365Z Honors Ford’s Acts of Kindness

24 Jul
Brittany with late brother Zach, the inspiration for 365Z.

Brittany Ford with late brother Zach, inspiration for 365Z.

One day last week, my California friend Charmaine Coimbra, a Friend of the Elephant Seals, woke my blog from its eight months of book project-inspired hibernation with her column about volunteerism in her local paper, the Cabrian Times. The next day, I opened my own local paper, the Telegram, to discover former student Brittany Ford and her family featured in Telegram Towns. The Fords were there because of their work with 365Z – an organization the Fords created to honor the many acts of kindness of Brittany’s dearly departed brother Zachary.

While the newspaper article focuses on all the recent accomplishments of 365Z, Serving the Story talked in depth with Brittany about her brother, loss, and how to help people heal through yoga in an April 15, 2014 entry, “Kindness in Unkind Times.” The work of 365Z also came up when I talked with Joe McDonough about how the loss of his son to leukemia led to the family forming B+, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for families of kids with cancer.

That second conversation occurred in a coffee shop in Newark, Delaware, on the second day of last year’s three-month-and-a-week community service road trip. I made the contact only because of Betsy Price, a friend who I hadn’t seen in 16 years; she also was kind enough to host me on my first two nights on the road.

I mention this because acts of kindness such as this occurred again and again on my journey; my nearly 12,000 miles of driving alone were dwarfed by the enormous gaps between my volunteer opportunities, putting my project at risk again and again. But those voids were filled, again and again, by suggestions from folks I met along the way – performing their own acts of kindness by pointing me to like-minded folks in the next town down the line.

Here’s hoping that more and more people respond to the message of 365Z, in the spirit of Zachary Ford.

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