Kindness garden pops up in Port Jefferson

Kindness garden pops up in Port Jefferson

By David Luces 

For Susan Orifici, head of graphic, archival and special projects at the Village Center in Port Jefferson, a walk along the water at Harborfront Park inspired a plan to spread positivity in the community during these uncertain times. 

“I saw the rocks on the shore and I thought of the idea of doing something creative with them; something that would be perfect for families and children who come to the park,” she said. 

The idea culminated into what she calls the “Be Kind Movement,” where individuals can come up to a table in front of the Village Center, pick out a rock, take it home and paint a message of hope, kindness or a fun design. Once they are done painting his of her rock, Orifici said they can place their rock in the designated “Kindness Garden” located behind the Long Island Explorium at the Children’s Park off East Broadway. 

Orifici also suggested that individuals use permanent markers or acrylic paint when designing their rock as these will last longer out in the elements. 

The graphic artist said the table and sign in front of the building is there 24/7. “We try to have it up everyday,” she said. “If it’s too windy or if it’s raining we take it down for the time being.”

In a short time, community members have embraced the movement, with almost  two dozen decorated rocks placed in the kindness garden so far. 

“I couldn’t be happier with the feedback we’ve been getting; everybody loves the idea,” Orifici said. “I wanted to connect with others during these times and  provide a ray of hope.”

Orifici, who is currently working with five other employees inside the Village Center, said it can be lonely sometimes as there’s only so much they can do at the moment but seeing the progress of the kindness garden has been uplifting. 

“It feels great seeing people stop by the table and taking a rock home with them,” she said.  

While the Village Center remains closed to the public, Orifici said she hopes once restrictions are lessened by the state they will be given the go-ahead to conduct a soft-opening of the center followed by an official reopening. 

With the ongoing success of the kindness garden, Orifici said she hasn’t thought about expansion yet but mentioned that participants could start placing rocks in the flower beds around Harborfront Park. 

She is thankful for the support so far. 

“Port Jeff is a tight community. We understand how they feel during this time, we miss them here [at the Village Center],” she said. “We hope they continue to be strong and keep being creative.”

Photos courtesy of Sue Orifici

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