The reason Vanessa White Fernandes picked up the BeKind Scranton project stems from her appreciation of the city.
The Scranton resident sees the downtown flourishing with events like First Friday and an increase in foot traffic from block to block.
“I feel really proud to be living here, and I want people to feel that, too,” she said.
White Fernandes already does work in the region and beyond with the Hugging Army, which offers free hugs to people who need them. She will continue spreading positivity and hugs through the second year of BeKind Scranton, a day dedicated to promoting acts of kindness throughout the city. The event takes place Saturday, July 22, starting at 10 a.m.
Organizers and participants will meet on Courthouse Square to branch out across the city. White Fernandes hopes to convene at approximately 4 p.m. back at the square for a community drum circle.
BeKind Scranton was launched last summer by West Scranton native Monica Simon, who overcame her own obstacles with anxiety and depression and wanted to pay it forward to the whole city. As she has moved out of town for her career, White Fernandes felt it was important to continue the event.
“It was a beautiful event last year, it was a lot of fun and there was an incredible response from the city,” White Fernandes said. “People saw everything as they walked through, as they drove through and it was a feel-good event.”
During the day, people are encouraged to write positive sayings with sidewalk chalk, on signs to hang on poles and storefronts, on Post-it notes for car windows and library books and to give hugs.
As everyone scatters across the city, White Fernandes hopes people jump right in.
“Even if people don’t connect with the formal organizers, they can take it in their own hands,” White Fernandes said. “I want various kinds of people to branch out across the city as far as they want.”
Since today’s political and financial climate can make people feel scared or uncertain, she said, offering hugs and random acts of kindness may seem extra timely. However, White Fernandes would be doing the work regardless, following an important mantra.
“I know when I give hugs to people, they will often say things like, ‘We need to be doing things like this, especially right now,’ but I feel now is as good a time as any. We just need to do this more often,” White Fernandes said. “We need to care more about each other. Period.”
— paul capoccia


If you go
What: BeKind Scranton Summer Version 2017
When: Saturday, July 22; organizers and participants will meet at 10 a.m. on Courthouse Square and reconvene at approximately 4 p.m. for drum circle.
Where: Throughout Scranton
Details: For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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