Tag Archives: strangers

A boy and his goat

This was an act of kindness that was recognized in the West Virginia newspapers.

By Gary A. Harki

The 4-year-old who lost his pet pygmy goat after police found it dead in his neighbor’s bedroom now has a new goat, thanks to two New Yorkers originally from West Virginia.

Mark Taunquin and his wife, Laura Schmidt, read the news story and contacted the Gazette about getting in touch with Lisa Powers and her grandson, Morgan Powers.

Pigmy goat

“We thought about how funny and wonderful it would be to grow up with a pet pygmy goat and how awful it’d be to lose it in such a senseless and cruel manner,” Taunquin wrote in an email.

“So instead of being bummed out about it, we decided to give the family the money to buy another one. We just hope Lisa’s grandson has as much fun with his new goat as he did with Bailey.”

Mark Thompson, 19, of Greenview Road, is charged with animal cruelty after police got a call from the Powers family claiming he stole their goat, which was named Bailey after a female character on the Disney Channel television show “The Suite Life on Deck,” at about 3:15 a.m. on May 2.

When police came to look for clues as to how the boy’s goat ended up dead in his neighbor’s bedroom, Lisa Powers said she knew she couldn’t tell him what happened.

Lisa Powers said she was very grateful for the $150 sent by Taunquin and Schmidt for the new goat.

“My grandson was heartbroken when the little one was gone,” she said of the goat. “We started calling around … It was really hard to find a goat.”

But by Saturday, the Powers family had found Trixie, their new pygmy goat that they bought from a farm in Putnam County. It was already named and fully grown, Lisa Powers said.

“He’s a little afraid of her sometimes. He’s not sure about her horns,” Lisa Powers said of her grandson.

On Monday at the family’s farm near Alum Creek, Morgan Powers fed the goat and talked about how he thinks it got its name.

“They call it Trixie because it trips you all the time,” he said.

Taunquin and Schmidt, who now live in Brooklyn, both have family in the Charleston area.

“I realize that won’t resolve the trauma they’ve suffered, but it really breaks our hearts that this kid lost a pet and all everyone seems to be focusing on is the dark absurdity of Mark Thompson’s grotesque crime,” Taunquin said.

Prosecutors are still looking into Thompson’s actions with the goat, said Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants.

A preliminary hearing in the case was postponed at Thompson’s lawyer’s request so that Thompson can have a psychological evaluation, Plants said.

Thompson remains in jail on a $50,000 surety bond.

Powers’ nephew, Joshua Pollis, and two women went to Thompson’s house on May 2 after getting a call that he had the goat. They say they found him wearing a bra and panties, standing over the dead goat with his pants down and blood all over the floor.

When police entered the house after being called to the scene, they found fresh blood near the front door of the bedroom and in Thompson’s bedroom. Inside the bedroom police found the small gray-and-white goat wearing a pink collar lying dead on the floor, blood coming from its neck, according to the criminal complaint filed against Thompson in Kanawha County Magistrate Court. There was a pornographic magazine photo laying a few feet from the goat, according to the complaint.

Thompson was found several hours later after police searched the house and the surrounding woods.

Thompson allegedly told police he was high on bath salts, a synthetic drug that mimics the symptoms of cocaine and can cause hallucinations, for about three days. The goat was taken to a veterinarian for a necropsy.

Plants declined to disclose the results of the goat’s examination.

“At this point all possible charges are being investigated, including larceny of a goat and animal cruelty for sexual assault,” Plants said.

Lisa Powers said she’s very thankful to the police, Taunquin and Schmidt, and everyone who helped the family since Bailey was killed.

“There’s still kindness in this world,” she said.

Reach Gary Harki at gharki@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


Kindness knows no bounds

This is a blog article from a good friend of mine. It talks about her experience when she was the Public Information Officer on site during the Sago Mine Disaster. This post was published on the 1 year Anniversary of the Sago incident:

The first time I saw the 29 crosses lined across a stage I froze. Not one represented anyone I knew personally, but each represented the families I had spent five, long agonizing days with a couple of weeks prior.  When I saw the same scene repeat itself again on the one year anniversary I was immediately taken back to the events that took place that horrible week.

At the time of the April 5, 2010, mine blast I was the public information officer for West Virginia’s Mine Safety Office. I can’t tell you what time I received the first call, but I can tell you that it set the stage for what was to come – life changing news that no one was prepared for.

The drive to the mine site was long. Longer because the loss of cell service isolated me from what was going on. Even the director of mine safety couldn’t get updates as we made our way to the scene. I don’t know how one can prepare for something like this. I had been with the mine safety office for about two years at the time of this accident, and had to deal with many mine accidents that involved the loss of life. But this was the first time I had actually been onsite at the place of an accident. I knew what my role was, but those responsibilities where momentarily overshadowed by the events unfolding around me, as they would a few times during that week.

The first night the governor met with the families. I couldn’t help but study their faces. I wanted to know their stories. I wanted to know more about their loved ones buried deep inside that West Virginia mountain. I wanted to comfort them and make it all better.

Throughout the week I got the privilege of meeting some of those family members. I listened to them talk about their husbands, fathers, uncles, and brothers. I even watched how some braved the media to tell their stories. I grew in awe of their resilience and held out just as much hope as they did that we would bring survivors to the surface.

When the governor broke the news that the miracle we had been praying for didn’t happen, I painfully watched as grown men sobbed like babies and adult women screamed for their daddies. I had heard the news prior to the governor’s announcement, but it wasn’t until that moment, to witness these reactions, that the realness of this event hit me.  And for the first time that week, I cried.

The first memorial service reopened the fresh wounds and memories of this nightmare. I wore my emotions on my sleeve, unable to hide the pain I felt for the families who suffered great loss. For me, the most emotional part of the ceremony was watching the team of miners I recruited turn on the lights of each hat one by one. These brave men took great pride in this task, but I know their hearts were heavy with sorrow. I can not imagine the pain that the miners’ families went through reliving those painful memories. Because as I sat recounting memories and precious stories of miners long lost, my heart was broken all over again.

Even though one year’s time has passed, many are still grieving. The losses can never be replaced. But as West Virginia pride is rooted in each of us, we continue to move forward. West Virginia pride and passion for a job well done and an honest day’s work is the comfort most in the coalfields seek. West Virginians will never forget, but will move forward into the future because we’re too proud and maybe just too dedicated to do otherwise.

written by Jama Jarrett,

Doing Good Deeds proven contagious – Pay It Forward

Doing selfless good deeds, or just being kind, is contagious — and the behavior of a few can influence many, a new study suggests.

Participants played a “public-goods” game in which one person gives money to others. Players didn’t know each other before the game and never played it more than once with the same person. Yet researchers found that generosity in the first round was tripled by others, who were directly or indirectly influenced to give more.   pay it forward heart

When people benefit from kindness, they “pay it forward,” which creates greater cooperation that influences others in a social network, say researchers Nicholas Christakis, a physician and sociologist at Harvard University, and James Fowler, a social scientist at the University of California-San Diego. Findings were published in March in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Christakis and Fowler also have found happiness, loneliness and obesity to be contagious. In their earlier work, they used records of individuals in Framingham, Mass. But the new study is the first laboratory evidence to support a domino effect in contagion, they say.



Acts of kindness do a mind and body good

We all know that one bad apple can poison the well. Just as one sour apple can spread it’s infectious disease, so too can one or two caring souls spread acts of kindness.

There are many tragedies that plague our world and our every day lives. Bad things happen to good people and it seems unjust and unfair, and it is. However, recent encounters in our country and world have left me feeling such hope and joy, that I cannot help but feel its infectious goodness spreading within us and extending beyond our own small limits.

Recently an outpouring of donations has gone out to our troops, the people of Haiti, food banks, local organizations and churches. I have always been one to give what I can to these groups, but today’s society of people have shown me I am not alone. This experience has taught me several things.

When we sincerely tell our friends, “I am happy to help.” This statement means two things. We are excited to be able to help a friend in need, but people don’t realize the happiness gained from being selfless and sincere and dedicated to a cause and realizing the efforts and impact of a small group.

Whether rallying for a school, for an illness, for an organization, or for a country living in ruins, people are willing to reach out in whatever way they can. This knowledge is a great comfort to me. My mind can rest easier now knowing that there are many, many people who will help our fellow-man and assist to rebuild dreams and lives which makes these worldly burdens a little lighter and a lot more manageable.


Is Kindness Contagious?

Spirit of generosity multiplies and persists, researchers find

Acts of kindness spread rapidly, and it takes only a few people acting cooperatively to influence dozens of others, U.S. researchers report.

They found that when study participants played a game in which they had an opportunity to cooperate with one another, people who received a donation of money were more likely to donate money to other people in future games.

This generated a domino effect in which one person’s generosity spread to three other people and then to nine people who those three people interacted with, and then on to many others as the experiment progressed, said the researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and Harvard Medical School.

This spirit of generosity persists in people who’ve experienced it.

“You don’t go back to being your ‘old selfish self,'” study co-author James Fowler, an associate professor in the political science department at UC San Diego and Calit2’s Center for Wireless and Population Health Studies, said in a news release.

“Though the multiplier in the real world may be higher or lower than what we’ve found in the lab, personally it’s very exciting to learn that kindness spreads to people I don’t know or have never met. We have direct experience of giving and seeing people’s immediate reactions, but we don’t typically see how our generosity cascades through the social network to affect the lives of dozens or maybe hundreds of other people,” Fowler said.

The study was published online in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Kindess Week

Next week is National Random Acts of Kindness Week. It starts Monday, February 15 and goes until Sunday, February 21.

Can you perform one kind act each day next week?

What will you do to celebrate this week?

Please share your acts of kindness with us, I’ll be sharing mine!


Act 118

This is an act that would have gone unnoticed by me and I wouldn’t even have realized it.

internet splttrA lady that was with me in a media training class today came up to me during a break and introduced herself. Now this is no big deal, but what she said next really made my day. She told me that she recognized my name from something her husband had said a while back. She then said that her husband (and these are her words, not mine) “one of the grouchiest people around” had told her about this Kindness blog he discovered and that he really liked what it said and was going to follow me on Twitter. She then said that it really made a difference in his life and it was good to see that someone was still doing good in the world.

I was honored to say the least and very humbled by her words. Since early this summer I haven’t been posting each day and have not been keeping up with the kindness blog as I should be. Well, she and her husband made a difference to me and I am getting back into my regular posting of kind acts. I will try to post every day if possible, but will at least post a few acts a week.

You never know who you are reaching and how what you do can touch somebody’s life. So Act 118 is the blog in itself and the continuation of it!  Please leave comments of your own acts of kindness for others.