A Special Article By April Cole
For a couple of years now, Capital Living has been writing about Kentucky State University and its Pay It Forward Frankfort campaigns. What began as a class project at KSU, grew to an annual Franklin County community event. Where ordinary people do extraordinary things “just because”. Professor Shannon Brogan introduced her students to this concept in the Spring of 2014, and Capital Living has been covering the affect that it has had on the community as a whole since.
We’ve also been covering Ashwood Place Retirement Community granting the dreams of their aging residents through the nationally recognized Second Wind Dreams program. From the simple ones like throwing the first pitch out at a Lexington Legends Game, to singing with country music star Craig Wayne Boyd, to a hot air balloon ride, or larger dreams like a wedding covered nationally by the Today Show, and sending a resident and her son on the trip of a lifetime to Alaska, Capital Living was there to cover – and even be an integral part of helping others pay it forward.
In today’s day and age, where we instantly judge each other on the color of our skin, our personal faith, or our outward appearance, it is nice to see that there are still good people in this world. People who, despite the chaos and turmoil of our world, step up to help one stranger out, for no reason at all.
Overall, kids today do not know the joy of helping others by a simple act of kindness and paying it forward. Kids are more calloused and can be cruel as they disconnect from their humanity because of the digital age. Personally, as a single mom, I’m trying to raise my teenage daughter with a decent moral compass and teach her the desire to put into a community as much as you expect to get out of it. Whenever possible this summer, she has been volunteering. She occasionally volunteers at the Franklin County Humane Society. She has begun volunteering with the Kids Grow Kentucky organization and the Kings Center. She helped nearly an entire week during the recent music camp at First Christian Church of Frankfort. And even volunteered an entire day to help make the recent Frankfort River Blast a success. She is learning the value of paying it forward and the spirit of volunteerism. She follows her passion in hopes that it will bring her to a fulfilling life of fostering positive community spirit.
Today, we went to Wal-Mart to buy a few groceries, fill a prescription for her, and purchase school supplies for the upcoming year – her first year in high school. We proceeded to the checkout and I separated the order into two orders – everything else and “school supplies”.
As the first order was being rung up, my daughter and I engaged in conversation with the gentleman cashier, the nice lady bagging our order, and another woman customer standing in line behind us. We talked about the trip the day before with the kids from the Kings Center, which both my daughter and myself volunteered to help chaperone 20 kids from 1st to 6th grade, on a trip to the Ali Center in Louisville. We discussed the huge changes in school curriculum and how kids today aren’t required to learn to read cursive.
We continued to talk as the second order was being rung up. The lady behind us moved more beside us and was intent on watching the order being rung up. The “basics” for starting high school only – backpack, loose leaf paper, assorted spiral and composition notebooks, pencils, erasers, pens, and a zipper pocket to keep them all in. The woman customer watched as things added up quickly and even commented on it. I explained this was her first year of high school, so it should be about half of what it was last year when we bought EXTRA pencils and pens, as well as wipes, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and a variety of other supplies for the general classroom. As predicted, it was about HALF of what we spent last year. And it was still over $50! I was happy with being able to get out of the store with spending that little. But before I could pay, the woman intervened and told me and my daughter to just go ahead and take our items, she intended on paying for it!
Dumbfounded, we both stood there at a loss for words looking at each other, our eyes welling up with tears. The woman, whose name we later learned, but we will call “Miss P”, told us that she had “never done anything like this before” and that “God spoke to her” while we were standing there. She had an internal conversation with Him and kept asking Him, “are you sure?” She continued to tell us this and said she had never had kids. I don’t think she realized how expensive this venture CAN be! I turned and told my daughter, “this is one of those ‘pay it forward’ moments that I’ve been writing about on Capital Living for so long now”. Miss P was amazing! Not only did she buy my girl’s school supplies, she gave her an extra $20 to spend however she wanted AND offered to pay for her to get her hair colored (if she wants) and cut next week before school starts!
My teenager was so touched by the generosity of this ONE individual, that she was overcome with emotion and broke down and cried in the car as she held my hand.
Frankfort is a wonderful community! It’s why I choose to “do” and “be” CL. It’s why I chose to raise my daughter in the heart of the commonwealth’s capital city. We give to it whenever we can of our time and our respective passions. The friends we’ve made here have enriched our lives beyond belief. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “I’m not rich. But I’m rich in the love of those who surround us”. My friends are like me. They’ll give the shirt off their back, or give their last dollar to you so you won’t go without. Miss P didn’t know me. And I didn’t know her until this afternoon. After today, she will never be forgotten. I’ve never been the recipient of a true random act of kindness like I did today. I’ve heard about them. I’ve written about them on CL. But have never truly experienced one.
Miss P is a very special woman. It’s a gift to be able to give selflessly of oneself. She will forever remain in our hearts. She has left an impression in our hearts and has inspired my daughter to remain true to herself and her individuality.
The Pay It Forward Frankfort spirit of giving upon us. In today’s day in age where there is so much bad news daily, it’s good to know that we have people in our community that rise above and make it a better place for our children.