The Kindness Rocks Project

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Camille Vega at Kindness Rocks Project Image

Suicide Prevention Coordinator Camille Vega, far right, participates in the Kindness Rocks project, as part of the Retention and Support Staff planning retreat.

Bad days can crop up now and then, even for the best of us.

And just when that “one thing” happens that you were hoping and wishing just wouldn’t happen—it does. So, you walk outside and sit in the shade of a thick-leafed maple tree—maybe to ponder the universe.

Then, something near the stones lining the edge of the snapdragon bed catches your attention, and a brightly colored rock seems to be placed there especially for your eyes.

“You do good work,” is written on the most unusual rock. “You belong here.”

This scenario describes the main idea that has brought about a practice of painting words and shapes on rocks to leave as gifts for others. It began in Cape Cod, Massachusetts—The Kindness Rocks Project was founded by Megan Murphy—and now the movement has spread across the nation, including to Truckee Meadows Community College.

One of the local rock-writers is Travis Sharpe, Coordinator of CareerConnect.

“The rock I painted has the words ‘You’re able,’” Sharpe said. “Because I work in the Disability Resource Center, we talk about barriers, so my idea on painting the rock is to focus on your abilities rather than your disabilities.”

Staff members from several TMCC departments took part in a session on Aug. 15 dedicated to creating a collection of multihued stones for placement around the Dandini Campus. This activity was a part of the Retention and Support Staff planning retreat.

  • Student Services
  • Career Center
  • Counseling and Re-Entry Center
  • Disability Resource Center (DRC)
  • Student Life and Development

The Kindness Rocks project is a way for staff members to begin the year with positive intentions to extend goodwill, and support students and colleagues.

“The idea is to paint rocks with good messages and thoughts, and then leave them around campus for others to see,” said Sidney Sullivan, Career Center Manager. “The thought is that someone might see something like ‘You’ve got this’ just when they most need such a sentiment.”

Director of Retention and Support Services Joan Steinman, EdD, agrees.

“We thought this might be a good way to start the semester—kind of a ‘spread positive vibes’ idea,” she said.

The decorated and inspirational rocks may feature simple shapes, such as a heart, or an uplifting quote, hashtag, or song lyric. Around the U.S., the artsy stones have been left in grocery store parking lots, parks, and near paths or sidewalks.

Counselor Cheryl Woehr drew on one of her rocks, “Feed your soul; you are lovable, be courageous.”

“I was going to hide it on campus for someone to find,” she said.

But then she thought about it.

“Our Facilities department does a lot around here to make things look very nice and I wanted them to know we don’t take them for granted,” Woehr said. “I gave it to one of the Facilities staff members who I’ve noticed always has a smile. It’s just a reminder that we are all lovable and need to take care of ourselves.”

It was the right message at the right time.

“He said it made his day,” she added.

More information may be found online at The Kindness Rocks Project. For more information about TMCC’s community project, please contact the Counseling and Re-Entry Center at 775-674-7062.