Dick Yarbrough: Autistic teen reminds us that kindness is for everyone
Just when you think there is no place left in this politically toxic, mudslinging, in-your-face world for any goodness, along comes 17-year-old Jordyn Moore, a teenager from Forsyth County, to happily prove us wrong.
Jordyn is autistic and struggles with the skills that most of us take from granted, but with the help of supportive parents, a good friend named Sarah Chirchirillo. and an occupational therapist, she is running her own business by folding, packaging, and shipping T-shirts that say “Be Kind to Everyone.”
The project was the idea of her parents, Ben and Jackie Moore, and was intended as a way to prepare Jordyn to successfully enter the workforce upon her graduation from school. No big deal, just a few weeks in the summer.
So, how did this all come about? Jackie said, “My husband and I were out on a ‘date night’ and were talking about Jordyn and her future. We decided that we needed to change our focus from worrying about her to doing something positive.” From that came the idea of a T-shirt. And not just any T-shirt, but one emblazoned with “Be Kind to Everyone.”
Jackie said her philosophy is we can be anything we want to be, so why not be kind? Why not, indeed? She went to the Internet to see if someone was using that term. No, they weren’t. She checked to see if it would be available as an internet address. Yes, it was. Are you beginning to see a trend here? Like good things can actually happen to really good people.
Jackie said, “When we started out, we were just trying to give Jordyn some experience folding and packing the shirts. We were hoping we might sell 40 or so T-shirts to family members.”
That was 8,500 T-shirts ago. Shipped to all 50 states. So much for that summer project. But it gets even better. Jordyn has become a celebrity at Lambert High School. Students and teachers are wearing “Be Kind to Everyone” shirts and folks are asking for pictures made with her and talking to her about the project. “It has truly changed her life,” said her mother.
As for Jackie, she is beginning to be asked to appear before school groups in other states to talk about kindness being a potential antidote to bullying.
People who have purchased “Be Kind to Everyone” shirts tell Jackie they find themselves being — well — kinder, and discover that people are nicer to them in return. That applies not only on these shores but to folks who have worn them overseas. “It’s hard to be a jerk when you are being kind,” she says. Now, that will preach.
Growing up in the South, I was raised to be kind. Remember the Golden Rule. Love your neighbor. Respect your elders. Don’t interrupt people while they are talking. I was taught to say “yes, ma’am” and “yes, sir” and “thank you” and for the most part, I still do. There is always the chance that Daddy is watching from heaven.
But I’m not as nice as I used to be. I suffer fools poorly. I am impatient and I occasionally say or write something I probably would have been better off to have let pass. Clearly, I am a candidate for one of Jordyn’s T-shirts. But then, so is the president of the United States, members of Congress, the pathetic souls who produce anonymous rants on social media, my colleagues in the media, and all the mean-spirited, special interest groups spouting hate. Kindness is in short supply these days.
That is where Jordyn Moore comes in. What started out as a small effort to teach an autistic child some basic skills for the future has grown into something far beyond what the Moore family ever imagined. Where is the project headed? “We have no idea,” Jackie says. “I just know our family spends every evening after dinner in the basement helping Jordyn fulfill the orders we have received.” And Jordyn seems to have found full-time work running a business that can make a difference in her life and in ours.
You can purchase your very own “Be Kind to Everyone” shirt at www.bekindtoeveryone.com and you can follow this remarkable story on her Facebook page.
Thank you, Jordyn Moore, and family for reminding us that we have a better side than what we sometimes show. It is hard to be a jerk when you are being kind.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at email@example.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia, 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.