Jill Watson never expected the Kind Like Sage campaign she started to honour her former friend and colleague Sage Lowry to be so successful.
"The Be Kind pin is all over the world because Sage travelled so much. She had friends all over the world — Ireland, Australia, all over Asia,” says Jill.
Jill and Sage, both registered nurses, worked together for three years on the Labour and Delivery unit at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in Edmonton. Jill had the Be Kind pin made after Sage, 28, died on April 3, 2018, following a motorcycle accident. She’d been volunteering overseas at Lao Friends Hospital for Children.
“Sage was exactly how a nurse should be — empathetic, patient, kind and caring. When she passed away, and we all started to talk about what her loss would look like on our unit and what it would mean for our patients, I just wanted to find a way to continue her legacy of kindness,” says Jill.
Since launching in June, the Kind Like Sage campaign has sold close to 3,000 pins and raised more than $35,000 to continue Sage’s work at the Laos hospital. The campaign, which is run mostly through a KindLikeSage Facebook page, also includes the sale of Be Kind stickers, magnets and bumper signs, all designed by local artist Justine Ma.
Besides Sage’s many friends around the world, people who didn’t know her — like a group of labour and delivery nurses in the United States — have bought the products because they want to spread the message of kindness, says Jill. And nursing instructors, elementary school teachers and a Brownie leader in Alberta have all ordered Be Kind items to use in projects with their students and troop members.
“I’m so glad that something so great could come out of such a huge tragedy. It means a lot,” says Jill.
Part of the funds raised by Kind Like Sage, as well as a GoFundMe campaign originally set up to help Sage’s immediate family, have gone toward renovations and equipment for a new neonatal unit at the Laos hospital. The new unit can hold about 16 babies, twice the capacity of the old space.
Sage’s mother, Edie Lowry, travelled to Laos with her family in October to attend the grand opening of the new unit, which includes a room named after Sage. The room is a place where mothers and babies can bond before they leave the hospital, says Edie.
“Sage would be thrilled. It’s just such a wonderful space, and they have better infection control now. It’s really amazing,” Edie says.
Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York also attended the opening of the new neonatal unit by invitation from Friends Without A Border, the organization behind the Laos hospital. And she, along with the Lowry family, participated in the annual Luang Prabang Run for Children, whose proceeds go to the hospital.
Although construction of the new unit is now complete, the Lowry family plans to continue to be connected to the Lao Friends Hospital for Children.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. I know the funds are very much appreciated there, and they go to good use. We wanted to support this because it was near and dear to Sage,” says Edie.
Edie also hopes to visit Alberta schools to share Sage and Jill’s story. Even if it doesn’t result in sales, telling the story is worthwhile because it’s about the ripple effect of kindness, she says.
As for Jill, she’ll continue to sell the Be Kind pins, stickers and magnets to raise funds for other projects and equipment at the hospital and to remind herself to work in the caring, empathetic way Sage did.
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