“Kindness, like breathing, must be constant in order for it to be meaningful.”  -Van Nolintha  

For more than two years now, we’ve brought you Conversations at Fletcher, a way for us to introduce you to the fascinating people in our tribe — the nonprofit Executive Directors that give so much of themselves in their work to make a difference, the advocates and caregivers directly supporting families to make their lives easier, and at times, we’ve even invited our AJF colleagues in for a chat.

As we reflect on the year, we’ve been most inspired by the abundance of kindness and love shared from every part of the community. So with this episode we’re trying something new. We’re sharing three stories about the transformative power of kindness.

Van Nolintha was twelve years old when he arrived to Greensboro, NC from Laos.  Navigating a new home and community while coming of age was not without its challenges. Many caregivers and mentors supported his journey as a student, including a period of tremendous growth as a Caldwell Fellow at NC State University. Now the owner of Bida Manda restaurant in Raleigh, Van demonstrates what it means to be a steward of kindness and personal growth in others. Kindness, he urges us, is to be treated as an action, not a destination.

“A lot of the time, people get caught up in the how. The reality is, it doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing. Do something small.” -Joey Powell  

Joey Powell was working in a fun job in Raleigh, volunteering his time to spend with kids “desperately in need of a night out” in his spare time. Something tug at his heart — he wanted to be doing more. He was selected to be the Executive Director of Me Fine Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to provide hope to critically ill children throughout the Triangle and their families. Three weeks into the job, his son was born with spina bifida and suddenly he was surrounded by the care that he would be providing to families in stressful situations. Kindness doesn’t have to be over-the-top gestures, Joey shows us. But we all have the capacity to do something to help bring smiles.

“Everybody, at one point in their lives, needs a helping hand…It’s so important to stop and think about those around you. It’s not all about you.” -Martina  


Martina is an inspiring woman to say the very least. With a history that involves trauma and disappointment, he had a lot of reasons to give up. Yet her story is one of resilience and the role that a community plays in lifting up others. Along her journey, school counselors, co-workers, friends, and the team at Project CATCH of the Salvation Army at Wake County played important roles in her life. Showing empathy and kindness throughout her adversity, they were present for Martina in meaningful ways. Now, she shares how this support has transformed her family’s life.

These are just three people in our tribe of thousands. It overwhelms us with gratitude to hear their stories and know that we are surrounded by a community that demonstrates kindness — whether they are policy advocates, or data analysts, or volunteers, or communicators, or service providers. To all of you, thank you for sharing love.

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Top image: Eric Silva|Flickr

Podcast Music: Lee Rosevere

Podcast Producers: Yemi Adewuyi and Shannon Ritchie

Narration: Yemi Adewuyi

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