I have always been driven to help people. This fueled my interest in vulnerable populations. Since college I worked on projects or in positions to help those who are aging and those with developmental disabilities and mental illness. I then found myself called to advocate for children.
Hoping to be a proactive difference-maker I set out on a 15-year career to help abused and neglected children in the child welfare system. I learned a great deal working within and later managing a nonprofit child advocacy agency that assisted the juvenile deprived courts in making life changing decisions about these children and their families.
In 2015 my husband’s job required relocation. By that time, I had grown accustomed to working with our only son, Drew, in coping with bullying type behaviors that he has experienced since kindergarten. As Drew grew older the bullying type behaviors became more frequent and complicated. After another day of uncontrollable weeping and Drew, a fourth grader, saying, “I can’t do this anymore,” it hit me. I have always encouraged Drew to reach out to the kids who are clearly hurting, so I asked if he would be interested in doing something more. He was curious.
I learned very quickly in child advocacy that #KidsWhoNeedTheMostLoveAskForItInTheMostUnlovingWays
and that is what I shared with Drew when he would ask why kids could be so mean. Our combined experiences brought us to the conclusion that getting to know someone #KnowTheirBackStory leads to compassion through understanding. Drew simply asking kids why they were treating him poorly and then asking if he could help would often diffuse the negative behaviors with no other intervention. This also shifted Drew’s position in the situation. By recognizing that the other child is hurting and reaching out to him/her Drew was no longer the victim.
As simple and cliché as it sounds, kindness is most often the key. We recognize that it takes a great deal of courage to be kind, though, especially because it’s not always the cool thing to do. It can also inadvertently make you the target which is another reason it takes such bravery.
In August 2017 we started Come Together with Kindness,
a kindness and anti-bullying initiative.
Now, in 2022, we are excited to transform
Come Together with Kindness into ELF365!
Same kits, same message, same format but with a fresh look
and a very exciting holiday backstory!
We are not perfect.
No one is perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses.
We all make mistakes. Mistakes become lessons.
We are always learning so we must always be kind.
We are not experts at anything, but we want to make a difference!
We will aspire to be our best sELF and
Exemplify Love and Friendship 365 days a year.