By Camille Fiotti, Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Under the shade of a pavilion at Kirby Park, a basket full of smooth rocks painted with colorful inspirational messages rested on a picnic table next to Angela Greco on Saturday.
Greco and several other volunteers were busy painting posters with positive messages as part of the first “Be Kind Wilkes-Barre” day.
The group planned to walk across the Market Street Bridge and to Public Square where they would staple the posters to telephone poles and place the rocks in places where they would likely be seen by passers-by.
Greco, an instructional designer at Wilkes University, said she got the idea for the event six months ago through a Facebook group.
Through the site, she met a woman named Monica Simon who was planning a “Be Kind Scranton” event, which was also held Saturday.
Simon’s personal struggles led her to come up with the idea to leave loving, inspirational messages all around Scranton.
“It was Monica’s idea,” said Greco. “I just loved it so much and since Wilkes-Barre and Scranton are sister cities, I thought it would be wonderful to do this day of kindness together.”
Greco said more than 380 volunteers signed up to participate in the Scranton event, and she anticipated the about 50 volunteers would join her group on Public Square.
“If people go through either of these cities, they’re going to see positive messages, and, hopefully, they’ll be inspired to pass it on today and in the future.”
Greco said she hopes to make “Be Kind Wilkes-Barre” an annual event and include neighboring cities such as Pittston.
“You are loved,” “Take life one step at a time,” and “You are enough,” were just some of the many messages painted on the rocks and posters.
“The idea is to inspire people as they’re walking by,” said Greco. “To inspire them to have a better day, and to be kind to people.”
Greco’s group also planned to go into surrounding neighborhoods and write the same kinds of messages with chalk on the sidewalks and hand out “pay it forward” cards.
“We plan to go to Coal Street Park because I know the Heights needs some love,” she said.
As they painted posters, Jess Lohmann, of Pocono Summit, and Leah Peters, of Kingston, said they heard about the event on Facebook and wanted to help.
Peters, who is a mental health counselor, said she looked forward to meeting new people during the event.
“I’ll talk to anybody who’s interested,”she said. “Hopefully, we’ll get to connect with people, which is hard to do in this day and age.”