I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that. – Ellen DeGeneres
If you ask Erin Toberman, it doesn’t cost anything to be kind and that act of kindness has a ripple effect on the entire community.
“I think that anything anyone can do every single day that is kind and selfless and generous, makes everything better,” she said. “I believe I am pro kindness more than I am anti anything. When you give your time and attention to something, that gives it power and that is positive.”
Erin not only talks the talk but walks the walk of kindness. Last May, she launched the Galveston Kindness Project (GKP) along with her son, Nathan, a sixth-grader at Trinity Episcopal School in Galveston.
The idea for the project came about after Nathan, 11, was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic disorder characterized by easily broken bones. He has to wear a back brace to treat Scoliosis, or curvature of his spine.
“That’s very burdening for a (then) 10 year old,” said Erin, a full-time mother and community volunteer. “We started this group called ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ with his classmates. It’s derived from the kindness and the love of Nathan’s friends after he was diagnosed and needed to wear a brace.”
Rather than let the diagnosis get him down, Nathan took the opposite path, using the project as a springboard to help others through kindness. In June, the group erected a Kindness Tree at MOD Coffee Shop, 2126 Postoffice.
The tree’s ornaments are paper notes from supporters with their thoughts about being nice and kind. Among the notes: Show concern for others, compliment people, find the best in everyone, and “Everybody has a story so be kind to one another.”
The nonprofit Galveston Kindness Project has embarked on some cool and innovative ways to show kindness. The group goes on outings with burn victims at Ronald McDonald House, they create art, sell T-shirts and even receive a portion of the sales of Kindness Ice Cream sold at Hey Mickey’s Ice Cream at 2120 Postoffice.
Spending time with the Ronald McDonald kids is reassuring because they all share the burden of having medical conditions, Erin said.
“Nathan has to wear a back brace all the time, but he doesn’t let that define him,” she said. “He focuses on helping others. I believe that children make really good decisions on behalf of other children when given the opportunity and the resources. Children always live up to our expectations.
Another new GKP initiative is KindnessRocks!, rocks that kids paint and distribute from Clay Cup Studios, a local interactive art studio at 409 22nd St. in the heart of Galveston's Historic District.
The Galveston Kindness Project is also participating in #SOCKTOBER. Drop off a pair of new child- or adult-sized socks through the month of October, and the items will be donated to victims of Hurricane Matthew in South Carolina.
Keep your eyes open for the upcoming community #C2BK Kindness mural which will be located across the trolley tracks on Postoffice Street. For more details, contact the Galveston Kindness Project through their Facebook page, stop by Clay Cup Studios or call Erin at 281-468-0818.
Photo: KindnessRocks! made with the KindnessKrewe and the guests at the Ronald McDonald House of Galveston