Plymouth Keys for Kindness
A group of passionate and determined parents wanted to get involved in their community and bring about positive change. That is how Plymouth Keys For Kindness came to be. In September of 2015, Plymouth Keys For Kindness became a committee of the Terryville Lions Club. Plymouth Keys For Kindness fit into the Lions Club mission to help where there is a need, empower volunteers, encourage peace and improve our community. The group was overwhelmed by the amount of support they were given and were grateful for the opportunity to continue to spread kindness in Plymouth with the Lions Club.
The parents who created Plymouth Keys For Kindness were part of the 2015 graduating class of UCONN People Empowering People, a free training program with a strong community focus offered in partnership with the Plymouth Family Resource Center, the United Way of West Central CT, and the University of CT. As part of the program participants work on one or more projects that benefit their community. The mission of Plymouth Keys For Kindness is to promote kindness, inspire people to recognize its contagious benefits and power to make a difference in people’s lives, and to strengthen our community in a positive way.
The campaign was inspired by the town’s history. Plymouth, Connecticut is the former location of the Eagle Lock Company and home to The Lock Museum of America, the only one of its kind in the country. What better way to unite the community than with keys? The motto of Plymouth Keys For Kindness is “You Hold The Key!" Keys were acquired in a number of ways and made into necklaces to be given out to individuals showing kindness. If an individual receives a key they then “pay it forward” when they notice another being kind.
A wonderful kickoff event was held on April 14, 2015 where the mayor of Plymouth handed out the first key. Necklaces were then distributed to schools, churches and many town organizations and clubs. The community embraced the idea. They became part of the school's program and were used by several local churches, youth groups and bible schools. In addition, Plymouth’s Parks and Recreations summer camp handed out several keys on a weekly basis to children who were chosen by others for showing kindness.
Since then, the Plymouth Keys For Kindness committee has done many things to encourage kindness in the community including message fences and kindness rocks. But their biggest event was “Light The Way For Kindness” held every April 14. Town residents were encouraged to display purple lights or décor on their homes and businesses to show that kindness lives here. The first year, members visited every business along the town's main road encouraging them to participate and honoring them on their Facebook page for spreading kindness.
The second year, 2017, the group began painting homemade yard signs that read “BE KIND” and a key and displaying them outside participating businesses as another way for them to encourage kindness. Some signs were also provided to residents. That same year, Mayor David Merchant declared April 14th to be an annual DAY OF KINDNESS in Plymouth during the opening ceremonies of the Terryville Lions Country Fair. These signs continued to gain popularity during the third year of the event in 2018.
In 2019, the Terryville Lions Club began ordering “BE KIND” signs displaying their international logo, and later adding keys in 2020 to represent the committee's name. These signs were provided to businesses, particularly along Main Street, and to lion’s members and residents who wanted one to display at their homes. The signs were very well received by the town and requests came pouring in for them. The group also started Operation Spread Kindness in which community members were invited to stand at Baldwin Park and hold up a be kind sign as cars passed by.
These Terryville Lions Club BE KIND signs all along Main Street and within neighborhoods have become a wonderful site as you drive through Plymouth every April. Some residents even choose to keep them up throughout the year as a continual reminder. The "Day of Kindness" event and the signs have been a great way to unite the community through kindness and positivity!
More information about this project can be found at: Facebook.com/plymouthkeysforkindness