Care of the South Lyon Herald Newspaper
|The guitar pick jewelry, available in bracelets, necklaces and key chains, are available for $10 at the South Lyon Hotel|
By Diane Gale Andreassi
Linda Powell is overwhelmed by the random acts of kindness she's experienced since her son, Josh, died from an accidental overdose last summer.
She wants to return the favors by doing unexpected nice things for others — people she has never met and people who will never know who she is. Steven Bell, Josh's friend, suggested a Random Acts of Kindness fund that would mimic things that Josh was famous for doing.
“If this helps other people he didn't die in vain,” she said. “It's really hard, because you keep things tight inside, but I don't want to be selfish and not help other people. We're still learning how to cope. It's not like I'm trying to make him a hero. He wasn't a hero, but he was our hero, because he was a good, kind man, but he had his demons.”
Bell, a Michigan State University law student, started making jewelry from guitar picks, representing Josh's love for playing, and the money raised goes to the Random Act of Kindness fund. Each pick is etched with a memorial, “Josh Powell, Live in Heaven, July 21, 2010,” the day he died.
“He was extremely talented and we were always asking him why he wasn't in a band and doing something with his music,” Bell said.
Josh was also remembered at his funeral services, which was packed with people, many of whom told Linda stories about the things Josh had done — stories Josh never shared with his family.
“It brought a joy to me that he was cared about by so many people,” she added. “My son wasn't a rich man, but he was a good person and never judged people. So many people told me how he touched their lives.”
After his death, Linda said, countless people have reached out to help her family.
One of those people was a man whose son died from a drug overdose and now he gives anti-drug talks at local schools. Linda said she would also like to speak to school groups about the devastation that drugs cause, but she feels she needs time to heal herself and her two other children, Joe, 19 and Marcia, 24.
Another kind stranger surfaced when Linda went to South Lyon Watch and Jewelry Repair to buy a chain for the pick Bell gave her. The unidentified man behind the counter gave Linda the chain.
“Here's someone who didn't know me and he was so touched — it was a random act of kindness,” Linda said. “He didn't have to do that. He could have sold me a necklace. He took the time to stop and that's what it's all about. Instead of all the sadness, hopefully we can do the same for someone who needs us.”
The South Lyon Hotel has done so much too, she added, including selling the guitar pick jewelry.
Bell has been another incredible source of comfort, constantly doing kind things, like remembering Linda's birthday with a maple tree that will stand as a reminder of Josh.
Josh and Bell met playing community education basketball and going on to attend South Lyon middle and high schools together where they wrestled and played football.
“It was kind of always a joke, because we were two chubby kids who probably shouldn't have been on the basketball court,” Bell said.
Josh grew up in South Lyon and worked with his father in construction. But his passion was music.
“He was very humble,” Linda said regarding a piece Josh composed, which a friend played at the funeral. “We never knew about that. How thankful I am for people who loved him, because I don't want him to ever be forgotten. You should see all the hits he gets on the blog. I can't tell you the joy I get from that.”
Josh's memorial fund will “definitely be geared to help make drug treatment affordable,” Bell said. “If we can get someone the help they need so something like this doesn't happen that would be ideal. But it doesn't necessarily have to be for someone with a drug problem, maybe it would be for someone to go to college.”
Josh was extremely kind hearted, Bell said.
“He was a little rough around the edges, but when you knew him he was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it,” Bell said. “He would lend you $20 even if he needed the money. He always wanted to shoulder other people's burdens, but he's the first guy who would not want anyone to help him. The idea was to kind of further what Josh did himself and help people who need help.”
“He made some poor choices and some bad decisions,” Bell said. “He paid dearly for them. I don't want that to be his defining thing.”
Linda said sometimes she gets angry and asks herself, ‘Why?'
“Even in death I feel I have to protect him,” she said. “I can't say enough about family, friends and the community. We couldn't have gone through this without them and I want to do the same.”
Josh's aunt, JoBeth Stanfill, made a blog, http://www.joshuawaltonpowell.blogspot.com/, where people can see images of Josh, the jewelry and other memorials. Donations to the fund can also be made on the blog. Linda and Bell are working on getting a non-profit status for the Random Act of Kindness fund and Linda wants to develop a committee to decide who gets the money.
“We want to do this right, because if people give money, they should know how it's being spent,” she added.
The guitar pick jewelry, available in bracelets, necklaces and key chains, are available for $10 at the South Lyon Hotel; by emailing Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org; by going to the website, http://www.joshuawaltonpowell.blogspot.com/ or from Bell.
Donations are also being accepted on the blog.