Rehan Staton, a student at Harvard law School, had a conversation with a school custodian that changed both his trajectory and hers; he learned that students “would usually rather look at the wall than talk” with support staff at the school. This resonated deeply with Staton who came to Harvard after working in a job hauling trash. His colleagues at the trash company encouraged him to go to college and he did so, continuing to haul trash to earn income. The support staff at Harvard have been like a family for him since he started at the school. So, when he heard that support staff “didn’t feel seen by students,” he jumped into action. First, using his own savings he purchased 100 Amazon gift cards to hand out to the support staff and included a handwritten note. Then, he started the Reciprocity Effect, a nonprofit organization to support what he calls the “unsung heroes” who work behind the scenes. He and a small group of students have raised more than $70,000 in donations. And most recently, the Reciprocity Effect hosted an awards banquet to honor some of the support staff. One of the awardees, Brione Merchant who works in the cafeterias said, “There’s a lot of prideful people that work at this university that do things a lot of people wouldn’t have pride in doing. To acknowledge those people is important.” He went on, “Since Monday, everybody has been walking around just a little bit taller, and that’s just a beautiful thing to see and be a part of.”

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