Humble and Kind

A few months ago, I heard a story on the CBS News that has stayed with me: A mother’s credit card is declined at a grocery store; her kids are with her. The young man behind her in line offers to pay her $200 bill, simply asking her to pay it forward. A couple weeks later, the mom locates where the kind stranger works and speaks to his manager, wanting the manager to know what a generous employee she has. The manager informs the mother that the young man, whose name was Matthew, has died in a car accident. To honor Matthew and his giving spirit, the mother creates a Facebook page, titled MatthewsLegacy, in which people can share everyday stories of kindness. I follow this page and am grateful to read the daily stories, which are a nice respite from the many negative memes on Facebook about presidential candidates or posts about friends unfriending friends because of their political opinions.

No matter your political persuasion, you must admit this seems to be an especially contentious race. Candidates speaking like schoolyard bullies turns my stomach and undoubtedly influences us—the general public—when it comes to what we say and/or how we treat others. I believe this political race is making us mean! Therefore, I’ve been trying to surround myself with stories of kindness and gratitude, like those on MatthewsLegacy, and I’m always striving to create my own kindness stories.

It shouldn’t surprise you then that I was intrigued by a pitch about Dignity Health—a 21-state network of nearly 9,000 physicians, 56,000 employees and more than 400 care centers—whose administrators believe acknowledging people’s “personhood” actually has the power to heal. As such, Dignity Health created the Hello Humankindess campaign, which has become a platform from which the health-care system operates. In fact, Dignity Health actually is building kindness into its existing facilities.

“In the built environment, making hospitals more of a human experience and a human interaction is, in my view, a great deal about what patients see, what they feel, what they touch and what they hear,” explains Jeff Land, Dignity Health’s vice president of Corporate Real Estate. “Those are all environmental factors that we can, to some degree, control or improve.” Read more.

One of the perks of my job is getting to know the design and construction professionals, manufacturers and public-relations experts who make this industry tick. During a typical email conversation with Greg Schmalz, president of Schmalz Communications LLC, Brick, N.J., he told me he is the caregiver for his 89-year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s. This turned into a conversation about Schmalz’s father who was shot five times in one day during World War II. I was fascinated by Schmalz’s stories and kept asking him more questions, recognizing Schmalz’s gratitude for his parents’ sacrifices and his willingness to give back to them now by caring for his mother. Without hesitation, I asked Schmalz to write a blog for retrofit based on our email conversation. His blog isn’t about retrofitting buildings but it is a formidable reminder that we should always be grateful for what we have and appreciative of those who helped us become who we are. Please read Schmalz’s blog and comment.

Finally, if you need a little more kindness inspiration, I suggest you listen to Tim McGraw’s latest hit, “Humble and Kind”. View the video. I leave you with his words: “When those dreams you’ve been dreaming come to you; when the work you put in is realized; let yourself feel the pride but always stay humble and kind.”

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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