Spreading Kindness

One of our team members introduced us to the Kindness Rocks Project recently.  It’s an initiative that is growing and we’re excited to be a part of it.  The principle of the project is simple really, it’s taking a rock with a smooth surface, painting it in a color and then painting an inspirational saying on the rock.  In some cases, the rocks are left in places for people to find. They can be placed as a message for a specific person or in a public place for anyone who might need some words of encouragement or inspiration.  Folks also build gardens of Kindness Rocks and that is what we are planning to do.

Yesterday, on the Christmas holiday, we put together a day of special programs for our residents. While most of them do not celebrate this holiday, it’s a great day to bring in volunteers and make it a special event.  And that’s exactly what took place, with activities for our folks all day long and close to 100 community volunteers pitching in to make the day memorable.

One of the events that was a part of the day was our first effort at creating Kindness Rocks. Staff had ordered the river rocks and pre-painted them in bright colors of all sorts.  We offered this activity as an option for residents and volunteers and were amazed at just how people chose to take part.  There were many young volunteers who helped the residents choose the words they wanted on their rocks and actually did the writing.  There were family members who sat with their parent and created together. And there were residents who used the moment to write words that were in their heart, words that they wanted to share with others.

It was an extraordinary program.  It was simple in concept and yet not simple at all in effect.  The words that people chose to put on their rocks were heartfelt and profound. They were messages that inspire them and that they wanted to use to inspire others.  There were messages about peace, hope and courage.  One of my favorites was written by one of our residents. She didn’t hesitate for an instant when she sat down with the paint marker.  She wrote “God Guides/God Provides.”

There are so many lessons in this program, so many things that many of us walked away with, things that were far beyond the simple painting of rocks themselves.  We were reminded of how easy it is to commit an act of kindness and how one small thing can bring joy or comfort to others.  We were reminded that our elders have so many words of wisdom that they can share and how important it is for us to ask them for those words, to listen to them and to remember them.  We were reminded that, in a culture of faster and faster, of technology that takes the place of (or interferes with) simple human contact, that connecting matters.  And we were reminded that in a world where hate seems often to triumph over love, that love and caring and kindness can still exist and still make a difference.

About the Author
Carol Silver Elliott is President and CEO of The Jewish Home Family, which runs NJ's Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home Foundation and Jewish Home at Home. She joined The Jewish Home Family in 2014. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Cedar Village Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is past chair of LeadingAge and the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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