"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
Spotlight: Fab Fam Does #49for49
The start of a new year is a great time to make plans for improvement, but it is also a wonderful time to look back at the highlights of the one that just ended. As I reflect on 2016, so much happened that seemed to dampen my spirits: personal tragedies, political upheaval, friends with cancer. But one bright spot throughout the second half of my year came from a dear friend who reminded me of the power of putting good into the world when tragedy strikes.
None of us were expecting the Pulse shooting last June. To be honest, at times it's still hard to believe it happened. The response to that event was varied – there was mourning, solidarity, anger, fear, pride – and then there were the Hestons. A family of four on the north side of Orlando put their emotions to the side and committed to doing an act of kindness for every one of the 49 victims of that tragic night. #49for49 became their hashtag and off they set to put a positive spin on a terrible tragedy.
Homemade cookies for first responders; Jared Boxes for pediatric hospital patients; holiday cards for the elderly; meals for the hungry – each act in honor of one of the victims. It's easy to give of ourselves when our blessings feel abundant. Sometimes it's not so easy when times are hard. But as mom Erin, put it so perfectly:
“With each 'kindness opportunity,' we honor one of the individuals taken from our community. We hope that in this small way, we're bringing a smile to those who knew them, or maybe even inspiring others to share their love with the world. With each donation or project, we find that we get so much more than we give. Along the way, our family is learning, having fun together and making connections that bring us as much joy as those we serve.”
So as we begin this new year, let us be inspired by Brock, Molly and their parents. While certainly there is still much to worry about, let’s turn those worries into action -- the positive kind. We don’t know what a world of kindness just might look like.
For more on this incredible family and their journey, visit www.49for49.com.
Random Act of Kindness Day
By Molly Yuska, PGK Founder
They say it's the little things that count. As a parent, I couldn't agree more. As we continue to move through this Random Act of Kindness Week, with Random Act of Kindness Day itself now upon us, it's a great reminder that all of the little things we do for others really do add up to something big. When you consider the ripple effect of those cumulative actions, the impact is ultimately unknown. So, as you move through your Friday today, I challenge you not just to think about the long weekend ahead and what you may hope to get out of it. Take a few moments to do one of the following:
- Grab the tab of the person behind at the drive thru;
- Send a letter to a hurting friend or relative who's lost a loved one or needs a pick me up;
- Look for the good in others and give a compliment (or several!) to those around you;
- Make a quick batch of cookies and drop them off with an elderly neighbor or a new mom with a "thinking of you" note;
- Simply smile and hold the door for the person coming in or out before you;
- Take an extra moment to really listen to what someone else has to say and be the comforting ear they need today.
And why confine such acts to a day or a week? We challenge you to act with this kind of intentional kindness every Friday, or better yet, every day. The options are truly endless, as is the impact of all of us walking through life together in this way.
By Amy Johnson, Outreach and Marketing Manager, PGK - Bay Area
If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen and read all the hype about simple living. Edit your life! Less is more! Simplify, simplify, simplify! While I’m all about this in theory, I’m a work in progress when it comes to practice. Our family has taken baby steps, and I will admit that each step forward brings about a bit more breathing room, and in turn, a bit more happiness.
Whether by happenstance or because I’ve got simple living on the brain, the concept of simplicity has made its way into our service. Our church is participating in Village House, an interfaith program through which 15 homeless women are provided shelter and services through the winter. The program relies on volunteers to offer a variety of support, from providing medical care to serving as campus watch. Our family signed up for laundry duty. Once a week, we collect a dirty laundry bag belonging to one of the guests. We bring it home, wash, dry, and fold the clothes, and return the bag that evening. All without ever seeing the woman whose laundry we just folded. It’s been an interesting experience in service because not only is the act super simple (who doesn’t enjoy a pile of freshly laundered clothes?), it is also anonymous.
I started brainstorming other simple, anonymous acts of service we could do as a family and was totally inspired! Here’s the best of the bunch for those of you who want to give it a try. Maybe you’ll find that simple giving is the first step towards simple living.
Simple Giving Ideas
- Walk your shopping cart back to the front of the store. Better yet, offer to take someone else’s cart! (I have been the recipient of this while juggling two toddlers and was sooooo grateful)
- Next time you bake cookies, make an extra batch for your local fire department, police department, or nursing home.
- Bring a trash bag with you to the park and collect litter you find along the way. (But please don’t forget to wear gloves!)
- Pick up a few extra groceries to donate during your next shopping trip. Most stores collect donations on site.
- Pay for a stranger’s bus fare or cup of coffee. Perhaps you’ll start a pay-it-forward trend!
- We have a difficult time when we come across someone asking for help at an intersection. Keep granola bars or bus tokens in your car to give when you encounter someone asking for help. Or if you want to go further, make a few sock sacks to keep in the car and pass out when needed. Fill a new pair of socks with individually wrapped snacks and a water bottle. It will be a useful and portable treat for them to enjoy.
- Remember all those packets of crayons you collected from restaurants? Donate them to a local preschool or family shelter. You could even start a Crayon Collection!
- Leave a nice note or poem for your mail carrier to enjoy.
- Help someone with a stroller get through a door or around an obstacle. Again, I’ve been the recipient of this and was very grateful!
- Like to craft? Make greeting cards or paper flower arrangements for your local hospital or nursing home.
- Give your neighbor a heart attack! Simply cut up a bunch of hearts from pink, red or purple paper, write sweet messages on them, and tape them on your neighbor’s outside front windows. Pinterest is your go-to place for more ideas like this (Boo Grams, Candy Grams, etc.)
- Are you the next David Blaine or Harry Houdini? Take your magic show on the road to a local children’s hospital or nursing home.
- Last but note least, open the door for someone else. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!