Rock Haven, located in front of Bonney Lake’s Pet Pros, is a great place in the city to find rocks to paint or leave rocks for others to find. Photo by Ray Still

Rock Haven, located in front of Bonney Lake’s Pet Pros, is a great place in the city to find rocks to paint or leave rocks for others to find. Photo by Ray Still

Changing lives, one painted rock at a time

Bonney Lake Rocks! is one of many local Kindness Rock Project chapters looking to make positive impacts.

A small act of kindness can go a long way.

That’s what the Bonney Lake Rocks group is all about — spreading joy, good feelings, and, yes, beautifully painted rocks around their city and beyond, hoping to put a smile on someone’s face.

Bonney Lake Rocks, along with chapters in Enumclaw, Buckley, and Sumner, are all a part of The Kindness Rock Project, a coalition of communities that paints, hides and finds rocks all around the world to “to brighten people’s days, and restore humanity a little bit,” said Kristi Robison, the head of the Bonney Lake chapter.

All Kindness Rock Project chapters do basically the same thing — find a smooth rock, give it a makeover with bright colors or positive words, and hide it somewhere where others can find it. Sometimes, the rocks are returned to their original hiding spot, but just as often, the rocks are re-hid in a new area for someone new to find.

In Enumclaw, these rocks can be found all around downtown, especially in Cole Street business windows.

For communities like Bonney Lake that lack a downtown corridor, parks and sports fields tend to be popular places to hide and find rocks.

One special area in Bonney Lake, called “Rock Haven,” is located near the state Route 410 Safeway, in front of the Pet Pros shop. Rocks here are often brought home, painted, and returned for someone else to find later.

Many rock hunters utilize social media to help artists track where their creations end up. Messages on the backs of the rocks let people know to check in with a particular Facebook or Twitter page, share a photo of the rock and where it was found. Some even come with an artist’s initials or signature.

“We’ve had rocks travel to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Montana — people take them with them on trips and leave them behind,” Robison said.

While many local chapters are decentralized, with individuals or families participating at their leisure, the Bonney Lake Rocks chapter has worked toward making their group more social.

“We do a lot more events and specialty things that some of the other groups don’t do,” Robison said.

Bonney Lake Rocks meets at the city library at least once a month as a group to paint, trade, and even hold contests for kids and adults alike, with prizes ranging from bragging rights to specially-painted rocks.

Many who attend the Bonney Lake Rocks meetups are folks just looking to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of life, and sit down to enjoy an affordable, stress-free hobby.

“It’s great therapy. Great stress relief,” said Jennifer Stone, another administrator of the group. “I love seeing that families are doing it together.”

Stone said a married couple recently joined the group, a woman who was all about participating and her husband who was there for support, but had little interest in painting rocks.

“She told me, ‘I’m going to get him painting with me.’ And it hadn’t happened, until all of a sudden, one week ago, he painted his first rock, and everyone fell in love with it, and he’s hooked now,” Stone continued. “He’s hooked. They go for nightly walks, looking for rocks, hiding rocks. It’s something they do together.”

This rock river near the Bonney Lake Senior Center was created by a local girl scout troop. These rocks aren’t for taking, but can give folks ideas for how to paint their own rocks. Photo by Ray Still

This rock river near the Bonney Lake Senior Center was created by a local girl scout troop. These rocks aren’t for taking, but can give folks ideas for how to paint their own rocks. Photo by Ray Still

Others gravitated to the group for the community support, looking for healing and love.

When Stone’s wife passed away around two years ago, a friend in the Tacoma Rocks group suggested she join up with a chapter.

“She knows I painted, I’ve painted my whole life. She said, ‘Why don’t you do this? It’ll give you something to do, rather than just sit around and be sad,’” she said. “It’s very therapeutic… Doing something nice for somebody, even a little nice, can help make your bad feel a little less bad.”

Still others are hoping their small works of art can help improve someone’s life, even if just a tiny bit.

Robison got involved because many of her friends pressured her to join the group. She found it was fun to paint, but bought into the group’s cause when she received a message through Facebook about how one of her rocks changed someone’s life.

“I got a message from a young lady that was the victim of domestic violence. Her spouse had beat her up, she had left the house with her kids, and she was sitting in the Safeway parking lot trying to decide what her next move was going to be,” Robison said. “She said, ‘I thought that my life was over…. I didn’t want to turn to somebody else because I feel like a failure.’ And she got out of her car to smoke a cigarette and she looked down at the ground and saw those rocks at Rock Haven. And the very first one that caught her eye was one that said ‘you matter.’ She said that little bitty rock gave her the courage to call her parents in eastern Washington and say, ‘I need to come home.’”

Stone also works with quadriplegics, and brings rocks to share with them.

“They love it,” she said. “I figure, anything that can brighten your day when you’re an 18 year old boy stuck in a body that doesn’t work, but your mind does, you need anything you can to make your day bright.”

The Bonney Lake Rocks group encourages people to come even if they don’t know how to paint or have any materials, because the community will help them out.

“You don’t need artistic talent. You don’t need to have money. It’s not about any of that stuff,” Stone and Robison said. “Our statement is, ‘spreading kindness one rock at a time.’ One little rock can make somebody’s day.”

UPCOMING EVENTS

March 28, 5 to 7 p.m.: Easter Egg Rock Hunt. Geared mainly toward children, the Bonney Lake Rocks group will hide Easter-themed rocks around Rock Haven, the Bonney Lake Library, and Allan Yorke and Cedarview parks.

April 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Bonney Lake Rocks will be partnering with Pierce County to teach kids about Earth Day, recycling and energy conservation. There will be activities but no rock painting, although you can still bring your rocks to show off or trade.

To see other upcoming Bonney Lake Rocks events, go to www.facebook.com/groups/1056959481064077/ and request to join the group.

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