Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Making a big deal of little things

Dorothy Brighton McGrath ’96Whether she is leaving popcorn for a Redbox video customer or donating items to her local cat shelter, Dorothy Brighton McGrath ’96 is committed to helping people through good deeds—and to making it easier for others to do the same.

In that effort, the Amesbury, Mass., resident, along with her friend Danielle Levy, launched The Littlest Change in January. The company promotes kindness by encouraging people to do small thoughtful acts for others.

Through the sale of T-shirts and other items, The Littlest Change raises money for operating costs and creates stickers and postcards that help spread the word about how doing good for others can be good for all. People are encouraged to do nice things and upload their good-deed photos to the company’s website and Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. McGrath and Levy also are reaching out to local store owners and teachers nationwide to spread the word.

“Random acts of kindness create a sense of community,” says McGrath. “We are all here together. In the everyday busyness, people forget to teach kindness. It’s an extremely valuable lesson.”

The philosophy of seeing the world beyond her own comfort zone and wanting to help others stems from her college experience, she says.

“Wheaton encourages you to find yourself. There is so much more in the world than what is right there in front of us. Wheaton gave me the confidence to see that, and it definitely changed who I am.”

She also says that studying abroad for a semester at the University of Queensland in Australia, “gave me my first big view of the world and opened my eyes to all the potential.”

A psychology and biology double major, McGrath has a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Boston’s Northeastern University. She currently works as a physician assistant in a primary care office—helping people.

“It’s the nature of who I am.”

Her son Aidan, 9, and daughter Peyton, 7, are also eager to get in on the act, she says, and were inspirations for starting The Littlest Change in January.

“I love to volunteer. The littlest act of kindness can change someone’s whole day. And that’s something I really want my kids to learn,” she says. “We want to reach as many people as we can to create a happier and safer community for our kids and other people’s kids. The hope is for a domino effect.”

It’s already happening.

Amesbury library assistant Julie Lemieux was at work one morning when McGrath and Levy brought in muffins and a plant for library employees.

“It was totally unexpected, and it’s nice to feel appreciated and special,” Lemieux says. In turn, Lemieux widened a neighbor’s walkway during a snowstorm.

—Cheryl Alkon