Six years ago, Laura DiGeronimo was in a deep depression and alone in her house, where mildewed clothes littered her floor, a mound of dirty dishes teetered in her sink and mountains of snow piled up outside.
In a moment of desperation, Laura posted a cry for help on Facebook, asking friends if someone could help her shovel and clear her driveway. Her post got the attention of Ruthy Brown, an acquaintance Laura had made through her job as an optician.
Ruthy and her husband decided to take up Laura's task and drove 40 minutes to Laura's house while she was at work. When Laura returned home, she was stunned: Her driveway was cleared, but so was her house. Ruthy had washed her dishes, and swept and moped the floors. Laura said that in that moment, she felt seen, knowing somebody cared for her.
Three years later, in 2016, Ruthy and Laura told their story to Kind World. And since the story aired, Laura's life has changed dramatically for the better.
"Since I appeared on Kind World, I got engaged, and I turned 30, and I left my career as an optician and decided to work at nonprofit instead," Laura says.
She says Ruthy's act of kindness showed her the importance of showing up and being in the moment for people in need.
"I do feel like I've been super duper blessed since then with the way my life has turned out," Laura says. "And to go from being so bleak to being so blessed, I can't help but want to pass that on."
Laura started volunteering at a local mentorship program that assists children and families with counseling, victim services, trauma prevention and more. This February, Laura turned her passion for volunteering into a full-time job. She is now a mentor-recruiter for LUK Inc., in Fitchburg, Mass.
Laura says she's motivated by what she calls "the power of niceness."
"You don't have to save anybody's life to save anybody's life," she says. "You can just treat them well and show them a little bit of dignity and a little bit of respect and see what happens."
This is the exact sentiment Ruthy Brown felt when she responded to Laura's Facebook post.
"So many people think, 'I can't go do this, I can't go do that, because I don't know what to say to them,'" Ruthy says. "You don't have to say anything. You don't have to say a word. Sometimes just showing up."
Ruthy still says her act of kindness was no big deal, but she is glad that the story shows how asking for help — especially on social media — isn't a sign of weakness.
"It's OK to say, 'You know, guys, I need a hug or I need a prayer,' or, 'Guys, I need a ride to work tomorrow,'" Ruthy says. "If you need help, it should be OK to ask."
Ruthy and Laura have continued their casual friendship, often checking in via text or on social media. When Laura announced her engagement to her fiance, Richard Caron, on Facebook, she says Ruthy was one of the first people to congratulate her. Laura says knowing she's got Ruthy by her side has meant the world to her.
"Everybody needs a friend like that — close friend, distant friend, sometimes friend, Facebook friend," Laura says. "Everybody needs that person that's gonna say like, 'You're gonna be fine.' And she's still that person for me."