As all students know, balancing the responsibilities of college can be stressful. The constant pressures of school, internships, jobs, and extracurriculars leave many feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. However, one organization is working to support the GW community through something simple yet powerful: random acts of kindness.
Founded in 2015, GW HERO works to enhance students’ lives through initiatives that foster positivity and promote an inclusive campus environment. According to the organization’s mission statement, GW HERO strives to “ensure the happiness of every single student at GW through random acts of kindness” and “create a happier and loving campus for everyone, so that GW is not just a school, but a home and safe haven.”
President and founder Alireza Esfandiari emphasized that small actions can have a meaningful impact. He explained, “we are all faced with stress and pressure every day, especially at a fast-paced school like GW. Sometimes we need a small random act of kindness to uplift our spirits and completely change our day, whether it’s a smile, a hello, or even a hug.”
Esfandiari said that one of the organization’s most popular events has been “Free Hugs and Free Cookies Day," when the group gathers in Kogan Plaza to give out hugs and 1,000 cookies. He noted evidence of the event's past success, explaining, “I remember having a student give me a hug and say that they just failed their exam and they really needed something like this.”
During the month of February, GW HERO is holding its first annual GW Heart Health Month, meant to “promote physical activity and cardiovascular health awareness” both on campus and in the D.C. community. The organization is hosting several events, including a social media contest, free Zumba session, and interactive presentation. Esfandiari said that the group hopes to make Heart Health Month an annual program.
Another event hosted by the organization is “Stranger to Someone” which is meant to facilitate connections between students from different backgrounds. Esfandiari said, “it’s about bringing the campus together and making the campus a friendlier place.”
GW HERO Media Director Sarah Druckman said that the organization wants “all students to feel welcome and comfortable regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity.” She also noted the importance of mental health on college campuses and said that GW HERO focuses on “improving the overall health and wellbeing of students.”
Druckman explained, “we want to inspire students to be kinder to one another and realize that they are not alone in specific challenges they may be facing.”
At a time when campus community feels threatened and positive news is difficult to find, GW HERO is one of the many organizations working to support students and bring people together. Through their events and initiatives, the group is working to foster community and improve the student experience—one act of kindness at a time. As Esfandiari noted, “sometimes that’s all it takes.”