Kindness inspires and ripples across our neighbourhood

By Cecilia Pita

During pandemic lockdowns, Movement Union co-owner and head personal trainer Stuart Maskell offered online classes to his clients on a pay-what-you-can basis. Thankfully, everyone did and his kind gesture even had a ripple effect. Photo supplied

Imagine signing the lease on your new personal training studio and gym only to have to close the doors just three months later because of the pandemic.

Well, this happened to Stuart Maskell, of Movement Union. He’s been offering classes and personal training in the Beechwood area for over 18 years and despite being understandably worried about how he was going to support his family during the lockdown, his concern also extended to his clients (teenagers to nonagenarians) whom he knew needed to keep moving.

So, he started by offering a Saturday class online with the intent that they could stay fit from the comfort of their own home. Recognizing that the lockdown affected many people financially, he thoughtfully offered these classes on an honour system. Simply pay what you want or can. And, thankfully, everyone did.

With the community support he received, he managed to save his business and keep 10 people employed; but this story doesn’t end there. Many recognized Stuart’s generosity in the face of overwhelming circumstances and financial uncertainty and were so grateful for his (now over 1,000) classes that they sent thank you cards, dropped off gifts and showed him all kinds of support. Kindness has a ripple effect.

A good friend of mine, who would like to remain anonymous, is one of those moms I’m convinced must have secret powers to manipulate time and access a parallel universe in which her alter ego helps her accomplish things in this universe. Let’s call her Super Mom.

I honestly don’t know how she does it and yet it didn’t surprise me in the least to hear that on top of everything she does for everyone around her, she is also helping a refugee family.

One of the family’s children graduated high school in June and Super Mom wanted to help make it special by buying her a dress to wear for the occasion. However, her generosity didn’t end there. When Super Mom found out the young woman and her friends weren’t going to be wearing a corsage with their dresses, she decided to buy them all a corsage too.

Here’s where this story takes a lovely turn. Super Mom chose to order the corsages at Mille Fiore, a flower shop on Beechwood Avenue. Florist Rima was working that day and when she heard the story behind the order, she was moved and generously offered to donate them herself. Kindness inspires kindness.

Remember when the big storm hit back in late May? We all seemed to be in a state of shock and disbelief. Once the storm passed, however, everyone sprung into action. There was no shortage of neighbours running extension cords across the street to help other neighbours in need of power. Some offered freezer space to save food while others helped clean up debris from fallen trees and checked in on friends in the area.

I even heard of one neighbour who lost power while cooking a roast for her family and had a neighbour finish cooking it for her. Kindness keeps communities strong.

I don’t know about you, but my heart swells when I hear feel good stories like these. I’m grateful to live in such a kind, generous and thoughtful community.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it seems like a good time to reinforce our appreciation of all the little things and the not so little things in our lives. Moreover, if we focus on the good and think about how we want to be treated, our actions towards others will reflect that mindset.

There are endless possibilities to be kind and I hope that hearing some examples from our community has inspired you. Inserting a little kindness into every action and interaction, and recognizing that even the smallest of everyday gestures like a nod, smile, please or thank you can have a profound impact on someone, is part of living a well-mannered life. Conversely, being kind can, among other benefits, improve your mood and reduce feelings of stress. It’s a win-win!

So, let’s continue to make a concerted and conscious effort to not only be kind, but to also share those experiences that come our way. If you have a story of kindness from our community you’d like to share, please let me know. Maybe by giving those positive stories a voice, we can help to balance out all the negative ones out there.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you have a difficult conversation, etiquette-related problem or a social dilemma that you would like help and advice in resolving, please send your queries to Etiquette Matters columnist Cecilia Pita courtesy of