It has become normal for Matthew Profaizer to receive emails from complete strangers who share with him personal details of their addictions, trials and heartaches but Profaizer is not a therapist, civic leader, doctor or philosopher. He's a Brigham Young University-Idaho student.
Profaizer and Colton Abplanalp, who is also a student at BYU-Idaho, started a Facebook page, The Pursuit of Restoring Faith in Humanity, in November 2016 with a goal to help people remember and discover the good in the world. Their Facebook page acts as a forum for people to share encouraging messages and good deeds. After just three months, the videos posted on the page of their simple acts of service have collected millions of views, and the page itself has over 50,000 likes. The two are now working toward making the project a 501(c)(3) charity. Profaizer said that sometimes he feels unworthy of the information that people share with him, but he is grateful to play a part in something that fills a void in people's lives.
“There’s one thing that holds true, and that is that people want goodness in their lives. People need that," Profaizer said. "Their lives become dark, they become pointless, and suicides happen and that kind of stuff happens because people have lost hope.”
The Pursuit of Restoring Faith in Humanity was originally centered on service, but has become a safe place for people who are struggling or who just need a little encouragement.
“It has to be known that there is good out,” said Profaizer. “You want to share and inspire those around you, and remind them that ‘Hey, I’m a good person, you’re a good person, we’re all good people.'”
Profaizer was raised in Tremonton, Utah, and said that his upbringing influenced the way he thought about service. He recalled that his parents encouraged service and taught him to love others by shoveling people’s driveways and visiting senior citizens during his youth.
A business student, Profaizer and his friend, Abplanalp, always dreamed of starting their own company, “but nothing we ever came up with was ever worthwhile, or really something that there was really a need (for),” Profaizer said.
The idea for the nonprofit came to him after he stopped thinking about money and started to think about opportunities to bless mankind. He said his faith in Christ gives him purpose in steering the project because he feels he is restoring people’s faith in society and increasing the amount of light in people’s lives.
“I believe that Jesus Christ did suffer for our sins, and his Atonement is real,” said Profaizer. “And that has motivated me, because we watch so much negativity pass over this world. I’ve realized that God still loves every single one of us and this has got to be heartbreaking for him to watch the negativity that’s happening.”
Profaizer, who served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Ecuador Guayaquil South Mission, says his time as a missionary has aided him in responding to the messages he has received through the page.
“It made me accept the fact that there are different people out there,” he said of his mission. “There are different people with different needs and different addictions and trials, and somebody that walks by you down the street, or the person that cut you off when you were driving or something, this person, you don’t know what they’re going through.”
After posting simple videos and encouraging stories, the amount of followers surprised him, and Profaizer found that his own faith in humanity began to increase.
“I knew this stuff," Profaizer said. “I didn’t particularly feel it as strongly, but even just watching and learning about all the people that follow us has just boosted my own faith. I never knew, I never knew how many people were out doing so many great things.”