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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kindness Counts: Reaching out


This week's story comes in the form of his debut post on The Fisch Tank - Max, Penny and Cici's dad and my husband, Matt himself! (He is present on the rest of the blog as he is usually the photographer - except for the bad photos, those are probably me taken on my camera-phone). How refreshing to have a dad's point of view here!

Two and half years have passed since Cici’s accident and I have rarely spoken of it to anyone except Jenny and have never written about it. It would be easy for me to say that it has been a cold and lonely two years, but it’s really not true. There have been friends that have distanced themselves from the tragedy, people who have made well intentioned but hurtful comments, and even a few outright insults, but I’ve spent the last few years surrounded by my wonderful family and people who don’t let sadness get in the way of friendship. My family and I have been the recipient of some astounding acts of kindness.

The truth is these acts of kindness began the very day of the accident. I’ve been known to say that even on the unluckiest day of my life, I was very lucky in the sense that Cici survived. And on the loneliest day of my life, a day on which I thought only Jenny understood what I was feeling, some people reached out in extraordinary ways. I can remember clearly standing just outside the room in which a large number of people were working on Cici, stunned and bewildered by what I had just seen, an emotion I had never before felt creeping through every part of me when a heavy hand landed on my shoulder. It was one of the paramedics that had gotten Cici to the hospital alive, someone I’ve come to know a little better over the last couple of years and someone who has remained a part of Cici’s life. There was something he wanted me to tell Jenny, but I’m sure I never delivered that message. Though I know exactly how that hand felt on my shoulder and could point out to you exactly where we were standing at that moment, I can’t remember what he said. I’m not sure the message was the point anyway.

As Jenny wrote on our blog a couple of weeks ago, I’m standing outside that room a lot. Even two and a half years later, I’m standing outside that room at least a couple of times a day. I don’t like it, but even all this time later, I can still feel that hand on my shoulder and it gives me a small amount of comfort. I know now that he was having one of the worst days of his professional career, that we was surely running his own gauntlet of emotions, and he took a moment to reach out to me.

I’ve come to know that compassion is common among these paramedics and firefighters. Many months after Cici’s accident, the fire crew that had responded that day was returning from a call and saw Max and Penny and me playing in the yard. They stopped to say hello even though they had been told that Cici hadn’t made it and they were probably in for an awkward and depressing conversation. (I’ll also never forget the looks on their faces when I told them that Cici was inside and asked if they’d like to come in and see her.) They’ve stopped on the street after seeing me walking with the girls to the library. They’ve had us over to the station. It means a lot that they’ve continued to care about Cici and her family. I’ve learned not to let those acts of kindness be lost in a terrible day, to carry them with me just as I carry the painful memories. I’ve also learned how important it can be to take a moment to offer kindness to another.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Kindness Counts: K like in Kindness, K like in Karen


This week's story comes from Maria, Jacob's mom

This week I am a guest blogger for my dear friend Jenny.
She is starting Ben’s Bells in Colorado. It is a really neat organization with a big cause and lots of kindness. Check them out!

Being kind is something truly simple, it doesn’t cost money, and it doesn’t take time. When I think about the word kind, it is often the small gestures happening in my day-to-day life. Our family friend standing outside my door with tonight’s dinner, our nurse fitting in a bath for Jacob so we have more family time at night, my husband taking an extra night shift in Jacob’s room so I can catch up on sleep, my daughter taking her friend’s hand to run to the playground, a message from a dear friend far away reminding me that she is still thinking of us every day as Jacob is battling yet another virus. They are all acts of kindness, those little things that makes a difference in all of our lives.

When I think about kindness, my friend Karen comes to mind.

Two years ago, Karen offered to have Sarah over for a play date. I didn’t really know her that well, but our kids got along really well. It was time to pick up Sarah from her play date. The second I put Jacob in the car, he had an oculogyrical crisis. It looks exactly like a seizure, but it is not. It does mean that Jacob needs medical care, and a stay at the intensive care unit in order to stop them. They build over time, so I made the decision to still pick up Sarah and then drive down to The Children’s Hospital.

Jacob had a few more crises on the way over to Karen. I took Jacob out of the car, and wondered how I could quickly get Sarah in the car without being rude to our new friends. I had a medical emergency on my hand, but also a pickup to do! Two worlds clash. I didn’t have to say much before Karen got it. She took charge immediately, and pushed me back to the car, and said she would keep Sarah for as long as we needed. If necessary, she would simply bring Sarah to school the next day. Sarah’s face was beaming. She was happy for an extending play date!

I quickly got back in the car with Jacob, wondering what Karen truly thought about me and my little boy. I never made it down to The Children’s Hospital that night. The oculogyrical crises worsen quickly, so I had to call 911 from my car, and have them meet us at the house.

Joakim called me that evening as he had picked up Sarah from Karen’s house. We had all their phone numbers, and were told to call them any time we needed them. Sarah would spend afternoons at their house until Jacob was home again. It might not sound like a lot, but to manage Sarah’s school schedule with Jacob being in the PICU is not easy. I knew that Sarah was going to be picked up from school each day, and be with a friend each afternoon. I knew she was happy in the middle of a medical emergency. I knew that not only Sarah had found a friend, I had found one too.

Karen probably still doesn’t know exactly what an oculogyrical crisis it, but it doesn’t matter. Her heart is full of kindness, and she will do anything for our family. It doesn’t matter what plans or obstacles they have, there is always a spot for us.

Karen has a big heart. Karen is fair. Karen has turned her own hardships into compassion for others. Karen has empathy. She will stand up for her friends. No bull shit. No hidden agendas. Karen is fun. Karen is outspoken. Karen is straight-forward. Karen enjoys life. Karen is kind.

To my dear kind friend Karen.

Maria Hopfgarten
Mom of Jacob Hallberg with Mitochondrial Disease


Monday, April 11, 2011

Kindness Counts: Speaking from the heart


This week's story comes from Deana at Monster Max.


My friend Jenny has asked me to guest blog about a time that someone's kindness has affected me. You can go over and read the other entries on the Be Kind Colorado page.

Through the years, so many moments stick out. People have helped in so many ways, but one story popped in my head right away when I was asked. I think because it was such a simple act of kindness, and it took me so by surprise it has stuck with me.

This story happened five years ago, at my sister's graduation at the University of Denver. We were running late, and had a difficult time finding handicap parking and seating. We ended up in the balcony's lobby watching the graduation from afar. It really worked out just fine because we had the place to ourselves to feed Max. In fact, the only other person up there was a guy who was sitting over in the corner.

He was wearing shorts and a slouchy Hawaiian shirt. Not exactly fancy dress for a graduation. But, living in Colorado, I've learned to not judge a person's standing in society by their attire. This guy definitely looked like he was less than thrilled to be at a graduate school graduation, but there he sat with the rest of us listening to the pomp and circumstance.

As I sat feeding my huge toddler a bottle, I caught the man watching me several times. As it was quite a sight watching me feed Max, I didn't think too much of it. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the man start walking our way.

He leaned over one of the chairs and said,

"My pity of you has turned into admiration of you in a matter of minutes. The love you show to your son is admirable. I have three sons, and have wondered over the years what it would be like if one of them had turned out.......not normal. I see you would just love them anyway. It was an honorable choice you made...but what other choice did you have really? It is so appropriate in this academic've taught me the true love for a child."

I sat dumbstruck, willing a smile on my face, while tears ran down my cheeks. I choked out a "thank you", before he walked off.

In the years since, I've thought of this man, and his simple act of kindness. He listened to the thoughts in his head, and took a moment to speak them out loud. And sometimes, that's all it takes to change a person's life.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Kindness Counts: When no one is watching


This week's story comes from Heather at Samantha's Mom.


We have been the recipients of many, many acts of kindness. As soon as we became a family with a medically fragile child, the kindness came pouring in....meals, notes, prayers, thoughts, the world was with us.

And when we lost Samantha, the world mourned with us.

Today, many continue to help us and we are still overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of humankind.

But sometimes the little things make an impact.

I have immersed myself back into the corporate world. Not knowing quite what do to with myself and not wanting to be at home, I am back into a high-pressure, travel filled job. It is quite a change.

And I search for specks of kindness in the world of business travelers.

A couple weeks a ago, I was scheduled to fly to Albany via Chicago and I was late.

I was late to leave the office, the highway was peppered with speed traps and the only place to park was 3 bizillion miles away from the airport and I was wearing 4-inch heels.

I cursed my luck and ran (as best I could) to the airport.

I got stuck in security behind a group of 50 students on a Spring Break trip.

I pleaded my case to an unhelpful TSA agent.

I cursed the clock.

Was it arms and legs? No.

Was it life and death? No. But it was still stressful.

I had 30 minutes to make my flight.

I was taken aside for random screening.

I bit my lip.

When I ran down to catch my train, the doors closed before I could get on.

I cursed my luck.

But then the doors opened and I got on the train. And the doors closed.....

And they opened again.... And closed again....

The train was stuck. I would miss my plane.

And I hummed my mantra "It is not life and is only a plane. It is only a plane."

The man standing next to me said, "the airport is in slow motion today isn't it?"

"Oh my goodness!!!" I said and unloaded my story. "I am so afraid I will miss my flight to Chicago."

"Ah, Chicago. That's where I'm going. We'll miss it together."

As the train moved forward, my luck started to change, I might just make this flight. Me and my new friend ran for the plane where we were the last two to board.

He went onto first class and I went onto battle the gate agents as to why I shouldn't have to check my small, quite compact bag to Albany.

As my new friend left to first class, I said sarcastically, "think of us poor schmucks in 28C."

I took my 'check baggage' tag and headed down towards the airplane. I had made it. But my hair was plastered to my head in sweat, my feet hurt and I questioned the ability to do the smallest of catch a plane.

As I went to hand my bag to the gate agent, the flight attendant poked her head out of the plane, "Ma'am? I think we can fit that in first class."

Oh thank goodness. I stowed my bag and passed my manager...who was also in first class....humph.

"I barely made this flight." I said, pushed my sweat-coated bangs out of my eyes and made it back to 28C....right next to the lavatory.


But I had made it.

30 minutes into the flight my manager came back to the hovel of 28C. "You haven't eaten have you?"

Food? Oh yeah. It was 2:00 and I hadn't eaten all day. "I think I forgot." I said.

"I'm not going to eat my lunch, would you like it?"

I nodded and my stomach grumbled.

So five minutes later, a disgruntled flight attendant came back to 28C with a full first-class chicken salad, complete with a cloth napkin and real silver ware. I munched on Italian bread sticks with vigor.

A couple minutes later, an even more disgruntled flight attendant came back with a glass of Chardonnay. Apparently, the new friend who I met on the train felt sorry for me and asked to have a glass of wine be brought back to 28C.

Contentment was a meal next to the lavatory.

And that's kindness is isn't it?

It's easy to be kind when we know our neighbor is in crisis. But what about when we don't know? Who is our neighbor on the flight to Chicago? Are they going to a funeral? To visit a sick friend? Are they a business person trying to put her life together after the death of her child? Or are they just trying to get to Chicago?

Doesn't matter.... Kindness counts.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Kindness Counts: Giraffe


This week's story comes from Shauna at Christian's Journey.


Today is the second in our Kindness Counts series and guess who's turn it is...

It's my turn!

And our goal in this series is to spread how acts of kindness can effect you,
your neighbor, or even a stranger. Kindness is contagious and we were so
inspired byBen's Bells and their message, we wanted to pass it along!

And it started with a giraffe...

The morning after Christian's accident I remember standing in the lobby of the
hospital in the elevator bay. I don't know how I got there, but I think we were
headed toward the cafeteria, and I'm even sure about that.

I remember seeing a delivery guy in that elevator bay. I don't remember his
face, but I remember him being the only person in this busy area holding a
stuffed giraffe and bouquet of floating Mylar balloons. And I remember thinking
- Awww, how sweet it is to send that to somebody. Whoever that's going to is a
lucky kid.

The next memory I have is walking into Christian's PICU room not fifteen minutes
later. He was in bad shape, but he made it through the night, my little soldier.
On his bed sat a stuffed giraffe with a bouquet of balloons. And I thought -
He ISthe luckiest little boy...

I didn't realize there were people in this world that acted on kindness and
empathy alone. I mean I had heard of it, but never really experienced the
magnitude of it until we faced life and death. I'm not going to begin to pick
apart the meaning of kindness and what it can do because I simply don't have
words that are powerful enough to explain the phenomenon of kindness.

But, that's the thing about's about actions, not words.

I've mentioned the first trip to my beloved Target after the accident and while
Christian was in the PICU a time or two. This was the Target I would usually
take my bouncing boy to browse the Dollar Spot on a lazy weekday. But I was
walking through those doors without him to buy socks to ward off the freezing
cold nighttime chill of the hospital. I wondered if people could see the pain on
my face. I wondered if people could understand how much pain I was in because it
felt that bad. So bad it seeped out of the pours of my skin and the dark circles
under my eyes.

I don't think they saw it. And that's the point, nobody knows how much pain the
next person is in. We go on about our day, unaware, that the person taking a
little extra time at the cash register might have a personal battle they're
attending to. That lady who didn't make her left turn quickly enough might have
a child in the PICU.

Be aware. Be nice. Smile. It meant the world to me then. And I know it will mean
the world to someone if you pass it along.

That stuffed giraffe and bouquet of Mylar balloons were from my August Moms.
Through these moms and their power of kindness, others were moved to act and the
entire experience has proved to me that a bunch of moms can truly move
mountains. Those August Moms are the epitome of what I'm referring to in trying
to explain the phenomenon of kindness. There were countless ways in which they
showed their love and care for us, even with simple emails and cards, that will
remain with me as inspiration to be a better person to this day. And it all
started with a giraffe.

Which, of course, is way more than a giraffe.

The infamous giraffe still sits and watches over my little boy. And my little
boy is still lucky. Giraffe still has the small card addressed to Christian
Quintero, UMC ICU around his neck. I won't remove the card, not yet. It's a
reminder of what kindness and selflessness really mean. It's about the actions
behind the words printed on the envelope.


Spread it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kindness Counts!


Today begins a new series, called "Kindness Counts" - a weekly feature by me or a guest poster (hopefully mostly guest posters) about acts of kindness and their impact.

The goal? To spread the message of kindness. To help people realize that acts of kindness, no matter how small, can make an impact and change our world and our outlook.

This post from Jenny at The Fisch Tank
How to choose an act of kindness that made an impact on us? So many choices.

We were in the PICU, sitting with our 11 month old baby, who had recently gotten her MRI - still in a coma on a ventilator, and we found out about the global injury to her brain. The time she went without oxygen after choking on her dinner was long enough for severe damage. Despite being surrounded by amazing family, friends, and probably thousands of people sending healing thoughts to our girl, we felt utterly ALONE. This situation, this life, this child. No one knew what to do. No one knew what to tell us. They were coming along on our journey, and we were leading, with no clue whatsoever as to where we were headed.

A doctor came to visit - a doctor who worked at the hospital, in the special care clinic. A clinic for kids that are "complicated" with special needs. The doctor had heard about us in a strange way, through her brother, who was my husbands co-worker. Without telling us, she knew what we were facing. I remember her words "you have two big hurdles, breathing, and eating" - if you get past those you are going to be in a good place. She was so right. Turns out we got past the breathing (extubation) hurdle, but not the eating hurdle (thus the g-tube).

I also remember this very wise doctor of ours saying in later visits that in this world of special needs, that we should be careful. Careful to have the attitude we want to have. There are a lot of angry, bitter people in this new world we were now in, and if we don't want to live in that place, that we should be careful. Being the sneaky matchmaker she is, she knew another mom with a special needs child in her clinic, and told her a bit about us (without names, I'm sure). That mom gave the doctor her information so I could reach out if I wanted to. That mom also gave her a gift to give me.

The doctor printed up a copy of "Welcome to Holland" and brought us this gift from this mom.

In that gift bag I found a file folder and a notebook. Wow. I didn't even think I needed these things until I saw them. Suddenly all the pieces of paper, consents, information sheets, receipts, forms, everything - every thing had a home. Suddenly we had a place to stuff business cards, and concern areas, and phone numbers and lists of questions. It made me feel better to put order and organization into our lives while we were in this place where we felt spun out of control, and everything was out of our hands. Clearly, this was a gift from someone who really knows what this is like. It was the very first step to getting ourselves together and in a place where we could be an advocate for our daughter.



And then I took out this mom's contact information. And I wrote her an email.

Despite being in the middle of a move, and the middle of birthday celebrations for her big five year old boy, she wrote back with kind words, understanding and empathy. And I had my first friend in the special needs world we had just be thrown into.

And just like that, I didn't feel alone anymore.

And now that mom, my friend Deana, is one of the women in my core support group, my "supermoms." And our "matchmaker" doctor couldn't have been more right. I feel like I am in the right place thanks to this first friend in my "new world."

To this day, this file folder and notebook go almost everywhere with me. Can you tell?


Coinciding with the start of this series also begins a great online auction - one that will benefit both Cici's special needs trust and Ben's Bells equally. Ben's Bells is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby changing our world.

Ben's Bells is bringing a distribution of bells to Colorado in May - the funds raised in this auction will go towards funding that distribution. Visit Be Kind Colorado for local details about Ben's Bells. The auction runs from Monday March 21 - Monday March 28. Go to or click below to check out the auction! Starts Monday at noon central time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ben's Bells in the news

Just wanted to pass along some links of how Ben's Bells is expanding. As you know, they are based in Tucson, where there were some tragic events last weekend.

This week, Ben's Bells did their largest distribution so far in the Tucson area, over 1,000 bells.

Please make sure to tune into NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams TONIGHT (Friday 1.14.11). Ben's Bells will be featured on national news during their "Making a Difference" segment!! If you missed it, the segment is here.

And an article on KVOA and also in the Arizona Star and the New York Times.

This is what we'll be doing in May! Contact us to get involved!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Distribution Date!

Thanks to the Ben's Bells team we have a distribution date for the very first Ben's Bells in Colorado!

The weekend of May 14, 2011!

Details will come later.

Also, we have a tentative spot to make Ben's Bells locally, at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood - as their art department has the equipment we need. Now we just have to raise money for supplies to get started. And, maybe we have to get some help with kiln stuff.

Fundraising is going well, we have secured a $1000 grant from CGI for the Colorado Distribution. Now we'll work on the rest!