Eavesdropping Saves the Day

I wish I could stop eavesdropping. Honestly, I don’t intend to listen in on the conversations around me, but sometimes I feel like it’s unavoidable.

Since eavesdropping falls somewhere along the same lines as gossiping in my book, I find myself either moving away from the people talking or joining in their conversation.

I justify my verbal leap into something that is none of my business with the rationale that what they are talking about could really use a third-party opinion: Mine. Like at the grocery store when I overhear people talking about which cheese is the tastiest on crackers. Or at the coffee shop when I overhear someone ask which dessert is the most pleasing to a chocoholic. Or, like several weeks ago at the gym, when people were trying to figure out who to put in their Sweet 16 bracket. BISON, Baby! Oops. Maybe I should have stayed out of that conversation.

Sometimes it’s better to stay out of the way, and sometimes we need to invite ourselves into someone else’s life. I got a letter from a woman who was in the right place at the right time to jump in and save the day with her act of kindness by eavesdropping.

“I was standing behind two brothers while waiting to renew my driver’s license. One had driven the other from north of Fargo to Valley City to take the test because his new job depended on getting his license after going without one a few years because of a previous debilitating accident.

“One brother had even taken the day off work to drive the other. They came to Valley City because there was a longer wait to get an appointment in Fargo, and the job depended on the license.

“But there was a problem. In order to take the test, everything on your car had to work, and their horn didn’t. They even went downtown to a mechanic. It would honk when they had the hood up, but no way would it honk from the inside. Overhearing their dilemma, I asked the tester, ‘Does it have to be their car?’

“ ‘No, just any car with everything working.’

“So, 20 minutes later, the new license holder came back into the office smiling, ‘Thanks for letting me use your car!’

“It still makes me feel good thinking about it!”

Now that’s one conversation I’m sure those two brothers were thrilled to have had overheard and interrupted!

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

 


 

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

Is Kindness Your First Reaction?

A few years ago, my friend John was driving his brand new minivan when someone barreled into him.

John’s first reaction was anger, but before he even let go of the steering wheel, something else took over: compassion.

Somehow, John knew the man in the truck who had just hit him was hurting. Emotionally hurting.

Instead of getting out of that shiny, now-dented, minivan, stomping over to the other driver and screaming, “What were you thinking?” John simply got out of his truck, walked over to the man and said, “Are you OK? What’s going on with you?”

The man replied, “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t even be driving. I buried my wife yesterday.”

John took the man aside. “This accident is nothing compared to what you are going through. Can I pray for you?”

The two men had a long, meaningful conversation, and both left with more peace than before the accident.

Now, when John gets into his minivan, he remembers the day when anger and accusations were erased by kindness and understanding.

Tracie Overmoe of Moorhead sent me the following letter, explaining how kindness showed up at the scene of her accident, too.

“Nicole, I was waiting to merge into traffic and was suddenly rear-ended. The driver of the other vehicle immediately apologized and admitted it was his fault. I was not hurt but very sore and shook up.

“The driver gave my husband his card and told him to get me a rental car and charge it to him instead of waiting for the insurance. I thought that was odd and wondered if he would really cover the cost. He did.

“God has a funny way of providing for us at times. We had been having some engine problems with our old car, and things were very tight financially. We were limping by hoping our vehicle would hold out until we could get a new one. Since the car was totaled in the accident, we were able to use the insurance money to get a different one.

“A few weeks after the accident, I got a letter in the mail from the other driver. It was a very kind letter of apology and included a generous gift card to a very nice restaurant in downtown Fargo and two movie tickets with popcorn. I had opened the letter in my driveway that morning and was in tears as I read his words and saw his generous gift.

“This was so unexpected and so out of character for how most people would act in a similar situation. I still get choked up when I think about this man’s selfless generosity.

“I hope someday I can pay this forward to someone, not in a car accident, but just by doing something so unexpected, so kind, that comes at a perfect time in someone’s life to provide the same kind of humble joy we have experienced.”

Thank you, John and Tracie, for allowing me to share your stories. Every once in a while, we need to make a snap decision. Will we give in to the emotions that so desperately want to come spewing from our bodies, or will we stop, take a breath and choose to walk in kindness?

 


 

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

Kindness Feeds the Soul

No matter who picks up the tab, giver and receiver feel kindness.

Do you ever think to yourself, “I’m always nice to people, but I really don’t have the time, energy, money or (fill-in-the-blank) to go around doing random acts of kindness?”

I used to think that way. I used to think the inconvenience of doing an act of kindness just wouldn’t be worth the reward.

Well, I was wrong. The opportunity to be kind is everywhere. You just have to slow down enough to see it, hear it and seize it. And the reward is definitely worth the effort.

A very kind-hearted columnist, Kathy Tofflemire, from The Forum, sent me this first letter:

“Tonight, when I left to go on my supper break, I stopped at the post office and then went to Mom’s Diner to grab a bite since it was close by.

“Just as I was finishing my meal, an older gentleman came in. He was obviously a regular; the manager greeted him and asked how he was. The man said, ‘I have a secret, if you promise not to tell anyone. It’s my birthday.’

“I got up and put on my coat, then said to him: ‘He didn’t tell anyone, but Happy Birthday.’ He seemed genuinely pleased, put out his hand and asked me my name. I said ‘Kathy.’ He said he hoped to see me there again.

“I was driving back to The Forum and thought about how sad it was that the man was eating alone on his birthday. When I got back to the office, I called the restaurant and told the manager I wanted to buy the gentleman his dinner. We made the necessary arrangements and it gave me such a good feeling.”

If that’s not heart-warming enough, I also got this letter from a woman named Dori, who told me what happened when her dinner date got a third wheel.

“On Valentine’s evening my husband and I were at Cow Gals restaurant in Great Bend, N.D., having dinner.

“In came a younger man and asked if he could sit at our table. It was a table for eight, and it was only the two of us, so we said, ‘Of course.’

“He remarked that today was our lucky day and we agreed. We are 69 and 70, and we have been married a year and a half. We feel blessed to have each other.

“Thinking no more about it we went on with our dinner. He got up to leave before us. Then the man returned and said, ‘Remember when I told you it was your lucky day? I paid for your dinner. Have a great evening!’

“We did not get his name, but his kindness will be remembered for a long time, and we continue to share this story with friends and family.

“I will never go by Cow Gals again without remembering that special night. We hope he will see this article and know we are grateful and will pay it forward.”

It is so much fun to have someone surprise you by picking up the tab, but I promise you, the feeling you get from being the one who recognized and seized the chance to be kind is an even better feeling by far.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

 


 

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

Angels Take Time to Lend a Hand

They say you shouldn’t borrow trouble from tomorrow, because today has enough worries of its own. I say you shouldn’t borrow trouble from tomorrow, because if trouble comes, so will an angel, who is just waiting for an opportunity to lend a helping hand.

I received two letters recently from people who got to witness the beauty of angels in action.

“I was driving home today behind a MAT bus. I had thought about going around, as several cars ahead of me had done, but the driver turned on his signal, so I waited … and waited.

“I assumed someone was running for the bus, or that someone had just realized they were at their stop. We were at an intersection, and I noticed a car sitting at the stop sign to our right.

“The young lady driving the car hopped out, waved to the bus, and ran in front of it. I edged over to see what was going on. A woman in a wheelchair had gotten off the bus, but her chair was stuck in the snow.

“The young lady freed the woman from the snow and waved the bus on. I stopped and waited, as did the traffic coming from the other direction, as the young lady helped the woman in the wheelchair cross the street.”

– Karen, Fargo

 

“Nicole, my 77-year-old mom from Hope, N.D., made plans to see her kids on the West Coast this winter: Her daughter and two grandkids in California, her granddaughter and first grandson in Colorado, her oldest son in Seattle, who has terminal cancer, and lastly, her brother and sister-in-law in Arizona. Unexpected changes in health for her son and brother caused a number of flight changes for my mom.

“She was very nervous about the airline change in Phoenix, but first she had to make a connection in Denver. When she got on the plane, my mom was seated next to a very chatty lady named Ann.

“Ann was supposed to be seated elsewhere, but a father and son wanted to sit together so Ann ended up next to my mom. I was so happy when my mom said Ann was talkative because it seems like most people flying today don’t want to talk at all (I’m guilty of this too).

“They visited the whole trip. Mom expressed to Ann her nervousness and Ann told my mom that she would help get her luggage at the baggage claim. She also explained to my mom how the boarding process works for Southwest – different from other airlines. From there, Ann walked with my mom to baggage claim and helped her get her bags.

“Ann then took my mom to the shuttle that would take her to Terminal 4, where her flight would depart. Ann asked the shuttle driver to make sure my mom knew when he arrived at that terminal and to please help her with her luggage.

“Ann gave my mom a hug. The driver did as Ann asked and my mom safely made her way to terminal 4, boarded Southwest and flew to California.

“I wish I knew Ann’s last name (my mom thought she was from Wisconsin). I would like to thank her for everything, from taking the time to talk to a nervous grandma to going above and beyond anything I could have imagined.”

– Sandy Trautmann, Larimore, N.D.

Thank you, Karen and Sandy, for sharing your stories of angels in action.

We can live our lives worrying about how we are going to get from Point A to Point B, or we can trust that we have deposited enough kindness into this world that some of it is bound to bounce back to us just when we need it.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

 


 

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.

Help One Young Boy Feel Not So Alone

Sometimes I feel small. When I hear about huge problems like human trafficking, child abuse and global hunger, I just feel small. Those problems are like giants, they are huge. What could I possibly do that would even make a drop in the bucket?

Maybe you feel the same way. But what if we all put our one single tiny little drop in the bucket? Eventually we’d have a full bucket. Eventually we’d gain some ground, build some momentum and perhaps even convince others to join our cause.

That cause doesn’t have to be about something massive like ending poverty. It could be just about shining light into the lives of people who feel like they are all alone.

That’s what is happening for a Michigan boy named Colin. Thanks to social media, his mom has been able to collect all of those tiny little drops of kindness and assemble them into the best birthday celebration ever. Here’s what she posted on Facebook:

“I am Colin’s mom, I created this page for my amazing, wonderful, challenging son who is about to turn 11 on March 9th. Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don’t like him.

“So when I asked him if he wanted a party for his birthday, he said there wasn’t a point because he has no friends. He eats lunch alone in the office every day because no one will let him sit with them, and rather than force someone to be unhappy with his presence, he sits alone in the office.

“So I thought, if I could create a page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words, that would be better than any birthday party. Please join me in making my very original son feel special on his day.”

I first heard about the “Happy Birthday Colin” Facebook page on a national radio station. At last count, nearly 3,700 people have “liked” the page. Within 24 hours of his mother’s post, nearly 700 people had added a message of encouragement.

We can’t change the experience a young boy in Michigan is having at school, but we can help him to know he’s not alone in feeling alone.

Fighting world problems isn’t always about one individual standing up and taking charge. Sometimes it’s about the collective effort of all of us striving to change the world, simply by being kind.

You can wish Colin a Happy 11th Birthday at www.facebook.com/

Coliniseleven.

 


Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

 

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

Everyday Kindness

My email inbox is usually filled with letters of happiness, but I got one not too long ago that broke my heart.

This poor woman, Hilary, had dealt with loss after loss, and yet she was writing to tell me about all of the kindness she was able to experience through her difficulties.

I read the email to my husband who had a much different take on it than I did. I’ll let you read the letter and then tell you what my husband said.

“Dear Nicole, Feb. 18, 2013, was the worst day of my life. Six months after the death of my mother, my brother, Sean, and I were helping care for our father during his final illness. He eventually died of cancer. My brother, to whom my father had left his small business, attended a national conference the next week.

“On Feb. 18, Sean, his partner, Judy, and my then-16-year-old nephew were driving from Minnetonka to attend Dad’s funeral.

“Just west of Barnesville, they were involved in a horrible accident that killed Sean and Judy and left my nephew with life-threatening injuries.

“Family had assembled at the church an hour before the scheduled funeral service; we knew my brother had a long drive and initially weren’t concerned by his absence. Many of the other attendees, however, exclaimed about the road conditions, and neither Sean nor Judy responded to our increasingly urgent calls and text messages.

“After the service, we were unable to focus on the kind wishes of funeral attendees, and explained our distress to the pastor. He and Michele Walloch of Boulger Funeral Home immediately set about making phone calls. Within 15 minutes, troopers arrived at the church with the agonizing news.

“A year later, the days surrounding my father’s death are both a foggy blur and achingly immediate. There are so many people who were kind and helpful – my family and I are grateful first to Pastor Josh Schunk and Walloch, who responded to our confusion and pleas for help with calm efficiency.

“The troopers who came to confirm the news were patient, professional and compassionate, helping us sort out whom to contact and how. We are especially grateful to Lt. Brian Cheney, who called to check on us and visited my nephew in the hospital.

“My nephew received diligent care at the accident site and was quickly transported to Sanford Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit, where staff treated him and us with care and respect. The nurses always took time to respond to our concerns and questions, and made us feel part of a team.

“The first responders in Barnesville retrieved personal belongings from Judy’s car so family members could avoid seeing it.

“Ryan Erdman was working on a Minnesota Department of Transportation team along the area of Interstate 94 where my brother’s accident happened and stumbled across Sean’s wallet. Not only did he return the wallet, but it arrived – grubby and salt-encrusted – complete with the $100 bill my brother had apparently tucked behind his license.

“In the midst of everything else, I just couldn’t manage organizing my brother’s funeral. Judy’s sister and brother-in-law, Jean and Mark Sabre, graciously included us in their beautiful celebration.

“Friends and old teammates of my brother traveled from as far away as California and Paris, and related wonderful (and appalling) stories of team hijinks.

“Staff from Hospice of the Red River Valley who had made it possible for my father to spend his last days at home stayed in contact. My dad’s friends and colleagues wrote, called, visited and delivered meals. Members of the community, from the woman at the office supply store who scanned funeral documents for me, to the staff at my father’s credit union, expressed their condolences, and months after the accident, remembered to ask after my nephew’s recovery.

“Most of all, my father’s widow, Ann Braaten, and all her family embraced us with such affection and comfort that we never felt alone.

“Now, a year later, my husband and I have left Fairfax County, Va., after living there for over 25 years, and own a home in Moorhead. When we tell people the news, they often respond aghast, ‘Why? It’s so cold there!’

“Well, right now it is cold outside. But there’s plenty of warmth if you need it.”

I read that letter, to my husband, who said, “Honey, it’s sad and touching, but it’s not about kindness. Those people were just doing their jobs.”

I thought for a moment before I answered him. Kindness doesn’t have to happen on a mission field or by emptying your bank account. Kindness can happen right where you are, doing just what you do, but by doing it with love. Every action taken, when done with love, matters.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

90 Acts of Kindness

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I would like to share with you something really neat that’s been happening in the Fargo-Moorhead area this past month.

Gate City Bank is getting ready to open a new branch in West Fargo, and to celebrate, the business has challenged it’s employees to live up to the company motto, “For a better way of life.”

The month of February has been dedicated to showering the community in kindness. Ninety acts of kindness to be specific, one for every year of business.

It sounds like a cool project, but sometimes when an edict is handed down from a boss, it has a way of losing its appeal.

I wanted to get to the heart of the matter and hear what the employees really thought about this assignment, so I started popping into various Gate City Bank branches and subtly asking what this kindness project is all about.

All of the acts of kindness are listed on the company’s website, but I can tell you, it was way more fun to hear about them from the people who actually did them.

An employee at the branch near 25th Street and 32nd Avenue South in Fargo told me with a big smile about how the employees got to buy their mail carrier lunch at Erbert & Gerbert’s. Then he told me how fun it was to surprise the nearby fire department with a platter of sandwiches.

At the Gate City Bank on Broadway in north Fargo, I was especially touched when an employee told me how this project goes right along with what her family practices in their home. Her husband, who is battling a serious illness, makes a conscious effort to do regular random acts of kindness because it makes him feel better mentally and physically.

Shoppers have been left speechless at grocery stores and coffee shops when they are handed gift cards from bank employees.

One waitress in West Fargo was almost brought to tears by a very generous tip thanks to the 90 Acts of Kindness Project.

But even in the banking business, not everything has to do with money. Employees have volunteered their time at a horse rescue ranch and a cat shelter, carried a woman’s groceries to her car, and even pumped gas for someone while the driver got to stay nice and warm.

Each recipient of a random act receives a card labeled with the act number and an invitation to the Veterans Boulevard West Fargo Grand Opening, which starts Monday and runs through Friday.

Events are planned at that location all week long, everything from meeting Thundar and the new Bison football coach to an FM Opera Young Artists performance. At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the final 90th act of kindness will be presented.

These acts are all over the board, they don’t follow a certain mold, but they all point to the same principle: When we lead with kindness, we create a better way of life.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

Random Act of Kindness Day

Did you know there is a Carrot Cake Day? Yep. It was Feb. 3. There is also Hedgehog Day (not to be confused with Groundhog Day), Homemade Soup Day, and my personal favorite, Gumdrop Day, which happens to be today.

Once you have those on your calendar, I hope you’ll add just one more: Monday is Random Acts of Kindness Day. It is a day specifically set aside to make random kindness completely intentional.

In an email from a reader named Harvey Laabs, I was once again reminded that an act of kindness, however quick, spontaneous, or cost effective is still vital to the health and happiness of our community.

“Hello Nicole! Last April, I was out doing an eight-mile training run. I had signed up for the Fargo Half Marathon, my third consecutive one. That year was my first one in the 70-74 year age group.

“It isn’t even that I like running all that much, but signing up for the half and doing the required training was a great motivator to keep in shape.

“On that Saturday, I was about five miles into my run and feeling a bit tired. … Then, while running on 17th Avenue West in West Fargo, an SUV pulled up alongside me and slowed down. As it came even with me, the passenger’s window went down, and I could see two teenaged boys in the vehicle. The one in the passenger seat put out his hand, holding all fingers up in the air, and shouted, ‘High Five!’ I reached over and slapped his hand, he replied with ‘Have a great day!’ and off they went.

“I’m quite sure that doing this cost them no more than 10 seconds. Their motive for doing this could only have been to lift the spirits of this old man lumbering along the street. And it worked!

“This very short, brief act of kindness made the remaining three miles a whole lot easier than it would have otherwise been.

“I can’t even guess how many times I have repeated this story to myself as well as friends and family. The two young men might not even realize what a big impact their brief act of kindness had on me.”

It was quick, spontaneous and free. I hope you can find a way to brighten someone’s day today, tomorrow and especially Monday as we work together to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness in our community.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

Maddie’s Mission

There is a gas station attached to a coffee shop in north Fargo where I like to write. It’s warm, it smells like java and fresh muffins, and there is just enough background noise to keep me on task.

The other day when I walked in, I noticed a man sitting at a table. He didn’t have anything to eat or drink in front of him. He was just sitting there. His hair was long, and his face was worn. He had seen the harder side of life.

I thought to myself how kind it was for the managers to let him sit there without buying anything. But then I thought about how uncomfortable I would feel if I were the one sitting there, hearing my stomach rumble and knowing someone was doing me a favor by letting me warm up before it was time to go back into the cold.

I walked over and asked the man if I could buy him a coffee. I’ll be honest, it was scary talking to a homeless man. I’m not sure I’d ever done it before, and I wasn’t sure the reaction I would get. But when he looked up at me, in his eyes, I saw my maker. I can’t explain it really; I can just say that when he accepted the coffee and a little breakfast, too, I had to accept a hard truth about myself: I’m sometimes afraid of the people who need me the most.

I was humbled and inspired to learn about a little girl named Maddie, who at 7 years old, is already serving those who often have the least. Her mom, Kandia, shared this story of how Maddie’s Mission came to be:

“This all started for Maddie when we were driving to do errands and she saw a person walking without the appropriate clothing for winter. The wind chill was 20 degrees below zero. The person didn’t have a hat, scarf or gloves and was obviously very cold.

“When we got to the store, Maddie saw a box of handwarmers and insisted that we buy them to give out to homeless people we come across in our daily life.

“From that point, everything just sort of snowballed in that little 7-year-old mind, and she ended up coming up with this idea for what she calls ‘Stay Warm Packs.’ ”

“Maddie fills gallon-size zip-top bags with some of the essentials for survival in winter and gives them to homeless individuals. She spent her entire Christmas break making these, taking time to write a message on each one and drawing a cheery picture on the bag for the person receiving them.

“The packs have winter hats, handmade scarves, a box of matches to start campfires, Chapstick, a new pair of socks, a pack of tissues, sports drink mixes, hot chocolate mix (because her little mind rationalized that you can melt snow over your campfire and make hot chocolate), a package of handwarmers, and most recently she has been adding gloves when she can.

“It started out as a simple project that was going to be a one-time thing. Maddie made up 24 little bags and we went to the homeless health clinic to hand them out. While we were there, Maddie got a supportive donation that allowed her to continue her mission.

“When Maddie asked about spreading the awareness of homelessness, we took to social media and started a Facebook page called ‘Maddie’s Mission.’ She posts her activity on there fairly regularly and has me post some awareness things we come across.

“She beams ear to ear when she sees the comments on Facebook. You can just tell the support helps boost her feeling that what she is doing is indeed good and the right thing to do.

“With the support of people on her Facebook page and in the community, she has continued her project and has made it her mission to help as many homeless individuals as she can to survive and stay warm this winter.

“In total, she has made and distributed almost 100 ‘Stay Warm Packs.’ She has also started collecting hooded sweatshirts and winter coats to take to the Gladys Ray Shelter. She always tells me, I may be little but that doesn’t mean I can’t help.”

Thank you, Maddie, for being big enough to show the people around you what it means to truly love your neighbor.

Join Maddie in helping the homeless at www.facebook.com/maddiesmission2013.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

Kindness Through Voicemail

I have a strict personal voicemail system. I keep messages on my phone until I make the decision to a) call the person back or b) ignore the person.

Yep, that’s the kindness lady just being honest. Tell me you don’t do the same thing!

There is one message that has been sitting in my voice mailbox since Dec. 5, 2012. Yes, it’s been more than a year. You see, this message falls into another category: kindness.

Let me set the scene: I had been serving as the volunteer executive director for Diva Connection Foundation (now Women’s Impact) for more than a year. I had just worked my tail off writing a grant proposal. The people in charge of giving out the grant money drove to Fargo from Minneapolis to talk with us in person and learn more about the organization. I was psyched. We were incredibly close to taking the nonprofit to a whole new level.

Then the bad news came. We had not been chosen. There would be no money to further our mission, just more blood, sweat and tears as we passionately worked to empower the women in our midst to become leaders in our community.

I was devastated.

That’s when I got a call from Pat Traynor. He runs Dakota Medical Foundation and Impact Foundation and was instrumental in getting us off the ground. I heard the phone ring, I knew it was him, and I was too sad to answer.

Here’s the message he left on my voicemail:

“Hey, I thought you guys did a great job. I just want you to know, just because a foundation doesn’t want to fund you yet doesn’t mean that you aren’t on to something spectacular and that you haven’t done an outstanding job. I just want to tell you that I care. I think you’ve done an outstanding job, and I think you’re a world-class, first-class, top-grade, wonderful and awesome individual. Keep up the great work! I’m proud of you!”

This Fargo man I greatly respect took 33 seconds out of his day to call me, and the words he said meant so much that I haven’t been able to let them go.

Your words have power. You have the ability to show great kindness by using those words to lift up the people around you. It costs you nothing and takes less than a minute of your time.

Just in case you are the one who could use some encouraging words today, let me say: You are a world-class, first-class, top-grade, wonderful, awesome individual. Keep up the great work! I’m proud of you!

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.