By Kate Tobiasson, Contributing Writer
Westborough – An emerging grassroots organization, Westborough Connects, is working to build connection, kindness and resilience throughout the community. Initially formed two years ago, the group was born out of a similar group in Natick called “Spark.” On April 7, the group launched their first weeklong event in Westborough.
“We wanted to kick off the week with a speaker,” explained Kelley Petralia of Westborough Connects. “We reached out to Megan Murphy of the Kindness Rocks group; she speaks all over the country and the world. She led a talk and an activity with creating Kindness Rocks.”
Residents were moved by the speaker, and felt encouraged to continue to spread kindness and develop connections in the community.
“Megan was very empowering,” noted resident Sue Willar, who was there with her children. “She started a movement to spread kindness and it has spread throughout the world. The more people who work to spread kindness, the better our world is. I was moved to tears during her talk; my family was very inspired by Megan. We decided to create rocks for the project, and then hide them in different pews at St Luke’s, to help inspire and spread the movement.”
Throughout the cafeteria, there were stations at the event to create cards for veterans and other citizens that will be delivered in the kindness van, which is decorated for the week. A table from the Westborough Library displayed an array of books encouraging kindness, and library staff member Carrie Brown was there spreading smiles and a book list of further reading about stories featuring kindness.
“It is wonderful to see so many people here,” Brown said. “People can check these books out now, and we’ll be featuring kindness in our regular trips out into the community.”
The room was full of different stations from a variety of town organizations, all eager to share and connect with one another.
At the start of the event, over 15 people were clicking their needles, knitting connections between volunteers, groups in town, and people in town who need the most support. Mary Westland, a local knitter and crocheter, was overwhelmed by the number of people who came out to support the event, and was thrilled to see the success of the Kickoff to Kindness.
“We came to encourage people to knit or crochet and donate an item to the Free Holiday Store that Westborough Youth and Family Services is running,” she explained. “We have some samples of things in the basket, and patterns for people to try…. Everyone is helpful and full of community spirit. I invited a handful of friends to knit with me today- more people than I thought showed up. People are eager to spread kindness!”
Children lined up for treats from Uhlman’s and Yummy Mummy, and were encouraged to play a game of catch with police officers dressed in uniform. A drum circle concluded the event.
“Our first event has grown larger than we thought it would, and we hope that this movement of kindness continues to grow,” Petralia said. “We talk a lot about teaching our kids to show kindness; but kindness really benefits all age groups. We want to involve generations in our movement.”