On the Schmitt List: Celebrating 134 years of kindness
Mar 19, 2017
It all started with single act of kindness, and today — 134 years later — acts of kindness are continuing to make an incredible difference in the lives of children.
Most of us know the story. A father, unable to provide for his three little girls, reaches out to a man known for kindness. As he had done so many times before, the Rev. Joseph Lemen responded with kindness by opening his heart and his home to the little girls.
We now know, however, that Rev. Lemen opened more than his heart and his home. He opened a door to the future through which thousands of children have — and continue to — walk into an atmosphere dominated by kindness.
Of course, the door I’m referring to is the front door of Children’s Square, which officially opened 134 years ago this month.
I’ve been an admirer of Children’s Square for more than 15 years. But today I understand, better than ever before, what kindness can mean to children who lack the bare physical and emotional essentials, or who are in need of specialized care.
A little over three years ago, my oldest daughter and her husband who live in Ohio and are the parents of three wonderful, bright and healthy children, decided to open the door of their home to two small boys. Brothers, ages 2 and 4, were living lives almost totally void of human kindness. Their lives seem to hold little hope for a bright future.
In the days, weeks and years that followed, little Isaac and Theo have discovered firsthand the power of kindness. Their lives have slowly filled, not just with the bare essentials, but also with love and with the realization that they, too, can indeed have a future. A future based not only on hope, but also opportunity and accomplishment.
I am extremely proud to tell you that earlier this month those two little boys became my newest grandsons when my daughter and her husband adopted them.
And while love has been the overall driving force in their story, the first act taken was one of kindness: in which two adults willingly reached out to two hurting and struggling little boys.
Similar stories have unfolded countless times here in Iowa because of Children’s Square.
Many — who are smarter and more articulate than I — have profoundly described the merits of Children’s Square. They’ve detailed all the services Children’s Square provides. They’ve expounded upon the glowing results Children’s Square produces. They’ve defined the mission and wonderfully captured the essence of this outstanding organization in our community. All of those things are important, but I can sum up Children’s Square in one simple sentence: “Children’s Square is the center of kindness in our community.”
Acts of kindness are everyday stories at Children’s Square.
But the kindness provided by Children’s Square is only half of the story. The other half of the story involves the thousands of acts of kindness that have been bestowed upon the organization. I know of no other place where kindness is more alive than at Children’s Square.
This month, the folks at Children’s Square will take a moment to celebrate another year of existence. But it will only be for a moment, because they’ll be busy — as they always are — looking not to the past, but to the future.
Staying vibrant for 134 years hasn’t been simple or easy. It has taken many different forms of kindness to keep that magical door open. But no act of kindness has been more vital than the simple act of generosity.
Without help from thousands of people, the door at Children’s Square would close, and the flow of kindness that pours forth through that door would come to a halt. Without kindness flowing in, it could not flow out.
Without help from people like you and me, the lives of children like Isaac and Theo would remain in turmoil and void of hope. Every gift — big or small — is important and every gift makes a difference.
As the proud new grandfather to two wonderful small boys, I truly do understand more than ever the real power of kindness.
As it begins its 135th year of service, let us all hope Children’s Square continues to be blessed with an abundance of kindnesses flowing in so that kindness can continue to flow outward as it has for 134 years.
One other note …
March is my month to be proud for more than one reason.
In addition to getting two new grandsons, my oldest grandson, Zack, graduated Friday from basic training: He is officially a member of the United States Air Force.
March is also a big month for Zack in more ways than one.
In addition to becoming an Airman, Zack, who never had a brother, got two new little brothers as it is his mother and father who welcomed Isaac and Theo into their home three years ago.
My daughter and her husband are to be applauded for what they’ve accomplished. They’ve raised one small boy to become a strong man willing to service his country, and they’ve changed the lives of two other small boys who now have the chance to dream their own dreams.
Saying I’m proud of my daughter and son-in-law doesn’t really cover it, but it’s the best I can do.
And to Zack, let me just say that I’m confident that the decision you’ve made and the effort you’re about to put forth will enrich your life forever.
Good luck young man, your grandfather is honored to salute you!