‘We are all connected [and] when you show someone kindness, they can take that kindness and give it to someone else,’ says Jemmie Adams as he doles out $10 bills to a succession of customers at a BP gas station in Jersey City . . .
The suspicion he encounters is overlooked and he asks for nothing in return. For Jemmie, spreading a little goodwill is reward enough. In total, he makes 28 such donations and goes home almost $300 out of pocket. It is, he reckons, money well spent, a safe investment. In this respect, at least, Jemmie has riches beyond his wildest dreams.
‘Once you truly and fully understand that we are all connected, you can work on relationships and the harmony [that] we have between each other,’ explains a man who has just completed a kindness quest that spanned 30 days, cost him $1500 and did immeasurable good. It was on Day 28 that Jemmie decided to hang out at the gas station on Communipaw and West Side (hence the number of $10 donations he made), but beforehand he had completed many other good deeds.
Feeding the hungry, sending roses and chocolates to 19 women at Hope House (an emergency shelter) to mark Valentine’s Day, paying bus fares for 26 commuters travelling home from work (the tickets cost $1.50 each and Jemmie had to get on and off three different buses in order to complete the task) . . .
‘God bless him,’ says Monique McCall, who was frantically searching for change to fund her journey when Jemmie approached and told her to put her purse away. Not everyone is so trusting. Delores Jackson thought ‘con artist’ and Ann Clayton asked ‘what’s the catch?’ upon encountering Jemmie’s benevolence. Their apprehension is, unfortunately, understandable and indicative of the times in which we live. With people like Jemmie in our midst, however, there is hope that things might soon change for the better.
‘There are still nice people in the world,’ says Rav Sandoval, who works in the tire center in Lyndhurst where, on Day 29, Jemmie sent 29 delicious pizza pies for the enjoyment of the employees. ‘There aren’t many people who’d do that,’ says Jonathan Rodriguez, who gratefully received $10 at the gas station. ‘It’s these little things that add up; it’s beautiful,’ says Lavette Pickett, a residential assistant at Hope House.
Jemmie’s good deeds are nothing new – far from it, in fact. During his teenage years, he passed on clothes that he had outgrown to those in need (leaving them, folded neatly, on his garden fence for anyone to take) and, according to Talib Ahmad, a friend since grade school, he was always looking to help those less fortunate. ‘He wants people to pick up on being kind to each other and establish that as the norm instead of it being odd,’ Talib says.
The signs are that it is starting to work. Back at the gas station, one man, Tom Revell, refused to take the $10 and instead told Jemmie, ‘Give mine to the next person’. The chain reaction has begun, Tom’s a response that is preferable to earlier experiences.
‘When I first started, people were shocked that I was doing it,’ adds Jemmie. ‘[They’d be saying] ‘What? Are you crazy?’ For people to be that desensitized is just sad. Some people say ‘I can’t help everybody so I’m going to help nobody’ but that’s the wrong attitude. If I show you kindness, you might show your wife kindness or your co-worker kindness. The fact is, you count. You actually matter.’
Here at OM®, such things mean a great deal to us and we’d like to applaud Jemmie and the innumerable others out there showing people the path, setting an example and spreading goodwill. You know, a little kindness goes an awful long way. Here’s to Jemmie and here’s to harmony . . .