BURRILLVILLE – Roger Bourbonniere says that when he started a Burrillville-based rock painting group four years ago, he never imagined it would grow to nearly 5,000 members, or that their contributions would make their way not just across Rhode Island, but much of the country.

Inspired by the international “Kindness Rocks” movement, the group’s mission is to pay-it-forward through rocks decorated with positive messages or fun images, hidden in unexpected places in hopes to brighten someone’s day. A massive rock garden with changing themes decorates Bourbonniere’s Oakland lawn, and his group has been featured on local televised news.

“We actually ended up with four or five groups coming off of our group,” Bourbonniere said.

This week, the man affectionally dubbed the, “rock father,” delivered more than 200 painted Easter-themed rocks to town nursing homes, along with handmade cards, in hopes to spread a little cheer after what has been an undeniably difficult year for residents. He’ll also hand out 30 holiday paint gift bags to local families – with much of the content gathered through donations from participants.

“I just love the concept,” said Overlook Nursing & Rehabilitation Activities Director Cindy Brigido this week as Bourbonniere dropped off the gifts. “Look at the talent. These are beautiful. Talk about creative.”

Brigido noted that residents, stuck inside for most of the year, and at times without the benefit of visitors, would appreciate the gesture.

“Our residents are so anxious for the warm weather to be outside,” Brigido said.

The gifts were painted in coordination with another rocks organization, Across the Miles Kindness group by artists Barbara Scott, Sandy French, Florence Stevens Phyllis Griffith, Caroline Hodson and Karen Sorenson. Hand made cards were donated by Diane Trayner and delivered to Crystal Lake Nursing & Rehabilitation and Bayberry Commons, along with Overlook.

Bayberry Commons Admissions Director Vicki Fernandes noted that it’s not the first interaction her residents have had with the group.

“Bayberry Commons strives to have a presence and to be a consistent support in the community that we service,”Fernandes said. “We were made aware of The Burrillville Rocks Program. We quickly realized the positive impact it has on Burrillville and surrounding towns. So, we wanted to help the movement in any way we could. I reached out to Roger to inquire on how we could help the kindness continue. We were able to take part by donating ‘starter bags’ to Roger for distribution to the community.”

“I could have never imagined the appreciation Roger showed,” Fernendes said.  “He contacted me and asked if the residents at Bayberry would like to take part by painting kindness rocks. He gave starter supplies to get us going.

Fernandes said they were all impressed when Bourbonniere delivered painted rocks and handmade cards for every resident.”

From left are Bayberry Commons Admissions Director Vicki Fernandes, Bourbonniere and Director of Social Services Cheryl Desjardin.

“The residents, staff and family members are extremely grateful,” she said.

Bourbonniere noted that his job at Tractor Supply in Coventry allows significant time for the charitable hobby.

“It’s nice to have a big company back you up,” he said.

“It make me happy doing it,” Bourbonniere told NRI NOW, noting that over the past year, the encouraging messages were needed by many. “This year brought people together.”

“It make me happy just seeing it,” said Overlook Office Manager Collette Loynds.

Follow the group and join the movement at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1776946462337293

Overlook Nursing & Rehabilitation Activities Director Cindy Brigido unloads painted rocks for residents.

From left, Overlook Office Manager Collette Loynds, Activities Assistant Sandi Pine, Rock Father Roger Bourbonniere and Activities Director Cindy Brigido stand with the painted Easter rocks.

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