If you know me, you know I am very proud of my friends. To a fault, some might say. I am fiercely protective of them, and try to be as supportive of them as they are of me. This blog post is about a friend who has not only been immensely supportive and helpful over the years, she’s also nothing short of inspirational as well.
Kimberly Olson and I met when we worked together several years ago at the Holiday Inn West, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We had a few friends in common, so when we each left the hotel (I think I left first, but cannot remember for certain) we managed to keep in touch. I had moved on to another hotel in town, while Kim did something brave: she started her own business.
Olson Cleaning & Design was her dream, her passion turned reality, and she ran with it. Organizing, painting, cleaning…she is a one-woman dynamo, and anyone who knows her can – and will – confirm this. For I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not the only one who is constantly amazed at her ability to wake up before the chickens with more drive and energy than I will manage to attain all day, and keep churning at that level until her day is done. She has often been compared to Hammy, the high-spirited squirrel from the animated movie, “Over The Hedge,” because she hits the ground running, and just doesn’t seem to stop. And it’s no coincidence that the acronym for her company is “OCD.” But she has taken that OCD, and turned it into a positive force that serves her well, and has her clients referring her time and time again.
I myself hired her when I got the job in Oklahoma City, and needed to relocate. I had already “moved” to OKC, but all my belongings were still in Kalamazoo, waiting for the moving company to come pack them, and bring them to Oklahoma. Kim was there to let them into the apartment, facilitate the packing, then cleaned the apartment when the movers left, and turned the keys over to my landlord. (rest in peace, Robert Bellisle – the best landlord a person could ever have) When Kim was done with it, the apartment looked as though I had never been there. It’s that very quality – her ability to exceed expectations – which recently rocked me to my core. Having known her for as long as I have, it really didn’t surprise me so much as it moved me.
Last week, I wanted to send a bouquet of flowers to my mother. I could certainly use a florist, but have had mixed results in the past when it came to such a thing. Either the flowers were not delivered in a timely manner, or the bouquet was far less than expected. So I asked Kim for her help. Not only did she gladly volunteer, she insisted on paying for the flowers. I insisted right back, and let her know I would be sending money to cover the bouquet, and her time/effort in doing this huge favor for me. After all, there was nothing she could do to stop me from buying the gift card, and mailing it to her.
I did, however, forget that last Monday was a federal holiday, so my gift card didn’t reach Kim until *after* she had already purchased the flowers. Oh, well, at least she got it. The day she delivered the beautiful floral bouquet to my mom was one of the many with single-digit temperatures, and wind chills well below zero, yet she still selflessly took the time out of her busy day to make this trip, and visit a while with my mother.
That’s a perfect example of the kind of person she is. And for as amazing is that story is, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. For the story doesn’t end there…
She and I were trading texts later that evening, and I was trying to find enough words to thank her for all she has done for me, when she filled me in on the status of my gift card. As I mentioned earlier, she said she insisted on buying the flowers herself, and didn’t want my money. Remember the ultra low temperatures I referenced? It turns out Kim was volunteering at a thrift shop, where she encountered a homeless man who asked if he could borrow some clothes to keep him warm. You know where this is going, don’t you?
Knowing more sub-zero weather was coming, Kim bought the man a coat, gloves, jeans, thermals, sweatshirt, and a sleeping bag. (Please read that again, pause, and allow it to truly sink in) I cried when she told me this, and I’m getting chills again as I type it. But that’s Kim: she goes above and beyond, and then pays it forward.
I didn’t ask her permission to share this story, so I hope she doesn’t mind. I wanted to tell this story because I feel it needs to be shared. It needs to be told over, and over and shared repeatedly. In a world where we are bombarded day in and day out with negativity, bad news, and sad tales, it is stories like this – and people like this – which remind us of the goodness still in the world. A restoration of faith in our fellow man, if you will. I am so VERY proud to call Kim my friend. I am very lucky to have her, and others like her, in my life. We are all very fortunate people who display such human kindness DO still exist.
I hope this blog post will inspire you to pay it forward in whatever way you are able. It need not be a big, grand gesture. Small acts of kindness can mean a great deal. Whatever you decide to do, please #MakeItMatter. And be sure to reach out and thank those you know who are also doing so.