Scotts Valley Rotarian Jackie Maurer was inspired to launch the PIF project (Pay It Forward) after hearing about a Kansas man who started the foundation One Spark. These members hand out cards that say One Spark starts a flame; on the other side, a message challenges them to perform random acts of kindness. Learning that they now have 14,000 members was Maurer's inspiration to start a similar project in our area.
She calls her card the PIF card, standing for Pay It Forward. People who do random acts of kindness (Piffers) leave the card with the recipient anonymously, or hand it right to them, challenging the recipient to Pay It Forward by doing something kind once a week for 52 weeks.
“It can be as simple as smiling at a stranger, opening a door, letting someone merge into traffic in front of you or helping an elderly person carry their groceries. The world is ready for something simple that anyone can get involved with. Let's make the world a better place by doing random acts of kindness and let the ripple effect begin,” she says.
After coming up with the PIF concept, she realized that Rotarians all over the world are already Piffers, performing acts of kindness both random and planned. She introduced the idea to her Scotts Valley club and now plans to spread PIF cards to clubs worldwide.
Kids can be Piffers too
“Big plans for a simple gal like me! I would like this PIF idea to be presented to schools, so that kids can get involved. There is a lot of focus right now in schools to stop bullying. I believe that kids aren't always open to things when adults tell them to stop. You know, that whole rebellion part of growing up. Presenting the idea of PIF is exciting and fun for everyone and a great habit to start young,” she says.
She has also started a Face book page called: Be A Piffer! Pay It Forward! People can post their PIFs to encourage others, and also provide ideas of what things can be done. Interested parties are encouraged to join!
Scotts Valley Rotarians working as individual Piffers
Member Christina Mancuso bought dinner for a family that just lost their home, and says, “I paid the bill for the person behind me at Burger King, and moved my car to a parking spot further back so a family with small kids could park closer.”
Past Rotary 5170 District Governor and club member Ron SekkelI wears the PIF bracelet almost everyday as a reminder, and reports, “For years I have been promising Past District Governor John Fisher that I would volunteer at RotaCare. (RotaCare operates free medical clinics throughout the Bay Area providing quality healthcare for the uninsured). I have finally started volunteering and it feels good to be doing so.”
Working as Piffers in a group
Under the leadership of president Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union, the club does numerous activities as a group, both locally, and internationally in Guatemala.
Locally, under the direction of Sustainability Chair Patrizia Materassi, the club is starting a huge Plastics in the World's Oceans project in partnership with the 5 Gyres Institute. Sixty other Rotary clubs in California and Hawaii are involved, with the hope that others will join in.
Also, on Saturday, September 21, Annual Coastal Cleanup Day, members will take part in the largest one-day volunteer event in the world. Club organizer Jack Marden says, “Enjoy the outdoors and help prevent thousands of tons of waste from reaching our oceans!”
Way to go, Rotary Club of Scotts Valley!
By June Smith
Member, Scotts Valley Rotary Club