August 26, 2014
The first kindness trees on the University of Missouri campus are now located just outside of the Sinclair School of Nursing. They were dedicated by nursing dean emerita, Rose Porter, PhD, RN. Rose served as the dean of the school from 1999 to 2008.
Her and her husband, Mike, say the university and city of Columbia have given them such great lives, they needed some way to say thank you. Their solution were to dedicated trees and benches around campus.
“We want this space to become a symbol of compassion and kindness, a campus of understanding of creating a community of caring and love for one another,” Porter said.
The mindset behind the trees and benches comes from a long history of dealing with students. It all started with former chancellor Brady Deaton’s wife, Anne, and her vision of planting a grove of trees to honor children harmed because of mental illness. After the tragedy in Sandy Hook, Anne and fellow nursing alumna, Suzanne McDavid, kicked the project into high gear. That grove of trees is now planted at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia.
However, Rose wanted to expand the grove to the university. The theme of all of her trees is a powerful motto she is a firm believer of, “A single act of kindness can change a life forever.”
“That’s a very powerful statement, and how apt it is that it’s being planted at the school of nursing because who know better than a nurse of how important it is to reach out with kindness,” McDavid said.
Rose says the motto came from a story about a middle school student that was going to commit suicide. He ultimately decided against it when someone showed an act of kindness towards him.
“That was very touching. Then after spending two years as interim dean at the college of education did I ever become aware of the mental health needs in our schools. That’s where it really, really hit me,” Porter said.
Rose and her husband are dedicating a total of 6 trees and two benches. She says the areas where they reside, are not their space, but they’re a special place of healing, rest and kindness for everyone.