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UT Junior Hops on the Kindness Bus

Published: March 23, 2010
José Rincón ’11 was sitting in a coffee shop last week when he saw the white school bus drive by. The messages painted all over it – touting kindness – caught his attention.

“We’re used to seeing advertisements for things that benefit companies, but here is a school bus that promotes something that benefits humanity,” said Rincón, a government and world affairs major who wants to go to law school. “It was different.”

Rincón told the bus driver, Bob Votruba, about The University of Tampa and invited him to campus to share the movement, One Million Acts of Kindness . Votruba travels to college campuses across the nation, stopping to share his passion and lifelong goal – to commit one million acts of kindness.

“That’s about 55 acts of kindness a day, for 55 years,” said Rincón, a volunteer in the Macdonald-Kelce Library, who is more conscious now of opening up doors for others, calling people by their first name and saying hello to passersby. “Since I started late, I’m working to make up for the difference.”

Votruba, a father of three college-age children, blogs about his experience, detailing how he was moved by the terrorist acts of Sept. 11 and the campus shooting at Virginia Tech. He hit the road in August 2009 to spread a message of kindness he thinks will lead to a better world.

“We need to change the direction this world is headed with regards to being kind to others, all day, every day,” Votruba said. “It is obvious to me that there is such a want for a better world in which to live, witnessed by the many thousands of people I talk to every week. I believe each and every one of us has the unique opportunity to offer the passion within us to those in need.”

Votruba lives in his 1990 Chevy bus and travels the nation with his Boston Terrier, Bogart.

Bogart is an attention grabber, Rincón said, as students stopped by the kindness bus last week for Votruba’s spontaneous visit. In front of the John H. Sykes College of Business, they spoke with a couple hundred students in about two hours and inspired a few more.

Tracy McNamara '10 is a volunteer coordinator in UT’s PEACE Volunteer Center and mentioned that the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement hosts an annual Random Acts of Kindness Week in early February. She said the greatest thing about events like the kindness week and bus tour is the awareness it creates.

“It is so subtle yet so inspiring I cannot advocate for it enough. If each person did one kind thing for someone else, just once, who knows what could happen,” said McNamara, a psychology major. “This experience was so inspiring and comforting it made me feel like I am not the only one who is trying to make small differences whenever I can.”

Rincón, who is working with McNamara on bringing Votruba back to campus in the fall, has taken the challenge to heart, committing to live a life full of acts of kindness. His big challenge is being a kind driver, letting people merge in front of him and not getting angry when people cut him off.

“It does take discipline,” said Rincón, adding that Votruba’s visit got him thinking about setting lifelong goals. “It’s a neat idea, and it’s simple. It doesn’t take any money, and it’s doable. It gets you thinking about what you want to leave behind in this world.”

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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