Hearts spread through community, offering hope
Have you seen the painted hearts that have popped up around Middlebury, Cornwall and Weybridge? Dena Greenman drew our attention to the hearts, and now we just keeping running into them: on houses and mailboxes, in flowerbeds, in doorways, outside the Middlebury Union Middle School, at the entrance to the Congregational Church of Middlebury…
Greenman credits her friend Lilly Devlin of Cornwall for spearheading this movement to spread the love during this difficult time. “She’s galvanized many of us to make and place hearts at businesses, homes, etc.,” Greenman told us. “I think it lifts people’s spirits!”
Devlin is modest about her role in the spread of the painted hearts. “I cannot take credit for the initiative,” she said. “A friend (Darcy Morter) left me a heart at my mailbox weeks ago and I loved it so much that I decided to take it on as a bigger project. Great ideas are inspired by inspiring people!”
Devlin credited the community for being amazingly supportive and full of people looking for ways to show that support. “Sharing hearts seemed like a great way to do that.”
“Now, when I drive around and see hearts placed at various businesses or in front of different people’s homes, it fills me with hope and I know it makes others feel the same way. Similar to the stars that have been popping up around town.
“I have made so many hearts that I will get a call or a text from time to time from a friend saying, ‘I saw a heart on the TAM, was that you?’ And I love it when I can say, ‘No, I cannot take credit for that. But I am so happy that others too are seeing the value of spreading their own love right now!’”
Devlin noted that there are a lot of hearts around — beyond the ones she has distributed. “When you hike up Snake Mountain, someone has left a number tacked to the trees along the trail. It is a reminder that we are all in this together!”
She started leaving them for friends and then decided to leave them for people who she knew were having a particularly hard time and feeling isolation. Devlin tries to make a few each week. “I have four sitting in my garage right now to deliver later.”
After using up all of her scrap wood making hearts, Devlin reached out online to collect more; she got a lot of donations. “Friends and their children have painted them in my back yard, and my sons have helped make some too,” Devlin said. “They are all made of wood and each heart is different and imperfect! Most are red. Some are blue and purple.
“Often when I give a heart I leave another heart or hearts for the recipient to pass along to whomever they would like.”
Devlin joked about burning the wooden hearts when the pandemic is over, but admitted that she would never do that. “They will be a reminder that we need one another to make it through tough times and love is the best way to make it through.”