Thelma Duffey, ACA's 64th president
Thelma Duffey, ACA’s 64th president

I was sitting at the boarding lounge not long ago preparing for a very early morning flight when the gentleman who issued my ticket came running to the gate where I was seated. With a big smile, he handed me something I had left on the counter and gave me a nice compliment as he did so. The distance from the curbside baggage check to my gate was considerable, but this gentleman had sprinted through the airport and tracked down my boarding gate in a very generous act of kindness.

It is interesting how one person’s random act of kindness can set the mood and brighten another person’s day. In this case, it certainly brightened mine. It also punctuated the consistently enjoyable week that I experienced in Louisville with my most gracious and hospitable counseling colleagues at the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Counseling Association.

Feb. 14-20 is Random Acts of Kindness Week (see I am delighted to hear that in celebration of this event, and as a response to the American Counseling Association’s presidential initiative on anti-bullying and interpersonal violence, all 14 school districts in San Antonio (the seventh-largest city in the U.S.) and rural districts in the surrounding area will be participating in a weeklong Take the Challenge campaign to “build cool, caring and inclusive communities.”

In tandem with ACA’s anti-bullying initiative, school communities will dispense a unified menu of activities to counselors on K-12 campuses, culminating in a citywide signature event. Children of all ages throughout each of the districts will be immersed in a weeklong focus on the value of being yourself, on every person’s role in advocacy and the long-lasting positive impact of respect for diversity.

It is a wonderful thing for children to be socialized in the ways of empathy, empowerment and respect. These are qualities that bring communities together, help relationships thrive and promote peer resistance to injurious acts. They are also the qualities that make it easier for us to respond to others with good cheer and kindness, as the gentleman at the airport did with me.

As I have traveled throughout the country, it has warmed my heart to see our counseling communities respond to this call and engage in initiatives that support a happier, healthier and more productive culture. And I couldn’t be more pleased to report that ACA’s own response to this call will be to launch a nationwide campaign, the Impact Project, beginning Feb. 1.

The Impact Project brings into focus how our thoughts, words and deeds impact one another. It provides a forum for us to publicly honor people, both face to face and through social media, whose actions have made a difference in our lives. There are many ways to participate, and counselors in every work setting are invited to join in.

The Take the Challenge campaign and the Impact Project are but two examples of the work counselors are doing to support anti-bullying and interpersonal violence prevention and intervention. Both efforts bring attention to what is truly important: recognizing our impact on others and honoring the positive impact of those who touch us.

Is there a person whose actions have had a considerable impact on your life? Will you answer the call by recognizing someone who shared a random act of kindness with you or substantially affected your life in a positive way? It is wonderful to know that we have the power to make an impact on one another. It is equally wonderful to recognize those whose impact has made a difference to us. I believe that when we do this together — collectively and with gratitude — we are filling the world with something good. So I ask you, as counselors, what could be better?

All my best,

Thelma Duffey