SevenDays Events Move Online, but Mission of Spreading Kindness Doesn’t Change

The Kansas City Star Ι by Karen Ridder Ι April 6, 2020

Mindy Corporon was listening to her heart when she decided to make the effort to take the annual SevenDays event online, instead of canceling it due to the pandemic.

It has been a lot of work, but she says doing so has unexpectedly provided a way to give the event a broader audience.

A few weeks ago, when events and organizations started canceling plans for in-person meetings, Corporon knew immediately they needed to figure out a way to go virtual.

“I had a visceral reaction to everything closing, and the enormity of what that meant to the entire world,” Corporon said.

The SevenDays event is a series of interfaith conversations and awareness opportunities that take place during the spring in the Kansas City area. The series, sponsored by the Faith Always Wins Foundation, started after the murders of Reat Underwood, William Corporon and Terri LaManno outside the Jewish Community Center in April of 2014. The three were killed on Palm Sunday, the start of a seven-day holy week for Christians.

The series asks participants to give seven days of kindness to others through interfaith and intercultural dialogue.

This year’s SevenDays is scheduled for April 21 to 27. It originally included several in-person panel discussions, interfaith gatherings, youth activities and an awareness walk. Each event usually includes a few hundred people. The walk draws about 1,000 people. Social isolation efforts to stop spread of the novel coronavirus made these in-person events impossible.

“We had to relook at every single event. A lot of what we were doing was based on where we were hosting it. We were hosting from specific locations that gave a specific message. Now, we are hosting from our living rooms,” Corporon said.

Faith Always Wins Foundation community relations contact Ruth Baum Bigus says the group worked quickly and creatively to revamp the event, which was originally scheduled for on-location places like Church of the Resurrection and the Hindu Temple. They plan to keep the flavor of the interactions the same with webinars and planned chat room conversations.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, but I think everybody is pretty thankful that we figured out a way we can still engage people and push the idea of kindness,” Bigus said.

As a way to help participants feel comfortable taking part in the upcoming live online events, the group is hosting a series of short “prequel” virtual events on Zoom. Interested participants can access the meetings via the website givesevendays.org.

Each of eight panelists scheduled for discussions during the April 21 to 27 SevenDays activities is hosting one of these short prequel sessions. Participants are encouraged to jump on and make sure they can get the links and interaction to work. To help with security, it is necessary to register for the events.

The group also revamped an event they called “Discover Day,” which had focused on discovering diversity, into a focus on discovering heroes. They are taking nominations and asking for videos of everyday heroes, which will be produced into a kindness heroes video. Those videos nominations are due April 12.

The keynote speaker is Wesley Hamilton, the founder of the non-profit Disabled but Not Really. Corporon will interview Hamilton, who was featured on “Queer Eye” season four, on Zoom. She’ll also speak with a member of the SevenDays kindness youth leadership team.

While these changes are dramatic, Corporon says there is a silver lining. Each of the live events will be accessible to participants from anywhere in the country. This year’s events will also be produced into videos that will be posted online.

“When we have a live event, it happens. Then it is over. Now, we are creating a resource that people can look back to,” Corporon said.

Lukas Losen, Corporon’s son, is a member of the youth leadership team. The 18-year-old senior is on the Love Day committee. Losen believes that while everyone would prefer to do SevenDays in person, they are able to make the best of the situation. He says kindness is more important now than ever.

“In my opinion, positivity and kindness is the best thing we can do. This year, I feel like it’s extra important because it will help people understand each other,” Losen said.

Corporon says the danger of this period of isolation for all people is the potential for breeding fear. She hopes the SevenDays event can be a way to break that isolation through people’s phones, computers or other device.

“I wanted to push through and be a shining light for people who need us most right now,” Corporon said.

“My hope is that our mission and message to increase kindness through knowledge, mindset and behaviors is broadened. That the reach goes even further than we ever had with a physical presence.”

Article in Kansas City Star