MIAMI, Florida –
The Bible says do onto others as you’d want them to do onto you. But taking religion aside, it’s a pretty common principle. What if treating others with respect, love and kindness became your everyday motto? Kemy Joseph has made this simple concept his way of life, and in turn, he’s been transforming and changing thousands of lives with random acts of kindness, free hugs, high fives and other gestures that has the infectious yet delicate power to brighten a person’s day.
Born in Miami and raised in Homestead, Florida, Kemy is one of nine siblings with divorced parents, who didn’t have big aspirations in mind as a young boy. From an early age, he had no plans to attend college and was constantly getting in trouble. Lashing out on people, throwing tantrums in class, Kemy didn’t always get along with those around him and was eventually even kicked out of elementary school. But growing up, his family instilled in him strong family values and showed Kemy what it meant to be there for one another during times of need.
Right off the bat, you meet Kemy and you’re instantly intrigued by not only his colorful personality but his appearance as well. Wearing dozens of peace-and-love-type bracelets and a large sign over his neck that reads “Make the impossible, possible! :),” Kemy is a man who practices what he preaches.
During our interview at a local Miami eatery, the 22-year-old explained to me that when his father passed away at the age of 14, everything around him started to change – including his way of thinking and overall attitude about life.
“I knew I had to step up and stop getting into trouble and do good,” he says. “When my dad died, I decided to make some changes.”
In high school, Kemy discovered a passion for film and after googling the University of Miami for film school, he knew “this is where I need to be.” It was then that he put his head in the right place, and knew he had to work hard in order to make it at the University of Miami. Although he didn’t have enough money to attend this private scholarly institution, Kemy began applying for a bunch of scholarships with the help of a college assistant counselor named Marlene Malcolm, who gave him the hope he needed to believe in himself and make his way through school.
Others’ positive influence on Kemy and the fact that so many people believed in him began having a strong effect on this 22-year-old. Thanks to them, he was riding on a full scholarship at UM and receiving opportunities to better himself educationally.
“I knew I needed to give back as much as I could. And I thought a way to start would be to volunteer my time to others,” he says.
And so, in 2006, Kemy got involved with a student organization at the University of Miami called Random Acts of Kindness. A video he made with the organization solidified his involvement with them, bringing about great local attention, and in 2010, Kemy became the group’s president.
Random Acts of Kindness has led the way to an incredible movement of living your life with positivity while giving others hope that they can be the best person they want to be. Every Monday, members get together close to noon and give out free hugs all over campus. It’s a way of uniting people, even if just for a mere few seconds, and putting a smile on their face.
“I love doing it and seeing how many people are embraced by [Random Acts of Kindness]. It reignites my passion,” beams Kemy. “One time there was this girl who I could tell was sad, but I gave her a high five and suddenly her face lift up. Random Acts of Kindness is rewarding on its own, because we are sharing this unique moment.”
Kemy has expanded his carefree spunk and positive attitude to other arenas with his own organization called U R Awesome, Inc (see below for more details) that provides articles of clothing and food to the homeless, along with many other planned events. RAOK also holds a spectacular “Hug The Lake” event every year on Earth Day – April 22. Where 700 people gather around the campus’ Lake Osceola and hold hands for one minute. Symbolic of showing one’s appreciation for nature, the campus and living in the moment.
But, just like the rest of us, Kemy admits he has his low days. When the going gets rough, he remain mindful of the fact that what may be bothering him right now is “not gonna matter in a few years.” And despite inevitable stressful situations he may experience from time to time, he ensures he’s “still happy to be here.”
“I know that me being as nice as I can makes the situation easier for both of us. Which is why I always try to be at my best. We can’t do everything on our own,” he explains. “I’m not going to contribute to negativity. When you make kindness your habit, you will see the greatness of it all because kindness is a great habit to have.”
He adds, “The most incredible thing I could have done was start believing in myself.”
And that is the message Kemy tries to pass onto others he comes into contact with.
Kemy didn’t have much as a young child, but he’s been blessed by the guidance of others – such as Marlene Malcom and Jovan Gomez, one of his good friends – who’ve steered him in the right direction and never stopped believing in him.
With the world in his hands, this 22-year-old vivacious and driven man has made it his mission to do the same for others and give them hope when all is lost. Because when you live your life by kindness, there’s nothing that can stop you – and that is something Kemy Joseph knows full well.
Upcoming Events with RAK – Please take note:
New U R Awesome shirts will start selling on Monday Oct. 4th. Each one costs $20 and the money goes towards subsidizing the 2nd annual Great Give Away at the University of Miami. Which include providing 1000 U R Awesome Shirts (500 to be given away as rewards to anyone who donates 5 or more articles of clothing to the drive and one that will go directly to impoverished citizens in Miami-Dade County on November 13th.) In addition to a U R Awesome Shirt, the recipients will also receive 5 articles of clothes, a hygiene kit, food and a tote bag to care everything away in. Shirts can be purchased at URAwesome.org or at the University of Miami. Get involved and participate!
U R Awesome –
Random Acts of Kindness (RAOF) @ University of Miami –