Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Call for help!

It's been a while, and all is not lost here in Colorado-land.  It's been just over a year since we distributed our first round of Ben's Bells in the Denver area.   Plans are in the works for another distribution, however, creating our own Bells locally the progress is slow and stalled.  It's time to ask for help!  I know there are a lot of folks that want to help make and distribute the Bells, and I would love to have everything ready for that, but the truth is that we don't even have the infrastructure for it yet.   This is what we do have:

- Funds with Ben's Bells that we can use for supplies, but we must connect with Mile Hi Ceramics and get an account set up so we can start getting supplies - the non-profit way.
- A kiln - in my garage.  I do not have electricity to the kiln yet - it takes a 220V/30A connection, which has to be run to my garage and hopefully there is space on our circuit board.
- A slab roller - in my garage - this is for making the centerpieces.
- Various other equipment - including the cutout for the centerpieces.
- Instructions and manuals.

However, what we do not have:
- Someone that knows how to calibrate and run the kiln (I do NOT - yet, anyway)
- A kiln that is hooked to electricity (remember, it needs more than a regular plug!)
- An account with a ceramics shop that can work with Ben's Bells in Tucson to access our funds and get the supplies.

So, I'm finally putting out a call for help.  This studio does not have to be set up in my garage.  I am happy to help someone set this up wherever there are facilities and the will to get this done quickly.  Unfortunately, it won't be this summer if left up to me - we have a new baby coming in a little over a month, and our capacity for extra projects is maxed out.  So, I thought I would offer it up to someone else to help.  Of course we will help with everything, we just can't get it setup ourselves until sometime later this year.

Please contact me at or and we will figure something out.

And in the meantime, we will work on another distribution - perhaps this Fall?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canvas and Cocktails Fundraiser

Last night we had a great fundraiser at Canvas and Cocktails for start up materials for Ben's Bells here in Colorado. You can follow the Colorado events and happenings at Be Kind Colorado and on Facebook too. We were able to raise about $700, which should hopefully get us started for making the bells here in Colorado for local distributions annually.

BIG thank you to everyone who came out - it wouldn't be possible without you.

I, of course, forgot my camera, but here are a few shots - more to come later, I'm sure - thanks to all my friends for letting me borrow your pictures!





Monday, May 30, 2011

New equipment!

Guess what we've been working on? Making space in our garage by selling things we don't use or need.

Just in time to add this:

and this:

That's a kiln and a slab roller - they now live in our garage, and we got a really good deal for both of these plus all kinds of equipment on craigslist. To be clear, I know nothing about ceramics. But, we're about to learn! I have the support of the Ben's Bells organization in Tucson in order to have a place here to make the bells for annual distribution, just like the one we did in May. Now, we just need to get a 220 outlet put in our garage, and get a few more supplies, and then we'll be ready to start making pieces of the bells here in Colorado, in our garage! We'll start slow, but hopefully gain momentum. I envision that we'll make up "kits" for people to pick up and take to groups, to make beads, or paint beads or paint centerpieces and we'll have people over to work on pieces sometimes. Then we can fire and glaze and fire at our convenience in our own garage.

Stay updated on the Colorado happenings at Be Kind Colorado or on Facebook here.

We've managed to get the distribution of Ben's Bells here and buy some equipment and materials with fundraisers we've had so far (plus the income we hope to bring in with the Canvas and Cocktails fundraiser in two weeks on June 14). We're excited about it, it will be a fun new project that brings another dimension to our family, and helps to spread an important message!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kindness Counts: Spreading the message


This week's story is from little old me. As you may have read the other day - this past weekend was the very first Ben's Bells distribution in Colorado. The first of many, we hope!

So why is it so important to me to bring this project to our community? Why is it that I feel passionately about helping encourage intentional kindness?


Listening to the founder of Ben's Bells, Jeannette Mare, talk about her story, and why she started this, I realized it was our story too. Different, but the same.

Jeannette talked about how, after her son died suddenly at the age of three, that she looked normal. She would walk around, and wonder, "Why is everyone just going on? Can't they see that I'm blown apart inside?" And she needed people, everyone, even strangers, to be gentle with her. And then her perspective changed, and instead, she started to wonder if she wasn't the only one. If she looked normal, who else looked normal but was devastated inside too? What had we been missing all of this time, not really seeing?

After Cici's accident, our world stopped. We wandered around the hospital cafeteria in tight lounge pants and slippers, we wore clothes for days on end. Maybe we didn't look normal, but certainly no one could see what was going on - only we truly understood how drastically our life had changed, and we needed people to be gentle. The tears and sadness bubbled on the surface, sometimes bursting out with the smallest of actions. We sheltered ourselves in the hospital, where we knew people would be kind to us - they knew the whole story, and we dreaded going out in the "world" where life just goes on as normal, and no one could see how broken we were.

I also remember reaching out to my friends online, in the hours after her accident - on Facebook and my online forums. You don't realize how helpless you are, sitting inside or outside your child's room, where everyone else is doing what they can, and you are left just sitting there. For hours. For days. So, I reached out. And I remember this as clear as day - looking at my Facebook news feed and every single friend had a status about Cici. That is like a bunch of kind, gentle, warm thoughts, all collecting in an overwhelming swell of love.

I want everyone to feel this. Without having something tragic happen to you. Or even when it does - none of us are spared from tragedy. What do you want when it hits you?

The absolute best part of being part of the Ben's Bell project is how many steps go into the process, making the bells, distributing the bells, and watching them change our world - each step warms you in a different way. I expected it to be a great experience, but I didn't expect to be watching the stories page on the Ben's Bells site, watching them pop up from our distribution - it was our bells they found! Proof that this changes people. Makes an impact. That the bells have found their people. Go ahead, take a peek - read the stories!

And, one more thing - if you want a smile, today, watch this clip by our local news on Cici's buddy Max, who is included in a typical classroom via the web. It takes only one kind person/team, and look what happens!


Have something you want to share about an act of kindness? We'd love to post it! Contact me at

Monday, May 9, 2011

Kindness Counts: Those who have been there


This week's story comes from my friend Jen at Praying for Aviana who, after struggling with infertility, adopted a daughter from Guatemala, and then was hit by a car while crossing the street with her grandpa, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

When Jenny asked me to write for her series, I was really excited, because I think it is so important to point out the everyday kindness of people.

I was immediately wracked with one problem though. Over the past two years, we have had so many instances of kindness shown to our family. I wondered how I could ever possibly choose just one. I finally decided to write about our most recent experience. This family is one I have briefly spoke of thus far.

Our daughter Aviana was hit by a car almost two years ago, and sadly, barely escaped death. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, and was left unable to walk, talk, or eat by mouth.

We take her back, and forth to a brain injury institute in Philadelphia. Every six months, they teach us their extensive program, and every day, we carry it out at home. With each returned trip from The Institutes, we need to build new therapy devices in order to implement Aviana's revised program.

Upon our recent return, we were to obtain a tank, which was to contain a mixture of carbon dioxide, and oxygen. After calling, what seemed like every company, we found the closest place we could get this tank was in Los Angeles. We live in Northern California. The round trip journey is, at least, 14-hours.

We were struggling with this issue for weeks, and were in the process of deciphering the cost to have this heavy tank shipped to us, or if we should drive down and pick it up. The program our daughter is on leaves little extra time, so this tank situation was causing a decent amount of trouble.

In the meantime, we needed a special coverall suit made for a different portion of Aviana's program. My husband took the coverall into a shoe repair shop, and spoke with the owner. His shop was close to the area where our daughter was struck, so my husband asked the store owner if he had remembered the accident, as they had shut down the entire area for the investigation.

In talking to this kind man, Bart, my husband found out his very own son had suffered a brain injury about six years prior. He fully understood how challenging this world could be to navigate through. My husband agreed, and in passing, explained the difficulty we were having in obtaining a special order tank.

Once he found out the tank was located in Los Angeles, he explained how he frequents the area, and immediately offered to pick it up for us. He was planning on driving down within the next couple of weeks.

My husband, and I were in complete shock, and were beyond grateful to have this looming issue finally put to rest.

Sure enough, Bart, and his wife, drove down, picked the 175-pound, 5-foot tall tank up, and drove it back to our town. We had offered him gas money, but when my husband uttered the words, he would have no such thing.

He told us to take whatever money we were going to give, and put it toward our daughter. When my husband picked the coveralls up, he would not let him pay for them either.

We were pleasantly surprised, to say the least, by the kindness of a perfect stranger. When we went to pick the tank up at his house, we met is wife, and stayed for a while to get to know each other. These two people were so hospitable; they made us feel like we were family. They acted like transporting the tank from Southern California was no big deal, and the least they could do for us.

When I later sent them a card, the front said, "Little to you, big to us!" That is exactly how we feel. The acquiring of the tank for us would have been a huge feat.

I have been amazed by the kindness of family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers, more in the past two years, than in my entire life.

Each, and every experience has made us want to be better people. We want to be for others, not just everything these wonderful people have been for us, but more.

Through this entire chain of events, I couldn't help but think, there are not coincidences, and these beautiful people were put into our lives at exactly the right time.

To the Russo Family ~ we thank you from the deepest part of our hearts. We will never forget the kindness, and compassion you have shown to our family.


Have something you want to share about an act of kindness? We'd love to post it! Contact me at

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ben's Bells Colorado Distribution News!

In case you don't already know - we are going to be doing the distribution of Ben's Bells Saturday, May 14 at Red Rocks (at the top of the amphitheatre) at 9am - there we'll divide up the bells, and then we'll all go out on our own to hang them. Come out and join us!

We'll also be having a fundraiser to fund the making of Ben's Bells here in Colorado. It will be at Canvas and Cocktails in Cherry Creek on Tuesday, June 14. You can sign up by clicking here. We'll be painting this:
Come out and join us - no artistic skills required. I promise.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Kindness Counts: From a stranger


This week's story comes from my friend Ashley, who lost her little boy to SIDS less than a year ago. I saw this post on her blog, and asked if we could post it here.


We have been getting random things left at our door since Beckett died. We have had many, many amazing things done and/or left for us the first couple of months after Beck died but to our surprise when it continued month after month. My kid's get so excited every time we find something outside our door. There is always a kind note that makes me realize that others still care about what our family is/has gone through.

This month was no exception...on the 9th I was having an awful day, he died on the 9th and it is usually never a good day. I think a lot about what has happened…how my family is still being affected and overall it is just a miserable day. My husband was the first to find our "treat" on the doorstep, with a note...and it totally made my whole day much better. Just the thought that someone was thinking of us, on that day, means the world to me. I don't think most people realize how long this ache hurts...I have people tell me that I should be "moving on" by mom was surprised when I mentioned that I still struggle on the 7th (he was born on the 7th) and the 9th...some think that if they don't mention him, it's better for me that way...Honestly, I think I am going to struggle my whole life, there will ALWAYS be a emptiness that ONLY Beckett could ever fill. There will always be the same questions of why him, why me. There will always be the awkward silences every time someone asks “how many children do you have?”

At the bank the other day, the banker made a comment about my locket (a picture of Beckett) and asked if it was my youngest child. Confused on how to answer because Adleigh and Braia were running around...obviously Addie looked the youngest...I answered, "Yes, but it's my son." So she wouldn't assume that it was a picture of Adleigh. Of course that made her ask more questions...I was in about a week earlier with all 4 kids and she remembered (probably because we enter EVERY building like a tornado) so she asked if he was with me when I came in the other I simply said, No, he passed away last summer. She apologized and quickly changed the subject. To her, it probably looked like she upset me (because I did get a little teary eyed) but to me, just the simple fact that she had asked about who he was (a reason why I wear the necklace with his picture the most) meant a TON. I can't stress it enough on how MUCH I LOVE talking about him, whether it's his stories or just who he was. Of course bringing him up may get me a bit emotional BUT it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to talk about it. I am sure 50 years from now I will STILL tear up talking about the son I never got to raise.

The kindness of a strange...a sincere question, deed, note, etc. Can really make an individual's day, especially when they may already be having a hard day. whomever you are...THANK YOU!


Have something you want to share about an act of kindness? We'd love to post it! Contact me at