It's surprising the effect that a jar of spaghetti sauce can have on the world . . . .
Just ask Kevin Bacon.
For several years, the philanthropic Philadelphian had searched for a conduit that might enable him to realize his charitable ambitions.
He discovered his inspiration in the refrigerator.
The sauce, Newman's Own, the brand that Paul Newman created to feed his own benevolent appetites (all profits made are donated to different educational and charitable organizations).
"I just thought 'Wow! - that's such a great idea," explains Kevin, for whom dinner that night proved to be something of an epiphany. "[I started thinking] 'Is there anything that is connected with me that feels as though I could do something with it?"
Kevin's aspirations are more than just charitable, for this is an actor keen on a thing that he likes to call 'connectivity' - in short, looking beyond himself and Hollywood, and touching lives near and far.
The thing that has enabled him to do that is the thing he spent so long trying to avoid: The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
This is a trivia game based around the idea that - in figurative terms, at least - Hollywood is such a small place that anyone in the movie business can be connected to Kevin in no more than six steps.
"[I was initially] horrified [by it]," admits Kevin, who, upon reflection, identified the Six Degrees concept as the perfect front for his altruistic efforts. "[But] with the six degrees idea - if you take me out, which you really should do - it's a beautiful concept because the truth is that we are all connected. The stuff we do affects our neighbors down the block and everyone around the world."
Inspired, Kevin and his team set up SixDegrees.org - a charitable foundation described as a 'philanthropic clearing house' that uses social networking to collect donations for good causes. SixDegrees.org has, thus far, raised almost four million dollars and its reach has proved remarkable. Connectivity, the thing that Kevin spent so long striving for, has been achieved.
"We're more interested in one million people with ten dollars than ten people with one million dollars," he explains. "That shows that you can exponentially spread the idea of doing good and giving back."
Kevin has spent recent days meeting like-minded individuals - those sharing his passion for making connections and helping others, the latest winners of Make a Difference Day Awards.
"I feel like I've done so little, so to be in the presence of people who have worked so hard - I'm humbled," he admits. "Read one of these stories and you're going to be OK to get through the day."
Here in Saunderstown, Rhode Island - where, through our OMs, we are trying to make a difference every day - we took Kevin's advice and have been learning more about the people who inspire him.
Being as interested in connection, kindness and compassion as we are, we'd like to share these stories with you. Perhaps they'll be your epiphany, your spaghetti sauce . . . .
These are stories about people helping each other, touching lives and making a difference . . . .
Stories that we'll share right here on our blog for the remainder of this week.
This is the stuff that improves lives. These are the things that make a difference.
Here's to Kevin Bacon and SixDegrees.org, and here's to spaghetti sauce . . . .