From Michelle: When we first met Suz Brockmann @ RBTB, we helped her spread the word about a Navy SEAL's need for a bone marrow transplant. You jumped on-board 'cause that's just you. Plus, it's hard not to be swept up in Suz's enthusiasm -- or in her talent for writing books that leave in their wake 90% of even the finest romances. Her newest, "Dark of Night" is no exception, with a finally-requited love story that left me breathless and cheering. Please welcome back Bella Suz with your warmest "See, that's what we're talkin' 'bout!" Bella buongiorno...
From Suz: I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
And, yeah, okay, unlike Blanche Dubois, my dependency isn't physical – it's emotional.
See, like you Bellas do, I believe that most people are good, and that when push comes to shove, they'll treat others kindly and respectfully. Even when hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.
About a million years ago, back before my books hit the New York Times bestseller list, I established an internet message board as a place for readers who enjoy my books to gather.
But it soon became more than a place to socialize – it became a place in which members actively practiced the art of kindness.
It started in earnest when a friend of mine, a sailor named Rob, found out that his tour aboard the U.S.S. Radford had been extended. Instead of coming home for the holidays, he and his shipmates weren't returning to the States and their loved ones until well into the new year.
This was a bummer, Rob told me, because many young sailors never received packages from home. Their families had struggles of their own, and just never got it into gear to send anything. When the members of my board found out about this, a plan was quickly formed wherein Rob would be our Radford contact. We'd send packages – cookies, snacks, books, and other small gifts – to him, and he would distribute them among the crew.
Rob's APO address was posted on my board – and within a week, the packages started arriving. And arriving. And arriving.
Rob kept a running tally of the number of packages and the amount of postage spent to send them (well over $1,000)! And he kept us updated as to amount of joy they brought (priceless!). No doubt about it, the members of my board took the phrase "support our troops" very seriously.
Throughout the years, the regular posters on my board have taken on many similar projects, both big and small:
• Christmas ornaments were sent to the mother of a retired SEAL who'd lost a lifetime of decorations in a hurricane.
• * $4,000 was raised to support the UDT/SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
• Cards of appreciation went out in the dozens to a Vietnam vet who now worked at the post office – a man who got misty-eyed when a board member sent package after package to Iraq, to servicemen and women whose names she didn't even know. He wished, he'd told her, that he'd had that kind of support when he was overseas.
• Bone marrow donor registration drives were organized across the country in response to the news that a SEAL needed a bone marrow match. Bonus: a member's husband was a one in 25,000 match for a desperately ill 12-year-old boy – something that would never have happened without the combined efforts of the entire group. (Lives literally saved by my board: two, and counting...) (Find out more about registering as a bone marrow donor at www.marrow.org )
My internet board is moderated now by a small group of brave and generous volunteers – a change that happened just this past year. But for years it was self-moderated – which, in hindsight, was pretty miraculous in and of itself.
I have always depended – and will continue to depend -- on the kindness of strangers.
Because there's nothing like witnessing honest goodness and genuine, unconditional caring for others to completely drown out all of the unpleasant noise and cacophony that comes with living in this high-speed, easy-access, internet-connected world.
Question: What acts of kindness, random or otherwise, have you participated in (or been the recipient of!) by belonging to RBTB or other internet blogs or boards?
Tomorrow: ME, MY VALENTINE! Show yourself the love -- and find out who's won the "Aint It (A) Grand!" contest!" Ain't gots no Love Day lovah? Don't think the one you got gonna' get it right? Hang here at RBTB and sing praises to the wonder that is you...for prizes!
I'll check in first thing today (ETZ), then be back dinner time and again after. -- Suz***
***Authors: Wanna be a FOB? Link RBTB from your site/blog and send me your url @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll link you up on the Friends of Bellas page!If you sent me your url in the past and don't see it here, I apologize! Please do send it again so I can make you a FOB.