming a sponsor or being a donor is a huge contribution to this organization. We run on the kindness of our community grants, my parents. So we really do appreciate financial donations are also very appreciated.
So volunteering, becoming an ambassador, spreading the world, you know, find us on social media, Kindness Matters 365, like our stuff. Share our stuff and you can really participate and contribute in so many ways. Go to our website and reach out to us and we will play together. I love it. That's great. Okay, so I'm going to put all the links,
all the social media links so everyone can find KindnessMatters365.orgon all the social media sites. Julie Laura, is there anything else you would like to share before we wrap this up? Well, you know, as Laura speaking, I'm thinking it, it's really mind blowing what you offer these children, because when I was growing up, I certainly didn't have these opportunities to learn about being kind.
Yeah. To learn about being kind to myself, giving back to the community. And, and in fact I grew up in a, a very tumultuous home life and suffered from depression and really could have used these tools. So yeah, it's sad that we need to do it for the children, but we absolutely do. So I think the world is grateful for kindness matters and,
and Yes. Yeah. Thank you. That was beautiful, Julie. That was really beautiful. You know what, Laura and Julie, I feel so grateful. Well, not only to be in the company of amazing women and all of the volunteers and everyone who really makes this foundation what it is. I feel so grateful because we are saving lives.
We really, really are. Ye. We are giving these kids the tools and the techniques and the skills that to support their, their health and their livelihood. And really, I've watched the transformation of human beings in these courses. I've watched that child walk into the room who has no idea how disrespectful he is. I've watched that little girl speaking one way to her classmates in the beginning of the year and speaking very differently in the end of the year.
And I feel like life is huge. Life life can be very challenging for me. Yes. Life can be challenging for all of us. It's part of the human experience. We are having an experience and I really feel like if we can give these children as much support as we can to help them understand, take care of yourself first, take care of yourself first.
It's okay. It's okay. And then give back where, where you can, when you can and how you can, whatever that, whatever that looks like for you. And a big, big, big message is please stop comparing yourself to anybody. Cuz we are all extraordinary human beings as we are. And we're all here for different reasons. Yes.
Julie's strengths are not my strengths. And I leave that to Julie. I'm not gonna compare myself to Julie and make myself wrong because I'm not good at spreadsheets. You know, I just, I dunno why I said spreadsheets, but she's really good at spreadsheets and I'm really not. But I celebrate her. I celebrate her. I'm not looking at myself and saying,
I'm not good enough because I can't do what Julie does. I celebrate what I can do. And, and I celebrate what you can do. And I want that. I want our children and all people to understand, find the value in yourself and shine and celebrate and get through life powerfully and celebrate other people too. We don't, we don't have to.
Yes. It's like when you light a candle and then it lights another one and they all shine. They're all beautiful, they're all shining. And I think Yeah, that, that's amazing. And I think the tools that you're giving these children are just invaluable for the rest of their lives. And that is life changing. Not only to them, their families,
but to the world. So, And I, I do wanna share one more thing. Laura. Yeah. The ambassadors who go through our training get just as much value as the participants. It is amazing. Becoming an ambassador is so rewarding because not only are you supporting the children that you're providing these programs for, you yourself are gaining a whole new education and a whole new empowerment system,
if you will. Sure. So I just wanna encourage anybody listening to check out Kindness Matters 360 five.org. You're gonna love our website. It's lots of fun. And come play with us, reach out, find us, and definitely come to the Community Wellness Festival on February 26. I wanna add one final word if possible. No one likes to ask for money.
It's uncomfortable, but Kindness Matters. Programming is free in the schools, it's free to people, it's free to the ambassadors, but it runs on donations. Right. And having said that, our Well Fest, we need sponsors. We need sponsors. Good Point. To give back so that we c to give to Kindness matters so we can run the programming.
So if you know it, it's a tough ask, but one thing that you mentioned there is a sense of urgency. Kindness matters is saving lives. Yeah. So we need to keep this going. We need to expand. So any kind of donation or sponsorship, please reach out to us. Yeah. We would be so grateful. Yes. That,
that, that was very important, Julie. Thank you. Very important. I I know that, you know, they can be involved in the Well Fest. And I know they have something going on right now, looking at my notes to Give22 Right. Yeah. So they can find that on the social media also. So any way you want,
donate, volunteer, be part of Kindness Matters 365. You are so welcome to do that. Yeah. Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you so much, so much ladies. Thank you. Thank you for being part of our committee. Thank you For having us. My pleasure. You're you're an inspiration. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Yes. And everybody, today's Julie's birthday so we are going to wish her a happy birthday. Happy birthday, Julie. All right, everyone. Well thank you for joining us for another episode of The Connected Body Podcast. And I will see you next time. Bye-Bye.