My first encounter with the KIND Institute was through a teammate. When I first met Miles (through the 10-10-10 project) he was filled with ideas and excitement for what we could accomplish for KIND. The KIND Institute is more than just an after school art program, it strives to create an environment for learning and uniting by using the arts to teach students to live humanely and creatively, while teaching them the skills to become leaders in their communities.
A budding artist and free spirit, it seemed as though Miles spent half of his time working at KIND and the other half finding new ways to assist in getting the organization on its feet. But it never seemed to be a chore or burden, rather it was something that he wanted and looked forward to doing. It was Miles’ commitment that caught my attention.
After interacting with the people involved in KIND, specifically Ron Kustrup and Maria Pandolfi, the founders of KIND, it is easy to see why Miles exhibited such dedication and excitement. They are the type of people who welcome a complete stranger (as I was at the time) with open arms and are not afraid to put you straight to work, and then work right alongside you. After spending a couple of hours with these people, I too was influenced to promote the KIND Institute and spread KINDness.
Our team was able to organize an event for KIND, the Share KINDness Benefit Fundraiser. This event was much more than just a way to raise money. It was an event that allowed the community to come together over vegan food and live jazz music, while watching a live painter and a girl perform tricks and illusions with a hula-hoop. It was a place where students of Ron and Maria could display their art. It was not an overpriced, fancy event; rather it was comfortable and open. I was able, as an outsider the Point Breeze community, to see how much the community supported KIND.
From my brief experience with KIND over the past couple of months I have witnessed how KIND is a family, exemplifying the ways in which a community can be brought together.