Grand Ledge, Mich. (WLNS) — As part of WLNS TV 6′ Remarkable Women series, this week, Mid-Michigan woman Joanne Ellena in Grand Ledge is being recognized as the “kindness lady.”
In the spring of 2020, something remarkable grew in the city of Grand ledge and fittingly, it happened on the corner of Spring and Pleasant Streets.
A “kindness campaign” that Joanne Ellena has been nurturing and watering ever since.
“I work for a preschool and we’ve been really focusing on being kind and so then I was off work, for the corona, and i just started thinking about the negativity, the political negativity, and hatred and I thought, gosh, what can I do? And so I just had this idea about starting to paint these signs,” Ellena said.
But it was these two words that really spoke to the community: “Choose Kindness.”
“People just started stopping and talking about the sign. how much they loved that message. and then that’s when I decided to have some printed.
And she used her first federal stimulus check to do it.
Ellena passed them out for free hoping that people would pass that kindness forward.
“I have it out in front of my house and these are going to go out in front of my daughter and my son’s house. They’re wonderful. I’m glad she spent her money on that.”
It was not long before her message blossomed popping up in yards across the state and this was just the beginning.
As the months passed, Ellena’s effort grew from 300 to 2,300 yard signs.
She partnered with a local business to choose kindness clothing with $5 from each purchase going to a local COVID-19 emergency fund and that’s not all.
“I’ve done about 400 bumper stickers, // choose kindness journals, i did a couple hundred of those.”
She gives those out for free as well.
She also created a “choose kindness” community Facebook group and recently started decorating rocks.
“The kindness rocks is a brand new thing like, I just love it because, kindness rocks… but really like in quotations, you know, kindness,” she said.
Rocks. And her community rocks too.
Ellena said when the kindness movement took off, donations to keep going kept pouring in.
This all started with the initial $300 check.
With Ellen’s $600 stimulus check in January, she bought fabric from the non-profit group, “Fleece and thank you,” and has helped send 28 colorful cozy blankets to children in Michigan hospitals.
Their goal is to have them arrive at the hospital and instead of these just blank, white sheets, to have this warm blanket.
6 News asked Ellena,”why not spend the money is other ways?”
Ellena replied, ” I’m not really in dire need of the money; it’s money I didn’t plan on, and it’s just a really great way to give back.”
And that’s something everyone can do, no matter your financial situation.
Kindness can sprout and any environment and the reward is priceless.
“Sometimes when I get sad, you know I’m alone here, and sometimes I get sad, and I think just go help somebody. and it really just makes me happy it makes my heart feel good.”