Greg Ruvolo, of Lathrup Village, poses with one of his “Be Kind” signs.

Greg Ruvolo, of Lathrup Village, poses with one of his “Be Kind” signs.

Photo provided by Greg Ruvolo


Be Kind Project aims to send positive messages into the world

By: Andy Kozlowski | Southfield Sun | Published December 9, 2021

LATHRUP VILLAGE — It’s something we’re taught as kids but often forget as adults: “Be kind.”

Greg Ruvolo, 49, of Lathrup Village, believes that message bears repeating. As a marketing and communications director, he knows the power of messaging. Hoping to counter what he sees as a growing mean streak in society, he launched the Be Kind Project — a not-for-profit initiative where participants can request small, single-sided yard signs that simply say, “Be Kind.”

“I personally came up with this idea one day in early October, as I was noticing a lot of negativity around me,” Ruvolo said in an email. “I started thinking to myself, ‘Why can’t people just be kind to each other?’ That’s when it hit me that this simple phrase meant a lot!”

The project bills itself as a small statement that makes a big impact. The idea is that today’s media-saturated society is full of mixed messaging, including negative and divisive messages that polarize issues and drive wedges between people. Thanks to social media, it’s all too easy to fire off a comment without carefully considering the humanity on the receiving end of a message, which can lead to hurt feelings, alienation and anger.
And so, the Be Kind Project aims to send another message into the world — a reminder to stop, think and act with kindness. The signs are available to anyone who wants them, and there’s no cost other than a donation of any size of your choosing; 100% of donations are reinvested into additional signs, covering the cost of materials and printing. In the future, there are plans to also create and distribute stickers, hats and T-shirts with the same positive message.

Currently, signs can be requested by emailing BeKindProjectUSA@gmail.com. The official website, www.bekindusa.org, also has a sign counter that tracks the current number of signs displayed in the area. At press time, there were nearly 160 signs set up at homes across 15 communities in the metro Detroit area, including Grosse Pointe, St Clair Shores, and as far west as Novi and South Lyon.

“The acceptance was overwhelming. I started my grassroots social media campaign, and it spread like wildfire,” Ruvolo said. “I received over two dozen email requests and donations overnight because of the signs that were placed the day before. That is a true testimonial to the first group of participants that helped spread the word, and to people who saw those signs.

“The project is based in Lathrup Village, so it’s easy for me to meet up with people to give them signs,” he added. “I’ve even had some requests from out of state, so I am working to figure out how I can ship them at a reasonable price.”

Ruvolo said that many sign recipients help spread the word by sharing photos of their signs at the Be Kind Project’s website and on social media.

“Once a sign pops up in someone’s yard, it’s infectious,” he said. “I personally was questioned three times (in recent weeks) while raking my leaves by people walking down the street. They all loved the project so much that they made a donation on the spot and continued their walk home — with a sign!

“People really seem to appreciate the simple reminder of the topic,” he observed. “We often lose sight and get bogged down with details. This concept makes you think and ‘zoom out’ to see the bigger picture of life. The best feeling is when I drive down the street and see my sign displayed on someone’s front yard. I smile and get that feeling of comfort as I continue on my way.”

Judy Lewis, of Southfield, is one sign recipient.

“When I heard Greg interviewed on the radio, I was really taken with the whole idea of spreading kindness,” she said via email. “And when I wrote to request a sign, and got a speedy reply, I knew he was really committed! He delivered the signs the following day, with a genuine smile, and I was totally sold on him and his work. I support this project, and would love to see it advance. It’s beyond time!”

Jennifer Llewellyn, of Chesterfield Township, also has a sign.

“The last few years have been stressful and overwhelming for so many. Frankly, it can be easy to get caught up in the stress, fear and anger,” Llewellyn said in an email. “When I saw my friend Greg’s Be Kind Project, it was a bit of an ‘aha!’ moment for me, and I had to be part of it. Being kind is the core of what we need right now — grace, tolerance, respect, civility and kindness. While it may seem like a simple sign, it represents so much more than that. I am so proud of him for launching this, and I am proud to be one very small part of it.”

Ruvolo said the message is needed now more than ever.

“Politically speaking, our country has been more deeply divided in recent years than ever before. It’s time to heal and regain our sense of compassion that seems to have disappeared,” Ruvolo said. “I cannot remember any other time in our country’s history where Americans were allowed to act the way they act now — more outspoken, more opposing, more defiant. I hope this project repairs that broken bridge.”

To request a Be Kind sign, email BeKindProjectUSA@gmail.com.