Commissioner promotes acts of kindness in county

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/3/17

District 1 Walker County Commissioner Keith Davis is undertaking a leadership project that is simple: Promoting citizens to perform acts of kindness, and leaving cards to urge people to do the same.

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Commissioner promotes acts of kindness in county

Posted

District 1 Walker County Commissioner Keith Davis is undertaking a leadership project that is simple: Promoting citizens to perform acts of kindness, and leaving cards to urge people to do the same.

Davis is known for working on a Leadership Walker County project to make improvements to the Walker County Airport-Bevill Field (the latest of which is a new sign erected at the gate). However, he has also been involved in a leadership project associated with the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA).

He said he was one of 16 picked in the state by a committee to participate in the ACCA’s PLAN program, which stands for Passion, Leadership, Accountability and Networking. A handful of invited commissioners to be put through the two-year leadership program, much like Leadership Walker County on the local level.

“It’s a huge honor. I was humbled and honored to be chosen for it,” he said, noting the 16 were picked out of 300 commissioners statewide to learn how to be better leaders in the local communities.

A number of meetings have been held during the project, starting in January and including a two-day retreat at Lake Martin. Webinars are held every other month, and other commissioners in the program act as accountability partners to check on the work and encourage each other. The program will conclude in August 2018, when presentations are made on projects.

Like the local leadership program, a project — in this case, a “Passion Project” — is undertaken by each of the 16 members of the PLAN program to improve the community, with accountability partners checking in with each other on the projects.

Davis said he thought about different needs in the community, pointing out some commissioners undertake boat docks, civic centers and similar projects. “We’re fortunate enough to have all those things here,” he said. “A lot of them are focused on broadband width for their county. Again, we’re fortunate enough to have that here.” 

He said he has had a tendency for years in a drive-through line to pay for the meal going to the car behind him.

“That’s a random act of kindness. That is what got me to thinking about what to do,” he said, noting he prayed about it, eventually realizing that acts of kindness can be random or on purpose. So I just came up with Walker County Acts of Kindness.” 

Then he came across an idea of “kindness cards,” where after an act is made, one leaves a card. “Then you hope that person passes it on to the next person,” he said.

He called Chamber of Commerce of Walker County Executive Director Linda Lewis and Paul Kennedy, executive director of the Walker County Area Community Foundation, to bring them in on the idea. Eventually, he also brought in Daily Mountain Eagle Publisher James Phillips on the project, making for four peoples to serve as the core group on the project, bouncing ideas off each other.

Cards and bracelets have been printed with the motto “Live Kind,” as well as the hashtag #WCAOK, which will in time be used for Twitter. A Facebook page has already been set up, which about 530 people have liked and followed after only a couple of weeks of operation.

“The focus of the Facebook page is that when someone does an act of kindness for someone, the person that received the act of kindness can go on the Facebook page and tell about it,” Davis said.

He said similar Facebook pages have had people doing acts of kindness in memory or in honor of other people.

Davis said the act of kindness can be simple, without having to deal with money, such as letting someone else in line go in front of you at the grocery store, opening the door for someone and cutting grass for your neighbor. Other general suggestions are on the card, such as sending an encouraging text, making someone laugh, buy a meal or thank a veteran.

While acknowledging that it is a simple idea, it can change the day for someone.

“You get in a situation where things are going another way, and you remind yourself on how you need to act. You need to act like a Christian and you need to be kind,” Davis said, noting if 10 or 10,000 acts of kindness are done in the county on a day, it is a success.

Such acts of kindness are being done already. The program is a way to give a platform to have an organized effort to do it.

He said by doing an act of kindness, he gets a benefit from it as well.

“When I buy that person’s breakfast (in the drive-through), I look back. I’ve gotten a thumb’s up. I’ve had people sticking their head out the window, just in shock. That’s the whole purpose,” he said.

The project began in earnest six weeks ago, with the cards, bracelets and Facebook page in place. Now the group is looking to sponsor efforts of kindness in a major way. The first such sponsorship is the Holiday Toy Drive that the commission participates in, with toys and checks still being accepted.

Revenue Auditor Robbie Dickerson, who is helping lead the drive, said this year the drive is partnered with the Walker County Community Action Agency, with the toy drive underway to Dec. 9. Toys will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 10 a.m. at the Walker County Community Action Youth Building at 1804 6th Ave. in Jasper. Sponsors for the event include the Walker County Commission, the City of Jasper, Jasper Main Street and the Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board.

The commission office and the Daily Mountain Eagle are among a number of sites collecting toys. One may email at wctoydrive1@gmail.com or call Revenue Auditor Robbie about the Holiday Toy Drive at 205-388-2880.

He also said the group is working with one of the teams of the Leadership Walker County program this year, which is also taking it up as its project. “We’re going to see if we can take it on to the next level,” he said, adding that will bring 14 more people to work on that project.

Davis said in society today, where bashing is normal on social media, this type of project is sorely needed, especially as Walker County many times has a self-image problem to start with.

“If anything, our county needs this,” Davis said. “Our county gets a bad PR image or bad rap a lot of times. There are some of the best humble, hard-working, giving people I’ve ever been around.” He pointed to all the Thanksgiving meals prepared for the less fortunate recently.

“It’s just refreshing to see that type of love and kindness for this county. It’s here. We just need to promote it a little bit more, promote it over the bad things that happen to the county,” he said.

The project has been self-funded by Davis so far, but as the project grows, funding may come in to do other works, he said. He also hopes to expand the scope of the work with other groups and church groups, as well as to spread it to other counties of the state. He said the chamber’s Junior Ambassadors are planning to participate in the effort.

Davis said he made a presentation to participants in the Leadership Walker County group, which was very favorable in the project. “The response was huge. They loved it. They all agreed it was something needed in the county,” said Davis, who spoke a few days ago to chamber officials.

The cards and bracelets will be available to people at the offices of the county commission, the chamber, the foundation, and the Daily Mountain Eagle, particularly at the commission office, he said.

Anyone wanting more information may go to the Facebook page.