“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” ~ Anon.
Several weeks ago this twist on my all-time favorite quote took on a whole new meaning. Sitting under the shade of the tent set up in Bronson Park, I looked up from answering random trivia questions on rice.com. Two minutes away from checking another objective off the Kindness Rally list when I saw them. A young couple, barely out of their teens. The sun glinting off the her well styled pixie hairdo. He was lanky with short brown hair. Both were clean and neatly dressed, carrying a large garbage bag, their name tags indicating they were employed by a nearby hotel. I continued answering trivia questions as I listened to the members of my team introduce themselves and explain about the Kindness Rally and JCI Kalamazoo. Once finished, I pulled out a piece of construction paper and wrote; What are you proud of, and stood up to introduce myself.
Her name was Katy she was holding a handmade card and the barely contained tears glistening in her eyes. I shook Brad’s hand as well while Katy gushed about how much the card had made her day, how much she needed encouragement in this moment. We talked for a bit and I asked if they would be willing to participate in an activity. She enthusiastically agreed. I set the paper in front of them and asked that they write something that they were proud of themselves for doing. What are you proud of?
The two bent over the table. Brad said he was proud that they both had worked seven days straight this week. Katy wrote and the rest of the unexpected story came out. These two clean, neatly dressed, young people were homeless and they were proud of themselves for working every day this week. They were working toward saving enough money to get a place of their own and get their children back. They talked about how difficult things have been but they have worked to clean themselves up and found a place to stay temporarily and good jobs and all the overtime they are working. The most touching part was hearing the gratitude in their voices for the encouragement we provided to them on this day in particular. I got a hug from Katy before they walked away.
Because of the Kindness Rally we not only got to provide encouragement to two young people doing their very best to overcome incredible odds but we got to hear a story of strength and courage that made an indelible impression. This story most likely would never have come out if it had not been for the Kindness Rally. Our team did many amazing acts of kindness this particular day but this one will remain with me like no other. Everyone is overcoming something and giving others the opportunity to share their story could be the kindest gift they could receive.
#kindnessrally #JCIkalamazoo #aceofhearts