As a journalist, it is difficult for me to digest the unfortunate truth that while there are many stories out there revolving around good people doing good things, it seems the main target of the news day after day remains celebrity-driven scandals, money woes and violence-infused features.
This is why I make it a point to write about good things. Happy things! Things happening right under your nose that are slowly but surely making the world a better place. Things that prove to the cynics of the world that for every handful of rotten creeps lurking around, there are hundreds of bright-spirited and selfless people counter-lurking to prove them wrong.
Enter Conscious Acts of Kindness.
I am convinced that Miami-resident Joaquin Ortiz is invincible. After hearing this native Californian’s story, I could not believe otherwise. He reminds me of a superhero in way, and not just because of his strikingly good looks and electric smile…although those are certainly additional perks of his contagious personality.
After surviving two, near-death encounters including flipping his car down a cliff, and then five years later being hit by an SUV and being pinned against a boat, breaking his back and facing the reality of never walking again…Joaquin had what can only be described as a verifiable new definition of “lucky to be alive”. And with this mindset, he followed an internal calling to give back to the world in a no-strings-attached, selfless way.
So in 2009, Joaquin, along with long-time friend Jeff Katz, started Provider. The idea was to create a grass roots fashion company with a “pay it forward” concept. Jeff, who was still working in marketing in San Diego at the time, was looking for a way to give back to his community, as he was always heavily-involved in community service. The process of working together seemed natural for the duo, who despite after ten years of living separate lives and following different career paths, found themselves reunited on Facebook years later.
Despite the current 3,500-miles of space between the two, Joaquin and Jeff couldn’t be closer when it comes to building a concrete presence on both the East and West coasts. The two are in constant contact via meetings on Skype, countless emails, and phone calls. Joaquin’s fast-paced Miami lifestyle blends perfectly with Jeff’s laid back SoCal flavor. The combined talent and passion of the pair deemed the perfect recipe to help catapult the Provider and Conscious Acts of Kindness mission to where it is today.
As a lifestyle brand, Provider creates a clothing line for men and women designed to inspire and empower others to lead with their heart, leaving every situation a little bit better than how they found it. A percentage of every purchase of Provider goes to Conscious Acts of Kindness.
“I believe that there are two major types of giving back to the universe,” Joaquin said. “The first and most common way to give back is in a tangible way, one that can be tracked and counted. The other is more of a non-tangible way; with this in mind I created Conscious Acts of Kindness.”
The Conscious Acts of Kindness movement started with the simplest things, like the CAOK crew bringing Miami Beach construction workers bottles of water and sports drinks, and paying for random parking meters…I know I could use that one with all of the tickets I’ve gotten since moving to Miami.
Now the group can be seen initiating things like their Breast Cancer Balloon Giveaway, which entailed handing out 1,000 pink balloons to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as well as paying tolls for the cars along the Key Biscayne Bridge. The Conscious Acts of Kindness movement has also extended outside of the United States to Pushkar, India, where dozens of kites were handed out to children during their Annual Kite Festival.
As the movement continues to grow, Joaquin and Jeff are continuously coordinating and organizing Conscious Acts of Kindness Teams throughout the United States in cities such as Portland, Los Angeles and New York.
I personally first heard of the Conscious Acts of Kindness movement when I caught word that Miami’s own DJ Irie (one of my favorite people on the planet) was going to be at Whole Foods in South Beach (my favorite store on the planet) for Community Giving Days. Being the little organic food junkie that I am, I soon learned that the charity event donates 5% of the day’s profits to a handpicked nonprofit organization. Conscious Acts of Kindness was chosen as one of the beneficiaries this particular day. I figured anything that intertwined two of my favorite things had to be good…and it was. A huge turnout led to the second largest amount that Whole Foods Miami Beach has ever donated to charity!
While the overall message of paying it forward is far from a new concept, it is clearly the example of initiation and an active presence that have proven Joaquin and his crew a success. Spotlighting global causes and leaving a mark on the deepest pockets of our little universe seems to come naturally for Joaquin. It’s so refreshing to see someone who is not only a positive influence on those around him, but has the genuine heart to envelop such goodness.
It was an honor for me to be able to write about and promote such a positive message. It turns out not all superheroes have capes…just the passion and drive to make each day better, which is not only something that I believe should be instilled in all of us, but is far more of a powerful accessory than any cape could ever be.