The concept of “Pay it Forward”, based on a movie with the same name, is familiar to many. The idea of doing something thoughtful or kind for another, without any expectation of payback, but with the hope that the person receiving the kindness will in some way “Pay it Forward” has a certain appeal.
A local business consultant and philanthropist, Rick Bernstein, found himself inspired by the spirit of the film’s message. Rick, being a person who is not afraid to think big, used this inspiration to quietly build a Pay it Forward network of area non-profits. Over the past few years, he has recruited organizations that were also excited by the Pay it Forward concept and has made several donations to each. The only stipulation is that the organizations use the money in the spirit of Pay it Forward and not only help their clients with small kindnesses, but encourage them to do the same for people in their lives. According to Rick, “I believe everyone can make a positive difference in someone else’s life. Pay it Forward encourages each of us who have been on the receiving end to pass the kindness on to someone else who’s in need.”
Over the past year, The Acadia Hospital, specifically the Pediatric Outpatient Service (POS), has benefitted from Rick’s kindness and generosity, and amazing things have happened. Many emotional stories have been shared with Rick by Acadia POS staff, like the time a young client who wanted a guitar more than anything was afforded that dream when a staff member used “Pay it Forward” funds to purchase a simple guitar. The change in that young person was profound, and it’s not the only example of the power this philosophy contains. According to POS clinician Cynthia Emerson, “A 16 year-old girl received a $100.00 gift certificate to Goodwill (a shopping place of her choice) from Acadia’s Pay it Forward Fund because her clothes are literally torn so much she can barely keep them on her body. She went into her session sad and forlorn and after receiving the gift came out with a smile. She reportedly said, ‘I saw that movie, (meaning Pay it Forward, because we played in partial where she attended) but I never thought it would be me.’ She understands the concept and will “Pay if Forward” in the future when she can.”
Rick and his promotion of Pay it Forward, both through his financial resources as well as his personal energy, have quietly helped many organizations and individuals and it’s a good bet the ripples from his initial actions are being felt on an ongoing basis. Acadia feels fortunate to be a beneficiary of Rick’s vision and we look forward to being an active Pay it Forward organization for a long time to come.