Diversifying acts of kindnesss

One of UM’s most visible student organizations, Random Acts of Kindness, is undergoing a transformation. Former president Kemy Joseph has passed the torch to sophomore Gustavo Lang Jr.
Lang, now in his second semester as a RAK member, was recently elected president. Joseph, a graduating senior, has become well known through RAK and his reputation as “the sign guy.”  He will stay involved in the club’s leadership in an advisory capacity.
RAK was created in the spring of 2006, and has since grown to about 45 members.
Lang will take the lead in overseeing RAK’s evolution to a club with three branches- PEACE, CORE, and RAK-PAK.
The branch, PEACE, stands for Publicity, External Affairs, Communication, Etc.  This branch will manage efforts to publicize RAK events.
CORE is the Committee Of Random Events. This subdivision will coordinate events like free hugs at The Rock and a new event modeled after the Speaker’s Corner Soapbox in the School of Communication courtyard.
“We wanted to have our own soapbox so we can bring free speech to the rest of the school,” Joseph said.
The RAK soapbox will rotate through different areas around campus, welcoming everyone to stand up and express their opinions. The soapbox will debut on Feb. 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the memorial building, and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Richter Library.
The third branch is RAK-PAK, Random Acts of Kindness-Planned Acts of Kindness. RAK-PAK will plan large-scale events like “Hug the Lake.”
Hug the Lake is an Earth Day event organized by Random Acts of Kindness to show appreciation for Lake Osceola.
Aside from “Hug the Lake,” RAK doesn’t have any big events coming up soon.
“A general umbrella goal right now is just getting the new system to function,” Lang said.
The new system of committees will allow prospective RAKers to get involved only in the areas they are most comfortable with. Lang and Joseph hope the club’s new structure will help them recruit more members.
Still, their best strategy for recruiting members is doing what they do best- being kind to strangers.
Jonathan Moore, 26-year-old freshman, joined after getting a free hug from Lang.
“It was nice, that’s the best way to describe it,” Moore said.
After the earthquake in Haiti, RAK was put in charge of the supplies drive for the entire university by the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development.
The supplies drive gave RAK the opportunity to test-drive their new committees. PEACE created posters and advertisements for the drive, and CORE is collecting items from people while performing other acts of kindness in public places.
As Joseph prepares to graduate and spend two years abroad, he has no illusions of his name being permanently associated with RAK. Instead, he wants to give future members of the club the tools they need to make a name for themselves.
“I want them to erase my legacy,” Joseph said.

Savanna Stiff may be contacted at sstiff@themiamihurricane.com