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Jo Anne Mixner ’85 makes random acts of kindness her mission
Feb. 27, 2012
Jo Anne Mixner shows that it is not necessarily a particular job or degree that allows someone to make a difference, but individual spirit.
Mixner believes in random acts of kindness such as paying a stranger’s parking meter toll or giving them small gifts. On the surface, she hopes that these acts will brighten someone’s day but, taken together, and especially if the recipients pass them along, they can add to the store of goodness in the world.
Mixner organized this sentiment when she founded the Wakefield branch of Guerrilla Goodness, part of a national movement that commits anonymous acts of kindness. Mixner requested her photo not be published with this story because she is such a strong believer in the group’s anonymous nature.
Guerrilla Goodness organizes “kindness missions” in which the group’s volunteers donate items to the community or commit small acts of goodness.
The original inventor of the Guerrilla Goodness concept is Patience Salgado, who runs a blog about her experiences called “The Kindness Girl.” Mixner read about her in O, The Oprah Magazine.
“It kind of spoke to me,” Mixner said, “because when I moved here from North Carolina, I needed something to help me connect again to the community.”
Mixner is a Rhode Island native but she lived out of state for 20 years. She is a past president of the Rotary Club in North Carolina and worked with that state’s epilepsy association. She wanted to continue her charity work in Rhode Island.
After her move, the local Rotary Club and other organizations did not fit into her busy work schedule, so she hit upon the Guerrilla Goodness concept as a way to give back on her own time.
One of the group’s activities illustrates its “pay it forward” philosophy. Members formed a “chocolate chain,” leaving candy bars on the door handles of parked cars and asking the recipients to do the same for someone else.
Mixner received an e-mail after this mission from a mother thanking her for her efforts. The mother and her daughter were out shopping for items to donate to an adopt-a-family program and her daughter had contributed some of her allowance money to the purchase. When they got back to the parking lot, they found the candy bar and note from Guerrilla Goodness on their car, and the mother was able to tell her daughter that kindness will be rewarded.
“That made it for me,” Mixner said. “If nothing else comes of this, I will cherish that one story of that little girl.”
Mixner graduated with a dual major from the Community College of Rhode Island in liberal arts and business administration in 1985. She transferred to Bentley University on a full scholarship, graduating in 1987, and has been an employee of the Internal Revenue Service for 21 years.
“I’m just thankful that CCRI gave me my educational foundation and that I’m able to make this world a little bit of a better place for folks.”
Mixner’s Guerrilla Goodness chapter is the only one in Rhode Island so far but she said anyone is welcome to get involved with hers or start his or her own.