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Random Acts of Kindness: Kindness Stories & Photos

From Randy Barr:

One of my lifelong goals was attained after I retired. I volunteer in a childrens hospital.  I receive such a sense of fulfillment from this endeavor that I never view it as a weekly act of kindness. I’m receiving as much as I am giving. Of the hundreds of children and parents I have interacted with there are a few that are etched in my heart and mind. Here is one such story…..

On the daily roster of rooms/names it said that this 2 week old little boy had Down Syndrome.  What that indicated to me was twofold:

1) that this infant had gone home and was already back in the hospital.

2) this parent/parents may need something more than coffee or a muffin.

As I entered the room, the first things I took in were a young mother leaning over a crib crying and a father wearing a tee shirt with Hebrew writing. It was during the week of Passover. I smiled, introduced myself as a volunteer and then took a breath and tentatively said “Chag Sameach”.

The mother’s sobs momentarily stopped and she looked at me. The father smiled and with a thick Israeli accent questioned  “You’re Jewish”? I nodded. I walked over to the crib and saw a  little baby boy with a tiny orange tube going down his nose, a monitor attached to his foot and another lead on his little chest. 

“He’s beautiful.” I told the mom. 

She began to cry, “He’s going to have so many challenges.” I confirmed her concerns and feelings. 

“Yes he will. But what I can promise you is that he is going to bring you joy and you will rise and meet his challenges.“

It was at this point that I knew I had a different mission with this family. This was not 5 minutes of chatting and getting art supplies, books or toys for the hospitalized child. This was more than reading to a toddler and giving  parents a 15 minute break.  I was responsible for visiting 30 more pediatric patients during my 4 hour shift but at that moment I didn’t care if I was at the hospital an extra 2 hours. 

I sat down with them and they began to tell me their story. I learned that Chicago was not their home, but a new location due to work.  The father traveled back to Israel 2-3 weeks a month. They were not prepared to welcome into the world a baby with special needs. I knew this mom needed emotional support and time to process this new journey that lie ahead. Being a special education teacher for many years I looked up and found the name of a parent of a former student who was on the board of the Downs Syndrome Association.  I gave this new mom the info and told her to use my name. I looked up the nearest Chabad to where she lived. I gave her the number of Jewish Family services and gently spoke about the gift of therapy.  I gave her my number and told her if she needed a time to herself, I would drive to the city and watch the baby. 

I ended up spending over an hour with them. I went back to their room several times during my shift. Each time they welcomed me in and hugged me. I told them that my first prayer was that when I returned the following week they would not be there….. and they weren’t.  I never heard from them. I hoped that in some small way I had made a difference. And I prayed and continue to pray that others have been there for them with acts of kindness in helping them navigate through life. 

From Leah Goldberger:

"During the past three years (Pandemic period) I was blessed with a special relationship - friends, who are busy professionals, always found time to assist me when I was in need. Whether it was for doctor appointments, grocery shopping, or other ventures, they were available.

From our time together a warm and meaningful relationship developed. I now consider them part of my family."

Ron and Sheila Jacobson taking sack meals to Night Ministry.

Isaac Stutzman helping with Night Ministry sack meals.

From Emily O'Connor:

This act of kindness story happened when I was in 6th grade (some 40 years ago!), but it had an impact on how I acted as I grew up. I was the winner of my school district's spelling bee and went on to participate in the county spelling bee. After getting through a few rounds, I spelled a word wrong and then had to stay seated on the stage for the remainder of the bee. However, the girl next to me, kept getting called up and answered her words correctly. Each time she answered the word correctly and came back to her seat, I gave her a thumbs up/smile/good job to encourage her. I knew that I wouldn't make it past the county bee, so it wasn't a huge loss for me and I was able to encourage her. She ended up winning the spelling bee and moving forward. A week later, when I was in 6th grade PE class, a letter was delivered to me from the office. It was from the principal of another middle school and had been sent to my principal who passed it on to me. The letter praised my behavior at the spelling bee and was stunned at how kindly I had encouraged the other student and wished that other students were able to demonstrate behavior like i had. I was stunned....the fact that someone noticed what I did and took the time to write a letter AND send it to my principal was amazing. I hadn't really thought about my behavior, so having someone highlight it made me realize how positive it had been. Since then I have looked for ways to appreciate others' actions, influence, and work by letting them know verbally or in written form how impressed I was or the positive impact that their behavior had on me, others, or the community.

From Sharon Rosenberg:

"This is an old story but was the first thing that came to mind. A simple gesture that has stayed with me 27 years.

Starting your medical residency is hard. You have suddenly become a doctor and people expect you to know things and have answers. I think I lived in a state of constant fear the first few months. The hardest thing was making peace with death. You were going to see it, know it, and live with it for the rest of your career, but at the beginning it was only the enemy, and everyone is always afraid of the enemy.

This patient was only 23 years old, and so was I. Glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, was slowly stealing his life. He came into the hospital, surrounded by his extended family, and was gone in a week. I had to pronounce him, and then suddenly had to care for his mother, who had taken three steps out of the room and passed out in the hallway. Once she was settled the last thing I had to do before I could finally go home was write the note in his chart that included his time of death.

Now, something you need to know about me is that I don't drink coffee. I don't like bitter tastes, so I never picked up the habit, which is strange for a physician, especially a resident who was perpetually short on sleep. My caffeinated poison of choice was a Diet Coke, and the nurses used to joke that I didn't buy them, I grew them out of my left hand.

So I sat down to write this patient's final note with tears streaming down my face and was really unaware of much of what was going on around me, when suddenly a heard the sound of a pop can opening, and there was a can of Diet Coke by my left hand. One of the nurses had seen what I was doing and, as unobtrusively as she could she left me the can of Diet Coke. That simple act of kindness let me know that I was cared for by my colleagues in medicine, and most importantly, that I wasn't alone.

Kindness is found in simple things. For me, kindness is a can of Diet Coke."

Thu, November 30 2023 17 Kislev 5784