By Ali Nicole 

Two local kindness ambassadors and purveyors of community service are spreading the word of love and kindness globally in the new book, Love Meets Life: Stories of Love Showing Up in Unexpected Ways. Grace Foxwell Murdock and Martin Hutchison contributed their stories of serving the local community to the collection of stories from 50 different authors. Both local authors steeped their experiences in love in their work of spreading kindness on the Shore.

Grace Foxwell Murdock has long focused on kindness in the Salisbury community, bringing the city into the World Kindness Movement — an inspirational campaign and non-profit that includes members in 27 nations. Last year, Murdock, with the support of Mayor Jake Day, was able to help Salisbury become the second World Kindness City and first World Kindness City USA. It’s through her kindness work that Murdock became involved in the Love Meets Life project.

Tara Ijai, the visionary behind the collaborative book, reached out to Murdock, having been familiar with her kindness journey. The two had been brought together by their shared mission of encouraging and spreading kindness and Ijai’s invitation to Murdock to join on as one of the authors of the developing publication was another opportunity to promote her kindness mission. She would look to her work in Salisbury for inspiration.

The piece Murdock wrote, she explained, has roots stemming back to 2013. In her efforts to promote kindness in schools and the community at large, she began selling bracelets that allow the wearer to count kind acts. This led to her eventual involvement in the World Kindness Movement and the annual Dance for Kindness celebration that would later lead to bringing the distinction of being the first World Kindness City USA to Salisbury. Murdock says she wrote about this journey in her contribution to the book because she, “wanted people to know they could do the same thing in their city, improve their city, and help heal the wounds of whatever is going on in their cities.”

Improving a community through love and kindness is something Martin Hutchison is familiar with via his work in developing community gardens and other community service initiatives. Hutchison and Murdock connected through their shared interest in kindness. Hutchison said, “Grace and I work together often promoting kindness and acts of love in our community,” and through his friendship with her, he would become a contributing author to Love Meets Life.

As a pastor with Community of Joy, Hutchison is not new to writing and accepted the task of penning his perceptions of how love shows up in life. The story he shared was of the development of the Camden Community Garden, which led to the creation of multiple community gardens in Salisbury. Hutchison shared his experience seeing this one garden changing the community around it, enriching the lives of young people, and connecting disconnected neighbors. Hutchison said the story he shared showed, “the way love and blessing was a part of that.”

The real-life stories Grace Foxwell Murdock and Martin Hutchison bring to Love Meets Life doesn’t end with the book itself. One hundred twenty-five signed copies were made available locally and proceeds from the sale of these books are going to Kind SBY and Community of Joy. “All proceeds stay local,” said Murdock.

Kindness and love are continuous efforts for both Hutchison and Murdock. “I’m always been trying to push the church out the building because it should be an agent of love and blessing,” Hutchison emphasizes.  Hutchison and Community of Joy have helped organize and provide support and service for homeless populations — including a mobile shower trailer offering use to those in need — and during the early pandemic, mobilized to deliver meals to school children who couldn’t otherwise access them due to school buildings shutting down.

Grace Foxwell Murdock is looking ahead to Random Act of Kindness Week in February 2021, just as she wraps up a celebrate diversity book campaign that has brought in 170 books to distribute to schools in the area — also a collaboration with Hutchison. Murdock described her belief in the change kindness can bring, “the kindness movement is a real thing and it only takes participation. It can be small, it can be large, but it has to be a way of thinking for people, because then it becomes habit. Then lives are improved, attitudes are improved, and communities are improved. Kindness is an action word and we need the action of people to help our world.”