by Debbie Josendale

What would St. Louis be like if everyone acted with a little more kindness? Karen Hoffman, renowned St. Louis entrepreneur and founder of Gateway to Dreams, believes St Louis would be a better place to live, do business, raise a family; and start a “kindness” ripple effect across the nation. “I believe that kindness is the most powerful action we can take towards one another. And it changes the world," says Karen. “Small things like holding a door for another, acknowledging the cashier, saying thank-you, work together to create a positive ripple effect.” Change St. Louis with Kindness… Sounds Like a Dream Does all of this seem like a dream? It is a dream, Karen’s dream. Karen is a dream champion, and that was the impetus to founding GatewaytoDreams. org. As a child, when Karen would hear people say “there is no way,” she always thought…there has to be a way. She became dedicated to breaking down that wall of negative thinking that quashes the light of hope. Karen believes everyone can get what they want when you say “Yes” to your dream. And then activate it through collaboration, connections, and positivity.

Since Gateway to Dreams opened five years ago, hundreds of people have used the resources and tools to make their dreams come true. Ovarian Cancer Sparked Karen’s Dream Now it’s Karen’s turn for her dream to come true. Karen picked February 2017 as the time to start the St. Louis Kindness Movement because it represents a significant milestone in her life. Twenty years ago in February 1997, Karen was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. It was a shock. Faced with the reality that she could die rattled her to the core. After treatment, Karen read the book Pay It Forward. Something in that book spoke deeply to her and amplified her purpose in this world…that we COULD change our world for the better by being more loving and kind. GatewaytoKindness.org is the beginning of Karen’s dream coming true. The next step is to encourage everyone to take the 28 Acts of Kindness in 2017 challenge. Challenge yourself to become more aware of acting with kindness and then take action at least 28 times in 2017. Her goal is to reach a minimum of 20,000 acts of kindness. Acting with Kindness is Good for You Now we know that kindness is good for you.

Scientific evidence shows that...

1. Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins—the brain’s natural painkiller.

2. Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population.

3. Committing acts of kindness lowers blood pressure.

So take the Kindness Challenge today to change the life of someone else and yourself! Please like facebook.com/gatewaytokindness to get updates and share your stories. Visit our website GatewaytoKindness. org. We will be adding more information as the Kindness Movement continues to grow. Karen Hoffman is the found of GatewaytoDreams. org. Once just an idea, a desire ... today Gateway to Dreams is a non-profit created to help people say YES to their professional and personal dreams. Debbie Josendale is the founder of Captivate & Co., a boutique marketing communications firm. Learn more at captivateandco.com.