Kindness Starts With One®

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Scottie's Legacy
Submitted by I want to remain anonymous

Harold Scott, or Scottie as many of us know him, is a one-of-a-kind person. He often thinks of how he can help others. He is always upbeat, has a sunny disposition with a killer smile, and a caring kind nature. Scottie lives in Lebanon, Tennessee, just east of Nashville, but grew up in a tiny, rural county about 65 miles further to the East, in Jackson County, Tennessee. He currently serves as a volunteer two days a week at the local hospital stationed in the Outpatient Center, but can be found throughout the hospital, always willing to help out in other areas, doing clerical duties, assisting patients, their families, and escorting visitors. He is often found conversing with many, showing kindness and compassion, and offering an ear to those who may be a bit anxious about their pending test or procedure. Scottie also finds the time to serve the volunteer auxiliary as their secretary. Beyond his role as a hospital volunteer, he is a community volunteer, educator, activist, advocate, and humanitarian.

Something Scottie is not shy about is his passion for HIV/AIDS awareness and education in rural Tennessee. That is due, in part, to the fact that he is a nearly 30-year survivor of the AIDS epidemic. In 1991, he was diagnosed as being HIV+, having been infected some two years prior in 1989. While living in his very rural hometown area, he kept his diagnosis a secret for 3 years before he decided, that on World AIDS Day, December 1, 1994, he would announce publicly that he was living with HIV. He decided to use his personal story to spotlight an issue that much larger cities across the country and around the world had already been experiencing. In 1995, the Harold Scott Humanitarian Award was established in Scottie's honor for his bravery and willingness to be the rural face of AIDS. The award would be presented each World AIDS Day to a person or persons/group who were going above the norm in regards to caring for persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Scottie continues, all these years later, volunteering his time and experiences by going out into his community to share his personal story and serve as a resource for newly-diagnosed persons struggling to come to terms with a new HIV/AIDS diagnosis. But, his random acts of kindness do not stop here. Yes, he truly is a kind, caring, and compassionate person. Scottie grew up in a family with six siblings. His only sister, his eldest sibling, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant which lead to a lifetime of dependence on others for assistance to be mobile and an active part of life. A few years ago, for his sister's birthday, after noting that his sister was always sending out greeting/birthday cards to family, friends, and neighbors, Scottie decided he would start an online birthday card campaign. He took to Facebook, to launch The Teresa Project, asking individuals to randomly send birthday cards to his sister. The project went somewhat viral and cards and gifts began arriving from not just all across the United States, but from other parts of the world. Within a few days, the card count was in the hundreds, so much so that the tiny post office in Gainesboro, Tennessee, began to wonder what the deal was with so many pieces of mail going to the same local "celebrity".

This is just a few of the random acts of kindness that Scottie has done. I must include the fact that he solely organized a family reunion some years ago, which brought his Scott family together from across areas of the U.S., many of whom had not even met one another, after he had started a Facebook genealogy page. From that, the idea of a reunion grew into being. Another act, and one of the most touching, was the effort he started in 2016. In 2013, Scottie's Dad passed away after some years of battling Alzheimer's Disease. His Father was a true farmer, who lived his entire life within a few miles of where he was born and grew up, purchasing a farm in the early 1960s with Harold's mother.  They began their married life together and raised their 6 children there. Upon the death of his father, Scottie, being the thoughtful man he is, began working on an idea he had to have a portion of the highway on which the family farm sat renamed in memory of his late Daddy. He contacted local and state officials with his idea, not expecting any results. However, in early 2017, news came that, due to his efforts, the Tennessee State legislature, with the sponsorship of the representative for the county Harold grew up in, passed a bill which would designate the renaming as The Hamp Scott Memorial Highway. On September 12, 2017, a sign unveiling ceremony marking the event took place. Once again, Harold stepped in to assure that his elderly Mother, and disabled sister, both of whom had entered a long-term care facility after the passing of his Father, would be able to attend the memorial ceremony, surprising them both.

It probably seems unreal, that one person can be so giving, caring and thoughtful. But, Scottie just naturally steps up and does these random acts of kindness, not asking for anything in return. It has been said by others that we should all strive to be more like Scottie, showing love, compassion, and kindness. He has certainly made a difference in the lives of many.

(You can reach him at hrayscott62@outlook.com.)

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