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Hopeful messages

Group mails notes to those in need

Theresa Harrison, founder of Just a Kind Note, pens a message in her Frederick, MD, home.

If you or someone you know is facing challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic or the shaky economy — or if you could just welcome a positive message — Theresa Harrison wants to help.

“People today feel very uncertain about the future,” said Harrison, a Frederick, MD, resident who has launched Just a Kind Note, a project to spread kindness at a time when it seems to be in short supply.

The idea is simple: Send a positive message in the mail to someone — anyone — who might need something to make them smile.

Harrison was inspired to send a note 20 years ago, when she met an older woman at her church.

“She said that unless she went to church, she didn’t have anyone to talk to during the week. That feeling of loneliness stunned me, so I started sending her short, kind notes.”

Harrison, who is president and founder of a Maryland-based cybersecurity firm, continued this practice and included friends and family.

Then, in 2018, she experienced the power of kind notes firsthand when she received a cancer diagnosis.

“As I went through my two-year battle to get well, people would send me kind notes, so for the first time, I was the recipient. I realized that having something sent through the mail — versus a text or an email or a call — said to me that the person took time to think about me. It was so impactful.”

Harrison realized many more could benefit from receiving supportive, encouraging messages.

Last April, she recruited 10 friends, who met on a conference call to discuss the project.

As Harrison explained her idea, “a person on the call said, ‘Theresa, you sent me a kind note 20 years ago and I still have it.’ Right there, that said to me: ‘This is what we need today.’”

By May, the project had a name — Just a Kind Note — and a broader mission.

“With the coronavirus pandemic, more people are lonelier and unemployed. They feel very uncertain about the future. Caregivers and health care professionals have unbelievable levels of stress. There’s a gamut of people we can send Just a Kind Note to,” Harrison said.

In fact, hospitals, drug recovery centers and educational institutions have asked Harrison and her team of Kind Writers to send notes to their employees.

The typical Just a Kind Note is just two or three sentences long. A note could read, “I woke up this morning and you came to mind. I hope you are having a good day.”

Nevertheless, the notes can have a significant effect.

Jennifer Moxley, the student leadership and service coordinator at Fredrick Community College in Maryland, received a note from a student who is a Kind Writer.

“I have my Just a Kind Note on my refrigerator where I can see it every day. It is a nice reminder. It means a lot to me. Spreading kindness is a powerful tool,” Moxley said.

Paula Land was similarly touched when she recently received a Just a Kind Note from a member of her church.

“The note reminds me that I am loved. I keep it on my desk to be reminded that someone loves and cares for me — that God’s love is shown through others,” Land said.

Memorial Hermann, a Houston facility affiliated with one of Texas’ largest nonprofit healthcare systems, recently received more than 1,200 encouraging Just a Kind Notes given to nurses, maintenance staff and others.

“When I handed them out, the hospital workers held them to their hearts and smiled. The fact the notes were actually handwritten and personalized had a huge impact,” said Karen Fingado, a hospice nurse. “It touched my heart and it touched the hearts of many people here.”

Just a Kind Note doesn’t charge for its services.

Said Harrison: “We’re not asking for anything other than spending a few minutes a month sending three kind notes. If you need stamps, we’ll provide them. This costs nothing, but it is priceless to the recipient.”

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