From Yellow Umbrellas to Touching Lives One Woman’s Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

Like many women who are working full-time and raising children, Brooke Bennett's life was full. Tired from juggling a busy schedule, she found herself looking for ways to relieve stress and focus on life's good things. So it was no surprise The Worn Out Woman by Dr. Steve Stephens and Alice Gray jumped out at her. She saw the book in the Tillamook County General Hospital gift shop two years ago and the quote "When your life is full and your spirit is empty," called to her.

As secretary in the TCGH administration department and mom to 7-year-old Sydney, Bennett wanted to give to others but lacked time and energy. But when she read the chapter "Yellow Umbrellas," about random acts of kindness, a new passion ignited in her soul. As she read, she felt strongly God was presenting her with a new mission—to touch the lives of others.

Inspired by the chapter, Bennett purchased several umbrellas at the dollar store and kept them in her car. When she saw someone walking in the pouring rain that's so frequent on the Oregon Coast, she stopped and gave an umbrella. She also started to return shopping carts for strangers. (A mom with a baby in her arms was extremely grateful.) Bennett found herself surprised helping strangers brought so much joy.

"Random acts of kindness are something effortless you can do, without a lot of work or commitment to a big project," says Bennett, who enjoys the spontaneity and finds random acts fit perfectly into her day.

"It's good for the soul and good for others," she adds, saying she loves being part of God's surprises for others.

During World Kindness Week November 2007, Bennett challenged her daughter to create her own acts of kindness. Each day they would try something new and in the evening, discuss their experiences. Bennett comments how nice it felt to hear her daughter say, ‘I did a random act of kindness today, Mom!'

And the best part, Bennett found, random acts have an amazing ripple effect on others.

During World Kindness Week, she led a devotional at TCGH, sharing ideas with the staff. "I shared scriptures as well as the health benefits of random acts of kindness," she says, indicating helping others relieves stress and releases endorphins, which aid healing. "And each time you even remember the acts of kindness, the health benefits continue!" she adds.

Bennett's passion inspired TCGH's leadership team to observe Random Acts of Kindness Week, Feb. 11–17. During the week, they celebrated with theme days such as being kind to strangers, to the environment and to co-workers.

"If you're kind, it really can affect a lot of peoples' lives," says Bennett.

"Celebrating Random Acts of Kindness is a beautiful way to exemplify our mission ‘To share God's love by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing,'" states Donna Bechthold, TCGH vice president of patient services. "We hope the ripple effect of kindness will extend into our community."

March 01, 2008 / Adventist Health