A litigation associate with Jones, Skelton & Hochuli in Phoenix, Arizona, Camila Porter wears many hats. She’s also a registered nurse, wife and devoted mother of three. In addition, she happens to be the founder of an innovative program, Kids for Kindness, that not only welcomes youngsters but serves the altruistic aim to “plant seeds of compassion” in the hearts and minds of our youngest citizens.
Attorney at Law Magazine recently sat down with Porter to learn more about this inspired service-oriented organization where children are not only welcome to participate, but all projects are tailor-made for their little hands and minds.
AALM: What was your inspiration for Kids for Kindness?
CP: No matter where I looked, no matter how hard I tried, no one wanted me to bring my three tiny tots to their service events. My husband and I have offered to bring our kids to sort clothes at domestic violence shelters, cook and serve dinners to homeless families, coordinate wish-granting services for children with terminal illnesses … no takers. I couldn’t even get an animal shelter to let us come pet their puppies. Instead, we found ourselves filling our time at one jungle gym or another, our kids rarely having the opportunity to get outside their little suburban bubble to help others — aside from the occasional ball pit rescue, a heroic feat for sure, but not exactly what we had in mind for our kids’ budding sense of civic duty.
I felt like the only option for me to get my own kids involved in regular, meaningful service was for me to create my own organization where they would actually be welcome to participate and, in fact, all the projects would be tailor-made for their little hands and minds. That’s why I created Kids for Kindness, my bare bones, low budget, no frills attempt to plant seeds of compassion in my children and others in our community.
AALM: Please give our readers an overview of what Kids for Kindness is all about and your objectives.
CP: At Kids for Kindness, our goal is to give kids the opportunity to serve people in need in a safe and warm environment, with age-appropriate activities, easy-to-follow instructions, and enthusiastic leaders.
Well-founded research shows kids who make volunteering a regular part of their lives are more confident, happier, and more empathetic. Caring for others helps us develop patience and strengthens relationships. We all know working together on a common goal, like a service project, is an ideal environment for developing leadership skills as well. And the sweet, well deserving people who will benefit from the projects we have hand-selected will be beyond thrilled to know they were the focus of the children at the Kids for Kindness event. Total win-win.
AALM: What is the operation model for your organization?
CP: I rely exclusively on volunteers to operate Kids for Kindness, and the majority of the volunteer hours come from within my own nuclear family, though at times I do have to render payment in Skittles. I am so grateful for my kids’ and husband’s willingness to keep Kids for Kindness operational.
AALM: It appears that this is a program not solely, but certainly designed with working moms in mind. Is that so and why?
CP: As a working mom myself, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to find ways to engage young children in service. Kids for Kindness events are always held on a weekend, so as not to interfere with typical work schedules, and parents are never asked to bring anything to the events. We do all the work – the foresight, the planning, and the gathering of supplies – so a working mom can just show up at the event and allow her children a chance to give back, without brainstorming any ideas or taking a single trip to Target!
AALM: Can you talk a bit about some of the various events/programs this organization (you) support?
CP: Since the inception of Kids for Kindness in 2019, we have hosted hundreds of children who want to use their little hands and hearts to be a force for good. Each event has a theme, such as Kids Helping Kids, Giving Back to Those Who Give to Us, Love Your (International) Neighbor, and You Are a Service Superhero. At each event, the children create several projects that are donated to a person in need. Whether it’s activity packets for patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, school supply kits for children who are struggling with homelessness, thank you bags for police officers and firefighters, friendship bracelet kits for children who are being housed at immigration detention centers, hand-sewn teddy bears for children living in war-torn areas of the Middle East, or holiday placemats for the seniors who receive Meals on Wheels, the projects are created with an eye toward allowing even the youngest participant an opportunity to show kindness in a meaningful way.
AALM: What are your ultimate goals for Kids for Kindness?
CP: My ultimate goal is to teach children in my community about kindness by giving them a first-hand opportunity to help those less fortunate. I have been overwhelmed at the number of parents who have stumbled upon Kids for Kindness and made time in their schedules to bring their children to an event. I think those parents have discovered that learning kindness will benefit their kids in countless ways, including more happiness, less stress, improved self-esteem, increased feelings of gratitude, and reduced depression and anxiety. Kindness is a concept we can all get behind, and the sooner a child learns about specific ways she can show kindness, the greater her life will be impacted.
Kindness changes everything.
AALM: How can people get involved and/or support your efforts?
CP: Our events are open to the public! Anyone can register to participate by visiting www.kidsforkindnessaz.org and clicking on the Join Us link. Children of all ages are welcome, and we are always grateful for the help and support of grown-ups too.