On my usual crazy day I noticed on my phone I had a notification of a post placed on my Facebook page. This was the photo that popped up. What appeared to be an article someone shared on my page certainly was not. I had to do a double- take at who it was from and then stopped my car to read it and read it again. Here is what was written on my page:
“A few months ago, I met with someone who I had never really met before ( but it turns out we went to high school together). She had a surprise for me. She didn’t know why but felt compelled in her heart to give me a generous gift card for American Airlines. I have had a dream for years to somehow get my beautiful Aunt to Hawaii. She is one of the most generous, caring and deserving woman I know and hasn’t had a vacation in I don’t know how long. I chose to pay it forward and I will be making my dream come true! I can’t wait to see her face when we arrive. Thank you Kim and the Infinite Smile Project for making this happen! I am truly blessed by your generosity and kindness and I hope my story inspires others to make their dreams come true. Kindness is what makes life worth living and is the greatest gift we can offer each other.”
To be clear, I played a very minor role in this gift however was fortunate to be tasked with whom should receive it. Here is the story – and more importantly the underlying importance of what took place:
Back in September I received several emails and Facebook messages about a girl who I went to high school with whose son now went to our Alma Mater. The messages were from other alumnae asking my what the Infinite Smile Project can do for this family and the kids that her son and daughter know in our community. Her son had taken his own life after the first day of school and our hometown community was broken.
At this time I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this information and what people thought ISP should or should not do. I didn’t I took want to intrude on this Mom’s privacy nor did I know what she did or did not want to discuss. I eventually sent her a message letting her know about ISP and if she needs anything from us to reach out. Once we were connected on social media I saw something I actually have never seen before – someone who had just been through such tragedy doing things entirely differently.
Let me just explain what I saw.
I saw a woman doing amazing things for others. Acts of kindness for friends, strangers, anyone she came across. A woman who was posting quotes of positivity and providing good to the world when most in her situation would constantly dwell upon the bad. She would post why this year wasn’t the end of her life because of what she still has and the good she sees around her in many ways. In her friends, in her family, in people she meets in random places – she had a razor focus on the good all the while keeping the memory alive of her son.
When I saw this post I was trying to remember when it was I asked her to meet me. At first time just blurred – and then I remembered. It was right after Valentine’s Day. I remember because I saw her post on social media with some photos of handmade Valentine’s bags, roses, balloons, toys for kids and all sorts of fun stuff. Her post noted that these are sitting on her front porch for anyone who wants a Valentine’s that day. If you had a Valentine or not, child or adult, it was all for the taking. Just because. No reason other than to provide happiness for another that day as she got her daughter off to school and hopped in her car for a long day at work. I took my kids there that day. They asked who left this and why. All I said was, “Mommy’s friend. Because she is simply amazing”.
At that very moment the American Airlines gift card found its’ home.
The reason I wanted to write this story is mainly to relay how even though I was the one that asked “Carrie” to meet me, I had nothing to do with this gift. It was a chain reaction of what can happen with one simple act of kindness. A woman named “Kristen” called my friend, Jennifer. She thanked her over and over again for a favor and wanted to repay her. When Jennifer said “please donate to a cause I believe in” “Kristen” reached out to me and wound up being one of our biggest fans, supporters, and friends. In January “Kristen” reached out and told me she had been given a large gift card and felt compelled to pay it forward and therefore asked me to give it to someone – anyone I felt could really use it.
I called hospitals, military bases, and all other sorts of places to figure out who should receive it. It would have gone to a great cause anywhere but I didn’t want the story to be lost. That my friend, Jennifer, did something incredibly kind for someone, she in turn did something amazing for our non-profit, I passed it onto who I felt compelled to have it, and the recipient paid it forward to a woman who has meant everything to her in her life. Someone who has worked hard her entire life, always dreamed of going to Hawaii, and “Carrie” promised she would take her there one day. And now is. Both of them and their daughters will enjoy this generous gift in Hawaii in a few short weeks.
Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you “Kristen”. And thank you “Carrie” for being one of the most remarkable human beings I have ever been blessed to know.
“Carrie” and I are now working together with ISP and have become friends. I adore this woman for who she is and what she brings to the world. I asked her if I could share this story in hope to inspire others to do something – anything to better the life of another. It doesn’t have to be a gift card for a Hawaiian vacation but in a very self-absorbed world a conscious effort to do things in the spirit of helping others. One small act that may seem insignificant that could possibly amount to amazing things.
Have a wonderful weekend and I hope these exceptional women have inspired someone to pay it forward to another……