Junior business management major Michaela Wuycheck retreated to her dorm room one night her freshman year, discouraged because she wanted to hold as many people as possible but her two arms weren’t big enough. She found comfort in Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s quote, “Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.” Wuycheck also found solace in The AnyWay Prayer by Saint Teresa:
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”
Fueled by the teachings of Saint Teresa, Wuycheck thought of a way that she could connect people through small acts of kindness so that everyone can connect arms and hold as many people as possible.
Wuycheck started an Instagram page called The AnyWay Project and printed a stack of cards that read, “You are loved. Share with someone who needs a reminder!”
Over the course of a week, Wuycheck placed the cards around NAU in dorm rooms, on buses and on bulletin boards around campus. A week later, the Instagram page was reaching hundreds of people.
Today, the cards have found individuals in 12 states and 7 countries. Wuycheck receives emails of inspirational stories every day, one of her favorites being about a young boy in India who drew the AnyWay logo and spread it around his community.
Stories like these remind Wuycheck why she created the project.
“It seemed like everyone thought that caring for others was such a big thing. I started AnyWay to be the initiative that creates the bridge between individuals and their community,” said Wuycheck.
AnyWay is now an official nonprofit organization and they celebrated their one-year anniversary in April by volunteering at the Flagstaff Family Food Center. Starting the third week in October, AnyWay will begin hosting service events every other week where they will volunteer at local nonprofits, write cards to hospitalized children and clean up trash on the roadside, to name a few.
Although AnyWay has grown tremendously through the service projects, the program’s website is the organization’s home base. There, viewers can participate in the “small things” challenge, a movement that encourages small acts of kindness such as creating care packages and passing them out to the homeless, leaving quarters at the laundromat and placing a positive note in jean pockets at a department store. On the website, viewers can also read letters from their peers which are encouraging posts that builds individuals up so that they will be able to love others.
Above all, Wuycheck emphasized that AnyWay is about small things, just as Saint Teresa said.
“You’re a student and you don’t have to solve world hunger but you smiling at somebody could be the difference between them having a good day and that can actually change the world,” Wuycheck said.
Like Wuycheck, NAU alumnus Marcus Green has embraced the teachings of Saint Teresa by doing small acts of kindness.
Green has been a part of AnyWay ever since April when Wuycheck asked him to be a member of the executive board for the organization.
Green explained AnyWay is an avenue to do things that put a smile on someone’s face without expecting anything in return, something that seems counter cultural.
As an executive board member, Green specializes in outreach where he spreads the word about AnyWay, mostly by passing out AnyWay cards at his favorite places.
A few months ago, Green paid for a Department of Public Safety officer’s Chic-fil-A order who was behind him in line. After paying, Green handed an AnyWay card to the cashier at the window, asking them to pass it on to the officer. A few minutes later, the officer pulled up next to Green at a red light, thanked him for the free meal and asked him about the project that spreads kindness to others.
Green has even passed out cards while fishing at Lake Mary. He couldn’t help from overhearing a boy express to his grandmother how desperately he wanted to fish, and without hesitation, Green asked if the boy wanted to use his fishing rod. The shy child couldn’t hide his excitement and for the next half hour, Green helped the boy to catch what would be his biggest Crappie, a species of fish native to the lake. Before parting, Green placed a stack of AnyWay cards in the grandmother’s hands. Within two weeks, she contacted Green for more cards, eager to keep the cycle of kindness going.
Green is hoping that the project will help others to realize how loved they really are.
“AnyWay is a way to tell people that they have a purpose no matter how much they may feel lost, that they have a reason to be here,” said Green.
Senior elementary eductation major Aly Lichtas is one of many individuals who has helped others to feel loved just as Green has. Lycthas became an AnyWay ambassador after hearing about the organization from Wuycheck over cups of coffee.
As an ambassador, Lichtas writes letters for the website and organizes service events, her favorite being passing out AnyWay cards to the homeless. Lycthas is convinced that there’s so much good to be done in the world and if she’s not going to do it, then who will?
“The world can be a really scary place with heavy hearts and darkness but it only takes one candle to light up a whole room. For me The AnyWay Project is one of those candles,” said Lichtas.
Megan Wright, a mother of two boys with her third on the way, has witnessed the light that Wuycheck has illuminated in The AnyWay Project. The two have known each other since first grade but it wasn’t until Wright saw a Facebook post that she heard of the project. Back then, Wright was eager to be the perfect young mom and felt discouraged that she wasn’t living up to her expectations.
When she found The AnyWay Project, an organization that’s centered around Saint Teresa, someone who Wright always admired, she couldn’t believe that a movement like that existed.
“I started loving anyway and being patient anyway, even when my boys were crying on the floor,” said Wright.
Wright began embodying the motto of AnyWay, and once her boys witnessed the kindness she was spreading, they were eager to be part of the change and asked to help her pass out AnyWay cards.
“It seems small but the impact is so large,” Wright said.
Wright even has a tattoo of the AnyWay logo on her foot, explaining that she always wants to put her best foot forward. Most of all, Wright is thankful for the organization which has brought her family closer and she has come to recognize the importance of spreading kindness.
“It’s as necessary as breathing,” Wright said.
Former and current NAU students like Wuycheck, Green and Lychtas have realized how necessary this movement is and they are eager to continue spreading Saint Teresa’s kindness to the world. They encourage anyone who is interesting to check out the website, theanywayproject.org, to get involved and to spread kindness however they can.