People who knew Rylie say that she sought to bring joy and happiness to those around her in every way. She was known for lifting up others and doing silly things to make someone smile.
By Elise Brassell; photo courtesy of Meghann Guentensberger
After a terrible tragedy, the Guentensberger family made a decision that they hope will have a ripple effect for years to come. Following the accidental death of their daughter Rylie at just 12 years old, the family decided to honor her memory in a way that would bring kindness and joy to others.
In March 2018, Rylie’s ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) began its mission to spread kindness through random acts both big and small. The organization helps individuals and families in times of need by sponsoring scholarships to summer camps or paying sports fees. Its volunteers mobilize to help neighbors and commit acts of random kindness wherever
“The beautiful thing about kindness is that it is accessible to everyone, is mostly free and should be given freely,” said Meghann Guentensberger, Rylie’s mother, co-founder and chief wordsmith behind Rylie’s ARK.
The organization’s volunteers, called the Army of Angels, strive to put others first and spread happiness. Recently, a crew of teenagers from the Army of Angels provided labor and plants to help an elderly woman, who lost her husband, to keep up a section of her yard. In reflecting on the project, Ziggy Guentensberger, Rylie’s father, said, “as much as this event was about helping an elderly lady, it was also about building community. It was a reminder, to me, of how our younger generations are truly amazing when provided with opportunities.”
During pop-up ARKs, volunteers gather and perform kind acts together to create a sense of community. Recently, the Army of Angels participated in a pop-up ARK at Children’s Hospital to put notes of encouragement on car windshields, a tradition that Rylie began by writing small notes saying ‘be happy.’ “We know firsthand how grueling those days at the hospital can be. Each angel created notes with messages such as ‘You Matter.’ It was awesome to watch the group slink around the parking garages to leave these little notes and even more incredible to receive messages from people who had received a note. We heard from two staff members saying that the notes turned their day around,” said Guentensberger.
Rylie’s ARK promotes, “Whether it’s simply smiling and holding the door open for someone, buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, picking up the tab for a group at a restaurant, or sponsoring a kid at camp, no gesture is too small.”
September is Rylie’s birthday month, and the organization is lining up several pop-up ARKs to celebrate the special girl that inspired a kindness movement. To visit the events calendar and learn more about how you can help Rylie’s ARK and its mission, visit ryliesark.org/how-to-help.html.
The belief that nonprofit organizations strengthen our community, combined with faith in our readership and humanity in general that we all have talents to share, The Castle Pines Connection is committed to featuring a different local nonprofit each month. This month we highlight Rylie’s ARK.