- Courtesy Of Brian Dempsey
- Lawn signs for 802 Good Deeds Day
Brian Dempsey thinks of himself as a "facilitator of kindness."
For the past two and a half years, the Bennington resident has run Just the Good Stuff, a Facebook page where members can share good deeds they've done, from hiding money in the aisles of a dollar store to writing holiday cards for senior citizens.
Dempsey launched the group on January 1, 2019, after being diagnosed with lymphosarcoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, the previous fall. While awaiting surgery to remove a large tumor on his neck, he was looking for something to counteract the bad news and bickering he saw on social media and television.
"Clearly, when you're that sick and facing things like that, you get depressed, and it was my therapy, actually," he said.
Dempsey recovered from his illness, and he's continued to manage the Facebook group, which is now more than 1,000 members strong.
"It's like a snowball," he said. "It just kept growing and growing."
Currently, Dempsey is using his page to spread the word about 802 Good Deeds Day, an annual event aimed at encouraging Vermonters to do random acts of kindness. Held for the past two years on August 2, or 8/02 — in honor of Vermont's sole area code — the event was created by St. Albans resident Kate Manahan, a member of the Just the Good Stuff group.
Manahan said she shares Dempsey's mindset about the importance of good deeds.
"I just got sick of negativity," she said. "I was just as bad, and I didn't want to be anymore."
Though the two have never met in person, Dempsey and Manahan have teamed up to promote 802 Good Deeds Day; he's handling the southern part of the state; she, the northern.
Manahan said she has been distributing yard signs, pins, magnets and stickers to encourage people to participate. On August 2, she'll buy people coffee and encourage them to pay it forward.
No good deed is too small, added Manahan: "Smile at somebody. Open a door. It doesn't have to cost money."