One simple act can make a difference in somebody's life. That message is at the center of both the Random Acts of Kindness Newton group and the Kindness Rocks initiative that has been spreading across the country this year.
Given the similar mission behind both, the upcoming Kindness Rocks painting party is a seemingly inevitable melding of the two ideas — something group founder Marcy Renollet sees as a chance to reinforce that mentality through the event, which will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 16 at Norm's Coffee Bar (613 N. Main St., Newton).
"It is just trying to get the message out there that it's the small things that matter. There's a lot of data out there about how random acts of kindness and just small deeds can really improve someone's mental health," Renollet said. "It decreases depression; it just does all kinds of things, so just something as simple as finding a rock with a painted message on it — or just a nice picture — is an inexpensive, easy way to just, hopefully, brighten somebody's day."
The painting party is an idea that evolved from discussion between Renollet and her sister (and group co-founder), Janel Rogers. Renollet noted she had heard of the initiative through her work, at Via Christi in Wichita, from a nurse who had painted a rock with her son and hid it on campus. Later, a patient found it and placed it on display in their room.
Seeing the positivity and connection it brought to the campus, the Kindness Rocks initiative seemed to sync perfectly with the ideals of the RAK Newton group, as Renollet noted it was started to foster more positivity on social media and bring people closer together.
"We started with that and then we've just been trying to think of different things that we can do within the Random Acts of Kindness group to, kind of, provide a sense of community," Renollet said.
Part of that is to help build up local businesses, which the group targeted through its first effort — partnering with Salted Creamery to offer discounts on ice cream on a certain day. In hosting the Kindness Rocks painting party at Norm's, Renollet hopes to achieve something similar.
As easy as it is to tear down, the RAK Newton group is looking to build others up and foster a stronger bond around the community, one supportive act or word of encouragement at a time.
"In our political climate right now, that's sorely lacking," Renollet said. "A goal would be to have more people appreciate and pass on some positive messages to each other."
Having the support from businesses like Norm's, which has opened up its space for the event, helps foster that positive reinforcement, as does the donation of rocks from Newton Rock and Mulch and the painting supplies Renollet said are being donated by some individuals.
For Renollet, a Newton native, staying connected to her hometown is important and she is hoping to pass that on through the event at Norm's. Already, there is talk of spreading those efforts through an after-school event targeted at students. The interest Renollet has already seen is something she is excited about and chalks up to people being "hungry to see good news and good, simple things."
Additional information on the Sept. 16 event can be found on the RAK Newton Facebook page.