June 6, 2014: How do you repay amazing generosity? Pay it forward, by Kim Reynolds
On June 12, 2008, my husband and I welcomed our third child to the world. Little did we know how much our lives were about to change.
Our little girl was born with three congenital heart defects. After numerous heart catheterizations and three open-heart surgeries, we learned that the cardiologists and surgeons attending to Breckyn’s care could no longer help her.
So we sought a second opinion at Boston Children’s Hospital, and on Sept. 11, 2010, I received a call from a cardiology team there willing to take on her case — but the situation extremely urgent; we didn’t have much time to prepare for our trip.
As my husband and I processed what lie ahead for our daughter, our family and our finances, we were overcome with the outpouring of support from the community, surrounding areas and numerous people we had never even met across the state and country.
Caring friends at Cloud County Community College, where I am employed, contacted us; Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, where we are members, and the community of Cuba all wanted to aid us in relieving our financial burden. When a family goes through a situation such as ours, it is amazing at the number of people who want to help in any way they can. The feeling was absolutely overwhelming!
There were simple words of encouragement, prepared meals delivered to our door, numerous offers of prayers, families who took in our older girls while my husband and I were away with Breckyn and countless individuals who gave monetary donations… How would we ever be able to thank everyone?
After Breckyn came through surgery and we began to settle into our routine in the hospital, I spent many hours trying to document every individual who had made it possible for Breckyn to receive the best hospital care. But after sending out an abundance of thank you notes, I realized there was no way I would ever be able to thank each and every person. I worried about how we, as a family, were going to let everyone know how much we appreciated their support.
Then one evening, as I sat in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, I began praying for everyone who supported us. I continued this prayer day after day and am continuing it today. What I realized during my time of prayer was that the best way for me to thank everyone was to simply pay it forward.
That’s what I’ve been doing for almost four years now. And I can honestly say my heart is full! There is no greater joy than helping another family in time of need. Whether it be providing a meal to a family after a hospital stay or birth of a child, contributing monetarily to alleviate another ‘s financial burden, offering up prayer for those in need or any other of countless small acts of kindness, the sense of gratification you feel is astounding. There truly is no greater joy.
Research has proven that doing good for others can have a powerful, positive effect on the immune system. When contributing toward the greater good, your self-worth and self-esteem improves. Studies show that kindness helps relieve stress and reduce chronic negativity.
For those of you who have been in a similar situation as ours and are overwhelmed with the support you have received yet don’t know where to begin to say thank you, I encourage you to pay if forward.
And for those of you wanting to do more in your daily lives, I encourage you, too, to pay it forward.
It’s easy. Be attentive wherever you are for opportunities to help someone. Do something nice for someone you don’t know (or don’t know well), and don’t expect anything in return.
Then spread the word! If the person thanks you and wants to “repay” you, ask them to pay it forward instead. When you notice that someone has done something nice for you, make a mental note to pay that forward by practicing acts of kindness towards others. Generosity can be socially contagious.
Every one of us has the ability, and the opportunity, to positively affect someone’s life. I challenge each of you to do just that, through your unobtrusive acts of kindness. I can promise you, you won’t regret it!
— Kim Reynolds is executive director of the Cloud County Community College Foundation. She and her husband J.T. have three children, Peyton, Kendall and Breckyn.