The power of kindness

Published 5:45 pm Saturday, November 22, 2014

Like many of you, I’m still struggling with the loss of Dr. Richard Schindler in October in a bicycle accident. Dr. Schindler served on the Vision 2020 Bike-Walk Trails committee and the Community Recreation Center committee. He was a joy to work with: enthusiastic, willing, visionary and audacious.

As part of the grieving process, we are all learning more about Dr. Schindler and what he meant to his family, colleagues and community. I was struck with something I learned about Dr. Schindler, and the more I think about it, the more I want to incorporate the lesson into my life.

Back in 1972, Dick and Belita were living in Colorado and considering a move to Austin. When Dr. Schindler had an interview with the hospital and traveled to Austin, the Schindlers were greeted and shown around town by Dr. Inman Hesla and his wife, Lois. (I know that the Heslas gave the Schindlers a warm and genuine welcome back in 1972, because they also provided that same welcome to me when I came here in 2001.)

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Because of the Heslas, the Schindlers came to Austin and made it their home. Then in 1978, the Schindlers met Dr. Tim Rietz and his wife, Bonnie, and showed off the town as the Rietzes considered a move from the Twin Cities. Because of the Schindlers, the Rietz family came to Austin and made it their home.

I point this out because the six individuals involved — Inman Helsa, Lois Hesla, Dick Schindler, Belita Schindler, Tim Rietz and Bonnie Rietz — have collectively made a huge positive impact on Austin. That alone is remarkable.

More importantly, this story shows me that the ordinary acts of kindness and hospitality that we give away can ripple out and make a positive impact in ways that we can’t imagine. A moment of generosity can change the world.

Thank you to the Heslas, the Schindlers, the Rietzes and many, many other people who have extended kindness and warmth to me. Because of you, Austin is my home. Because I’m grateful for what has been given to me, I will take time to reach out and share myself and my love of this community with others.

It is only a small tribute to Doc Schindler, but I think it is one that would make him smile.