A short conversation, a brief email, and a few giving hearts – I’ve found Kindness is Contagious through my friends.

I was at a basketball game a few weeks ago when I ran into a friend with an interesting story. My friend started telling me about Mary, a woman she knows with uterine cancer.

Mary has no husband, no kids, a job with no benefits and was just diagnosed with Stage 1 endometrial cancer. Mary is actually pretty lucky. She hadn’t been to a doctor in 20 years. She decided to go in for a check on her blood pressure and the doctor found cancer. An awful diagnosis, yes, but the medical staff was confident one surgery would be all it would take to remove the cancer from her body.

But there was another problem. Mary’s doctor urged her to go to Sioux Falls, S.D., but Mary’s bank account couldn’t handle the gas to get there and a hotel to stay in before her appointment.

My friend was telling me this story because she knows I run a new non-profit organization for women called Diva Connection Foundation. She thought maybe we could help this woman through our website.

Well, DivaConnection.org is a baby. The site launched just a few weeks ago and we’ve been working out the glitches, which is why I haven’t told you about it and why we weren’t equipped to handle Mary’s problem.

Even though I knew Diva Connection couldn’t help, I still couldn’t get Mary off my mind. I know there are millions of people out there in similar situations and I can’t help them all, but if I can help one, to me, that’s a start. I decided to send out a quick email to a few friends explaining Mary’s story. Within five days, my girlfriends had come up with enough gas cards, food cards and cash to get Mary to Sioux Falls and back.

Not one of them asked for anything in return.

I delivered the first round of donations just before Mary’s surgery. To say the least, she was grateful.

Several days later, I got two more cards in the mail from friends who wanted to give Mary some money to use during her recovery. Another friend gave me a big jar full of coins. She calls it her “Christmas Jar.” All year long it sits on her counter and at this time of year she gives it to someone in need.

But before I could deliver “Round 2” of the donations, I got a letter in the mail from Mary. She wanted to thank the “Diva Angels” for encouraging her to go to Sioux Falls and helping her to get there. And she sent me back $25. She wanted me to “pass it on to whoever might need an act of kindness done to them, because the act of kindness and love is the greatest gift you can give.”

Mary’s right. I give because it’s selfish. It feels good. That’s also why I sent Mary’s $25 back to her. I refuse to take away the joy that comes from giving someone something they didn’t expect to receive. I told Mary to put the money in an envelope and hand it to a stranger who looks like they could use a friend. I want her to experience the feeling of seeing – first suspicion and then gratitude – in someone’s eyes when they are the recipient of an unexpected kindness. Seeing the look in Mary’s eyes as I handed over those first envelopes gave me that wonderful feeling. And knowing that my friends trusted me enough to give to a woman they had never even met showed me their kindness was the real gift – and it was delivered to me.

Continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.