Changing lives in Oklahoma, one rock at a time

Jonathan Kaupanger
September 06, 2018 - 1:11 pm

Photo by Stacy Rine


Some rocks are simply just better than others.  There’s the Rock of Gibraltar guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.  Of course, we have Plymouth Rock here in the U.S. In Mecca, you’ll find the Black Stone of the Kaaba.  The Blarney Stone in Ireland, Kindness Rocks at the Oklahoma VAMC, Rosetta Stone from Egypt and Scotland’s Stone of Scone, just to name a few. 

Wait... Oklahoma Kindness Rocks?

As you walk up to the front doors of the Oklahoma VA Healthcare System in Oklahoma City, you’ll find a festively painted rock garden with the sole and wonderful purpose of brightening up your day.

“We started by hiding them around the hospital,” says Stacy Rine, Public Affairs Officer at the Oklahoma VAMC.  “Kind of like an Easter Egg.  We wanted to have this brightly painted rock with a really nice inspirational message, so if you’re walking by you just randomly saw this rock.” The rocks were painted, some include inspiring messages while others just a simple picture.  The idea was to just brighten somebody’s day.

Two problems jumped up right from the start.  At about a million square feet, Oklahoma’s VAMC is a big hospital.  “Finding an Easter egg is kind of difficult,” adds Rine.  “People were looking for them, but you can’t always find something when you’re looking for it.”  This was an easy fix for Rine, who create a rock garden by the front entrance.  But this brought out the second problem, people would walk by but didn’t want to take them.

These rocks are designed for people to take and either keep or share with somebody who needs some type of kindness in their day.  This was solved by adding a sign in the garden.  “One message at just the right moment can change your entire day... outlook... life.”  Visitors are instructed to either take one, share one or even leave one to inspire another person.

Photo by Stacy Rine

Rine says they go through about 500 Kindness Rocks each week.  The majority come from the local community groups that typically support veterans at the Oklahoma City VAMC.  Staff paints some, church groups help out and even people who are just there to visit veterans in the hospital add their artistic touch to the rock garden.  But these inspirational rocks aren’t just local igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic – they are interstate rocks too.

“A few weeks ago we had 250 rocks shipped all the way from Manassas, Virginia to our hospital,” says Rine.  A woman in Virginia was about to visit her best friend who was a patient at the VAMC in Oklahoma.  Her husband was a veteran and she was inspired by the Oklahoma Kindness Rocks.  She painted the rocks in Virginia and had all 250 shipped to the Sooner State.

The Kindness Rocks are helping.  “We’ve been getting some great responses from our veterans,” says Rine.  “Nobody actually wants to come to a hospital; you come to a hospital because you need to be here.  People have told me [the rocks] have reduced their anxiety of walking in a hospital and reduced their stress level.”

Rine keeps a few of these special rocks on her desk, as one would expect.  Just a small pile of five. The one she sees first, every time she walks into her office has a message that we all should take to our hearts: Be the reason somebody smiles today!

If the Oklahoma Kindness Rocks inspire you to spread some love, grab a rock, paint it and drop it in the mail to the Oklahoma VAMC.  Or you can find someone closer to home who just needs a brighter day because Kindness Rocks.

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