Healing with Kindness

Healing with Kindness

Alum's Kindness Card program honoring late son adopted by 350 schools

His legacy is cemented forever as a result of this. We can take some peace in that.

On September 5, 2008, the unimaginable happened to alumnus Drew Stevens—his 12-year-old son Josh died in an accident as the two of them drove a golf cart through their neighborhood.

“I’m broken beyond measure,” said Stevens (BA, Economics, ’86). “When we lost him, we couldn’t imagine him not being there. We realized that we needed more kids like him.”

In March 2009, he and his wife, Barbara, launched the Josh Stevens Foundation to honor something that they saw their son do every day. Be kind.

“Josh had this incredible heart,” he said. “He was a kid who went to school and practice every day, and he was kind.”

Stevens says the hallmark of the foundation’s work is the Be Kind … Like Josh School Program, which has been adopted by more than 350 schools in 11 states.

The program’s primary incentive is simple—the Kindness Card is given out by children, teachers, and community members to people they “catch being kind,” said Stevens, as he recalled the very first time he gave a Kindness Card to someone.

“I’ll tell you what—catching someone being kind is a blessing in itself,” he said, explaining that in the weeks and months following Josh’s death, he and Barbara would go to the mall and just walk around and cry.

One day, as he and Barbara walked the mall, he spotted a father and his 5-year-old son window shopping. An elderly man walked by the father and son, dropping a piece of paper from his pocket. The boy ran, picked it up, and handed the piece of paper back to the man.

“My wife looked at me and said, ‘Here you go. Here’s your opportunity,’” He said.

With Barbara looking on, Stevens says he walked up to the father and told him what he had seen—that his son had been kind to a stranger.

“This is the ultimate win-win-win,” he said. “This little boy got recognized for doing something kind, the man got his paper back, the dad got this sense of pride, and I was blessed with this gift to see this look on the boy’s face when I gave him the card. That whole healing experience was amazing.”

Drew Stevens with sons Josh, left, and Sam in 2007.

Drew Stevens with sons Josh, left, and Sam in 2007.

Today, more than a million Kindness Cards have been given away, Stevens said.

“I have a family at home, and I have a work family,” said Stevens, who owns a Las Vegas-based safety equipment company, Glove Connection. His business partner Rocky Savio has always supported the time Stevens spends through Josh’s foundation.

“I think in September 2008, he knew I was going to be a different person,” Steven said. “He knew I was going to be changed forever.”

As part of his mission to honor and encourage acts of kindness, Stevens often speaks to children at schools who have adopted the Be Kind program, which includes custom T-shirts, coloring books, DVDs, and guides for teachers and administrators to create a Be Kind … Like Josh movement, he said.

One of six new elementary schools opening in 2017 near the Stevens’ home in Clark County, Nevada, will be named the Josh Stevens Elementary School.

“His legacy is cemented forever as a result of this,” he said. “We can take some peace in that.”

From the very beginning and still today, Stevens says when people hear about the foundation’s concept they say, “Gosh, right now, we need this more than ever.”


—Nicole Williams (BA, Journalism, ’09) is the manager of campaign communications for Chico State.

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Alum Notes

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CRISTINA RAMIREZ

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