Kindness, Community, and Action

by helen on October 1, 2012

This summer I wrote about my 9-year-old daughter’s loss of vision in Don’t Dim My Light.

Thankfully, Sophie’s sight has almost fully recovered in that time.  In the same way as there is no clear answer to why this happened, there is also no clear answer to how it has resolved, and so we continue to follow up with medical practitioners, mindful of the still scarred retina and thankful for the gift of returned vision.

In looking back on this time, there have been many loving gestures and kindnesses shown to us, from friends and family reaching out to us via Facebook, email, or phone to pass on experiences, contacts, recommendations, offers of help, consultations and advice.  All deeply appreciated.

I want to single out one of these experiences to share, as it touched our whole family so deeply.

My niece, Charlotte, an energetic, fun, loquacious 16-year old, when hearing about Sophie’s loss of vision, was so upset she felt moved to do something.

As talented as Charlotte is, she could not single-handedly renew Sophie’s sight.  She could not take away the scar on her retina, and, an ocean away from us in England, she could not even reach out and hug and comfort her cousin in person.

And yet that didn’t stop her from figuring out how she could help.  She knew Sophie was  having a hard time patching her eye – so she handmade beautiful patches and mailed them to us so Sophie could have cool, one-of-a-kind patches, with love in every stitch.

Beautiful, practical, and thoughtful gifts.

And then, as if that was not enough, she took it a step further.  Even though she knew we had medical insurance, she understood that without a National Health Service in the USA (as she has in the UK), and with the second opinions and specialists, there would be a fair amount of out-of-pocket costs to do with Sophie’s medical treatment.

Unbeknownst to us, she set about a sponsored silence to raise money for these costs.

Now when I say Charlotte is loquacious, I am not kidding (Charlotte, you know we love you!!).  She is smart, social, bubbly, chatty and talks a million miles a minute.  And yet, for her cousin, she set up a sponsored silence and gave up talking for 3 whole days.  Her high school classmates, teachers and community sponsored her.

This summer, when she came to stay with us, she presented us with the money collected.  It was several hundred dollars.  By some strange coincidence, it was pretty much the exact amount to cover 4 specialist visits and tests that Sophie had had up to that point.

It touched me to my core and brought tears to my eyes.

I feel such pride for my young niece and her thoughtful and heroic efforts.  She cared so much.  She sent messages, prayers and healing vibes, and she also created opportunities for inspired action.

She engaged her strengths and super-powers, her creativity and kindness, reached out to her community and made something happen.  Something deeply meaningful, something that has etched a groove in our minds and hearts and touched our children deeply.  What an amazing example and mentor.

In this ever busy, multi-tasking, crazy-paced world we often find ourselves in, there is always, ALWAYS, room for more kindness, creativity, community and inspired action.

Currently, two of our extended family, my sister-in-law’s mother and my husband’s cousin, are in hospital with serious injuries from motor vehicle accidents.  I have been awed and inspired by the 2 sets of communities stepping into action – cooking, delivering food, organizing support, helping with car pooling, sending prayers, being there for the immediate family.

When there a people facing challenges around us, we often ask “what can I do to help?”

However, many of us when in tough or traumatic situations don’t know how to ask for what we need, or don’t know what to ask for, or feel like we can’t ask, or that we can soldier on alone.  Sometimes the offerers of help don’t want to intrude, or mean to do something and get tied up in their own busy lives.

It’s such a gift when you are in need and someone assesses your situation and out of love and care figures out a solution that could help.  And then acts upon it.

It’s changed the way I think for those around me facing challenges.  I’m more likely to research what may be needed and rather than offer help and wait to be asked.  If appropriate, help can then be surreptitiously delivered – a food delivery or hot dinner here, an inspirational card or book there, a call, some yard work.

Wholehearted intentions grounded in kindness, community and action.

Simple gifts we can all bestow.

Grace in action.

Is there someone in your world that could use some acts of kindness? Could it be you?

I welcome hearing from you in the comments below.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana Frost October 1, 2012 at 10:33 am

Im deeply touched by Charlotte’s kindness and inspired action.
W O W She is changing lives!
I’m thankful you shared this very personal story.
We need each other…let us never forget our kindness changes the world one person at a time.
We are woven together, the fabric of humanity.


helen October 1, 2012 at 10:45 am

Dearest Dana, Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, Charlotte is awesome. And while we’re on the topic of awesome, your kindness has touched my life deeply, and I love your words ‘woven together, the fabric of humanity’. Love, Helen

David Harrington January 16, 2013 at 10:45 am


I was just checking out your site and read your entries about Sophie’s vision problems. I was unaware while it was going on, but was pleased to see it has resolved itself so well. Charlotte’s actions were inspiring. I find it amazing when someone, particularly as young as Charlotte, takes such a proactive part in helping. Coming up with the custom eye patches to help Sophie and raising funds to help with expenses were great ways to show her love and concern. What a blessing!


helen January 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Hi David, thanks so much for your comment. Yes, I’m one lucky Mom and Aunt – Charlotte is quite a girl and I’m so thankful for Sophie’s recovery and the kindness that surrounded us at this time.

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