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Meet Our Optimism Instigators

A collection of people we admire for what they do to initiate small things that spur positivity in a contagious way around the world.

Meet April, our newest optimism instigator. April is an activist, nonprofit founder, and actress based in Los Angeles, California. April is the founder of #whywegiveproject, which focuses on creating care hygiene kits for the local unhoused community in Los Angeles. During the pandemic, April also started a hiking group. When they hit the trail, they like to encourage “Paying it forward” through random acts of kindness. They typically stock up a backpack with water, juices, and baked goods and hand them out to other hikers (outside of the group) on their route to encourage them and spread love spontaneously.

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1. Tell us about #whywegiveproject. Why did you start the nonprofit?

Why We Give Project is a nonprofit that donates hygiene kits and essential items to our unhoused community here in Los Angeles. We focus on hygiene products because these items are rarely provided by shelters, and we help to fill that gap. I started the nonprofit due to three reasons 1) being my frustration in seeing the increase of people suffering from homelessness in LA and I wanted to be more engaged in the solution to combat homelessness 2) I wanted to change the harmful narrative society has about those who are experiencing homelessness in that a person’s condition of being unhoused doesn’t determine their value nor erases their humanity; every person is a human being first that deserves dignity and compassion and 3) I wanted to increase an individual’s desire to volunteer and impact change in their community while fostering a mindset of community that we are all one in the same.

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2. What is your advice for someone wanting to get involved in supporting nonprofits or even starting their own?

My advice is to just start. You can volunteer whether it be at a local shelter or as simple as doing a group activity with friends by having a ‘night in’ vs. a ‘night out’ to do a hygiene kit packing party with friends and donate the items to a local nonprofit. I think it’s always better to do volunteer activities with groups of people since it makes it a more social experience and helps everyone feel more connected to a good cause. My advice to anyone wanting to start their own nonprofit is to seek out a mentor (who has a nonprofit) and to shadow them. This tip would definitely help someone see the groundwork it takes to both operate and scale the nonprofit and avoid some major pitfalls. There are a lot of resources out there, even support groups for founders of micro to macro nonprofits to help you on this journey. What I love about the face of new nonprofits is that more of them are being created by millennials and gen z who want to change their communities and there is a community to support those on this journey.

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3. During the pandemic you started a hiking group to help spread random acts of kindness. Tell us a little more about your hikes and what acts of kindness you were able to spread?

During the pandemic there wasn’t much to do as things were closed down. So social activities consisted of being outside. Me and my friends hiked even more during the pandemic since gyms were closed. I noticed a lot of people having a low morale and were stressed due to the pandemic. Anything good let alone kindness just seemed to be an afterthought as most people were concerned with just surviving. I thought about ‘paying it forward’ to help inspire gratitude and hope in people. Since me and my friends were already hiking, I thought lets ‘pay it forward’ during our hikes to help inspire people during these times just because. We purchased baked good and gift cards from local coffee shops and passed them out to strangers during our hike. People were shocked and open to our acts of kindness. We just told them we weren’t expecting anything in return except for them to remember to pay if forward to someone else during the week. I was shocked as some people got emotional saying how stressed out they were (whether it was work or just life in general + the added stress of the pandemic) and how that simple act of kindness touched them. Some of the hikers I still kept in touch with shared how they got inspired to do more work in their community from that hike, so it’s cool to see how things come full circle.

4. What is your favorite thing about being in nature/ being outside?

What I love about nature and being outside is it takes me away from being inside my head and forces me to be present. I have to acknowledge nature by looking at the flowers, grass, and trees. I’m forced to experience nature by engaging all of my senses vs. just being a spectator of it. It brings me back to simplicity. Nature isn’t rushing to go into the next season, it’s not in competition with the forces surrounding it. It just lives in the moment and is beautiful as is.

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5. When you’re not working, what do you do for fun?

Well, one is being outside any chance I get to hike, be at the beach, dancing, cooking, and boxing.

6. When heading to a coffee shop with friends or getting in a work session,
what’s your drink of choice?

An iced matcha latte with oat milk and vanilla or a pistachio oat milk latte.

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7. What’s your favorite color?

Blue will forever have my heart.

8. If you had to choose one outfit to wear every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Omg, that’s a hard one! This feels like a trick question lol! I’d have to say loungewear because it can be dressed up or down. I’d wear a pair of sweatpants or leggings with a workout top for my day look and then throw on a blazer and heels to dress it up for night. So, I can be both cute and comfortable.

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