Every so often, you find an organization or a person whose values so align with yours, that you wonder how it’s taken you so long to connect. Meeting Drew and Carmen of “Come Together with Kindness” was like that for me.
Based out of Longview, Texas, Carmen Miller aka (The Mission Mom) and her son Drew have spent nearly two years developing the mission, program, and services of their amazing group.
They recently participated in The Smile Project’s #25Cities25Acts Birthday Giveback campaign. I was so inspired by their support that I knew I had to share their story. Without further ado, allow me to introduce Come Together with Kindness!
Liz: Let’s start in true Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is.”
Carmen: Happiness is something I wish everyone could experience. Happy hearts don’t hurt others. When you realize this, it is clear to see that there is a great deal of unhappiness in our world. We want to do our part to change that, if even for one moment, for one person, one act of kindness at a time.
Liz: Tell me about Come Together with Kindness.
Carmen: Come Together with Kindness is a kindness and anti-bullying initiative created to encourage kindness, compassion, empathy, acceptance, self-love, positive behavior, and healthy coping mechanisms by creating, sharing, leading, and/or guiding activities and information that foster such.
We will do our best to help
our small corner of the world
come together with kindness,
one friend at a time, one stranger at a time, one act of kindness at a time.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Carmen: I have always been driven to help people. This fueled my interest in vulnerable populations. Hoping to be a proactive difference-maker I set out on a 15-year career to help abused and neglected children in the child welfare system. I learned a great deal working within and then later managing a nonprofit child advocacy agency that assisted the juvenile deprived courts in making life changing decisions about these children and their families.
In 2015 my husband’s job required relocation. By that time, I had grown accustomed to working with our only son, Drew, in coping with bullying type behaviors that he has experienced since Kindergarten. As Drew grew older the bullying type behaviors became more frequent and complicated. After another day of uncontrollable weeping and Drew, a fourth grader at the time, saying, “I can’t do this anymore,” it hit me.
I have always encouraged Drew to reach out to the kids who are clearly hurting, so I asked if he would be interested in doing something more. He was curious.
I learned very quickly in child advocacy that #KidsWhoNeedTheMostLoveAskForItInTheMostUnlovingWays and that is what I shared with Drew when he would ask why kids could be so mean.
Our combined experiences brought us to the conclusion that getting to know someone (#KnowTheirBackstory) leads to compassion through understanding. When Drew would simply ask kids why they were treating him poorly and then ask if he could help, this would often diffuse the negative behaviors with no other intervention. This also shifted Drew’s position in the situation. By recognizing that the other child is hurting and reaching out to him/her Drew was no longer the victim.
As simple and cliché as it sounds, kindness is most often the key. We recognize that it takes a great deal of courage to be kind, though, especially because it’s not always the cool thing to do. It can also inadvertently make you the target which is another reason it takes such bravery. In August 2017 we started Come Together with Kindness, a kindness and anti-bullying initiative.
We have a free, online kindness club called, Kindness Corp. We share Secret Service Missions (random acts of kindness kits for kids) through our Operation Good Deed Doer outreach and we award Courage to Be Kind Medallions because we know it takes courage to be kind. We recently added a Role Modelz Kidz program which assists kids in using their strengths and talents to be a mentor and encourage kindness.
We are not perfect. Kindness takes lots of practice and patience! No one is perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all make mistakes. Mistakes become lessons. We are always learning so we must always be kind.
We are not experts at anything, but we want to make a difference! We will do our best to help our small corner of the world Come Together with Kindness, one friend at a time, one stranger at a time, one random act of kindness at a time.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Carmen: Service looks different for everyone. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths are our superpowers. We can change our small corner of the world by using our superpowers for good. Imagine what the world would be like if we all did that?!
Liz: How can people get involved?
Carmen: Anyone can participate in our outreach activities. There is something for everyone! Partner with us on one of our many outreach activities by sharing your time or talents, leading one of our guided activities in your area or contributing goods, services or funding.
Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?
Carmen: Our goal is to inspire others just as we have been inspired by you, and so many others like you, who want to make the world a better place. We are all #WorldChangers. You can start making a difference today by being a #CornerChanger and changing your small corner of the world one small act of kindness at a time.
Liz: Last question – do you have a favorite quote or piece of advice?
Carmen: Some of our favorite messages are:
Mistakes become lessons that help us learn.
There is no such thing as a bad kid.
These two messages are the main theme of the book that Drew and I co-wrote that is coming out in September called Curly Q Drew and The Message Mistake. In the book we follow Drew as he makes a mistake and learns from it. Drew then creates a comic strip using his dogs, Dilly and Dally, to apply what he’s learned. We have a special outreach paired with our book signing parties!
We’ll also be doing a special version of our Read and Seed Mission where we’ll be doing a special book combo that includes a book to give and a book to keep. Read more about our Read and Seed Mission at the bottom of this page.