Every now and again, you hear about a special soul that goes above and beyond everybody else and inspires others on another level. And we’re not talking about advancing a career. We’re talking about advancing humankind and restoring faith that even in a cruel world, good people really do exist. One of those such souls is Tommy Maher, a retired NYC sanitation worker, former firefighter for 35 years, and fire commissioner for 15 years.
When the Las Vegas shootings took place on October 1, 2017, Tommy took it upon himself to do more than just donate money or keep the victims in his thoughts and prayers. He set up a movement called Honor 58, showing up to the hometown where each victim lived and performing a random act of kindness in their honor. He had leather bracelets made with each one of the 58 Angels names printed on it and passed the bracelet on to someone who would be willing to do the same. We had a chance to chat with Tommy about his movement and how others can incorporate kindness into their everyday lives.
Kindness Karma: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in NY on Long Island in a town called South Hempstead. I am married to my wife Cindy and we have 3 children: Kelli, 16, Ryan, 15 and TJ, 14. I’m on the Board for the Raymar Children’s Fund, I volunteer at Pope Francis Faith Mission soup kitchen and food pantry, and I am on the Board for the RVC Little League.
KK: Tell us a little bit about Honor 58 and what inspired the movement?
We lost one of our firefighters and my good friend Joseph Hunter on September 11th 2001. I was down at Ground Zero for a couple of weeks sifting through the rubble looking for any sign of life or just trying to find my friend Joe’s body but he was never found. Ever since that horrific event, I made a promise to myself to do whatever I could whenever I could to make a difference. So when October 1st happened, I wanted to make more of an impact than just donating money. I wanted to spread kindness and use social media to do it. I have never been one to post anything on social media but I felt like this time I had to.
KK: Once you came up with the idea of Honor 58, what was the first thing you did to get it started?
I set up a Honor 58 Facebook page and Instagram @HONOR58JOURNEY. Then I had leather bracelets made with each one of the 58 Angels name printed on it. The concept was to show up in the town where each Angel lived and do a random act of kindness in their honor and then pass the bracelet to someone who would be willing to do the same, post it on the pages and try to inspire each other one act of kindness at a time.
KK: Tell us an example of an act of kindness you performed during Honor 58 that really melted your heart.
There were a few acts of kindness that moved me to tears but one in particular was when we approached a woman and her 10-year-old daughter, who were walking down Reno Boulevard with a shopping cart filled with dress up play clothes. They were headed to a thrift shop to sell her daughter’s play clothes because they needed money. The Mom spent her two week paycheck ($350) on a deposit for a new apartment and now they had no money left. So I asked the mom what I can do for her and she said if you could pay for my local bus pass that would be great. I reached into my pocket and gave her $350 and we both cried. She said now I can get my kids a Christmas present.
KK: What is Honor 58 up to these days and how can people join?
People can just go on Honor 58 Facebook page and Instagram: @HONOR58JOURNEY, and post random acts of kindness or just follow the pages.
KK: Can you speak a little bit about why spreading kindness is so important in today’s world in particular?
Kindness is always important for many reasons but you only have one shot at this thing called life. It’s not about how long you live, it’s about how you’re living. That five letter word SMILE can make such a difference in a moment and in someone’s life. Kindness is definitely contagious and that was what I’ve been trying to prove and it’s working!
KK: What are some easy acts of kindness people can do in their everyday lives?
There are many ways to spread kindness: bring in your neighbors trash cans after they are empty on garbage day, give someone a smile, use kind words like you look great today, you are awesome. Buy someone their coffee.
KK: Can everyone become a kinder human being if they want to? If so, where does one start?
Being kind is just a mindset and an attitude that everyone is capable of. True kindness is doing something just for the sake of doing it and expecting nothing in return.
KK: Complete this sentence: Kindness is
Contagious, BE THE GOOD!