Leave One, Share One, Keep One

Kelli Tierney, Staff Writer

Le Moyne has embraced a national movement to lift people’s spirits by hiding painted rocks adorned with inspirational quotes throughout campus.

With student and faculty mental and emotional health in mind, Karin Botto and Annie Steve, of the Human Resources Department at Le Moyne, have spearheaded the project to spread positivity and keep in line with the campus’ Ignatian spirit.

“If we’re trying to instill collaboration and communication, we can provide positive projects that are mission related, that build community, and that connect people,” said Botto, who oversees all Human Resources functions at the college.

The Kindness Rocks Project was initially founded by Massachusetts-native Megan Murphy, who now works as an author, women’s empowerment coach, business mentor, and lecturer. Murphy found inspiration on a beach in Cape Cod, where she picked up a rock and felt inspired to get creative in honor of her late parents, according to the Kindness Rocks website.

With a focus on community building ingrained in Le Moyne’s mission, the Kindness Rocks Project emulates a spirit of giving back, helping others, and spreading warmth, said Steve, who works as an HR Generalist at the college. Steve also highlighted the bonding opportunity that the project brings to faculty.

“Our office loves to be involved in this project not only because of the kindness and connectivity it promotes throughout the community, but it is also a fun and stress relieving activity to share with our employees and other community members,” she said.

Faculty and anyone who happens to wander by are invited to attend organized workshops where they are given rocks, paints, and creative freedom. The workshops typically take place in the summer or spring, without the added obstacle of Syracuse snow. The colorful rocks are meant to be found by anyone who can benefit from seeing them, making their day a little bit brighter. Many are adorned with creative designs and uplifting quotes, in the hopes that someone will pick one up and smile, like Karin Botto did on the day that she learned of the project.

While walking the campus in 2017, Botto came across a brightly painted green rock placed in the statue of St. Ignatius’s hand and felt compelled to research the project further. Through the rock, she found the Kindness Rocks website, and said she could not help but notice how in line the project was with Le Moyne’s message of giving back. Through her initial curiosity and Annie Steve’s willingness to tackle the goal with her, the Kindness Rocks Project on campus was born.

They have run three workshops on campus within the past three years, allowing all who would like to join the opportunity to relieve stress, relax, and spread some joy. Most of the workshops take place outside on campus, with a showing of around ten people. Stressful times such as midterms and finals weeks for students and faculty are often taken into consideration when planning the workshops, in the hopes of getting rocks to people when they need to see them most.

The rocks can often be found by the statue of St. Ignatius, in the gardens outside Grewen and Reilly Hall or by the Chapel, but painters are invited to take the rocks wherever they wish.

Penny Santy, the Art Director in the Office of Communications at Le Moyne, participates in the workshops and is known for one rainbow trout fish rock in particular. The rock has the words “You can always find a rainbow” painted on it. The design and message were inspired by a recent trip to the Adirondacks and a memory of her grandfather fishing.

“Sometimes people can use these little reminders to look forward. That thought goes nicely with the teachings of Ignatius of having compassion for others,” said Santy.