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    Posted May 28, 2014 by
    New York, New York
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Impact Your World

    New York Couple Inspires Kindness


    We all experience situations where waiting seems necessary: Waiting in line, waiting for a ride, and especially, waiting for change. One inspiring New York couple decided it was time to stop waiting.


    For the past year, Mark & Ismini Svensson have dedicated themselves to traveling all across America performing one act of kindness in every state. Their goal is to promote volunteerism and encourage other citizens to become active in their communities. They call this initiative ‘50 Acts of Giving Back.’


    “Many people have the preconception that you have to dedicate a lot of time or money in order to make a real difference in today’s world,” Ismini said, “but we wanted to show that every act of kindness, no matter how seemingly insignificant can make a difference, especially if it helps motivate others to do the same.”


    When the couple started this initiative, Ismini who is a civil engineer, was several months pregnant, and Mark, a Georgetown University graduate, was working at a law firm.

    “It’s been very challenging to do all this while at the same time starting a family and a career,” said Mark. “We found ourselves countless times working 18 hours a day and traveling every weekend and time-off to make this goal a reality,” he adds.


    Utilizing digital tools like Facebook and Twitter, Mark and Ismini began posting pictures of their journey and charitable acts. What started as a couple’s personal adventure, quickly expanded, with friends and followers online becoming more engaged and motivated. Every act of kindness performed soon became the result of an online discussion.


    “We wanted to promote social good through the social media and the response was tremendous,” says Ismini. “People from all over have sent us suggestions of charitable acts to perform in their state as well as acts of kindness they have performed as a result.”


    Some of the Svenssons acts of kindness have included: Furnishing the home of formerly homeless women and their children in Los Angeles, California; Donating books and promoting the importance of literacy in Las Vegas, Nevada; Visiting patients suffering from cancer in Asheville, North Carolina; Bringing toys to seriously ill children at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital; and providing meals to the homeless in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


    “The reaction of the people we come in contact with is always very positive. Many times people have mentioned how inspired they are by this effort, especially that we do this as a family,” says Mark.


    With an outpouring of support, Mark and Ismini decided to establish the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization StayUNITED making ‘50 Acts of Giving Back’ one of the organization’s initiatives.

    “Giving back is our true passion, something that gives greater meaning to our lives,” says Ismini. “Through StayUNITED, we look forward to continuing our efforts to help those in need,” she adds.


    The couple’s commitment and dedication to charitable giving has earned the recognition of public officials across the country including Senator Feinstein, Congressman Waxman, and Congresswoman Lowey.


    “We’re deeply humbled by the support we’ve received. It’s been an absolute life-changing experience,” says Ismini.

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