TWO OCEAN PINES PARENTS ARE HELPING OTHERS IN THE NAME AND MEMORY OF THEIR BELOVED SON
Written by Alison Pappas
REMEMBERING MATT Though Matt Kurtz, pictured here with his dog, Tyson, lost his battle with mental illness, he will always be remembered first and foremost for his kindness and generosity, which is now inspiring others through the charity created in his honor.
American author Scott Adams once said,“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple effect with no logical end.
”When Ocean Pines residents Jackie and Ron Kurtz think of kindness and its boundless ripple effect, they are reminded of their son, Matt Kurtz, who passed away due to mental illness in 2017 at age 32.
“He lived a life of gratitude and really appreciated the little things. He practiced kindness as a way of life,” shared Jackie.
While Jackie and Ron had always recognized Matt’s generous heart, they were touched by the many personal stories about Matt’s compassion that people from all over shared with them after his passing.
“So many people told us stories of the kind acts that Matt had done for them and how he had affected their lives. We always knew that Matt was an amazingly kind person, but he never even shared any of these stories with us, and many of them were very impressive,” Jackie said.
“The outpouring of stories that we received from people we didn’t even know didn’t necessarily surprise us, but it was overwhelming, and it brought us some happiness and pride during a very sad period of our lives,” added Ron.
Just one of the many touching narratives was shared by Matt’s friend who was living out west. This friend was experiencing financial struggles and trouble landing a job. To add to his stress, his children were residing in another state. After observing the friend’s situation, Matt decided to give him money for clothes and to fly his kids for a visit as well as supply additional funds for other expenses. To top it off, Matt said not to bother paying any of it back but to pay it forward instead.
In the year following Matt’s passing, Jackie and Ron decided to honor Matt’s caring nature and celebrate acts of kindness by establishing a charitable website, Matt’s Kindness Ripples On.
“We started our website with the idea that we would promote kindness. We do this in two ways: The first is through giving awards that recognize people like Matt, who make kindness a way of life; the other way is to give grants to people who are already doing some kind of kindness project or want to start a kindness project but need additional funding to help implement it,” shared Jackie.
GIVING SPIRIT To date, Matt’s Kindness Ripples On has given out nearly $10,000, to 33 different recipients. Matt is pictured with his dad, Ron, left, and his brother and best friend, Brian, right and below.
Matt’s Kindness Ripples On’s award recipients are given a certificate and $250, which is meant to be used for self-care. Grant recipients receive $500 to assist with or jumpstart their kindness projects. While originally Jackie and Ron were hoping to give away two awards and two grants per year, they are now proudly giving away four awards and four grants each year due to the donations they receive.
“So far, we’ve almost given out $10,000, to 33 different winners,” stated Jackie.
In the beginning, many of the recipients and nominations resided in proximity to the Shore, but as word spread, the geographic range extended through out the country. The youngest recipient to date is 9 years old.
Jackie and Ron vet every submission they receive. While they are inspired by every story, they ultimately choose the recipient whom they feel Matt would select.
Jessica Ong, the most recent award recipient, is a 17-year-old California-based student who spreads kindness by using her own money to take Ubers to senior-living facilities and host book clubs for the residents. One of these residents, who was diagnosed with dementia, nominated Jessica for the award.
“We feel there’s so much negativity in the news and social media. We love promoting and changing the focus to share inspirational people,” expressedJackie.
If you would like to find out more about Matt’s legacy, or if you’re interested in nominating someone in your life who inspires you through acts of kindness, please visit MattsKindnessRipplesOn.com. CS