Jennifer Adams started a kindness movement in Fayette County last fall, culminating in a special visit from Mr. McFeely of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood fame.
Uniontown, PA - Jennifer Adams felt that there needed to be more kindness in the world. So, she decided to generate some.
The Connellsville woman began a kindness movement last fall that has grown rapidly, culminating in a community-wide event on Random Acts of Kindness Day, Feb. 17.
“I think last year, there was a lot going on – election stuff, pandemic stuff, people disagreeing on the masking issue,” she said.
Amid the disagreements and strikes, Adams came up with an idea.
“I do a parent pick-up and drop-off (at Dunbar Township Elementary School). I don’t know what gave me the idea, but we just started doing Post-it Notes to teachers,” she said. “They are the first people my daughter greets.”
Adams and her daughter, 10-year-old Kennedy, wanted to show appreciation for the teachers, with whom Adams empathizes because of the difficulties they have faced during the pandemic, including the anger often directed at them because of pandemic-related decisions over which they have no control.
“They’re showing up for the kids, for my kid, who definitely needed to be in school,” Adams said.
So, Adams and Kennedy began giving notes with messages of kindness and appreciation to the teachers each day. From there, Adams had the idea to do Christmas Kindness, which involved performing kind acts throughout the month of December.
“On the last 12 days the kids were in school, we did 12 Days of Kindness,” she said, explaining that she and her daughter would hand out small pictures or cute items bearing positive messages. “It just kind of escalated from there.”
First, there came Kindness Friday at Kennedy’s school. Then, the movement spilled into the community, as the Adamses, including 4-year-old daughter Henley, began to spread messages of kindness when going through the drive-thru or eating in restaurants. The family also continued its habit of leaving out drinks and small snacks for delivery people, a habit which garnered them several kind messages in return.
Adams said her family’s acts of kindness can be anything from giving out small bouquets of flowers or “kindness coins” to paying for someone’s meal.
“We’re just trying to do what we can,” she said. “The great thing about kindness is that literally anybody can do it, and you don’t have to have any kind of means to do it.”
Adams soon took her message to social media, starting a Facebook group called Kindness in Connellsville, which now boasts more than 400 members.
That social media following and community interest eventually spurred Adams to host an event on Feb. 17, Random Acts of Kindness Day, at Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville.
“I’m always thinking, ‘What am I going to do now?’ So, I threw an event,” she said.
The event drew support from several community leaders and small business owners, with city councilman and business owner Ethan Keedy, Somerset Trust Company Senior Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer John Malone, Connellsville Lions Club member Phyllis Kovall, community advocate Chuck Hubbell, and community leader Mary Sampey serving as speakers. The evening was moderated by Mary Dreliszak, with Armstrong and Effective Prevention in Connellsville Communities joining Somerset Trust Company as sponsors. Informational booths were set up, and there were snacks, as well as games and activities for kids.
Adams expressed her appreciation for those sponsors and supporters, as well as small businesses in general. But the biggest feather in the event’s cap was someone just a little bit more famous; David Newell, otherwise known as postman Mr. McFeely from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Newell read to the children in attendance before signing autographs and posing for photos. Adams said Newell personalized every autograph and stayed until everyone had gotten a photo.
“He was the epitome of kindness,” Adams said. “Everyone knows Mr. Rogers in some form. I don’t know if he’ll understand the difference it made, him coming.”
Adams said the event went off nearly flawlessly.
“It showed what our community was willing to do to pay it forward,” she said.
Adams said pulling together is especially important these days, with so many issues threatening to tear people apart, if they let them. She said the kindness event was not only a fun evening but also a good example of coming together as a community. And she already is planning to do it again.
“We’re going to go bigger next year,” she said.
To learn more about Fayette County, visit www.FayetteCountyPA.org.
Editor's Note: Photos attached and courtesy of Jennifer Adams
Mr. McFeely - David Newell, also known as Mr. McFeely from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, speaks during a kindness event in Connellsville Feb. 17.
Kindness Event - Newell poses with event organizer Jennifer Adams, founder of Kindness in Connellsville.
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