2017-08-03 / Front Page

STONE-COLD KINDNESS

Seniors join global effort to spread cheer through inspirational rocks
BY TIM RIEL


Cranston resident Mari Megrdichian discovered this painted rock while scaling the cliffs at Beavertail State Park. It says, “Inhale courage, exhale fear.” Cranston resident Mari Megrdichian discovered this painted rock while scaling the cliffs at Beavertail State Park. It says, “Inhale courage, exhale fear.” What began as a somber stroll along the cliffs at Beavertail turned into a cathartic experience for a North Kingstown woman down on her luck.

It was a simple, inspirational message, sprawled across a palm-sized tidal rock painted green. “If you can dream it, you can do it,” it said. On the flipside was a note: “Post a picture and re-hide me to help spread the kindness.” It also directed her to a Facebook page operated by the Friends of the Jamestown Seniors.

“I want to thank you,” the woman posted on the Facebook timeline. “It touched my heart. I needed to see this.”

Nancy Beye, who spearheaded the project, fought back tears as she told the story. “It’s amazing that a simple little rock could mean so much,” she said. “In this day and age, it’s good to make someone smile.”


Cordelia Barnett, 6, found this kindness rock while playing at the North Road playground. It says, “Believe in yourself.” Cordelia and her mother re-hid the stone so another child could discover it. Cordelia Barnett, 6, found this kindness rock while playing at the North Road playground. It says, “Believe in yourself.” Cordelia and her mother re-hid the stone so another child could discover it. Beye, treasurer for the seniors, has scattered scores of rocks throughout town, from Fort Wetherill to Mackerel Cove to Beavertail. The messages are meant to touch the heart. “Seas the day” is written over an ocean with seagulls flying overhead. A lighthouse encourages the finder to “Shine.” “Don’t be crabby” is accompanied by a smiling crustacean.

The Kindness Rock Project was founded by Megan Murphy, a women’s empowerment coach from Cape Cod, Mass., following the divisive inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.


Connecticut resident Rachel Luce with a kindness rock she found in Jamestown. This picture of Luce and the memento was posted on the Friends of the Jamestown Seniors’ Facebook page, It says, “Be the reason someone smiles today.” Connecticut resident Rachel Luce with a kindness rock she found in Jamestown. This picture of Luce and the memento was posted on the Friends of the Jamestown Seniors’ Facebook page, It says, “Be the reason someone smiles today.” “Now more than ever, kindness can become a connecting force of good,” she said. “Many people, including myself, are feeling a sense of overwhelm, unease and restlessness due to the current events taking place in our world today. I believe that our united strength can be cultivated through simple random acts of kindness.”

It has since become a global phenomenon, with Murphy’s website getting hits from Japan to Germany, the equator to the Arctic Sea. How it arrived in Jamestown is simply happenstance.

Patti Pereira, who has lived in the North End for nearly 30 years, was at the Westerly library in early June with her 4-year-old nephew, Issac. On their way out, the boy noticed something colorful on the sidewalk. It was a rock, painted with a picture of a turtle. On the back of the stone was a message to visit “South County Rocks” on Facebook. After visiting the page and learning about the campaign, an inspired Pereira relayed the news to Beye. It wasn’t long before 50 rocks were painted, stashed, found and posted in Jamestown.


Steph Manzotti LaFazia found this rock near the East Ferry waterfront after enjoying a sunny day on the boat. “Great ending to a perfect day,” she wrote on the Friends of the Jamestown Seniors’ Facebook page. Steph Manzotti LaFazia found this rock near the East Ferry waterfront after enjoying a sunny day on the boat. “Great ending to a perfect day,” she wrote on the Friends of the Jamestown Seniors’ Facebook page. According to the women, the rocks are working double-time. Not only are they spreading kindness, but the website plug has been an effective promotional tool for the friends.

“It’s a good way for the seniors to have a Facebook presence,” Pereira said. “We have more than 1,000 likes already.”

Among the discoveries, a British military family posted a picture from the North Road playground. The young daughter of the family was pictured smiling with a rock that said, “Love and kindness go hand in hand.” The picture was accompanied by a message. “Look what we found yesterday while out exploring the surrounds to our new home,” it read. “Thanks for making us feel welcome. We are feeling the Jamestown love already.”

Another woman, Rachel Luce, posted from North Stonington, Conn. The transient rock she found in town said, “Be the reason someone smiles today.”

“Definitely made me smile,” Luce posted.

“It’ll be fun to see how far they’ve traveled,” Pereira said.

Dianne Grippi, an agent at Island Realty, was walking her dog when she came across a rock downtown. Unfortunately, she didn’t have her cell phone. By the time she retrieved the device and returned to the site, it had been collected by someone else. Later that day, however, another stone appeared near her office as she waited for ice cream at Spinnakers.

“Must be my second chance,” she wrote. “I love this idea. Now go find it.”

Another rock was re-hid with a $20 bill underneath it. The finder, however, didn’t pocket the money, instead donating the cash to the senior center.

Beye said creating the rocks is as fun as finding them. It takes about 30 minutes to collect a box filled with flat, smooth rocks, which come from private property along the waterfront. After they’re washed, most of them are painted poolside by Beye, although there have been volunteers, ranging from accomplished artist Coffee Bell to students at the Jamestown Early Learning Center.

Because some finders might keep the rocks or re-hide them in other communities, Beye isn’t sure how many remain scattered around town, but she estimated about 100 rocks.

“It’s so much fun,” she said.

According to the women, the rocks mostly are hidden in plain sight, although they have no way of knowing where they’re re-hid. This curiosity has them checking their Facebook page daily, smiling with anticipation. They also have talked to Deb Hagie town recreation supervisor, about a rock garden at Mackerel Cove. It will be a spot for residents to read rocks, give rocks and take rocks.

“There should be more kindness in the world,” Pereira said. “This has shown that there is plenty in Jamestown.”

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