Network of Initiatives for Community Empowerment (NICE) - a “dating site” of kindness!

(VOVWORLD) - How familiar are you with dating apps? Do you enjoy swiping right and counting your matches? Now, imagine a dating platform for social initiatives and volunteers and organizations that share the same goal of empowering society. Creating as many matches as possible is the core mission of such a site - Network of Initiatives for Community Empowerment (NICE). 
That was a promotional video clip for a laundromat operated by deaf people, filmed and edited by NICE. Launched last December by the UNESCO Vietnam Information Center, the network looks for initiatives that benefit the community, then links sponsors, volunteers, media agencies, and others to make those initiatives more effective for social development.

Dinh Duc Hoang, Deputy General Manager of the UNESCO Vietnam Information Center, explains NICE’s vision: “Imagine if our network had dozens of beneficial initiatives, then businesses and sponsors can come and find what's suitable for their values. I think there are a lot of individuals and organizations that want to do good deeds, but somehow they are not able to meet each other yet. We want to provide them with that opportunity to meet, and we believe long-term relationships can be formed after those encounters.”

Network of Initiatives for Community Empowerment (NICE) - a “dating site” of kindness! - ảnh 1Dinh Duc Hoang speaks at NICE's launching ceremony. (Photo: Dinh Duc Hoang)

NICE focuses on initiatives that can solve a specific issue. For example, a program to provide rice for the poor is not considered an initiative, but a nutrition program for children in a specific region of the Mekong Delta will receive its full support.

The network’s evaluation board consists of influencers that have years of experience in social work and have a voice in various fields, such as journalism, theater, and charity funding.

Pham Gia Hien, a journalist from Ngay Nay (Vietnam Today) newspaper, explains the board’s careful work in selecting initiatives: “We have to meet people from the initiatives in person to see what they want and what they have done. It takes a lot of time and effort, and as a result, there have not been many initiatives on our platform so far. But we are not focusing on the number or the pace, because if we carelessly lose the public’s trust on social work, it will cause serious damage.”

Network of Initiatives for Community Empowerment (NICE) - a “dating site” of kindness! - ảnh 2NICE's evaluation board. (Photo: NICE)

Some of the projects that NICE has been working with are the laundromat of deaf people, Salt Cancer Initiative (SCI) that supports the mental health of cancer patients, the EcoFish project to raise public awareness on plastic waste, and a program to support child refugees in Tay Ninh province who migrated to Vietnam from Tonle Sap lake area in Cambodia. NICE creates connections by producing and distributing media content, linking relevant projects and people, and organizing promotional activities.

Network of Initiatives for Community Empowerment (NICE) - a “dating site” of kindness! - ảnh 3EcoFish, one of NICE's member initiatives. (Photo: NICE)

After 4 months of operation, NICE has created hundreds of connections, some ended up being sponsorships for the projects. Dinh Duc Hoang recalled a connection between SCI and a sponsor that he witnessed at the launching ceremony for the network. “Right after I finished my opening speech, I came down from the stage and saw representatives of SCI talking with one of the top 6 insurance companies in Vietnam," he said, "We didn’t even have to introduce them. Now they are on the last stage of discussion to finalize a sponsorship. This platform is meant for that kind of connection to happen, that’s why we often call ourselves by a fun name - a dating site of kindness.”

Network of Initiatives for Community Empowerment (NICE) - a “dating site” of kindness! - ảnh 4A cancer patient attends SCI's painting class. (Photo: SCI)

Salt Cancer Initiative is a non-profit organization that provides cancer patients with mental support activities, such as yoga classes, painting classes, and discussion workshops with doctors. SCI’s President Nguyen Hien Mi highly appreciates the cooperation between the organization and NICE. “Since we became a member of NICE, we have met several businesses and organizations that share the mutual goal of bettering society," she said, "NICE is a new network but all the staff here are putting a lot of effort in supporting social organizations. Our cooperation has been effective, and we both have been making progress in providing practical benefits to the community. To me, NICE is like a nursery garden for social initiatives to thrive.”

NICE is organizing a running event with Francophone communities in Hanoi next month to raise funds for some initiatives. The network is also looking for more volunteers who are experts in specific fields to help select more potential initiatives and improve those already running for greater benefits to society. Working for NICE is not the staff’s full-time job, but their wholehearted life mission.

“Much as I have several years of experience in social work, I’m still nervous every time I work on a new project," said Dinh Duc Hoang, "But after I see connections made thanks to our effort, we know that we have helped someone improve their life, I feel pure happiness. I believe material things are fleeting, but disadvantaged people’s smiles and emotions when they receive help are real, their living standard’s improvement is real, and the fact that we can help them is also very real.”