Greg Ruvolo of Lathrup Village has an interesting self-appointed title.
"I'm currently a marketing and communications director for a small bank," he told Pride Source. "I'm a communications and marketing expert. But, by purpose, I'm a Kindness Maker."
Ruvolo's work as a "kindness maker" started just two months ago on National Coming Out Day.
"I was noticing a lot of negativity around me, in my city, just going out and about. People were just negative and disrespectful. So I had a brilliant idea at 2 or 3 a.m. I was thinking, 'Why can't people just be kind? How can I spread the word about being kind?' I had a vision to have two words — BE KIND — on a sign, big and bold, like me. I designed it the next morning and sent it out to print."
Ruvolo posted a photo of himself holding the sign on social media and about two dozen of his friends quickly requested one. He spent about $100 of his own money to print the first batch of 36 signs. He delivers the signs all across Metro Detroit and asks for only a donation to go back into the project and be used to create more signs. So far, Ruvolo said he's distributed over 200 signs to nearly 40 cities with the help of his husband, sisters and parents. Today, he's delivering a new batch of 27 signs and the requests just keep coming.
He has dubbed the effort the BE KIND Project and has already received 501c3 status as a federally tax-exempt organization.
"The donations have been so generous that it's kept the project going," said Ruvolo. "I ask for two things, a donation and a picture of the person holding the sign. I list that on my website. It's really catapulted the project and moved it forward. People want to donate, and I want to be transparent. People are giving to the project and not me personally."
So far, the project — and the signs — are spreading like wildfire.
"It's a simple phrase," he said. "I didn't want anything else on the sign. I get emails every day from people asking for signs. It's just incredible how it's organically growing."
"Be kind: It's a small phrase that means a lot," Ruvolo continued. "It means be kind in what you do, how other people see you, be kind in your actions and how you interact with people on a daily basis… People sit behind a computer and they'll fire off an email or something. People tend to be more relaxed when they're hiding behind a computer."
Ruvolo is looking to expand beyond just lawn signs. He's looking into stickers and T-shirts, as well.
"I want to find other things that could relay that message wherever you are," he said. "My future aspiration for the BE KIND Project is to be a catalyst for spreading kindness. Right now it's a message in the form of a yard sign. In the future, I would like to include community sponsored initiatives on behalf of the project like beautification projects, supporting families in need [and] performing random acts of kindness."