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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Piles of Compassion

GAC volenteer Kiya Driscoll (right), 24, and Brandon High (left), 20, show off a crossstiching at The Free Market on Sunday, July 17, 2016. // Photo by October Yates
GAC volenteer Kiya Driscoll (right), 24, and Brandon High (left), 20, show off a crossstiching at The Free Market on Sunday, July 17, 2016. // Photo by October Yates

Entering the Global Acts of Compassion Free Market, the aroma of buttery popcorn fills the senses. Laughter bounced off the walls as people searched for hidden treasures among the used items.

There was no lingering  presence of anger or hate that people encounter on a daily basis, only compassion from all participants.

This was the fourth Free Market that has been held by Global Acts of Compassion on Sunday, July 17.

Global Acts of Compassion is a nonprofit organization that was founded in January 2016.  Although the organization has only been around for a year and a half, all the founders have been on an exciting ride.

“There are going to be people who are well off who are going for a free, fun family event, there’s going to be people our age who are also interested in free and fun and then, ideally, we can get the people in there who really need to be there for the food or clothing that we provide,” said Serena Barr, Founder of Global Acts of Compassion. “That way they are all in an atmosphere where judgment isn’t being taught it’s like embrace everyone as they are in this space. ”

Compassion for humanity and the earth is the foundation of Global Acts of Compassion that Serena Barr, Kiya Driscoll, Chris Hayes, Jenna Riewer and Cilian Roche created.

“Compassion really can go so far, it is not something that can just be discounted,” Barr said.

A group of friends who mostly met through the electronic music scene started the organization based on an idea from Barr.

“Anyone from the community can come in and basically buy a meal. We do not discriminate on who gets the food, if you need it we will give it to you.”

Chris Hayes

Barr was working as a fundraiser for other nonprofit organizations  in Seattle when the idea of starting a nonprofit came to her. She started developing the idea when she was traveling around the United States at the age of 18.

“I decided I wanted to start donating to a non-profit monthly because I was fundraising monthly for a nonprofit and I wanted it to be about what I was doing,” Barr said. “Then the idea [for Global Acts of Compassion] popped into my head.”

Three years after the idea of Global Acts of Compassion came to fruition in Barr’s head, she consulted Driscoll, Hayes, Riewer, and Roche. She said she knew they would understand her values and would understand her vision for the organization she wanted to create.

With all Barr’s friends on board with her nonprofit idea, they all set out to create Global Acts of Compassion in 2015.

“The second market was crazy,” Hayes said. “That’s what got me like absolutely stoked about Global Acts of Compassion.”

Stephanie Childs (right), 36, sifts through heaps of second-hand clothes to find something she likes withb her friend Darlene Sibrt (left), 54, who tyold her about the event. // Photo by October Yates
Stephanie Childs (right), 36, sifts through heaps of second-hand clothes to find something she likes withb her friend Darlene Sibrt (left), 54, who tyold her about the event. // Photo by October Yates

Since the first free event, the free markets have doubled in crowd size. Free Markets has not been the only event Global Acts of Compassion has done.

They’ve also done an event called Tips For Humanity. Tips For Humanity is an event where you can go into one of Global Acts of Compassion’s participating restaurant and donate a part of your meal.

“Anyone from the community can come in and basically buy a meal,” Hayes said. “We do not discriminate on who gets the food, if you need it we will give it to you.”

The first Tips For Humanity took place at AB Crepes. Tips For Humanity also got a decent size crowd for such a new organization.

With the Free Market and Tips for Humanity being two successful events, the Global Acts of Compassion founders are still dreaming big with new ideas and dream about their main goal of making self-sustainable houses for the homeless.

“Free Market and Tips for Humanity are just two little programs we have ideas for and we really hope to reach the world on a global scale,” Barr said. “We really want to affect other nations and the whole world.”

The founders of Global Acts of Compassion are working hard to make their events successful and to help bring compassion to the Bellingham community.

“Our goal isn’t to be compassionate, but it’s to inspire others to be compassionate,” Riewer said.

Although the Global Acts of Compassion is a new organization, the young founders are dedicated to learning about new business opportunities to help their organization grow and continue to spread compassion.

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