Small Acts of Kindness: The Kindness Blog

Once again, the Kindness blog shares a touching story that I’m grateful to reshare. Enjoy!

For the last eight years, Colbert Nembhard has been bringing books (and smiles) to homeless children in the Bronx, New York.

Mr. Nembhard, a librarian who’s been the manager of the Morrisania branch of the New York Public Library for 25 years, has been on a mission to making literacy a constant in their wandering and ever-changing lives.

The New York Times reports:

“It’s a pleasure to come in here,” Mr. Nembhard began on that Wednesday, never removing his jacket during a presentation that was just short of a Mr. Rogers routine.

He began to sing, “Good morning to you,” and followed with “Wheels on the Bus.” The children joined in with a chorus of “round and round, round and round.”

Toddlers, fidgeting in their chairs or in their mothers’ arms, suddenly became fixated. They could not wait to flip open “Dear Zoo,” by Rod Campbell, a lift-a-flap book, to discover an elephant, a giraffe, a lion and other animals.

Then came Mr. Nembhard’s magical blue glove — magical thanks to Velcro and the five monkeys attached to it — and later he brought out finger puppets. Avani Blair, 2, and Taniyah Blair, 1, stared in amazement.

“I like it, too. I feel like a big kid,” Aaliyah Blair, 24, their mother, said.

She said they had become homeless about two months ago after an eviction.

Mr. Nembhard knew most of the children by name.

“You build relationships with them so that when you see them they feel comfortable,” he said.

…and thanks to Mr Colbert Nembhard, this model he started at the Crotona Inn homeless shelter is now at 30 shelters. He simply realized that some people who were homeless did not find the library comfortable or convenient.

“We bring the library to them,” he said.

For children at the Crotona shelter, the smiles begin every Wednesday morning at the sound of his suitcase’s wheels going around and around down the hallway.

Colbert Nembhard
Mr. Nembhard with his suitcase stuffed with dozens of books.

“Once the kids see that rolling bag,” Ms. Wright said, “they know.”

Mr Nembhard’s selflessness is a testament to the depth of the human heart and an inspiration for many to be the change they seek in all our communities.

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A Tribute to My Dad

Dad at pianoBy Jennifer Hallmark

My dad, Jesse Lee Dison, Jr. was a son of Jesse Lee Dison, Sr. and Flora M. Gautney. They lived in rural northwest Alabama. Dad was a quiet young man, well-liked by his fellow classmates and teachers. He was a good student and friendly to all.

He met Stella “Jean” Swet of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania while he was working up there one summer. They married on September 9th, 1961. My mom was the daughter of John Swet, Sr. and Lena Yonish Swet of Good Town, Pennsylvania.

My parents enjoyed the first seven years of their marriage living first in Huntsville, Alabama, then Cape Girardeau, Missouri and ending up in Sarasota, Florida.  During this time, Jennifer Leigh Dison (me) and Jesse Lee Dison, III were born.

IMG_20160514_132526380All was going well. My parents were happily married with a nice home, two kids, two cars and Dad was headed for his next big promotion as the store manager of a local Sears.

Then Dad’s toes started to get numb. I knew something was wrong, but at the age of six couldn’t comprehend much of what was happening. The doctors couldn’t pinpoint the problem. That was in May of 1969. By August 16th, he was in a wheelchair. They rented it for a week, thinking everything would be okay. But it wasn’t. He continued with doctor visits and physical therapy while he worked for Sears for three-and-a-half years in a wheelchair.

In May of 1972, Dad nearly died. The illness had affected his brain. Sears paid to fly my dad and mom to Chicago in an ambulance plane where h was under the care of the best doctors. He spent the month of May in Chicago in the hospital. They never really pinpointed his illness and couldn’t tell him whether or not he would walk again. By November of 1972, he retired from Sears on disability. He was paralyzed from the chest down.

We moved back to Greenhill, Alabama to be near family. When his condition stabilized somewhat, we bought a farm nearby and Dad lived there for the remainder of his life. He enjoyed three of his grandchildren before his passing: Mandy Hallmark and Jonathan Hallmark were born to my husband, Danny, and me. Jeffrey and Jessica Dison were born to my brother and his wife, Rita. Jessica, who was named after him, was born two months after Dad had died. Even though they didn’t take sonograms back then unless it was an emergency, he had always predicted that Rita was going to have a girl.

DSCN0033Before his illness Dad was known as a hard worker who loved his family.  But after becoming sick, he gave his life to Jesus and lived the rest of his days studying the Word of God and telling everyone he could about God and his relationship with Him.

Though unable to get out much, he wrote letters and made phone calls to people, always being the one to encourage people. Most people who saw my dad in his later years said that when they came to visit and cheer him up, they left encouraged themselves. In his last couple of years, he often spoke of heaven and was excited to go and see Jesus. He is greatly missed, especially by his family.

Although it’s almost been 25 years, I still miss him. One day, I will see him again and that gives me hope. His years after the illness were filled with small acts of kindness he gave through his letter writing and phone calls. That’s part of why I’m inspired to do what I do.

Thanks, Dad.

Helping a Friend Who Has Lost a Loved One – By Tamara Jones

IMG_20141008_164000135Another great post reprinted with permission from The Kindness Blog

Dealing with a loved one’s death is truly one of the hardest yet unavoidable events that happens in a lifetime.

If your friend is grieving the loss of a family member or close friend, do all that you can to be there for them during this terrible time. From picking up food to helping with funeral costs, being a friend means being there in any way you can.

Listen; don’t tell.

It’s understandable to want to give your phonefriend inspiration and words of encouragement, but in times of great grief, words simply won’t do. The best thing you can do for your friend is listen, which can be harder than it seems. There is no fixing, there is no solution, there’s just being there for them through the good, bad, and ugly. Sometimes when we try to look at the bright side too quickly, it can make our loved ones’ emotions seem invalidated. Acknowledge the horridness of the situation, then let them come to you with their thoughts and feelings. No one deals with death the same as another person, so allow them to follow their own grieving progress and do what you can for them along the way.

Their everyday needs.

Your friend is going to have a hard time continuing with everyday life tasks for a little while. On top of stress and grief, they’ll be fielding questions from other family members and friends, handling their professional lives, and dealing with funeral planning. This leaves little time and energy for simple daily tasks. Don’t wait for them to ask, simply do what you know needs to be done and don’t expect a thank you. They’re likely to be distracted for the foreseeable future, and putting in the effort to make sure their daily lives stay as on track as possible.

shopping-879498_960_720Simple ways you can help is to pick up groceries, deliver food and plenty of Tupperware (an often forgotten but highly necessary item) for holding all the meals and leftovers they’ll be accepting, and help them keep their home picked up for all the visitors they’ll undoubtedly be receiving for the next few months. If they have kids, offer yourself up to chauffeur them to and from school or extracurricular activities while they deal with the funeral planning specifics.

When it comes to the funeral.

On top of dealing with crushing grief, your friend might be responsible for planning the funeral. If you’re in the same city, ask your friend if they would appreciate you tagging along to meetings with the funeral home. They’ll be facing a bevy of hard decisions in a highly distressed state, and having you there to lean on could be the thing that makes it less painful. Have a company deliver flowers to the funeral to make sure there’s a tangible symbol of your support.

One thing we don’t always consider is the heavy cost of a funeral. Beyond being emotionally taxing, financial hardships can arise when attempting to plan a funeral. Help your friend handle the exorbitant cost by putting together an account on a website like Youcaring.com. Family and friends can donate money towards the funeral expenses, and can choose to add their names alongside or remain anonymous.

Don’t let your support wane.

We often unintentionally let our support wane in the weeks and months after the initial shock has worn off, but your friend’s grieving process will take a long time and it’s essential that you serve as a rock of support for as long as they may need. They’ll be receiving many calls and notes in the first few weeks after news of the passing gets around, but you’d be surprised at how quickly these disappear. Their moving on process won’t be a quick one, so you’ll need to be prepared for various degrees of distress as the months and years go on.

If your friend has recently lost a loved one, you may be questioning how you can best support them. Grief is highly individualized, and their healing process will be unique to them.

Offer your support in any way that presents itself, and simply stay by their side to ensure you can be the best friend possible during one of life’s most trying times.

The Milk of Human Kindness (From the Kindness Blog)

Another great post first published by The Kindness Blog, written by Carmelene Melanie Siani.

220px-Soy_milk_IMy husband and I had parked just outside our favorite breakfast joint one Saturday morning to find a bunch of women clustered around the front gate to the old house next door.

“I wonder what they’re doing there,” I mused out loud.

They all looked — well, they were all clutching bags and bunches of “stuff” and had that homeless look about them — or at least quasi-homeless, bedraggled look about them.

“Good morning,” one of the women called out to me as we passed.

“Good morning,” I responded, along with something about how it was a beautiful day which encouraged so many of the others to chime in with yes it was and definitely and take care as I walked by.

They were telling me to take care? From the almost uniform front-teeth-missing look of them, I could tell. I’d have plenty of “take care” in my life.

I began digging in my purse.

“Shoot,” I told my husband. I don’t have enough $1 to go around.”

After breakfast, the line in front of the gate was gone and I told my husband I was going inside.

“Maybe there’s somebody who can break up these $20’s and spread it around.

Inside, the living room/dining room and entry hall was filled with cots. Women were sleeping, sorting through clothes, talking and laughing. There was an air of conviviality about the whole place — like it was a girls’ club of sorts. The whole place smelled like Tide laundry soap.

“Hi. Is there someone in charge?” I asked.

When you come face to face with unconditional love, you know it.

“Thank you,” the nun said to me. “But I need milk. I don’t have a car and I need milk. Can you keep the money and get me some milk?

About 15 minutes later, as we walked back in the door, I called out laughingly

“Man coming! Man coming!” while my husband teased that he wasn’t a “man,” he was the guy bringing milk.

“You know how I know she’s a nun?” I asked my husband as we were pulling away.

“How?

“She has an uncomplicated face.”

As I handed her the milk, she looked directly at me and I am not exaggerating that her pale, blue eyes were deep as pools. Peaceful, quiet pools. Pools filed with unconditional love.

On the gate outside my husband took a picture of the poster nailed there.

“SISTER’S ROSA HOUSE.”

kindness sign

I hadn’t seen that poster on our way in — but I didn’t need to. On my way out, I knew I had met somebody — probably somebody called Sister Rosa.

Agape. It’s not a big fancy Latin word. It’s a word that looks like a sign on the door that says here’s a safe place, a place where you can wash your clothes and get a bag lunch and sleep without being disturbed.

“It’s a place where you can get milk,” my husband said.

“The milk of human kindness from Sister Rosa,” I responded.

Amen, Sister.

Flower Sack Dresses from the Flour Mills (The Kindness Blog)

One of my favorite blogs, The Kindness Blog, ran this historical small act of kindness that eventually affected millions of people. Enjoy!

In times gone by, amidst widespread poverty, the flour mills realized that some women were using sacks to make clothes for their children. In response, the flour mills started using flowered fabric.

With the introduction of this new cloth into the home, thrifty women everywhere began to reuse the cloth for a variety of home uses—dish towels, diapers, and more. The bags began to become very popular for clothing items.

flour sack material

One example of flour sack fabric

As the recycling trend looked like it was going to stay, the manufacturers began to print their cloth bags—or feed sacks—in an ever wider variety of patterns and colors.

Over time, the popularity of the feed sack as clothing fabric increased beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, fueled by both ingenuity and scarcity.

By the time WWII dominated the lives of Americans, and cloth for fabric was in short supply due to its use in the construction of uniforms. It was estimated that over three and a half million women and children were wearing garments created from feed sacks.

feed sack clothes

Clothes made from flour sacks

Images like these help to remind us that large swaths of the country were once so poor that making clothes for children, out of flour sacks, was simply a part of life in those times. The manufacturers even gave instructions for how to remove the ink. People back then certainly knew how to try to use and reuse everything they had and not to be wasteful.

Sacks continued to grab the attention of women during the depression and World War II. In the 1950’s, though, cheaper paper sacks became available, and thus the gradual decline for these bright, beautiful, and functional fabrics began.

The start of the 1960’s saw sack manufacturers trying to tempt customers back with cartoon-printed fabrics, from Buck Rogers to Cinderella. There was even a television advertising campaign intended to prick the conscience of the American housewife, but it failed to generate a significant upsurge in sales. Today it is only the Amish who still use cotton sacks for their dry goods.

The world has changed in so many way since back then, yet having a mindset for making the best use of what you have available to you is a trait that, rightly, does and should carry on.

One Father’s Act of Anonymous Kindness

toyHere’s another great post I first read on The Kindness Blog. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

One Father’s Act of Anonymous Kindness

My dad took my brother, sister and I out for lunch at a local diner/ice cream shop.

About three tables away was a very bedraggled mother with twin infants in carriers and two other small children, and it looked like today was the day for all of them to act up.

After I was done eating, I went to look at the pinball machine ( a lifelong obsession) and on his way over to collect me, my dad stopped at the counter, paid our bill, and the lady’s as well.

He never mentioned it later and did it in a way that no one other than the cashier would have even known, but I managed to catch it.

I know it’s a very simple act, and it probably wasn’t very expensive, but the fact that he did it without much thought, and not even to use as a kindness lesson to us kids, always stuck with me.

~ by ‘CCC’

Small Acts of Kindness in 2016

christmasBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

In a couple of days, 2015 will be a memory and we will move into the newness of 2016. It’s been quite a year for me, and probably for you too. I actually took time off from the Small Acts of Kindness portion from January until May. Since then, though, I’ve enjoyed spreading positive, uplifting things that people have done for each other.

This past year, I added more writing related posts and interviews. I wanted to share the triumphs of my fellow writers with you. In fact, I’m adding one of my writing friends to the blog regularly, Ellen Andersen. You’ll find her posts starting in January on the second Monday of each month. Ellen is a sweet lady with a lot to share and I know you’ll appreciate her take on acts of kindness.  I’ll  also still be sharing narratives in 2016 from The Kindness Blog, one of my favorite sources of inspiring stories.

With so much negative news and stories on television and social media, I love digging for positive alternatives. I know we’ll all benefit from the stories Ellen and I will share next year. For those of you who’ve been with me since the beginning, you’ll remember this blog was founded on this quote from Aesop.

“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

I’d like you to take that nugget of truth into the New Year. No act of kindness is ever wasted. So let’s begin 2016 with intentional acts of kindness. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂

famous-inspirational-quote-no-act-of-kindness-no-matter-how-small-is-ever-wasted-21394562

Kind Stranger Buys Shoes for a Special Olympics Athlete

Another great story from The Kindness Blog. There are so many small acts of kindness we can do to make other people’s lives better…

Kind Stranger Buys Shoes for a Special Olympics Athleterunning

Earlier this week, Jake Kuehl and his family went to the mall after work.

Kuehl said he noticed a man looking at a shoe store for a long time. That man was 53-year-old Peter Matter. Matter is an athlete with Special Olympics.

Read the rest of this lovely story below which was extracted from Jake’s Facebook wall:

“I made a new friend today.

We met at the mall.

He had been doing some window shopping, and found a pair of shoes he REALLY liked. Unfortunately, like many people today, he couldn’t afford the shoes; so after one last peer through the window he moved along, stealing one last look over his shoulder as they faded out of sight.

I had been watching him stare at these shoes for what had to have been five or ten minutes (I was at the playland with my family). When he walked by me I noticed his shoes were in the worst condition, I could see his socks through large holes, his laces were torn, the soles were worn out.

I caught up with the gentleman and asked him if he liked the shoes he was just looking at. He told me he really liked them, he looks at them every time he’s at the mall. I said to him “What do you say we go in the store and get them?”

He thought for a minute and said “well I don’t think that’s a good idea, I don’t have very much money.”

I told him, “We aren’t going to worry about money today; let’s go get you a pair of shoes, your shoes are looking a bit worn out.”

In an instant his sadness turned to happiness, think of a young kid on Christmas morning

We walked side by side in to the store, and this store was HUGE! We found a worker and I said “Can you help this man find the pair of shoes he likes?”

I found out the man LOVES bright colors: green, yellow, red, blue. Everything bright caught his attention. I made sure we found shoes that would last a while, who knows the next time he’s going to get a new pair of shoes.

Once we found a pair the man liked, we found his size and tried them on. When he was tying the laces he didn’t do the typical “bunny ears” method of tying his shoes. I can’t really describe how he did it but he said it’s the best way to tie shoes because the knot never comes undone. Who knew there was more than one way to tie your shoelaces!

Since the man was happy with his selection, he put them in the box and said he was ready to go. I was quick to tell the man that he didn’t have to wear his old shoes anymore and to put his new shoes on.

When we were checking out the man was telling me he is really involved in the Special Olympics and his new shoes are really going to make a difference in his softball event. He also told me it didn’t hurt to walk any more.

Once we checked out and left the store, the man gave me a hug and told me “thank you very much”

I never asked for my friend’s name, and I never gave him mine. I don’t want him to remember that Jake gave him shoes, I want him to know that people are nice, that people have a heart, and that people are willing to help each other out.

You have no idea how happy it made me to give this man a new pair of shoes. When was the last time he had a nice new pair of shoes? When was the last time anybody did something for him out of the kindness of their heart?

If you’re having a bad day, don’t sit home and feel bad for yourself, don’t call your friends and bitch about your boss, or whatever it is making you upset. Get up, go out, and do something for somebody. There’s no better feeling. If you’re having a good day, make it an even better day! I promise you’ll never feel bad about helping another person.

There’s one reason I’m posting this. It’s not to brag or pretend that I’ve got a lot of money (because I certainly don’t). It’s to show you that anybody can be generous, anybody can help, and if I can motivate ONE person to donate food to a food bank, read a book at a children’s hospital or library, visit a nursing home to play cards for a few hours, buy a child the toy they’ve always wanted, or even buy somebody in need a new pair of shoes… well then I’ve succeeded!

So instead of going out to eat, instead of buying a new videogame, or going out to the bar, or going to the movies… try being nice to a random stranger! You just might make a new friend…

The 365 Jar

This week’s story came from the Kindness Blog. I love to visit there and see all the wonderful things people do for each other. They are kind enough to let me share with you. So look for posts from them in the upcoming months…

The 365 Jar

I Made a Present for My Girlfriend. It Took Some Time –

Starting off…

I started with an idea of an old-style US mason jar. I’m in Ireland, so it was quite hard to get my hands on one.

I finally found a place in Dublin that sold them and bought the largest one there – and it was a beauty. It holds 1892ml (half a gallon), which gives you an idea of its size – as I need it to fit the 365 handwritten notes.

How it works – close-up.

I Made a Present for My Girlfriend. It Took Some Time

230 in… and it’s beginning to come together.

I Made a Present for My Girlfriend. It Took Some Time

My little workstation after 230 notes written and folded. At this stage, the wrist was starting to tire from the writing – but the Jar was starting to take shape. I was especially pleased with how the colors were playing off against each other. Just 135 to go!

 I designed and printed a logo for the front, but the glass work writing on the jar protruded so far out that it was impossible to attach the printed sticker without it creasing. Still, the actual designs on the sides of the jar made up for it. The explanation was all that was needed.

So, so happy with how it turned out.

That big “Ball” logo prevented me from attaching my own ‘The 365 Jar’ design – but it’s pretty unique and probably adds more by itself. She was… happy. She was ECSTATIC. There may have been tears – although that might have been partly to do with the amount of endless reading and unfolding she has ahead of her.

The finished product – ❤ “The 365 Jar”! ❤