(A side note from your club President, Lindsay Collier. This story was added to my ‘KindnessRocks!’ book from my niece, Kim. She is an amazing woman who has overcome challenges in her life and dedicated herself to helping others through her kindness. Enjoy her story!)
Kindness is a form of energy that breeds joy and happiness. Kindness is a part of my daily routine. Being kind to others brings a smile to my face and joy in my heart. Practicing kindness brings me joy because it gives me the chance to impact someone’s life. Lifting someone up, simply by being kind, is something we all have the ability to do. A random act of kindness (a smile) is what led me to one of my most special friendships.
In December 2019, I relocated from New Hampshire to Florida. I had just sold my home and bought a 40-foot, Class A, diesel pusher coach motor home and named it “Hope on Wheels.” My plan was to travel the country and work remotely. My boyfriend put an ad on Craig’s list looking for a “private residence in South West Florida with full RV hook ups.” We needed a place to park Hope on Wheels. My landlord answered the ad, and we found a place to park Hope. Upon arriving in the new neighborhood, my next-door neighbor came outside. It was dark and his house is located at the dead-end of the street. He was grumpy and flustered to see a “bus that big” on his street. He thought my boyfriend and I were lost and going to have a problem turning around. We introduced ourselves as the new neighbors who will be parked next door. He was still a bit flustered because he wanted to know how we were going to park Hope on Wheels. I smiled and said, “very carefully.” I admired the Christmas lights in his yard. His holiday light display consisted of one light in the front yard that projected holiday images on his house. I told him he was the smartest person in the neighborhood because he only had one light to take down after the holidays were over. He smiled and said, “You’re right!” After he went inside, I said to my boyfriend, “I want to get to know that man.”
The following day, I knocked on his door and introduced myself as the girl next door (in the bus). His
name is Ken. He was very impressed to learn that I parked the bus and was excited to hear we have three cats on board with us. He is 97 years young and lives alone with his cat Minnie. He retired at the age of 90 after working 64 years at Hap’s Cycle Sales in Sarasota, FL. Everyone called him Uncle Kenny. He was a speed racer who built, raced, and fixed motorcycles. Ken and his quality work were known around the state. He built and modified bikes that never lost races. We spent over 2 hours together during our first visit. He told me about his motorcycle racing days, the airplanes he flew, the engines he built, his train engineer days and his beautiful wife and family. We went through photo albums and flight logs and he showed me his collections of model cars, guns, and antique tools.
He told me about the time he flew his small plane under the Skyline Bridge in Tampa Florida and described the day his flight instructor called and asked him to do a fly-by of Sarasota Memorial Hospital where he was hospitalized. Ken did the fly-by and tipped his hat to his instructor in the hospital bed.
As a gift, I gave him copies of my books, “It’s Ok to Not Be Ok” and “The Strength of Our Anchors.” He read both books within 24 hours and gave me 5 stars. He also went online to learn more about me and the work I do with regards to mental health in the workplace. Yes, he is 97 years old and knows how to use a computer and access the internet. After our first visit, every day at 5pm became “Ken o’clock.” Prior to me arriving, Ken was isolated. He was still driving, shopping and doing his own errands, but he didn’t go out much. He had a Rausch Mustang convertible with side pipes and fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror. He looked forward to our daily visits just as much as I did and enjoyed the laughter and conversation. More importantly, he enjoyed feeling safe, seen, heard and understood. Ken quickly became my best friend, protector, adventure buddy, and shoulder I could lean on. We could talk about anything without judgment.
He was a kind, warm-hearted man with a great big smile. He loved life and everything about it. He was a humble man who knew something about everything. If he didn’t know the answer to a question, he would research it and find it. He taught me how to use tools and build things. If I could think it, Ken could help me build it. At age 97, he got on the ground with me and showed me how to fix my car and reattach a front bumper. He just jumped right in to help me fix it. We took rides in my convertible, went to sunset in the mustang, to doctors’ appointments and the drive-thru vet with Minnie. He loved when I drove the mustang. I would put the pedal to the metal and let the side pipes roar. He would always look over at me with a smile and say, “Ata girl!”
I bought Ken and I matching t-shirts that say. ‘BE KIND’ and he wore that t-shirt with pride. Kindness brought Ken and I together. My willingness to be kind to a “grumpy man,” was the foundation on which an unbreakable friendship was built. Ken said countless times, over the past year, “I’m so glad I met you! I wish I knew you earlier.”
On January 14, 2021, Ken transitioned to the afterlife. I had the honor of caring for him with his daughter, during the final months, weeks, days and minutes of his life. During that time, we had conversations about everything. Nothing was left unsaid. He had no regrets and accomplished everything he set out to achieve. Ken transitioned peacefully with his daughter and me by his side and love and kindness in his heart.
I am so grateful I chose to BE KIND to my grumpy neighbor.
Kim LaMontagne, MBA
International Speaker, Trainer, and Author
In Calgary, Alberta a 26-year-old mother stared down at her 6 year old son, who was dying of terminal leukemia.
Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all his dreams. Now that was no longer possible. The leukemia would see to that. But she still wanted her son's dream to come true.
She took her son’s hand and asked, ’Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?' Mommy, 'I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up.' Mom smiled back and said, ’Let’s see if we can make your wish come true.'
Later that day she went to her local fire Department in Calgary, where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Alberta. She explained her son's final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her 6 year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.
Fireman Bob said, 'Look, we can do better than that. If you'll have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll make him an honorary Fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards! And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat, not a toy, one-with the emblem of the Calgary Fire Department on it, and a yellow slicker like we wear, and rubber boots. They're all manufactured right here in Calgary, so we can get them fast.'
Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station. He was in heaven. There were three fire calls in Calgary that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls. He rode in the different fire engines, the Paramedic's van, and even the fire chief's car. He was also videotaped for the local news program. Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.
One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept - that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital. Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a Fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition. The chief replied, 'We can do better than that. We'll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire?' 'It's the department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?”
About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy's third floor open window. Sixteen fire-fighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room. With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how much they LOVED him. With His dying breath,
Billy looked up at the fire chief and said, ‘ Chief, am I really a fireman now?' 'Billy, you are, and The Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand,' the chief said with those words. Billy smiled and said, 'I know, He's been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing.'
He closed his eyes one last time. This is a true story.
Need4Need; Being Kind without Expectations
LaRae M. Donnellan, Ph.D. – The Villages, Florida
Moving into a new neighborhood can be stressful. Many tasks need to be done and many skills are required to set up a new household. For those physically able, handy enough to wield a screwdriver, and clever enough to follow assembly instructions, the task is not so daunting. But for the rest of us, we need help.
Shortly after moving to The Villages, Florida, I shared with one of my new friends, Vicki Yates, that I and my husband (who, bless his heart, was not blessed with the handyman gene) were interested in replacing the builder’s ceiling fans with ones that had overhead lights.
“Charlie will do it,” Vicki responded. “Seriously, Charlie will do it.” Charlie is Vicki’s husband. “Are you sure?” I responded. “I’d be happy to pay him,” I added. “No, really. Charlie loves doing stuff like that,” Vicki replied. And he does. And he doesn’t expect – nor want – to be paid for his kindness. His email handle says it all; “Need4Need.”
For the past four years, Charlie has helped us in many ways, including installing a four-port USB charger wall plate in our kitchen. (Who knew there was such a thing? But it’s wonderful to be able to charge our cell phones, tablet, and Fitbit at the same time by simply plugging them into the same wall outlet!) We also have a new front door lock with a keypad and a functioning garage door opener, among other things
“Charlie will do it” became the mantra in our neighborhood, as well. Look up and down the street almost any day and you can spot Charlie at someone’s house, mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, fixing appliances, testing electronics, repairing golf carts, or doing any number of tasks needed doing.
When one of our neighbors, Jane, turned 85 a few years ago, someone suggested “we” put candles in her yard to celebrate. “Charlie will do it,” Vicki said. And he did. Charlie carved and decorated 100 paint stirrers to look like candles. Then he attached wire stakes so the wooden candles could be placed in the ground. Jane was thrilled. The rest of us were jealous.
From that one generous act grew a new custom: In the dark of night before someone’s birthday, Charlie places 50+ candles in that person’s yard so when he or she awakens birthday morn, the candles await. That night, again in the dark, Charlie removes the candles and repeats the process at one or more people’s houses. Charlie has become the Birthday Elf for more than 450 residents of our neighborhood. This act of selfless kindness is much appreciated
Another mantra in our neighborhood is “Vicki will do it.” Vicki is the glue that keeps our neighborhood together. She and Charlie maintain our neighborhood contact list, and she sends regular email notices to every household. Before COVID-19 (and to a lesser extent during it), Vicki organized monthly potlucks and game nights. She keeps track of who is sick or simply needs some TLC. She organizes card signings and gift purchases. She makes “extra food,” which she drops off at the homes of those less culinary inclined. If you need a golf cart (or a cooking utensil or whatever),
Vicki will quickly say, “Here, use mine!” Vicki and Charlie personify the unselfishness of kindness. The world is a better place because of them.
Kindness - Shay’s Story
This is one of the nicest stories of kindness ever! Get the tissues ready – you’ll need them.
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: ‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?’
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’
Then he told the following story:
Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ Shay’s father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.
Shay’s father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’
Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. His father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father’s joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.
At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.
However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first! Run to first!’ Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’ Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.
All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the way Shay!’
Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third, Shay, run to third!’As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’ Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.
‘That day,’ said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world.’
Young Shay would never forget what it felt like to be a hero that day.
Neither would the other boys.
Kindness is a Two Way Street
Barbara Bickley – The Villages, Florida
You can call kindness a two-way street. There is a giver and a receiver. If you have ever been on the receiving end, you know just how wonderful kindness is. There are a lot of kind acts, but some are life changing! Often they are not monetary or tangible - just kind.
When my husband was very ill, my card club girls brought us meals and helped us get to our doctor appointments along with other chores. It made a very hard time tolerable. That’s when you can never pay them back, so you pay kindness forward. For the next 18 years after his loss I worked for hospice, hopefully returning the kind acts.
Looking at kindness as a giver, sometime kind acts come from your heart! They come automatically. It usually isn’t pre-planned; you see a situation and want to make it easier for someone. This may possibly come from your past when you were hurting, and someone helped you. There are other times when you know there is no acceptable way to act except being kind. One that comes to mind are the years I spent volunteering in hospice house when others were at their most vulnerable time of life. Also my belief is, when you are being kind, often the receiver is you. The gift of kindness is given to you!
When I was going into the 6 th grade I had my first very kind teacher. The rule was that when going into the next grade you had to turn in the previous year’s report card. In the 5 th grade I had a teacher that probably didn’t know kindness existed. Up to the 5 th grade I was an average student but I went downhill mostly because of that teacher.
Going into the 6 th grade it was time to turn in our last year’s report card. I didn’t, and for a week Mr. G said, “Barbara, you must bring in your card. No more excuses or you will have to go to the Principal’s office.” Finally I said, “I’m so ashamed of my grades but I promise I will do my very best if I don’t have to show you my card.”
He said “Okay” and I went on from there to always doing my best – above and beyond. This act of kindness was life changing for me. ❤️
Do you have some perspectives, examples, or thoughts on kindness that you would like to share? Our desire here is to expand our thoughts about kindness, and excite our viewers about the possibilities of promoting a culture of kindness. If you have something to add please let us know via a note to us at email@example.com. Short is better (100-200 words) and you will be noted as the contributor. If you are not sure about what you would like to submit, send it anyway and we’ll help you out.
Enjoy these stories and inspiration of kindness...
June 24, 2017
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