Lucy May of WCPO tells the poignant stories of poverty, courage, determination, love, passion, diversity, and kindness. Every day people who collectively make up this place we call Greater Cincinnati. This week I am asking people to talk about an experience that has changed their life.
Lucy told me about one very special teacher, without whom, Lucy said, she may never have discovered her love for storytelling.
In Lucy’s Words
“When I was a junior in high school, my French teacher, Jacque VanHouten, started a conversation with me about college. I knew I wanted to go to college, but I hadn’t thought much about it. I told her that I liked to write, and she told me I should study journalism. Then she told me two or three places where I should apply to journalism school. Then she even took an Amtrak train with me to go visit the school that she thought would be best for me.
My parents were divorced, and my dad lived out of town. It never would have occurred to me to ask my mom to take time off work and leave my younger sister to go visit a college campus with me. But Mrs. VanHouten thought it was important so we went. And it was amazing. I fell in love with the campus, and we found out during the visit that I had been accepted. (Because Mrs. VanHouten marched me to the admissions office and demanded to know the status of my application after I told her how much I loved the school.)
I ended up going to that college. It’s where I learned the craft of journalism, and it’s where I met my husband. So much of what is important to me in my life might never have happened if it weren’t for Mrs. VanHouten and the fact that she cared enough to have that conversation with me. I remain forever grateful to her, and she will always hold a special place in my heart.”
I have been sharing different perspectives on Kindness this week. Today I want to share the story of someone on the receiving end of kindness. Beth Crenshaw is vice chair of the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati, Inc., and she wants to remind us that kindness can have a great impact. In her words:
“I was in the hospital quite a bit last year due to medical problems. I have Spina Bifida. During my stay at the hospital, two friends came to visit me. One of them brought my fiancé, Chuck, BBQ for dinner. She brought so much that Chuck had BBQ for several nights in a row, when he left the hospital for the night.
After I left the hospital, I had follow up appointment with the two doctors that conducted the two surgeries. My friend picked me up at my home and took me to the doctors appointments.
My friends were the sunshine in my darkest hour. My friends are considerate, caring, and generous. In my opinion, this is the definition of kindness.”
LOCAL 12, WKRC-TV’s John R. Lomax is loved my Greater Cincinnati. He has such a benevolent heart. He is as genuine as they come. John shared with me his thoughts on #kindness.
“I believe kindness is knowing someone is in pain or distress, taking time to figure out what that pain or distress is, and doing what you can to lighten that darkness. Kindness is a gift, offered whether you know it will be accepted readily or rejected outright, given without expectation of recognition or reciprocation, or requiring some renaissance on the part of the recipient. Kindness, in my mind, is doing what we should as a thinking, feeling human being.”
What does #kindness mean to you? To Robin Klaene,
“Kindness to me is always being there, in good times and in bad. My friend Eydie Bookman is the kindest person I know. She is always giving of herself and her time. We have been friends for over 25 years and have been through fun times and trying times. She is always someone who will listen with compassion and offer a funny story when you need it. I am always amazed at what she does for others and how appreciative she is when people do things for her. I feel blessed to be a part of her world.”
What a beautiful gift of friendship!
Celebrating World Kindness Day all week this week, I am asking people the question, “What does kindness mean to you?”
This is what it means to Kristin Harmeyer, health & wellness coordinator for LADD, Inc. (Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled),: “Being kind is about treating everyone with respect regardless of their ability, what they look like or what they have done. It is about being considerate and thoughtful. To me I think of it as just a really natural thing. Kindness is something I think about every day, and I am grateful to have a job that reminds of this.I have been told by some people that I am actually aggressively kind because if someone tells me they have something going on, I fill follow up with them. I just think that if someone tells you he/she is having a bad day, that it is important to ask about it and show you care. I feel like we should all leave our day or wherever we have been better than when we got there.”
I am very grateful too for the opportunity my work with LADD has given me to get to know incredible people like Kristin who inspire kindness in everything they do. Kristin is someone who makes me smile every time I talk to her. There have been times where her work has so moved her that I have heard a tear in her voice.