2020 + 116 Acts of Kindness: A Year in Review

Danielle Hannan

Whomever it was to first say “it’s cool to be kind” deserves a Nobel Peace Prize or, at the very least, a $20 gift card to their favorite fast-casual restaurant. Because they were absolutely right: it is cool to be kind. The need for kindness in 2020, however, reached an all-time high. I’m sure you don’t want or need a recap as to why that’s true.

While rebranding, we intentionally built kindness into the pillars of what would become 116 & West. Kindness takes root in our company through our “116 Acts of Kindness” program (or 116 AOK, for short). Through this program, and as a company, we vowed to perform 116 acts of kindness throughout 2020. (Although, at the time we had no idea how much those acts of kindness would be so necessary in the upcoming year.)

Launching 116 & West with Kindness

Our mission was to make a difference in our community. So, in that spirit, 2020 started off with a bang: On our agency launch date, we handed out free coffee; we encouraged strangers to share what kindness meant to them (in writing on a large board in middle of The Grove); and handed out small kindness cards—cards with quotes centering on kindness and why it matters—and encouraged the recipients to pay ‘em forward.

Kindness During Covid

And then, well, Covid hit and we began to lockdown. As the weeks wore on, we learned that many senior citizens felt scared and isolated in their retirement homes. Among many other things, these people needed kindness, and luckily that’s where we could step up and help.

To help them feel connected, our team shared photos, a little about ourselves, and notes about strength and community. We then printed over 400 postcards and shared them with 4 different retirement homes across the Treasure Valley.

Black Lives Matter

The pandemic surged onward and racial unrest came to a head in June after the murder of George Floyd. Many of our employees offered their expertise–design skills, copywriting, strategic insights–to businesses that needed it and championed anti-racism. We collected $1,800 among the Westies to donate to charities in support of BLM. 116 & West matched that amount. Various Westies found other charities to give additional donations on top of the $1,800 we raised as a company.

It’s Cool to be Kind

As a company, we offered our services free of charge to organizations that were also doing good in this world: We designed logos and annual reports for free. And then, after helping several businesses, we found more ways to support our communities, like the Idaho Food Bank.

Over Thanksgiving, we made a goal to donate 116 items to the Idaho Food Bank. (Should we relax with the whole 116 thing? You know what, don’t answer that.) We didn’t count, but I’m pretty sure we easily met that goal. You be the judge.

Keep Kind and Carry On

We supported businesses and causes that needed it, but we also supported each other. Need help working out from home? No worries, one Westie put together several at-home workouts that will truly kick your ass (Never trust a nationally ranked weightlifter to make a workout for you). Many of us were feeling extra anxious and overwhelmed, so another Westie led a guided meditation over Zoom. We made space for ourselves and each other—I’m really proud of us for that.

So, yes, the first official year of 116 AOK just so happened to coincide with a year that desperately needed more kindness (if for nothing else, we can thank 2020 for that). Luckily, we all did our best to rise to the occasion. Here’s to hoping that 2021 won’t need kindness as desperately, but you can still count on us to perform our 116 acts regardless.