Dear Batter Up friends, meet Patience Salgado—Richmond’s own Kindness Girl!
This woman is incredible. Honestly, I’ve kinda been putting this blog post off because the immense impact that this woman is having on not just the RVA community, but the kindness revolution that is slowly taking hold of America, is immeasurable—and certainly difficult to summarize in a single blog post. I even emailed her some questions to answer thinking that it would help narrow my focus only to discover that she’s even more incredibly difficult to describe than I initially thought. I’ve been sitting on her responses for three days now. It’s time to put pen to paper. (Errr…fingers to keystrokes.)
I only just met Patience for the first time a couple of months ago when we both signed on to help organize the RVA Coffee Love Valentine’s Day initiative. However, I’ve known about her for a long time. As the art director for Grid Magazine, I’ve seen her name and face come across my desk for a couple of years, and I’ve certainly heard about her many kindness inspired actions throughout the community. In fact, when I first started Batter Up, a couple of people nominated her, but they didn’t actually know her and weren’t able to help me coordinate a delivery. Once I met her and started to learn her circle of friends, I knew it was time to reach out to some people and make this delivery happen.
The first thing I want to share about Patience is the overwhelming comfort that you feel in her presence. There is a safety in her hugs and gentle voice that makes you feel like, no matter how stressed or out of sorts you are, it’s ok. She embodies her name and couples it with a love and openness that’s not quite like anything I’ve seen before. I think she’s one of those people that I could talk to all day without ever running out of things to say—or ever feeling judged for what comes out of my mouth.
Having said all of this, it’s her actions and life’s work that make her truly special. She is a kindness revolutionary and Richmond is lucky to have her. Having grown up in Miami, Patience moved to Richmond when her husband Jorge got a job here, but almost left a few years ago for another job. It was their love of Richmond that made them stay. Patience said, “…[T]here is just something about Richmond. The rise and shift of art and culture over the last decade showed us all the goodness the city holds. It’s a place where you can actually do something, you can be part of a collective and community impact.” I couldn’t agree more. I’ve often said that I don’t think Batter Up would work in many other cities. Richmond embraces “doing” and “making” in a way that is unique and special. There is a creative spirit that lives within Richmond and fosters the very kindness that Patience is spreading.
It would be impossible to list everything that Patience has done in her efforts as a kindness revolutionary, so here are a few of her favorites:
“While The Light of Human Kindness was the hardest, I am proud of how much I grew as a person through that experience. It was incredibly humbling and cracked open so much in me.” For those of you that don’t know, the Light of Human Kindness wall that she initiated with local artist Hamilton Glass is a beautiful interactive mural that was a collaborative community project. It explored what happens when art, technology, and kindness come together. Learn more about it here.
“Ding Dong Ditching will always have a soft spot in my heart because I learned that kindness is so beautifully born from our own need, and sometimes you have to be the very thing you need most yourself.” To be honest I’m not sure what this project was all about. I Googled Ding Dong Ditching and, knowing Patience, I don’t think her definition and the Urban Dictionary’s definition are completely aligned. Ha! But, knowing Patience, it was probably a kindness inspired reinvention of the what the Urban Dictionary claims it to be.
“I loved The Great Day of Garbage Gratitude, as it was about seeing each other and offering a kind of respect that every human deserves and needs.” This one brought a little tear to my eye. I won’t spoil it for you. Go read her blog post about this one.
Having been a blogger since 2001, Kindness Girl was born out of her blogging experience in 2007. It started with a few guerrilla goodness missions that she decided to document and things just blew up from there. But, kindness has been a calling all of Patience’s life. “It’s been a call on my life for as long as I can remember, even as a little child. As a little girl, I was deeply connected to the feelings of others, it was almost overwhelming at times. My kindness work became an expression and way to connect all the humanity I felt and observed. I quickly saw the power of it and started experimenting with all the different ways and places it could reach people and my community. It has evolved SO much since I started. It began as guerrilla, moved through advocacy at times and is now in a social impact/public art place, one that is rooted in illuminating our shared humanity.”
In asking Patience what’s next, it’s clear that she has only scratched the surface. She is growing and evolving. She said, “There has been a huge shift from “I” to “We” for me. I want to collaborate much more and on a bigger scale. There are definitely more social impact projects involving art, technology and kindness in the works… I am most excited about this new kind of kindness I am speaking about now, HumanKIND. IT will hopefully move us beyond niceties and take us to a togetherness that is deep and wide.”
I’m so overwhelmed by Patience’s work and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next. Her contribution to her community is vast and unending, not to mention her family and friends. This woman is constantly coming up with kindness projects—big and small—all the time, while she and her husband both run their own businesses. (Patience is also a very talented photographer specializing in documenting births.) And, oh by the way, she’s an proud, loving mother to FOUR children. Wow. I have a hard enough time just baking a cake each week while running my business and taking care of my dog.
I got to meet one of her sons during the cake delivery. Coincidentally—and completely unplanned—it was his birthday. After reaching out to several people to figure out exactly where we could nail this busy bee down, I finally caught up with her last Thursday. She is teaching a guerrilla kindness class with her friend Victoria Carll at Open High School. The class is working on a big project for the end of the semester. (I’ll let you know details on my Facebook page as soon as they’re made available.) The arrangement was that I would show up at 11:15 and surprise Patience in front of all of the students, but I flubbed the timing. My instructions were to check-in at the main office and then come down to the classroom. I don’t have kids and I don’t know anything about the school systems, so I didn’t know what the process to check-in would be like. Did they need to photocopy my driver’s license? Search my bag? Wand me like a TSA agent? (Apparently I watch too much TV.) So, I got there super early. I happen to run into Victoria outside and she suggested, since I was so early, I could just wait in the classroom and surprise Patience when she walked in. But, Patience surprised us. She was standing there in the classroom when we rounded the corner, with her son, and knew immediately when she saw me with the cake what was happening. Wah-wah. So much for the big surprise. Nevertheless, she was super excited to be battered and teared up a bit. We chatted until the kids arrived for class and I was thrilled to be able to meet the students.
And now for this week’s cake! It was a Banana Butterfinger Cake with a Chocolate Ganache Glaze. It was the second best cake I’ve made since the project started. (I doubt anything can beat that Carrot Cake from week 31.) The recipe came from a blog called Sugar and Charm and you can find it here. Of course, being who she is, Patience shared it with the whole class. I mean, how could you not stuff those adorable faces with cake?!