We live in a world where it seems more common to hear someone put down another person than to hear someone compliment another. This heartwarming story reminds us that little acts of kindness can truly make the world a happier place!
He quickly turned his head around to get a better look at what was hanging in the window. He moved very carefully, knowing what could happen if he made one wrong move on the beam, and not wanting to plunge into the pavement 30 feet below. When he saw what was written in the window, though, that’s exactly what almost happened.
The 88-year-old woman, Gloria Porter, lived in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and she was having a tough week. She sighed as she stared out of her third-story window. Pneumonia is always serious, but it can quickly become fatal for a person her age. Even though her kids and grandkids visited her every day, as soon as they left the silence became entirely too loud again.
No one enjoys spending time in a hospital. You’re being poked and prodded, the food isn’t the greatest, and you miss the company of your loved ones. Gloria was having a horrible week, but she would soon find a reason to smile again!
Winter was creeping into Pennsylvania and Gloria knew it in her bones. Winter had its grasp on the city, creeping underneath doors and windows. Gloria spent her days staring out of the window and watching the leaves fall to the ground. Far below, Gloria could see people tuck their chins into their coats, moving quickly to get out of the cold. All of a sudden, her everyday window gazing routine was broken by something new.
Early one morning, Gloria heard the clanging of metal and noticed a flicker of orange on the wall of her hospital room. She was the curious type, so she wanted to see what was going on. Gloria carefully left her bed and walked up to the window. The orange sparks that were raining down from above created an awe-inspiring arc. Gloria was instantly memorized.
Gloria had spent the entire week being bored, and now she finally had something fascinating happening right outside of her window. She intently watched the ironworkers reconstruct the entryway of the Excela Frick Hospital. She noticed that they were high up on the scaffolding and she became worried for them. She certainly had reason to worry, too.
Gloria continued to watch the workers as they shaped the enormous steel structure until one of the ironworkers looked into her window and locked eyes with Gloria. The man slowly waved his hand and waved in Gloria’s direction. She was amused. Gloria had spent so much time alone on the third floor, that it felt nice to be recognized. Suddenly, the man disappeared.
Jeff Reick had been working as an ironworker for many years. He loved the way the metal could bend in his hands to become something entirely different. Jeff worked 100 feet off of the ground, so he understood the hazards of his occupation. In fact, he had seen the dangers of ironworking first-hand.
Jeff’s heart melted when he noticed the old woman staring out at him from her window. She seemed so lonely. Jeff’s grandmother passed away when he was in his twenties, and Gloria reminded him of her. He wasn’t exactly sure why, but he began to worry about Gloria as she stood by the window alone every day.
Jeff quickly made his way down the ladder and was able to find some chalk hidden in his toolbox. He immediately climbed back up to the scaffolding to place himself in line with the window Gloria was behind. When Gloria looked back up and saw the message that Jeff had written for her. She immediately began to cry.
Jeff had used the chalk to write “GET WELL” on the horizontal metal bar. It touched Gloria’s heart. Even though it was such a simple gesture, it meant a lot to Gloria. She wanted to write a message of her own for Jeff, so she called the nurse on duty and asked for help. When Jeff saw it, he began to feel emotional, as well.
On a large piece of white paper, Gloria wrote two words and placed it in front of the window. A soon as Jeff saw what Gloria wrote, his heart began to ache. How was it possible that this woman knew the lingo of an ironworker? Gloria had written “STAY SAFE” on the white paper, and Jeff’s crew needed to hear those words on that particular day.
It’s often easier to avoid going out of your way to make another person smile. Well, at least that’s the mentality of many people in the world. But Jeff and Gloria certainly knew that being kind is a better strategy to achieve happiness in their lives.
The weather during the winter months made Jeff’s job exceptionally dangerous. It was hard enough to pay attention to his footing when the weather conditions were nice, but the icy and wet conditions of winter made the bar they walk on extremely slippery. The workers had to be cautious at all times.
Jeff was so moved about the concern Gloria showed for their safety that he posted pictures of the exchange on Facebook. But when he did so, he never expected the reaction that he received. The local news quickly picked up the story, which inspired people to create acts of kindness of their own all over the country.
Gloria was given permission from her doctors to leave the hospital a few days after she and Jeff exchanged messages with one another. But she had no clue that her interaction with Jeff was gaining attention from people all over the world. That was when a woman showed up at the hospital, carrying a note.
The woman had seen Gloria’s story on the news, and people all over Pennsylvania were catching on to the trend of showing a complete stranger a random act of kindness. The note the woman was carrying was for the ironworkers and contained the message: “Your random act of kindness melted my heart!! Enjoy!! Have some pizza on me!!”
It’s safe to say that those workers didn’t expect such a nice gesture when they woke up for work that day. Acts of kindness can turn into a ripple effect, and because of Jeff’s kindness, the whole crew got a warm meal for lunch that day.
Jeff and his crew were completely taken by surprise when they opened the envelope. Inside of it was enough money for all of them to get some lunch! Jeff couldn’t believe how much the city obviously cared about their safety and wellbeing. And this just proves that a little bit of kindness can go a long way!
Jeff was interviewed soon after his post went viral and he explained why he had interacted with Gloria: “I just try to lead by example and be a good person. I just hope everybody would do things like that because the world is not a very nice place,” he explained. But there seems to be a movement growing!
Jeff and Gloria’s interaction actually fell on February 17th, which was a pretty special day. Gloria most likely didn’t know that February 17th is the National Random Acts of Kindness Day! There’s really no better way to celebrate such a special day than through personal notes and genuine concern of another human!
The tradition has dramatically grown throughout the years. Gaining attention from individuals, groups, and organizations, the tradition is used to encourage kindness amongst strangers. The premise of the tradition is simple: perform a random act of kindness for a complete stranger, which can be a service, gesture, or a gift.
Jeff’s gesture to reach out to Gloria was a simple one and he became overwhelmed by emotion by Gloria’s response. So it’s with good reason that their exchange touched the hearts of millions of people. The act of writing a simple note said a much louder message than what appeared. It said: You are important. I see you. We look after one another.
It goes without saying that showing a bit of kindness to random strangers could create change in the world. You could try giving compliments, helping those that are hungry, and holding the door for people. Committing even one act of kindness a day could make an incredible difference in your own life!