We need a feel good story now more than ever these days.
It can seem like our world is falling apart. The coronavirus is keeping us inside our homes, the stock market is dropping faster than an anvil in an episode of “Looney Tunes” and many people are dealing with reduced hours at their job or being laid off entirely.
One feel-good story centers on Warwick native Adam Theroux. He runs the nonprofit Good People Doing Good, which has helped out all sorts of people. He’s involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters Rhode Island and he also puts on the 401 Film Fest to showcase visual artists.
Theroux and I recently talked about all the awesome stuff he’s been up to along with what he hopes the future can bring. ROB DUGUAY:
What made you want to start Good People Doing Good?
The idea of Good People Doing Good came from performing a few random acts of kindness to a few strangers in January 2018. It gave me a feeling that I really liked and I wanted to try to do it on a bigger scale. Two years later, we are donating close to $1,000 a month to people written out to us by our supporters. People who are going through financial or emotional struggles. We gifted things such as gift cards for gas and groceries, airfare for a mother to fly out to watch her son graduate, heating oil and so much more.
What would you say is the thing you’re most proud of that you’ve done with the organization?
In October 2018, we raised just over 300 toys and organized a pop up free toy stand. We worked together with the city of Pawtucket and gave all of the toys away in a couple of hours. The smiles on the kids’ and parents’ faces were priceless. There is a really cute video in our Facebook videos tab of the event.
You’re also a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters Rhode Island. How did you get involved with it and what’s your favorite part about being a mentor?
I mentor a fantastic 13-year-old boy, CJ, through Big Brothers Big Sisters. We have been together for over five years. I have watched him grow up and I can see pieces of my personality in him. It’s a wonderful thing. He has taught me so much as well and he’s my favorite part of being a mentor.
I got involved with it for similar reasons to why I started Good People Doing Good, just to help people. I can only guess that all of this came from the way my mother raised me – from taking in foster kids over my entire childhood, to being that teacher that truly teaches to make a difference in the lives of people that need it.
Another thing you do is run the 401 Film Fest, which has been going on annually since 2015. What made you want to start this festival?
I started the 401 Film Fest to discover new, local, independent and student filmmakers. We accept films from all over the world but we make sure that at least 50 percent of the films shown are from Rhode Island. It’s very much a free event that’s for the artist. We also put on a raffle at each edition of the festival to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters and we have raised $5,000 in total so far.
What does Good People Doing Good have in store for the rest of the year and how can people get involved?
I’m not really sure where I see Good People Doing Good going. I had visions and a pipe dream of making it my full-time job, but I already have a good stable job that I like and a 1-year-old with good health insurance, so right now I just let it take itself where it wants to go. We currently have 130-plus patrons from three continents, who have donated over $23,000 in two years. That’s something I never even imagined. My only advice on getting involved is to offer what you can.
If it’s money, then that works. If it’s volunteering your time, awesome. If you knit, make some gloves for the needy. What I want people to get from Good People Doing Good, is that we are all human, here together. Everything, literally everything would be better if everyone was merely good. I try to always show respect, be myself, and never stoop down to the level of someone who can make me angry.
I will continue to pursue Good People Doing Good as long as I can, with events, pop-ups and our monthly gifts we send out. Other people have bought a Good People Doing Good shirt and then set up a water stand on a very popular running path. It’s a small movement that is meant to inspire and expand, just spreading good. There’s no need to be great but I like to think that good is enough and if we were all good, that would be great.
To learn more about Good People Doing Good, visit goodpeopledoinggood.org. To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island, visit bigsri.org. To learn more about 401 Film Fest, visit 401filmfest.com.