By Lana Turnbull
One morning a few months ago, I was watching an early network news show and surprisingly, was inspired by a good news story that made my day. It was about a young woman named Mary Latham who was on a mission to find the good in America and tell about it.
It all began in 2013 on the day of the shooting at Sandy Hook School. Mary was sitting at her desk in shock at the news, when a coworker came by her desk. Not aware of the news himself, he told her about how a man in line before him at Starbucks had bought a gift certificate for $100 and told the barista to run it out on the customers that came after him. Mary had heard of “random acts of kindness” like this, but had never witnessed one herself.
Later, she called her mom and told her about the coffee angel, and then turned quickly to how heartsick she was about Sandy Hook and her lack of comprehension that someone could do that. “Mary,” her mom said, “You have to focus on that other story you just told me. Think about that man who just made so many people’s days by buying them a coffee. There are always going to be horrible and tragic things that happen but there will always be more good out there, you just have to look for it.”
That night Mary and a friend decided they would do something to get the word out about “the good,” and launched a Facebook page they called the GrAttitude Project where they posted stories to remind us there is still good happening every day.
Just a few months later, Mary’s mom died of cancer. The next few weeks were a blur of grief and White Russians, but when she finally came out of the fog she began to post good stories again and started to feel better. After a while Mary didn’t want to just sit around and wait for good stories anymore, she wanted to go out and find them herself.
Mary’s quest for finding more good took the form of a road trip to every state in the U.S., to collect stories of acts of human kindness and compile them into a book she will donate to hospital waiting rooms.
Zigzagging across the country in her mother’s old blue Subaru, as of this writing Mary has gone 20,197 miles, through 25 states, including Mississippi, and has stayed in 87 homes. Well-Being spoke to Mary about her quest and the incredible stories she has heard along her way. While in Jackson she spent an afternoon at Sneaky Beans hearing heartwarming stories from both the recipients and the givers of acts of kindness and how these simple acts had impacted their lives. When we last spoke to Mary she was in California and about to head north along the Pacific coast. We wish her Godspeed and may she always find more good.
Follow Mary’s progress at www.moregood.today.