My heart grew two sizes

Last month we hosted the “Pennies in the Cup” 28-day challenge where we committed to preventing conflict with the vulnerable folks we serve.

I was blown away by the number of folks who signed up for the Challenge:

  • Thousands started the challenge.
  • Around 1,000 people stuck with it through to the end

There’s one story in particular that I want to share with you because it embodies “Pennies in the Cup.”

Britt wrote:

I work at the circulation desk of a public library, and it has been a rough winter.

We have had very difficult patrons who have many issues. I have left work feeling stressed, worn out and very happy to leave.

In the past month, we have had an issue with people smoking on library property (a big no no), and although we have asked patrons to go to a designated spot, the requests get ignored and we have been overwhelmed trying to police the situation.

I watched your training on Pennies in the Cup and staff started asking patron names and getting to know them a bit better. We can now greet them all personally when they come through the door, and it has made a difference.

As I was leaving two days ago, I noticed that the group was in the designated smoking area!! I thought to myself, “FINALLY!!!” and started getting into my car. Then I decided to take the extra minute to get out of my car and go thank them for following our policy and helping us keep the library a smoke-free zone.

The next day one of our ladies (Shirley) brought us a whole tub of cookies that she had picked up from the food pantry. She thanked us for all that we do and said she knows that some days their group has been difficult. She thanked us for giving them a chance and a warm safe place to come every day.

I was so touched that this woman who struggles to obtain food on a daily basis would walk all that way to bring back cookies for our staff.

My heart grew two-sizes bigger that day and my faith in what we do here was returned.

So, thank you Ryan!

(There’s a P.S. from Britt at the end of this email – see below.)

There have been tons of stories like that. It’s kinda awesome.

When we see the humanity in those we serve and treat them as equals, it transforms our library, shelter, soup kitchen, business, etc. into a place folks want to be.

Oh – I almost forgot – people who didn’t win a prize have been asking how they can buy one.

We opened the Empathy Gear store through April 7.

Here’s the link:

If the link doesn’t work, type it in your browser.

Have a great week!


P.S. from Britt to Library workers everywhere:

It is important for me to mention that the moral of my story is not that “using empathy will solve all of our problems.” We are Librarians-humans helping other humans – and we will have bad days, bad weeks, bad months. We will be frustrated, burned out, and wondering why in the world we bother trying. And then, a small act of kindness (a woman and some cookies) can make us pause for just a moment and remind us to stop, and breatheeee and realize what a rare and wonderful gift we have to offer. A smile to someone who may desperately need it. Asking the name of someone who may feel invisible in this harsh world. A warm building for someone who has nowhere else to go. Empathy and kindness do matter! We are Librarians, we are warriors, we can do this.

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