The Kindness of Strangers

By Shannon Boatwright

At this point in my life many things have occurred that remind me of the great importance of never passing judgement. The saying, never judge a book by its cover, is one of the truest statements ever. I think the more a person matures, the more accepting they can be of others and the less ignorance gets in the way of reason. It’s a beautiful thing to be in a place in which you’re not so quick to judge and instead open to genuine kindness, care and generosity.

I’ve had the blessing of being able to stay with my parents while my husband and I save up and search for a house that will best suit our family’s needs. Though it is indeed a blessing, it does come with some hardships. One hardship being that whenever it rains, because their home is on the lake and the sewer system needs updating, we have to do laundry elsewhere, otherwise the toilets won’t flush. The quickest, most efficient thing to do is to take our laundry to the laundromat.

My first time taking about 4 loads of laundry to the laundromat was quite the adventure. It was pouring rain outside and I had no idea how the whole process worked, much less how much it would cost. As I struggled to get my loads of stuff into the door, there was a kind man there who held the door open for me each time I floundered in. As I struggled to figure out how to work the old change machine, in which all the directions had worn off because it was so old, there were two incredibly friendly ladies there who guided me through the process and even gave me change. Fortunately I’m not afraid to ask questions and there was always someone willing to help guide me through how to operate the machines.

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Once I finally got settled and the laundry started, I looked around at all the different people in the laundromat and thought about what brought each individual there. Everyone has different circumstances, but we all had the same need – clean laundry! I had been afraid that I wouldn’t have enough change for the dryers. A lady nearby was finishing up folding her laundry and apparently had overheard me talking on the phone about my possible lack of quarters. She came up to me and placed a roll of quarters in my hand, saying, “I heard you mention you might not have enough money to dry your clothes, please take this. I don’t want you to have to go home with wet laundry.” By the time she’d come up to me, I had indeed figured out that I had enough money to dry everything. I thanked her profusely and insisted she keep her money. I left that laundromat with a full heart and a genuine, renewed sense of admiration for the kindness of strangers.

Now I look forward to the people I will meet whenever I have to go to the laundromat and I look forward to the opportunity to give back, pay it forward and be a light of nonjudgmental kindness to others. There is a great life lesson in being a light in other’s lives – a simple smile and a helping hand can go a long way in making someone’s day, not to mention your own. 🙂

The Season of Love

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Another great story about the kindness of others and how 20 months out from the aneurysm, it still flows freely. (I never get tired of these, and I hope you won’t either!)

prayer wallOver the weekend, I saw a friend and her family at the House of Pancakes in Forest Acres. She told me that she and a group of nine others were headed to Israel this week, and asked if I would like to give her a prayer for her to place in the Western Wall (also known as the Prayer Wall.) It nearly brought me to tears. We quickly grabbed a coloring sheet, and I tore off a small section on which I wrote a short prayer of thanks for my recovery, friends and wonderful support group. At 6:19 a.m. Israel time, she sent a picture and let me know it was there.

Over a million notes are placed each year in what has become a custom, not only for tourists, but also for high-profile dignitaries visiting Israel from abroad. The notes are collected twice a year and buried on the nearby Mount of Olives.

This reinforces my belief in the goodness of people, and every time something like this happens, my heart swells.

Happy Holidays to you and your family, and best wishes for a grand 2017!

The Great Kindness Challenge

By: Shannon Shull

This past week, the school that I have the pleasure of teaching at decided to partake in the Great Kindness Challenge. It was a big deal at the school. Our students were reminded and encouraged to be kind and engage in acts of kindness.

I personally discovered that it was an interesting experiment in humanity. I overheard some students bragging about holding a door open for someone, picking something up for someone, and other very simple acts of kindness. Many students were patting themselves on the back for these simple acts and even acting a bit entitled and special for doing these acts.

I had a problem with this. I have to admit, I even got my feathers ruffled a bit because the fact of the matter is, we should do simple acts of kindness on a daily basis. It should not be a challenge to be kind to others!

I took this opportunity to bring the important issue out in the open with my students. I described to them simple scenarios in which, if you are a good human being, you would be kind regardless of any existing challenge encouraging good behavior. It should be a given. I made it clear that I would hope that any of them would come to someone’s rescue if they needed help – whether that be holding a door open, helping clean up a mess, or coming to someone’s aid that is hurt.

I challenged my students to think about what a true kindness challenge would be. We discussed the importance of simply being a good person and how being kind is, and should be, an everyday thing. So as we experienced the “Great Kindness Challenge,” I challenged my students to go above and beyond the everyday kindness that they should already display. I encouraged them to think about how they could take that extra step to be kind and make a real, positive difference in the lives of others.

My hope is that I opened the eyes of my students. Whether I was able to or not, I’m honestly not sure. But I hope and pray that my students do not think of being kind only when challenged, but as a daily way of life, simply because that’s what it means to be a good person.

I came across this lovely video of a young man who was bullied and had to change schools, and made a conscious decision to be noticed and accepted instead of fading into the background unnoticed. He devoted time to being kind to others by holding doors open at the new school – not one day, but many days, weeks even. He became known as the doorman, that super nice guy who always held the door open for others. He became everyone’s friend. He became an enormous inspiration and touched the lives of others around him in such a beautiful way. His simple act of kindness, in hopes to be noticed and accepted, blossomed into a kindness epidemic that spread acceptance and light. I showed this video to every single one of my classes, using it as a brilliant example of meeting a true kindness challenge – a challenge of going above and beyond a base level of kindness that is expected of any good human being.

I hope you’ll take the time to watch this beautiful story and let it inspire you to accept the kindness challenge by going above and beyond, broadening your daily doses of kindness to bring light into the lives of those around you. 🙂