Week 39: Our Hearts of Hope: Small Acts with Huge Impact
Hello friends! My journey this week brought me to Our Hearts of Hope where a small act became a radical way to connect with and support others….
Mencius (372-289 BC) was a Chinese philosopher who believed every human heart has the capacity for goodness. He taught that kindness and benevolence are rooted and inherent in our nature. By reflecting, focusing and acting on that aspect of our nature, we discover we are capable of performing acts of loving humanity which become a source of joy and happiness.
Our Hearts of Hope is dedicated to paying kindness forward through the creation and distribution of healing art to those in need. Volunteers create ceramic hearts and messages of kindness which are then sent to individuals affected by crisis or tragedy. The effort grew out of the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attack, when founder Judy Pederson felt passionate about sending love to the first responders and to the families of those who were lost. Shortly after that tragic September day, Judy and her local community created more than 700 hearts and messages of kindness. These healing gifts were packed into two SUVs and dropped off at a temporary counseling center at the Engine 4 Ladder 15 fire station near Ground Zero in Manhattan.
Since that humble beginning, Our Hearts of Hope has created and delivered over 87,000 hearts. Recipients include hospitals, cancer centers, the military, emergency workers, house-bound elderly, and more. In addition, the organization has created and sent hearts to families and communities after every major tragedy since 9-11, including families and first responders of Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub shooting, the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the Ariana Grande concert bombing in Manchester, England…. unfortunately, there never seems to be a lack of tragic events. Creating and sending healing gifts is a way to share an outpouring of love and kindness – a tangible prayer, a physical hug across the miles.
The hearts are also a way for the volunteers to find strength through helping others. Often, when a tragedy strikes, we are left feeling scared, hopeless, angry. We want to help but there may not be opportunities. What we need is connection and purpose. We seek a way to pour love on those who were affected. We seek ways to help our children cope with the unexplainable. We look for ways to rebuild our hope. We can do this through kindness.
When we are kind, we feel our soul opening and expanding. With our actions, we embrace and shape the world. Even the smallest of actions, when done with intent and reflection, have the most profound ramifications. Mencius stated: “With melted snow, I boil fragrant tea.” Something seemingly insignificant and mundane can be used to create something beautiful and have a positive impact on others (and on you).
I joined Our Hearts of Hope for two events: a meet and greet social to learn about the organization’s founding, history and activities, and a monthly chapter event where I had the opportunity to paint hearts and write messages of kindness. Each event was a remembrance of the lives touched and a celebration of the impact our small actions would have. I got to know the founder and her wonderful team of volunteer staff and Board members.
I enjoyed painting the hearts – taking time to think about the design and crafting the message of kindness. During the event, the participants chatted and enjoyed each other’s company, sharing ideas and stories, comparing our designs and appreciating each other’s work.
The tagline of Our Hearts of Hope reads: “Hope is created here… one heart at a time…” The hearts are a simple, non-invasive way to change how people experience and respond to the world around them. They promote a feeling of interconnectedness, an opportunity to share in grief through love.
Focusing on small acts (like sending hearts) is a radical idea for a society that pressures us to “live big” and achieve individual excellence. But it’s in the simple act where people find a sense of purpose, hope and connection…
Thank you for sharing this week’s journey!
To learn more about Our Hearts of Hope, make a donation or purchase heart kits to make with your family and friends, please visit their website at: https://www.ourheartsofhope.org/index.html
Until next week,