Nancy Kidd knows there is good in all people.
The St. Joseph resident said that as a former juvenile detention center teacher she has seen the good and the bad side of kids.
“We’re often quick to judge by their misdeeds,” Kidd said.
She created her blog ‘Gather the Good’ to highlight stories that need to be heard, people who may be misunderstood and people who deserve to be recognized.
Kidd said that she and her friends had talked about writing a book about the amazing moments they had witnessed while working at the detention center.
“None of us ever took the first step,” Kidd said. “I never considered myself a writer and I was clueless about how to begin such a daunting project.”
Laura Mabry, Kidd’s close friend, was another voice who suggested Kidd write a book. She went as far as offering to edit the novel.
“I don’t even know if she was serious,” Kidd said, “but I didn’t forget.”
A few years later, the two friends were at lunch and Kidd surprised Mabry with a couple of small pieces she had written about her work at the detention center.
Mabry encouraged her friend to keep writing.
A few months later, Mabry helped her friend have one of her posts featured on another blog as a guest post.
The response was so positive, Kidd wrote another guest post.
That experience made her realize she could handle writing one story at a time and it was something she enjoyed.
“I set aside the goal of writing a book and decided to start my own blog,” Kidd said. “It was a way to share stories that I felt needed to be told without the stress of taking on a book project.”
‘Gather the Good’ was launched in May 2018.
And although the blog focuses on positive stories from the detention center Kidd previously worked at, it is also a place to share other amazing things she has witnessed.
For example, Kidd recently wrote about a positive experience she had with a police officer when she was pulled over for a traffic infraction.
“I find myself writing more and more about personal experiences and the lessons I’m learning from them,” Kidd said. “These days, when I have a moving experience, I try to record the details as soon as possible.”
Kidd said the detention center stories are easier for her to come up with but not always easy to develop. This is because she puts a lot of pressure on herself to get the stories right.
“I want the readers to feel what I felt and to better understand the students,” she said. “I sometimes stumble getting the words to come out right.”
When Kidd struggles with her posts, she sits quietly and meditates. She takes some deep breaths and begins typing with no set plan.
Sometimes, she ends up with nothing, but once in a while, it leads to something that she is proud of.
Kidd said it is important to her that the stories she posts on her blog nurture and uplift.
People have responded to her vision.
While Kidd concedes that originally only friends and family were reading her blog and she expected them to be supportive, the readership is growing.
Kidd said her blog has been an exciting new adventure for her that has helped her grow as a person.
“The blog has helped me get out of my comfort zone —developing my writing and technological skills and also gaining confidence with my voice,” she said.
Kidd said teaching at the detention center also changed her life in profound ways. While there, she had her eyes opened to the enormous challenges so many people face. Kidd said she was struck by the perseverance of the children.
‘It would be so easy to give up if you were in some of their shoes,” she said. “And yet, those kids weren’t giving up.”
Kidd said it was remarkable to her that often times, despite their circumstances, the children at the center were happy and kindhearted.
Their attitude caused Kidd to reflect on her own life, how she had been given so much and took so much of it for granted.
The years she spent working at the detention center taught her to judge less and accept and embrace more.
“If I chose to focus on terrible criminal acts, I would only be able to see the faults and negative qualities of the students,” she said. “I’m sure it would have affected our interactions, limiting trust and any hope of progress.”
Instead, Kidd shifted her gaze to take in more than the offenses her students committed. She observed childhood innocence, vulnerability, kindness, and their humanity.
Kidd said the children she met in detention transformed how she looked at others in the world.
“It has reminded me time after time how I need to refrain from judgment — that I have no idea what another person is going through,” she said.
Kidd said her experiences at the center and writing for her blog have shown her that she has no answers for any of life’s tough questions, but she hopes her stories and observations help bring people closer together.
“If we dig in our heels and cling tightly to what we think we know about the world and its people, we may very well miss out on learning more amazing lessons,” Kidd said. “On the other hand, if we can open ourselves to new perspectives and possibilities, we may start to feel our shared humanity on a whole new level.”
Kidd said she would love to turn her blog into a book but is content walking her current path.
“Gathering all the information and positivity I can to put back out into the world,” she said, “is where my focus remains because, as I said before, I wholeheartedly believe what we focus on grows.”