Wax poetic about random acts of kindness to Miamians, and you'll likely be met with a Pepe Billete-esque wisecrack. We're not exactly known for our warm and fuzzy demeanor. But dig a little deeper, and there are folks in the 305 dedicated to bringing out the best in all of us.
Such is the premise behind PARK (Perform Random Acts of Kindness) Project, a non-profit outreach organization started by event organizer, philanthropist and all-around beacon of good cheer Marly Quincoces.
Marly Q., as she's known, believes in humanity, and it's this belief that led to the founding of PARK. She and her fiancee, local music legend Humberto Casanova, launched the do good-concept together.
From flash mobs of kindness (think hugs and smiles for strangers) to playing Santa for foster kids, the group gets into almost anything that helps put a smile on people's faces. They're also known for their annual 5K Freedom Run & PARK Festival.
"Some of the other projects that we do -- we do things for the homeless all the time, we do our flash mobs of kindness. They're super fun! They're kind of spontaneously planned events. Lincoln Road, downtown -- any kind of event where we can go in as a group as a flash mob, give people high fives and hugs or just talk to people," Marly says.
When asked how she responds to the common perception of South Florida as a bastion of bad-temper, she says the following:
"Every single day in my life I don't experience that at all, so it's a matter of who you're surrounding yourself with. And when there are those nasty or mean people, I tell them about PARK project! I say, 'Hey maybe you should come around!' If you're not exuding that kindness or that energy then people in your environment aren't inviting that."
"I invite them to come out to our things and meet some people so it rubs off on them," she says with a smile.
It's clear that Marly's kindness and good cheer rub off on everyone around her -- including cynical and jaded Miamians weaned on a diet of superficiality, snark, and Miami New Times feature stories. (Sorry, everyone.) When PARK calls for volunteers, people always show. Cuban time and MIA flakiness be damned. That alone is a testament to Marly's mission and the PARK's resonance with people.
And empowerment is part of the deal. If you've got an idea that involves spreading goodwill, PARK is all about supporting you in your humanitarian efforts. So don't be afraid to come up with your own act of random kindness.
"It's really to inspire people to either create a PARK project of their own -- or, you know not everybody is like a spearheader or leader -- so we create PARK projects of our own -- our initiatives, and invite people to come and PARK!" Marly adds.
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Looks like even Miamians want to be kind -- maybe all they need is someone to show them the way. Luckily, there are folks like Marly and Humberto doing just that.