Roving Reporter: Random Acts of Kindness

By Nancy Polanski (nap) on August 8, 2011

What is the kindest thing anyone ever did for you? Perhaps you were the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness. Maybe you got help from someone when you needed it the most. Did someone go above and beyond what you might have expected, either for you or for your family?

Sometimes it seems when we are at a crossroads in life, or we are in need of a loving hand to hold or some gentle guidance, we are suddenly blessed with just what we need.  Out of nowhere sometimes, just the right person comes into our lives and lifts us from the mire, or shows us the way.  Several of you have shared such tales with me, so now I want to share them with the rest of our readers.

"What is the kindest thing anyone ever did for you?"



Hi Nancy, I am happy to remember a special person's kindness. Her name was Barb. As a young Christian woman, she took me under her wings after my parents divorced back in the mid 70's. She was renting the small house next door to ours, of which my dad owned and was the landlord. She sensed my need for maternal nurturing and asked me for sleep overs. She curled my hair one evening and combed it for me in the morning to go to church. She encouraged a shy girl (me!) to plan an after-school party for friends, something that had never happened in our household before. She did not live next door for long, as missionary work took her to Africa, but her impact has followed me. Her kindness is not forgotten.





Hi Nancy--I'll be happy to. During the five or so years before I retired, I had the best boss I ever had during my entire working life. And that says a lot, because I never had any really bad bosses.

I was Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research at the University of Iowa. My boss, David Skorton, had assigned me a very challenging project. He was so pleased with the result that he wanted to give me a bonus. He went to the President's Office to ask for the bonus money. The answer was a rather firm "No!" He actually took the money out of his own salary and gave it to me!

I've never met a kinder, more generous person than David. The University of Iowa was sad to lose him, but your fair State snagged him. He's now president of Cornell University.





Nancy, I have been thinking and since I've already told about Connie, who has been paying for my Daves Garden subscription, I have other kind gestures from DG people to talk Jill's (critterologist)gesture of sending me a pills organizer for my Mom after she had a stroke. Or my friends on Pets who sent me money for neutering my 5 stray doggies. And lately, Rodica, also a DG friend, has started to send me flea drops for all my doggies. How's that?





Oh boy...... I know so many wonderful people that it's difficult to choose........
Most recently, a friend of ours is helping my husband with some work/pay because he recently lost his job, in May. Our friend (Bob) is a renovator, and doesn't have a truck. My DH (also Bob) has a truck, but no job. So Bob is working for Bob (lol). This week it's every day, but when work dries up, neither of them will have work. When the "other" Bob has work, he can make it stretch and do it all himself, but he's choosing to share the work and pay with my Bob. What a wonderful thing for him to do. I'd call this "above and beyond"!




I had a neighbor that was sort of gruff and what most folks would call stand-offish. She and her family didn't associate with the neighbors hardly at all. There came a time when I found myself and my child in an abusive situation. I knew that the time had come to try to get out of it, for my child's sake.

Now if you've never been in an abusive situation or known anybody who has, you may find it hard to understand why folks don't just walk away. Lots easier said than done, especially when children are involved. There's so much to think about, like where are you going to live, how will you feed your child, how will you survive from day to day? In an abusive situation, you not only have the stress of trying to survive each day, and the despair of thinking your situation is hopeless, but also trying to find the courage to get out of it.

Well, this gruff and tough and unsociable neighbor ended up being a person who helped perform not only a kindness, but one that probably saved mine and my child's lives. There I was, in one of the lowest points in my life, and here she came braving a situation that could have caused physical harm to herself. She gave me the words and the support to be able to take those first steps out the door of abuse.

It was scary going out that door. No job, no place to live, no money, no vehicle, but I had my most precious child and my faith in God.

Instead of just being left to float alone, this neighbor made sure we had food and shelter and most of all the words and comforting arms to help this body stand up and walk tall again. After I was able to stand alone, she went back to her place and closed the door.

Every random act of kindness we receive helps to build and shape our lives. We don't know where or when an act of kindness may come our way, but we should all be thankful for them. Most of all, we should pass them forward. You never know when even a tiny bit of kindness may be a life changing experience for someone that they can carry forward to help others in need.





Nancy, I would have to go back to August 1991 when Marti and I found ourselves literally homeless. We began living in our vehicles, going from camp to camp through the remainder of the year. When we were in our last camp near the ocean, it rained during the night and the camp was flooded. All our bedding and clothing were soaked. We got up, gathered our things, threw them in the back of Marti's truck and headed for the Ventura Fairgrounds where our friend Barbara was the Horticulturalist there. She let us hang our sleeping bags up in the quonset huts and Marti took everything else to the laundromat to wash and dry. We stayed there for the night, and the next day Barbara took us to her home so we could shower and put clean clothes on. We stayed at the fairgrounds helping her replant the many plants that she had for decorating the fairgrounds during its open season.

In a matter of 5 or 6 days, another friend came and took Marti and me to lunch. Her name was Kathy. She took us home to her place where we spent 2 days and during that time she promised that she would help us get into a house so we wouldn't be homeless anymore. Marti found us a place and we told Kathy about it. She said it would take her about 3 days to get the money we needed to move in. She gave us enough to give a down payment to the landowner and then we waited. It took about the 3 days she said, and then she met us at the fairgrounds and we went to see the house. She approved, and gave us $1800 freely, not expecting any repayment. I have to add that she dipped into her 401K for the money which meant that she would have to pay a tax fine against it. This was totally unexpected and greatly appreciated. I have not seen or heard from her since 1994.




We once had a Siberian Husky dog; they are known for getting out and roaming. We lived near an interstate. One day our dog dug under the fence and ran onto the freeway and was struck by a vehicle. After looking everywhere for our dog, we began calling the pound and then nearby vet clinics until we found him.

One woman that saw him get hit, stopped and picked up our dog. She put him in her vehicle and drove him to the vet and paid the vet bill!! The vet said she saved his life that day. The story the vet told was even more amazing ~ this woman shows up at the clinic in a skirt-suit and high heels, muddy and wet up to her waist! She had pulled our dog from the ditch on the side of the highway, so the backseat of this woman's car was also muddy and bloody from our dog. She took the dog in but the vet required that the woman pay up front. The lady did not hesitate to hand over a check!! The vet gave us the name and number of the lady so we could call her and thank her. We were so thankful for her act of kindness!

This is a story my hubby recently came home to tell me:

My hubby travels often with work and is very familiar with "the airport shuffle," as we call it. One day he had arrived at his destination... somewhere in Iowa, I think, anyway, he was in line to get his rental vehicle. As he was waiting, he noticed that the young man in front of him, wearing an Army uniform, was having trouble renting a vehicle. Apparently, there was a problem with his paperwork and he was unable to get a rental. The young man was on a three day leave to see his family. My hubby asked the young man if there was a problem and stood by to see if he could help. My hubby ended up renting a car for this young man. He told the young man "Thank you for your service" and sent him on his way.




God has used many people to bless us over the years but one that stands out was on a Christmas Eve when our kids were little. We had no money for any presents at all. We didn't mind for each other, but it was breaking our hearts that our children would have no Christmas. Then a friend from our church said God laid it on his heart to give us an offering and he obeyed God. We accepted the gift with grateful hearts and went straight to town. Since it was late on Christmas Eve there were lots of sales and our kids had a full Christmas next morning. I will never forget that and I always think of it when I am given the opportunity to help others at Christmas time.





It has to be what Mom did for me.  She inherited a lot of money from her parents. After dad passed away she decided that instead of having to wait until I was 60 or 70 to inherit it from her she'd let me enjoy it now in my mid-40's.
So to take the pressure off of me having to work many hours she paid for this house we all live in, in full, and bought me a new, dependable car.

So here I am in my mid-40's not having to worry about having to work 7 days a week to make ends meet. She's here with my Brother in an apartment in is good.





Many years ago we had donated some clothes to Goodwill. Amongst the articles of clothing was a jacket that my husband wore when we went to our cabin in the California mountains. A few days later Goodwill called me and said one of their employees found $ 600 in the jacket pocket. They returned the money to us and we made a nice contribution to them for their honesty. We were so touched that we made contributions for many years because we were so impressed. Goodwill workers are taught a great ethic. Isn't that great?

It was shortly before Christmas and must have made a great human interest story. The Orange County Register ran an article about it showing me holding up the cash all splayed out between my fingers. The story hit the AP and, I believe, it was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale . . . did he have a radio show? . . who called to interview me over the phone about the incident wanting to air it on his radio show. Or it could have been Paul Harvey.
We owned a cabin in the California mountains. We would carry cash with us to pay for expenses incurred while we were up there. . . . repairs etc. When I gave the coat away, I had no idea there was cash in it. So much for my dear husband tucking cash in weird places. Now day we have a safe it goes in ...much better than a coat pocket.


My hat is off to all the contributors this week.  You have all made me feel warm and comforted.  I know these stories will do the same for our readers.  You all have my thanks for a wonderful Roving Reporter article!


See you next week!

Related articles:
interview, Roving Reporter

About Nancy Polanski
I live in Western New York. I'm retired, after working for 30 years in the Microbiology Labs at our county hospital. My time now is spent mostly with the Karen refugee population in Buffalo, advocating for them, teaching, helping and enjoying them. I've twice traveled to their camps in Thailand and experienced their culture. It seems they have taught me more about life than I have taught them.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
I had an angel visit Aguane Aug 10, 2011 12:47 PM 7
Good Works Audrey Aug 10, 2011 8:39 AM 2
Kindness Always Works Boopaints Aug 8, 2011 10:54 AM 5
My dear friends right here pajonica Aug 8, 2011 8:27 AM 1

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