The Arts

Spreading hope and kindness through rocks in Riverhead Town

A simple message painted on a rock can inspire or uplift someone at unexpected moments.

When Megan Murphy founded The Kindness Rocks Project, she began a mission “to cultivate connections within communities and lift others through simple acts of kindness.”

The Kindness Rocks Project has spread across the globe, including now to Riverhead Town. Members of the Riverhead Town Anti-Bias Task Force earlier this year started its own Kindness Rock Project to bring the program to Riverhead.

“We think it’s a small, but powerful way for us all to collaborate on making this a little bit warmer, and kinder and just a more positive place to be,” said Cindy Clifford, the co-chair of the task force.

Ms. Clifford and fellow co-chair Michelle Lynch discussed the program at Thursday’s Town Board work session as they seek approvals from the town to set up gardens to display rocks that have been painted by community members. The task force first announced the program in January as residents were invited to begin painting rocks either on their own or at the Riverhead Free Library where a craft table was set up. A chapter of the Butterfly Effect Project also contributed painted rocks.

Now, the task force is taking the next step to set up gardens all throughout the town, where the painted rocks can be displayed and picked up by whomever may need a bit of uplifting.

Each garden will initially have about a dozen rocks, Ms. Clifford said. She proposed setting up gardens at locations such as town hall, the senior center and town parks and beaches. The task force has already gotten commitments for gardens at the library, First Baptist Church, Colony Realty and Aquebogue Elementary School.

“We would just like to, as much as we can, cover as much as Riverhead as we can with these gardens, because we think it’s something really special and it costs pretty much zero dollars,” Ms. Clifford said.

She said they’re expecting other Riverhead schools and houses of worship to participate as well.

The gardens would be relatively small, at about 2 feet by 3 feet, but the space for each garden can vary. Ms. Lynch said someone can also register locations, so someone can visit the website and search by zip code to find gardens.

“It’s a great idea,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said, while holding a blue rock. “We’ll definitely find a space for you at the new Town Square.”

The supervisor asked the task force to provide a list of locations.

Councilman Ken Rothwell said he thinks it’s a “beautiful program.”

“If you help one person in the whole process, then you’ve done a wonderful thing,” he said.

Ms. Clifford spoke about the benefits of art therapy.

“It uses a different part of your brain,” she said. “If you’re worried about things and you’re having a bad day. … It just makes a great difference in your moment and then you’re creating something pretty and passing it on.”