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Cape Cod’s Kindness Rocks Project

Little messages can have a big impact, Cape Cod Life, April 2017 |

Photograph by Denise Barker

Murphy says she has been blown away by the passion demonstrated by those who have joined her in the effort. “I call them ‘rock stars,’” she says of the group, which she estimates to be in the hundreds; she also has 16,000 Facebook followers as of March 2017. From the 150 participants who took part in free rock-painting events at Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis in the summer of 2016, to a woman in Canada who works at Starbucks and paints hundreds of kindness rocks, leaving them in a basket at the coffee shop for patrons to take, Murphy says many individuals have been paying the project forward in ways she never could have imagined.

And the way Murphy sees it, the perfect message always “finds” the perfect person—the individual for whom the message was “intended.” That certainly seems to have been the case with Emily Johnson and Leslie Hall, two Cape Codders whose lives have been changed by the project.

A resident of East Sandwich, Johnson, 36, says she was in a dark place in 2016 after suffering a nervous breakdown. Then, while walking through the woods along Scorton Creek, she came across a rock with a bright and inspirational message: “One small step may be the start of a beautiful new journey in the right direction.”

For Johnson, this was a turning point. “The rock gave me the inspiration and motivation to keep going,” she says.

Today, Johnson says she loves painting Kindness Rocks—and doing what she can to inspire others. “It reaffirmed that I was going in the right direction,” she says of the rock she found, “and that it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.”

A resident of Cummaquid, Hall, 58, has a similar story. Following a chemotherapy treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute one day in 2015, Hall spotted a colorful rock with a powerful message while walking through a parking lot in Hyannis. “You are loved,” the message proclaimed.

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