Joyce Deliyiannis is one busy lady. The Burlington resident and founder of the non-profit Help Me Help Someone, Inc. was a finalist for the Peter J. Gomes Service Award handed out by Congressman Seth Moulton. Deliyiannis was nominated by State Representative Ken Gordon.
The Burlington resident founded Help Me Help Someone, Inc., a social network of charitable and kind acts in Burlington, after giving a haircut to a client of hers who couldn’t afford one. In waving the cost of the haircut, the client agreed to cook meals for people leaving a nearby clinic. The initiative created a chain reaction that inspired thousands of acts of kindness in recent years.
“I wanted nothing in return from my clients,” Deliyiannis shared. “I simply wanted them to leave my chair feeling good about themselves. My hope was that their positive attitude would help them take those first steps into a new phase of life and eventually spread to others.”
That act of kindness not only spread to those around her, it helped foster an environment where Massachusetts could become the first (and only) state to recognize a month for kindness. On April 28, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Gordon, who represents Burlington, and former State Senator Ken Donnelly, who also represents Burlington.
It reads: “The governor shall annually issue a proclamation setting aside the month of May as the official month of kindness, recommending its observance by the people as a period of special attention to the the importance of being kind to each other with acts that will assist those in need in a
way that provides a path to
Now, four years later, Deliyiannis dreams of taking kindness month national. While she worked with Rep. Gordon to get the bill passed in the State House, she said she’s now working with Congressman Moulton to make kindness month nationally recognized.
“I want to create an evolution of kindness to spread,” the Burlington resident said in regards to kindness month spreading nation-wide. “We live in confusing times, so I want to create something that is good, simple, clean, and pure.”
Deliyiannis, who grew up on the native island of Crete in Greece, has a lot of experience in that department. She’s been helping 100s of people on a weekly basis by connecting them with the proper resources.
“We help anyone,” she stressed, noting how the current pandemic has really affected families and pressed many of them into financial difficulty.
While the US House and Senate squabble over a coronavirus relief bill, it’s comforting to know there’s a local organization who wants to assist those in need. For example, Deliyiannis mentioned giving out snowsuits to babies and strollers to parents. Help Me Help Someone, Inc., has also worked with Woburn Memorial High School students, giving out snacks, clothing and backpacks.
Deliyiannis called her team “incredible,” especially as requests come in on a daily basis. Many requests come from veterans, as the Burlington resident admitted her organization assists lots of veterans.
She noted how in times of trouble, “the community comes together.” As written on the organization’s website:
“When so many people are struggling with major life difficulties, like job loss or financial troubles, it is important to remind ourselves that as a community, we have responsibility for each other. Sharing other’s burdens, whether large or small, makes those burdens feel less heavy for everyone.”
As Deliyiannis puts it: “My hope is that when people help others respectfully with no expectations, they will feel good about doing the right thing, which will inspire them to do more. A few generous people can build a dynamic network of kindness if they keep in mind that together, anything is possible.”
Even though she didn’t win the Peter J. Gomes award, she called it “touching” to be nominated and praised Carlos Prudencio, the senior at Lynn English High School, who did.
“It’s great for him to win,” she gushed. “I’m so happy.”
Now, for Deliyiannis, it’s on to bigger and better things like making May a nationally recognized month for kindness. If it sounds like a difficult task, she’s not concerned.
“No one believed it could happen,” she remarked about getting the governor to sign off on May being kindness month in Massachusetts. “I said, ‘why not?’”
After seven years of working “on a daily basis,” and with the support of Rep. Gordon at the State House, Deliyianni’s dream came true on April 28, 2016 when Gov. Baker made it official. She called it a “beautiful thing to happen.”
“They told me (getting the governor to recognize a month for kindness) would take 50 years,” she joked, noting that she would live to 100 just to see it get done. “Everyone was in shock, even the senate.”
Although she thanks Rep. Gordon for sponsoring the legislation in the State House, she really praises the people who helped get this done.
“People make it happen,” she said. “Power to the people.”
Going forward, Deliyiannis will need even more power (and maybe more people) to take kindness month national.
Visit helpis.org for more information on Help Me Help Someone, Inc.