When it comes to kindness, Arlington resident Judy Campbell rocks.
Campbell is a member of the Kindness Rocks Project, a national organization designed to lift members of communities up with an act of kindness that involves painted rocks. She’s an expert in the craft ... and in lifting the lives of others.
“You can take what is a dirty rock and turn it into an inspirational piece,” she said. “You paint the rock and put an encouraging message, a picture, words, etc. to bring a smile to someone else. On the back of the rock you label it with your local rock group Facebook page.”
For example, she might place a rock somewhere to be found with the message “You are loved.” And she does so in a variety of places, including Arlington, Denton and even Corinth, where her fiance’ lives. Folks can then keep the rock or hide it again for someone else to find.
“I hide a lot of rocks and really don’t expect to see them again. So, when one of my rocks gets posted it always makes me smile,” Campbell said. “I do a lot of encouraging scripture rocks, and I take to doctor’s offices, cancer centers, places where I feel like people need to be encouraged and let them know they are not alone.
“I paint a wide variety of pictures. It is surprising how something like a rock can make your day, an act of kindness. I think of it as a pay-it-forward. Hopefully, the person that finds your rock will want to do a kindness act for someone else, doesn’t have to be a rock, just an act of kindness. I truly believe kindness begets kindness.”
Campbell got involved after seeing some rocks on Facebook and wondered if there might be a group in her area. There was and she joined. She thought it would be a great activity for her and her grandsons, Brayden (age 9) and Raylen (4) Campbell. So she got some paints and brushes and they set out to brighten some folks’ days.
“My grandsons are my greatest supporters. They love to rock paint,” she said. “It was a way for us to make memories and get outside and get exercise while hiding at the parks.”
Campbell said she feels the overwhelming urge to “pay it forward” because of the blessings she has in her own life, starting with the grandsons. She also likes the feeling of doing something for someone with no expectations in return.
“The rock you made and hid might just be what that person needed that day,” she said. “I had been with my grandsons when they found rocks but I still remember the day I found my first rock by myself. I don’t remember exactly what was going on that day, but I felt a little down.
“I was at the park walking back to my car and right before I got to my car I saw something, a rock, it was a simple rock with the word “love”. I still remember how that made me feel, it lifted my spirits and I got to feel what others must feel when they find one of my rocks.”
Campbell grew up in Shreveport, loving to draw, and has had a creative side doing crafts, clay art, cross stitch, and painting. Though her parents were not artistic, each of her four brothers were.
And recently she found out that her mother does indeed have a bit of an artistic side after all.
“I got my mother to paint rocks with me, and she did an excellent job and that is my most precious rock,” she said.
“I’ve been admiring Judy’s rocks for years,” said good friend Linda Finley. “Every time I see one it brings a smile to my face. She painted several for me in October for National Breast Cancer Awareness month, which were given to those who were survivors and battling the disease. Each recipient was deeply touched.”
Finley also asked Campbell to paint rocks for National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Campbell’s late husband and Finley’s father were veterans of that war. Also, Peggy Martin of Arlington shared with Finley that Martin’s brother, Robert Tinsley Wood, a recipient of the Bronze Star with Valor, was one of the war’s first casualties from Arlington.
“I knew immediately Judy’s rocks needed to be sent to Washington, D.C., honoring all our Vietnam veterans,” Finley said. “The rocks were sent to my sister-in-law, Alyson Finley in D.C., who placed the rocks at the wall where Robert Tinsley Wood’s name is inscribed.
“When Judy, Peggy and I received the photos it was emotional. To see people we didn’t know picking up the rocks, reading them and taking photos, it was amazing. Lots of tears.”
She said the groups are respectful of where to hide and not hide rocks, such as not placing them in mowing areas or on private property. Arlington also has “rock friendly” businesses, she said, such as Mr. B’s Burger Pub, which even has a rock garden in front with blank rocks for the painting, or painted rocks for the taking.
“That is where my grandsons and I would get our blank rocks to paint when I first got started,” she said. “I have met so many wonderful people through the rock groups, the same kindred spirits. Mr. B’s is one of our meeting places to exchange rocks.”
Campbell said the Arlington group has around, 2,700 members. The Denton group, though not as large with around 427 members, has a special place in her heart because she will be moving to that area after getting married, after spending the past 34 years in Arlington. She worked 20 years for the city as a network administrator before retiring.
“I have been trying my best to build up the rock community in Denton. There are 136,000 people in Denton, and I believe we can spread some love through rock painting,” she said. “I encourage our members to just paint, get the kids involved and teach them about giving of themselves. It is not an art contest but a way to give back to the communities.”
Painting rocks and spreading kindness keeps Campbell busy. However, she does try to find time to make her own greeting cards, as she loves watercolors.
And she would love to find time to take her rocks to even more places, she said.
“I would love to go into more nursing facilities, adult day care, do something for the ones that somehow get forgotten. That is where my heart is,” she said. “I would need help from others to expand. I would love to encourage anyone out there that is looking for a purpose to get out and help someone with no expectations of anything in return. It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
“The bible says ‘The Lord is my Rock.” It also says in Luke 19:40, ‘I tell you if they keep quiet the stones will cry out.’ I kind of think of it as my ministry, spreading love, hope, encouragement through the rocks.”