Baptist senior artist rocks #GivingTuesday

When the Corporate Communications department sat down to plan Baptist’s first #GivingTuesday campaign, Baptist senior artist Richard Fudge made a very personal contribution.

img_4499-1A push back to the traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday buying glut, #GivingTuesday focuses on giving to a non-profit or charitable organization. Baptist efforts encouraged givers to support the Baptist Foundation, specifically the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief, Camp Good Grief and the Baptist Reynolds Hospice House. Having personally volunteered more than once with Camp Good Grief, Richard embraced the initiative–but with one reservation.

“This was different for me because what I would normally work on, printed pieces, weren’t part of this campaign because it’s all online.” Richard thought about ways to incorporate tangible work or art into the project given the group’s tight deadline.

Having heard about, he began to think about how to weave both initiatives together. With he loved the idea of people combining creativity and activity by leaving painted, inspirational rocks around the city for people to pick up, share, and hide again.img_4502-1

“The hard part was it’s not like we’re going to sit down and paint rocks all day as part of our Baptist work,” he said with a laugh. To compound the problem, project deadlines and Thanksgiving were fast approaching.

“I felt like it was a great idea but one I might have to save for later. I wondered where I would find time to actually get the rocks I needed.” A solution arrived, ironically, during a church service and a sermon centered on giving back, especially of talents. And of all things, everyone received a small rock during the service. “It was just the kind I had in mind to paint, so I said I guess I’m doing this,” said Richard.

He returned to his studio with renewed excitement. Richard eventually painted 20 rocks, all with sky blue backgrounds and Camp Good Grief’s signature yellow balloons. A laborious process, each rock required a primer, several layers of paint img_4496-1and then the detail work.

With the help of his communication team members and friends, Richard placed the rocks all around town, including Baptist Women’s Hospital, the Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children’s Hospital, Pugh’s Flowers, Action News 5, Shelby Farms and others.

While Richard was busy painting and distributing rocks, the Corporate Communications team was busy with all the #GivingTuesday online activity, including a website where donors could learn more and give.

When all was finished, donors gave more than $800 to the Baptist Foundation in one day, while the first-year event garnered lots of social media buzz and visits. But for Richard and the volunteers, the rocks fostered a highly-personal, fun dimension to the img_4533otherwise impersonal nature of digital media.

“It’s a tough time of year for people missing someone. Besides painting the rocks, I included an encouraging message on the back. You never know when someone might find one of these and it makes a difference in a life.” One such quote he liked states, “Grief shared is grief diminished.”

Since the original placements and #GivingTuesday, Richard has seen images on Instagram and Facebook where rocks have been found, re-hidden and messages shared. And for him, knowing a tangible piece of encouragement exists in tandem with the digital campaign leaves a rock-solid sense of purpose.