Anna is a survivor, a suicide survivor. Anna is also a hero, a modern day hero. She dedicates most of her recent life to Hospice and Suicide Prevention. “Spreading kindness and doing acts of kindness for others can heal the most broken of hearts” she says. This is how she has chosen to live her life. Selflessly giving of herself to others, in their greatest time of need. Helping others as her heart heals. She is a living lesson for all of us. Her lesson is as powerful as they come. She has been to a place that all of us hope we will never have to be. She helps to bring back hurting individuals from their darkest place…back to a safe place. She is a comfort to so many as she goes about what has become her passion. As I travel the country, meeting individuals like Anna is so rewarding to me. Learning from the lessons from people like her helps me to better tell students about finding the passion inside them, the passion to help those in need. There aren’t many more things in life that are more important than service to one’s community. She knows how to find just the right words to say at just the right moment. Powerful words of encouragement. She’ll tell you of holding on to the most important belief in your heart to get you beyond an obstacle in your life that you are convinced is insurmountable. How lucky we are to have people like Anna.
Anna also works in Hospice. It takes a special person to be a friend to those who are about to leave this physical world. She is able, because her kind, caring heart is open to everyone, open with an altruistic love to those who may need her for a few short, last moments of their life here on earth. She is the gentle hand that is held as a person releases their hold from this life to their peaceful place of rest. What a beautiful person Anna is. Helping those who look for her comfort, in their greatest time of need. Every one of us could learn volumes from the way in which Anna lives her life. May you know nothing but kindness, beautiful Anna.
Soft spoken and deliberate in nearly every word he chooses to use to explain himself. From the moment I met him, this polite young man asked if I needed a helping hand finding my way around his campus. A big guy, with an inner pride one could detect by the way he spoke, taking time out of his day to help a total stranger, living life by example. This is Will Tidwell. We talked for the entire time we walked across his campus, while he showed me different buildings, landmarks, and the far ridge in which his home was beyond. We talked of his family; his mother is a local teacher and his father, a professor at the campus. One could almost see the foundation of core values, I am sure were instilled in Will at an early age. Core values like, respecting others, pride in community, love of family, and his personal faith. I was about to learn of another value Will has, a core value all of us can learn from, if put in a similar place.
All the while we walked, it seemed as if Will wanted to share something with me and was waiting for just the right moment. Something that is still hard for him to share with others. For seven years, Will was bullied. Seven years of daily torment. Seven years of breaking his spirit. Seven years of verbal and physical abuse. Seven years, at much too young an age to have to deal with by oneself, but Will did. Will was subjected to such negative hatred that it nearly broke him. Because of the insecurities of others, Will faced this undeserved sentence. However, Will had something that the bullies didn’t realize. Will had a belief in himself. A belief in himself because of his core values.
It has been a couple of years since the perpetrators spirit was broken and Will is the person he is, the person he always was. He gets his strength not from knowing that he finally overcame the years of abuse. He gets his strength from a core value he learned as a young man…Forgiveness. Thank you Will’s parents for giving this world such a great young man.
***If you or anyone you know is a victim of bullying or domestic abuse, notify the authorities.