NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Volunteers with the Shine Brighter Foundation returned to New Providence on May 18 for the third year to spread love in memory of Courtney Wilczewski.
Courtney died in 2015 in a “tragic accident” at the age of 22, said her father Joe Wilczewski while he took a break from weeding a flower bed in front of the New Providence Memorial Library.
Her mom, Diane, said, “She was a bright light to everyone she met and wanted to spread as much love as she could.”
Courtney loved the idea of random acts of kindness and was known to surprise complete strangers with those acts. After her death the family chose to emulate Courtney.
“Our mission is to inspire and empower others to spread love through random acts of kindness as Courtney did in her very short life,” said her mother. They formed the Shine Brighter Foundation, a 501(c)3 and, the first year after Courtney died, her college friends went out on their own and performed good deeds in her memory. The family moved from Garden City, NY to Berkeley Heights and chose New Providence’s library and Centennial Park as the perfect spot to share the love.
“She loved gardens,” said Joe, so they concentrated their efforts on the flower beds in both locations. Last year they redid the rose beds by the gazebo, he said.
There were about 60 volunteers this year who weeded, planted flowers, and mulched the beds. When they were done, they delivered cookies and handmade heart pins to the seniors in the apartments across from the library. After that, they went downtown and distributed 100 bouquets of flowers throughout the town to “unsuspecting people. The smiles make it a great way to end our Spread Love Day, said Diane.
The proceeds from the sale of the heart pins, which are made at pin-making events, are sold on perforated post cards so you can keep one and share one, according to the website. There are also hats, socks and T-shirts available. The proceeds from sales and donations to the foundation are used for scholarships for students who work with people with disabilities as they continue their education towards college. They gave two scholarships at New Providence High School on May 30, bringing the total awarded to 16.
Locally, the pins and other items are sold at Linda’s Creative Gifts, 1259 Springfield Ave. Visit the website to find out more about Shine Brighter Foundation.