Paying Kindness Forward

Entrepreneur Carrie Dorr, founder of the fast-growing Pure Barre fitness franchise, has a vision: a gentler world where people regularly practice random acts of kindness. Toward that end, she founded the Soul Day Foundation, whose mission is to provide a day of delight to lift the souls of those in need. Dorr’s philanthropic endeavor — now a reality — was a long time in the making.

Dorr opened her first Pure Barre studio in 2001, growing the business to 100 locations by 2012. She brought in private equity to help build out the infrastructure, and ultimately sold her remaining interest. Today there are more than 365 studio locations nationwide.

Dorr said she views Pure Barre as one of the vehicles that enabled her to get the foundation off the ground in late summer of 2015. The idea behind the foundation is to spark kindness and demonstrate that spreading it is easy to do. “I’m a big believer that there needs to be more kindness in the world,” Dorr said, “and because of the way the world operates now, and the speed at which we do things, small kindnesses get overlooked. I think they mean a lot.”

Examples of recent “Soul Days” include back-to-school shopping for Denver Kids; purchasing work wardrobes for the women at Sacred Heart House; preparing a Thanksgiving meal for the Children’s Maternal and Fetal Heath unit at Children’s Hospital Colorado; and providing lunch for the entire staff at Mount Saint Vincent.

In addition to being a dancer and choreographer, Dorr is also an attorney. She researched numerous nonprofits in the Denver area and made personal visits to the organizations on her short list before selecting the foundation’s nonprofit partners. She chose Mount Saint Vincent because of the agency’s longstanding history in the community and the work it does for children.

Not only is the foundation committed to giving people a day of delight, it also offers those it serves the means to pay it forward to help someone else. One way the foundation does this is by distributing blank note cards and envelopes to Soul Day recipients, who are then asked to write a personal thank-you note. It doesn’t matter who is being thanked or for what. “This thoughtfulness exercise is on a tiny scale, but that’s the piece that makes you feel so good — giving to others,” said Dorr. The teachers, mental health workers, and other Mount Saint Vincent staff took their task to heart, penning notes to co-workers, family members, and friends.

During the coming months, Dorr and her staff plan to take the children snow tubing, to the movies, and to the Butterfly Pavilion. “We’re really excited,” said Dorr. “We have a lot of fun things planned for the kids and we’re looking forward to forming a long-term relationship with Mount Saint Vincent.”

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