Acts Of Kindness: Wisconsinites Share Stories Of Joy And Generosity


By Maureen McCollum | April 23, 2020

FacebookTwitterEmail
  • Doris Gassen of Madison says she’s made around 2400 “Be Kind” signs over the years, after being inspired by a similar project in Virginia. She hands them out to people for free and has recently heard from more people wanting signs. (Photo by Jeff McCollum)

Doris Gassen of Madison says she’s made around 2400 “Be Kind” signs over the years, after being inspired by a similar project in Virginia. She hands them out to people for free and has recently heard from more people wanting signs. (Photo by Jeff McCollum)

Listen Online

We’ve heard stories lately about people creating sidewalk and window art for neighbors passing by. A friend delivering flowers to a buddy who’s homebound. Teenagers running errands for the elderly. These acts of kindness can feel so simple, but right now, are touching us in much deeper ways.

We asked our listeners to tell us about the goodness, joy and love they’ve recently experienced. Here’s what they had to say.

(The following voicemails have been edited for brevity and clarity)

Jennifer Dargan: Madison, Wisconsin

Bagpipers from around the world coordinated to play their pipes [earlier this month] in support of health care workers. My husband, who is a bagpiper, played at three different Madison fire stations for the EMTs.

Kate DuChateau: Lake Mills, Wisconsin

I work as a nurse in Madison. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, nurses are required to wear masks continuously, and that creates a lot of discomfort and broken skin integrity by the ears. So many of us have taken to wearing headbands with buttons on them to strap the face mask on to.

I can’t sew and I don’t have any buttons. So, I decided to outsource the project and fully anticipated on paying someone for my services. I reached out to a local seamstress and business owner — Amy Slattery of Bugaboodles in Lake Mills — to see if she would do the service. When I asked her how much it was going to cost, she said it would be absolutely free. Not to worry about it. She donated the buttons and placed them on my headbands in just a couple of hours. So I had four headbands and gratefully she put cute buttons on there so they’re not hideous, awkward things.

I thought that was pretty, pretty kind of her to do. As a small business owner, she is certainly taking a hit right now with the stay-at-home orders. I know that she needs every penny that she can get to keep her and her family going. So, the fact that she was willing to provide that service to me out of simple kindness, I think says a lot about her and her business and actually just the community of Lake Mills that we live in.

Nishant Jain: Chicago, Illinois

I used to live in Eau Claire and people around those parts know me as the Sneaky Artist. As an artist, I walk around towns that I live in and draw things and people and activities from observation.

So I’m dealing with my isolation life and a couple of interesting ways. My first way of dealing with it is to look out the window and draw everything I see, whether it’s a drop in traffic or people strolling by at a reasonable social distance.

Nishant Jain's drawing of someone using an ironing board in lieu of a desk while working from home. (Courtesy of Nishant Jain)

Nishant Jain’s drawing of someone using an ironing board in lieu of a desk while working from home. (Courtesy of Nishant Jain)

The second thing I’m doing is rather more interesting. I’ve been asking people in my neighborhood to send me pictures of their work-from-home setups. In return, I’d send them drawings of these makeshift desks and work spaces: inside kitchens, inside closets, inside living rooms with children and pets all at the same place.

I found that this is a good way to help people deal with their own problems and the unique challenges that this crisis has thrown upon so many working professionals. And also for me, to distract myself from my phone. It gets me to do something positive. It gets me to focus on drawing and art and productive things for my brain, rather than anxiety and worry over the state of the world.

Ian Lowe: Madison, Wisconsin

A friend and colleague of mine left a six pack of beer on my front porch. It is New Glarus Brewing Company’s Cabin Fever, so it was perfect. And I was at the time struggling to put my 3-year-old daughter down for a nap. Needless to say, it came at just the right time.

Linda Vieth: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I have a couple stories!

One is from our Bay View community on New York Avenue. One of our neighbors passed around kazoos. She has a list of songs that we’re going to play from our front porch using our kazoos she bought each one of us. So, I think that’s fun!

Also, a few weeks ago I went to Target. My mind was on everything that’s been going on. I did not think about anything but getting a cart and getting in and out as quickly as possible. I grabbed the first cart I saw and then I noticed I had grabbed a cart that a young man had just cleaned for himself. I didn’t even put two and two together.

Once I did put two and two together, he very politely said, “I just cleaned this for you.” It was such a gift.

I saw him later on in the store and I went up to him again and thanked him profusely.

==

Do you want to share other some random acts of kindness or joy you’ve experienced during the COVID-19 era?

You can contribute your brief story two ways:
1) Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to maureen.mccollum@wpr.org.
2) Leave a voicemail message at 608-263-4121.

Make sure to tell us your full name and where you live. Also, leave you contact info so we can let you know when the story is airing.

==

SONGS: “Try A Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding

“Put A Little Love In Your Heart” by Jackie DeShannon

Maureen McCollum

Maureen McCollum is the host and producer for Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. She loves live music, the bluffs along the Mississippi River, and eating too much cheese.
FacebookTwitterEmail

Sign Up Form

Sign Up for Our Bi-Weekly Newsletter

Get your favorite Wisconsin Life stories, meet the crew, and go behind the scenes.

Our Favorite Collections

Storyteller Rodney Lambright II's comic series about the rich relationship between a single father, his young daughter and his retirement-age parents.
For the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we discover how Wisconsinites experienced the war both at home and on the battlefield.
Ice, cold and winter are an integral part of what it means to live in Wisconsin. "Ice Week" explores the many ways that ice defines us.
Food plays a central part in many holiday traditions. This series honors the foods and meals that make the day.
Escape winter with a look at some of Wisconsin's favorite sports and games.
"Living the Wisconsin Life" is an online series exploring the little things that make living in Wisconsin fun, interesting and meaningful.