Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Painting the Love with The Happy Ladies Club

Kathleen started Reach Out after I was shot.  Combining the human resources of The Happy Ladies Club with her own (self-described)  natural talent for finding and promoting projects, there have been blood drives and food bank visits and today there was Ben's Bells.

Founded by Jeannette Mare and her family after the death of her nearly 3 year old son, Ben, the project promotes kindness in the community as a way of returning the kindnesses the family was shown after Ben's illness and death.

Jeannette is the warmest, funniest, most interesting leader of a non-profit I've ever met.  Her blonde curls announce her presence; her dazzling smile draws you into her heart.  When she thanks you for coming and helping you know that the sentiment originates from deep within her.

What she's created is the most satisfying good deed in town.

Open 5 days a week in a donated building (which housed a saloon during Tucson's formative years), there is no charge to participate.

You walk through the main building, cross the courtyard, gather your supplies and start to work.

How prosaic that sounds as I type it.  The pictures, I hope, show a warmer, deeper side to things.
We are so glad to see one another.

The courtyard is filled with ceramics - pots and tiles and mosaics like the one above of Ben himself.

The main desk is similarly decorated and unattended.
The worker bees really do work.
There are ceramics for sale on the most interesting displays.
 Mini-bells for purchase.
 Reusing the window frames...
 and the uncomfortable chairs as display cases.

And, of course, there are t-shirts.
There are always t-shirts...... right?
We were charged with creating Kindness Coins like these.
The pieces of the bells are made here, too, but that was not our mission today.

 We wouldn't get to create the bells; we were there to paint.
And so, donning our aprons
 we collected the unpainted flowers....
....listened to our instructions
and began to paint.
 Three solid coats on all the surfaces and then some kind of decoration.
 The holes in the center fit nicely on the wooden stakes for drying.
 and they came in handy for painting the bottom and the side while keeping your hands clean.
Hearts and dots and birds for Kindness Coins.
They are tagged with a note that says "Thanks for your kind act" and are designed to be given to someone who does a good deed while you are watching.  They are not kept, but are passed on by the recipient to someone else.
A favorite in schools, I have some just for fun in my real life.
These beauties have positive affirmations inscribed and will soon become bracelets. 
 And here are my contributions. 
One big heart was as much talent as I could muster.
I'm pretty good with the dots, though.
We cleaned our brushes and our water bowls and left the ceramics to fully dry before they went to the kilns.
Our hands were covered in paint and our hearts were smothered in love.
We left for a lovely lunch, holding Ben's mission close.

(All these items can be purchased.... the kindness decals come in all sizes and shapes.... the mini-bells ..... the bracelets... the kindness coins.  Visit the website for details.

Addendum:  4/19/12 Here's a link to a lovely article about the power of finding a bell


  1. How PReCiOuS a cause & what a FuN way to spend the day! <3

  2. I'm still glowing this morning, T'mOm <3

  3. Hi a/b, I have been following your blog for quite a while and I just wanted you to know how amazing of a person you are! You are an incredibly strong person and have been through so much! I look forward everyday to reading your blog. Please take care!

    Maggie J. from Georgia

  4. Hi, Maggie! I love it when denizens introduce themselves. I'll be thinking of you in Georgia when I type tomorrow's post <3

  5. I remember Brian Williams doing a piece on Ben's Bells and how they help people heal. The piece was so moving and the sounds the bells make are beautiful.

    One of things I really liked about the video was that Ben's Bells are all over the country. People find them in random places. Kind of like random acts of kindness. :)

    Thanks for this blog entry today. I will be ordering my own Ben's Bells.

    Megan xxx

  6. That NBC piece was wonderful... it's the randomness that makes it so special <3


Talk back to me! Word Verification is gone!