It was an idea that came … and stayed. Yvette Deveau had seen a catalog come across her desk with a story on the Pay It Forward campaign. “When I first read it I thought, ‘This is great. I saw the movie and that’s a fantastic program, but I’m one person. What can one person do?’” said Yvette. “I put it to the side, but for the next six months it kept coming back to me. I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll order 10 bracelets and see what I can do with that.’”
THE RIPPLE EFFECT BEGINS
Those 10 bracelets – rubber bracelets designed as a physical reminder to encourage random acts of kindness – were just the beginning. As Yvette said, “I’m a go big or go home kind of person,” so she ended up reaching out to the Canadian chapter of the Pay It Forward Foundation. She discovered it’s a global organization based in the US, founded by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of the 1999 novel, Pay It Forward. She was inspired by the foundation’s commitment to being a “catalyst to inspire growth for the Pay It Forward philosophy, acts of kindness among strangers, generating a ripple effect from one person to the next, one community to the next.”
She decided to take on the role of establishing the affiliated Manitoba chapter and got ready for her first official Pay It Forward Day, April 28, 2013 (Pay It Forward Day is celebrated worldwide every April 28). She organized volunteers to join her at a busy intersection that morning, handing out Pay It Forward bracelets and McDonald’s free coffee certificates to commuters at the stoplight. (Yes, this go-getter had contacted McDonald’s and brought them on as a sponsor!) Yvette and her team ended up handing out over 1,000 bracelets and certificates, asking each recipient to do something kind for someone that day.
On April 28, 2014, their team met at a different intersection, this time delivering more than 1,500 bracelets and McDonald’s coffee certificates. In 2015, she wanted to share the message that random acts of kindness didn’t have to cost money, so she recruited the help of seventh and eighth graders at a nearby school who created over 2,000 “kindness postcards.”
The cards bore messages like, “Be kind to unkind people because they deserve it the most,” and “Your smile lights up the world.” “People really responded to those – because they were handmade,” said Yvette. To thank the students, Yvette arranged to reward them with a kind act in return. She contacted the local pro baseball team, the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who offered every student two free tickets to an upcoming game. “The team was part of the Pay It Forward ripple effect – we went to the school and surprised the kids with the tickets and the baseball team’s mascot!” said Yvette.
HIGH-FIVES & HEADLINES
For her fourth annual Pay It Forward Day, this last April 28, Yvette changed things up a bit. She arranged for volunteers (including her supportive hubby, Kevin) to join her at a busy mall to give out high-fives, bracelets and good cheer to more than 2,200 people – all of which was covered by local news media. She said, “The reason behind this – I wanted to bring the human connection together with the idea of paying it forward. I thought, ‘What better way than to high-five everyone?” It was fun, and there were a few people who said, ‘My day started off terrible, but this just made my day!’”
This busy professional, wife and stepmom doesn’t keep her Pay It Forward message to just April 28 every year. As an Origami Owl® Designer, she shares the message at every Origami Owl Jewelry Bar, as well. “I give everybody in attendance a Pay It Forward bracelet, and when I talk about Origami Owl’s mission and our Core Values – I share how Core Value #4 [Foster a Pay-It-Forward Mindset] speaks to me,” said Yvette. “I want everybody there to know that they deserve kindness, and the bracelet will be a reminder to be kind to themselves first, and then to pay it forward.”
She added, “One of the main reasons I joined Origami Owl was because of their values. A friend of mine started her business and asked if I would have a party. I had not even heard about it – but when she talked about the mission, about being a Force for Good and making a difference in the community, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
Yvette has found “live sparkly” joy in her mission to spread kindness. “One thing that really keeps me inspired about Pay It Forward is that one person can make a difference; one act of kindness can make a difference; and imagining the possibilities of that, the impact that we can have in our world – that’s what drives me.”
Find out more about Yvette’s work affiliated with the Pay It Forward Foundation and Pay It Forward Day at www.pifmanitoba.ca.
Watch news clips of her latest Pay It Forward blitz at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/pay-it-forward-manitoba-1.3556816 and http://globalnews.ca/video/2662443/pay-it-forward-campaign-kicks-off-on-global-news-morning.