Back in July 2016 I blogged about my friend Carl. He was pretty awesome, to say the least. Carl was an avid shopper although he couldn’t read; his desire to learn continued well into his 80s. This was a man who loved his sweets, and was in later life diagnosed with diabetes. By then, he was very inspired to learn a few words; and he did…”sugar free.”
I often wondered how he sufficiently lived his life so independently while illiterate. Personally, there isn’t an hour that goes by that I am not reading something. Nevertheless, I was happy to see him in action, and observe how he thrived. Carl knew every regular store employee we encountered; with unwavering politeness, he greeted them, and they’d help him find what he needed. It was the combination of his courage and their kindness that ruled the day.
I often thought about this story after watching the parents on the TV show Born This Way. I’d listen to their fears and hopes for their children born with Downs Syndrome; and even as a parent of “typical children,” I too, had my moments of both worry and hope. In reality none of us produce “perfect” children, and we must rely on our courage and their courage— to bring out the kindness in those we meet along the way.
That was the recipe for success of Andy and Bobby, the story we told in last year’s annual report. Andy wanted a new life with love and greater independence, while Bobby was facing retirement and needed more purpose. Both of them thrived on a combination of courage and kindness to create the life they both needed and desired.
I am a big fan of country music; one song I hear often says if “you just go by the nightly news, your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose.” For some reason in the media we publish more problems than praises. Hopefully, you’ll share our story of courage and kindness—it’s the best news we can get today.
Courage brings out the kindness in others; it’s not a sure fire recipe but it’s a powerful one that can be shared over and over, and improves our community in the process. It’s one that has no carbs and no calories, yet in the end you’re always left feeling full!