By Senior Airman Tristan Truesdell, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 09, 2019
The message ‘The most beautiful things are a little broken’ is shown on a split rock during a resilience event Sept. 26, 2019, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The 341st Medical Group supported a national movement by having members design rocks to spread awareness and positivity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Truesdell)
Airmen and civilians with the 341st Medical Group place colorful rocks on the ground for a resilience event Sept. 26, 2019, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. During Suicide Prevention Month, local middle schoolers teamed up with the 341st MDG to decorate rocks as a reminder that everybody matters and there are people out there who care. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Truesdell)
Colorful rocks display various messages during a resilience event Sept. 26, 2019, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. As a result of a resiliency tactical pause, Airmen within the 341st Medical Group painted rocks, varying between inspirational messages or sceneries to encourage positivity and kindness amongst one another. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Truesdell)
Members of the 341st Medical Group pose for a group photo with a display of ‘kindness’ rocks during a resilience event Sept. 26, 2019, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. These Airmen were inspired by a local middle school’s project and decorated motivational rocks, which are now displayed throughout the building. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Truesdell)
Compliments, digging out a car buried in snow and paying for someone’s meal all have one thing in common: a random act of kindness to positively influence someone else or simply make their day better.
Melissa Laferriere, 341st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron mental health technician, used an opportunity to give back to her fellow Airmen – with the support of the entire 341st Medical Group and a neighbor.
Laferriere noticed her neighbor, Jennifer Volkmar, a local middle school art teacher, collecting rocks for a heartwarming cause.
“It was for a national movement called The Kindness Rocks Project,” Laferriere said. “You collect a rock, decorate it with a positive message and place it somewhere for someone to see and hopefully pass it on.”
The mission of TKRP is to inspire others through small acts of kindness to positively impact someone’s day, outlook or even their life.
Volkmar and her students found an inexpensive way to support the military and give back to them through TKRP.
“My students were incredibly proud that Laferriere took the time to share what a simple rock could do for anyone struggling,” Volkmar said.
Laferriere built off of Volkmar’s class project to set up an event within the 341st MDG.
“The timing was perfect since it was Suicide Prevention Month,” Laferriere said.
Coincidentally, the MDG was due for their resilience tactical pause, a one-day stand down announced from Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright to discuss resiliency and suicide prevention amongst wingmen.
“The rocks ended up turning into our RTP project,” Laferriere said. “We collected rocks around the group, took them home, spray painted them and brought them in during the actual RTP day.”
“We laid the rocks out and members would come over, grab one and create anything they saw fit,” she continued.
Airmen painted on as many as four stones each, varying between inspirational messages or bright sceneries.
After the rocks dried, Airmen laid them in unexpected areas like windowsills, light fixtures or even wedged them in trees.
The idea is for the rocks to gain attention, even if it’s for a moment and share the message they hold: kindness, love and encouragement.
“I’m hoping that people will pick up these rocks, read the messages and place them in another area so the message can spread,” Laferriere said. “I have a box full of blank ones in the pharmacy lobby for staff or patients to write their own messages they’d like to pass along.
“These rocks are a reminder that everybody matters and there are people out there who do care and love you,” Laferriere added. “[We want to instill] something positive in hopes that that one message brings a smile to someone, or encourages them to reach out if they need help.”