“It’s so cool that we have a community where the positive peer pressure of people doing the right thing inspires others to do the same.” – Orrin Woodward
Imagine being the man who had to rent a chainsaw to cut down a tree that had just fallen on his home the night before due to a heavy rain storm. You’ve worked hard all week and now you have to carve out another 6 hours of your Saturday to finish this labor-intensive task. Now, imagine what it would feel like to have 25 complete strangers show up at your house in white t-shirts ready and willing to help you! A task that would have taken you all day, was just completed in under an hour.
“Random Acts of Kindness” was the theme of the Life on Life Initiative that took place in Janesville, WI on Saturday, August 29th, 2015. Roughly 200 Life Leadership Members – under the leadership of Steve and Jamie Leurquin and the coordinated efforts of AGO Spokesman, Chris Swanson – showed up to participate in the event. Not only was it a success, but this team came together to truly make a difference in the city.
The participants were encouraged not to have a plan and to look for needs as they drove around the streets of Janesville. However, that strategy didn’t fly for some people and extra effort was displayed in the actions of several members who had specific ideas on their hearts. The additional organized effort became a blessing in disguise as some of the projects needed more help than anticipated. Check out everything they did!
Organized Acts of Kindness:
- Served at the House of Mercy (a shelter for women and children) – several people purchased items to donate and then spent time stocking and organizing the pantry, folding linens, talking and praying with some of the women and painting t-shirts with kids on the front lawn (t-shirts and supplies purchased by Life Members).
- Finding a family in need – Connections in the city led to an incredible blessing for one family. The oldest son had been diagnosed with cancer nearly 6 years ago and was in remission until the cancer came back. Later it was revealed that the younger son and mom also had a condition that caused them to have skin cancer. So three members of the family with three cancer diagnoses. This family forgot they even had cancer when several Life Members showed up to bless them with toys, food, flowers and love. Tears of joy streamed from the eyes of all participants, especially mom.
- One group visited an assisted living home and spent some time with the residents and then later they went to a local transitional housing shelter to donate personal care items to the veterans that were living there.
- “FREE” Sale: Several people donated items from their home (clothes and other necessities) to the free sale. Others purchased school supplies that could also be donated to families. One lady was a hairdresser and gave free haircuts to kids at the free sale.
- Backpacks and kid donations at 4th Ward Park: A city-wide event called “Praise in the Park” was taking place in the middle of the city and several Life Leadership Members purchased backpacks and filled them with school supplies and donated other kid’s items for some of the families in need.
- Serving lunch at a community meal: A few participants gave up their lunch hour to dish out root beer floats to those in need at their local church for a community meal.
- Serving at a public library: Life Members showed up and asked the technicians what was needed. They said “cleaning” so the participants began cleaning and sprucing up the ends of the shelves in the children’s section, which was a heavily used area.
“People walking by throughout the city were asking, ‘What’s the deal? I keep seeing these white t-shirts. What church are you guys with?’ And I responded, ‘We’re Life Leadership and we are out here to make a difference.'” -Tony Klubertanz
Random Acts of Kindness:
- Pushing a car: Life Members took a wrong turn that led them to a street where they saw two guys trying to push a car that wouldn’t start. They weren’t making very much progress until the Life on Life crew jumped out of their car to help them push!
- While standing in line at the Family Dollar waiting to purchase school supplies to donate, one Life Member began talking to a family in front of him in line that had a cart of groceries. Minutes later he paid for the families groceries and the father immediately started crying. The family was so grateful!
- Life Leadership Members heard a chainsaw across the street from the House of Mercy and recognized that one man was trying to take down a tree that had fallen on his house. It wasn’t long before a massive army of people in white t-shirts showed up to help him! From climbing on the roof to picking up debris, the tree take-down and clean-up process was complete in less than an hour!
- Donations to the Pregnancy Care Center: Several people purchased diapers, formula and toys to donate.
- Free pizza in exchange for work: One man was a locksmith and received a call from a local pizza place whose lock was broken and they couldn’t get in the building. So the family jumped in their car to go help. However, instead of taking money in exchange for the work they told the pizza place they could pay him in pizzas. Their plan was to give the pizzas away. They knew of a local shelter that would be the perfect place to donate the pizza. But instead of just donating they decided to have a pizza party and spend time with the the adults and children in the shelter.
- One group bounced around to several spots – St. Mary’s ER, Dean Urgent Care, Mercy ER and Mercy Urgent Care, the Fire Department, the Post Office, the Humane Society, one assisted living facility (Cedar Crest) and they found a group of guys who needed help reroofing a house. At all of the locations they dropped off M&M’s, homemade chocolate chip bars/rice crispy bars and a thank you note for making a difference and serving in their career.
- Laundry mat: Life Members donated a bunch of change to people who needed help with paying for their laundry. The people were so grateful even for just a stack of quarters.
- “I saw a guy that I recognized dropping off items for his son and ex at the House of Mercy. He seemed down-and-out and it ended up being a guy I knew from high school that I used to run with. His name was Joel. I hadn’t seen him in 20 years. After I talked to him briefly, his young son came over and I just started edifying him to his son just like I had known him in high school. He was super-human as a runner and I really looked up to him. The son couldn’t believe how amazing his dad was after all the positive things I said about him. Later I talked with his ex and found out that Joel isn’t doing well so I gave her my name and number and told her to have him call me if he needed a friend to talk to. I was happy that I could paint a different picture of Joel to his son.” -Mike Hebbe
- The local Family Dollar radically increased their sales for the day as hundreds of people purchased school supplies and other necessities to donate throughout the city.
- Some of the families wanted to donate money for items at the free sale because they felt bad taking things for free so the kids helping out thought of the idea to donate the extra donated money to the Humane Society across the street.
- Even the smallest act of kindness made a difference. Some people were greeted with a compassionate hug, a friendly smile and an encouraging word. Others received a free meal, bus tokens, home-made greeting cards, an encouraging sticky-note on their car window and a free full tank of gas.
“The biggest impact this Life on Life event had on us was knowing how much help we can offer this world if we slow down enough to open our eyes and look around. We came into a city without a plan of action, but to provide random acts of kindness to people we interact with every day. It doesn’t take much to bless people and often it doesn’t take any money at all. So often we feel the need to go on a missions trip far away to make an impact when our mission field is in our own back yard. I believe this group created a ripple effect that will go on further than they know. The biggest surprise to me was how many people were stunned and in disbelief when help was offered to them. What if we cause a change where random acts of kindness are not looked at as shocking, but something that people do every day?! Life Leadership is creating a culture where ‘doing what is right’ is cool again. As a group, our eyes are now opened to how much impact a small group can make. Look out world, Life on Life is going to change the world!” – Steve and Jamie Leurquin (Life Members)
It’s amazing what can be accomplished when a group of people align their purpose and chase it together; hundreds of people were impacted in the city of Janesville on Saturday and thousands are experiencing the ripple effect. Life on Life is truly making a difference! We are so proud of this “Stealth” organization for modeling true servant leadership. Please take a moment to check out this highlight video from the event!
If you participated in this Life on Life event, please comment below on how it impacted you. Also, please share what you love the most about the Life on Life Initiative.
Life Leadership: The Life You’ve Always Wanted