WRITER l MARY ROSE KULCZAK
Anna Dravland wanted to bring a little goodness to her community. As a public relations consultant for Travel Marquette, Dravland was well versed in community relations and media platforms. She decided to use her expertise to create Spread Goodness Day, a day set aside for schools, communities, and individuals to share kindness.
“I wanted people to read about it and have it resonate with them, and to have them very easily take it into their world without any rules or instructions or guidelines,” Dravland said. She encouraged organizations, schools, businesses, and individuals to set aside one day each year to do some good in their communities, whether through planned events or spontaneous acts.
What Dravland could not predict was that she would become one of the first recipients of her community’s kindness.
The first Spread Goodness Day took place on March 9, 2018. Just as Dravland began work on publicity for the event, she suffered a devastating stroke caused by a head injury.
“My stroke happened literally two weeks after I launched all of the marketing platforms and started promoting. All I could do was make phone calls once or twice a day. I was very sick, and I was very compromised,” she recalls.
Dravland reached out to Bennett Media Group, who partnered with Spread Goodness Day, to promote the event and share Dravland’s story. She continues to be encouraged by the overwhelming support she receives from businesses and individuals in her community. “I can heavily credit the success of the event to my community in Marquette,” she stated.
Since the stroke, Dravland has had to put her career on hold and work on her recovery, but she continues to focus on Spread Goodness Day as it evolves and grows. What began as an Upper Peninsula event has now expanded to include 12 states and six countries.
Making the Future Bright
Spread Goodness Day’s motto is “Making the future so bright you’re gonna need shades!” The nonprofit organization offers Shades for Schools, which provides sunglasses to participating classrooms. “In the last two years, the schools and teachers are the ones that are really resonating with it. Five thousand pairs of sunglasses were requested, from Los Angeles to Pennsylvania to Florida to Tennessee. We’re trying to apply to get $20,000 to get shades for every one of those schools that applied.”
Empty Bowls Spread Goodness
Joy Bender-Hadley, an art teacher with Marquette Area Public Schools, has partnered with Spread Goodness Day each year. Her students at Marquette Alternative High School participate in Empty Bowls, a program that combines art with hunger awareness. Students make ceramic bowls, serve a meal of soup and bread, and invite guests to keep the bowl as a reminder of those who are hungry worldwide. They also raise funds and collect food for local food drives.
“The idea of doing something good, helping others, and empowering our students and community members to do something to benefit others has always been important to me as well as to our school community,” Bender-Hadley said. “We decided the last few years to coordinate with Spread Goodness Day because that really is what we do. It was the perfect match.”
This year, students are researching issues related to hunger in preparation for the March 13 event. They are also designing placemats, table tents, and a slide presentation to educate those in attendance. They will be joined by students from Northern Michigan University, who will assist in serving the meal and helping with the silent auction fundraiser.
“Every year, we make between $5,000 and $10,000 to donate to chosen nonprofits,” Bender-Hadley said. “It really empowers our youth to recognize that we can all pitch in to help each other and spread goodness! It always brings a smile to their faces. It just feels good.”
March 13, 2020 Events
Dravland hopes that communities will find unique ways to participate in the yearly event. She encourages anyone interested to use the Spread Goodness Day logo, connect with them as a host, and mention them on social media. The Spread Goodness Day website also has an online shop where participants can purchase t-shirts and sunglasses.
“It’s powerful to put goodness into the world,” she said. “You can change it every day. I sincerely believe that those single actions and deliberate steps we take every day towards goodness are earth-shatteringly life-changing to the world.”