Richard and Samantha Specht endured a great personal tragedy with the loss of their 22-month-old son, Reese, but are using their loss to touch the lives of thousands of lives through the ReesSpecht Life Foundation.
Through their foundation, Richard and Samantha encourage others to perform acts of kindness by doing good deeds and then distributing pay it forward cards. Their positive impact in the world earned them National Grid’s Hometown Hero award for February.
“To see what the Spect’s have overcome and when you consider everything that they’ve been through it’s truly amazing that they would have the strength to get something like this started and keep it going,” Tom Smith, a representative for National Grid said. “It really is a true testament to the good that’s in a lot of people and it’s great to see that out of such a tragedy that the people were able to come and support them.”
The idea was born after the Spect’s tragic loss, as the community rallied around Richard and Samantha. Their friends and neighbors wouldn’t let them pay them back for their support, so the Specht’s decided to pay it forward for strangers.
“All these people know his name, know his story, and it’s something that keeps the hole that you have in your soul left after you lose a child, it just kind of… it doesn’t fill it in, but it makes it bearable,” Richard said. “I think that’s the single best part. That there’s something positive coming out of a tragedy; it’s something that we have really found solace in.”
Initially, they were going to print 500 pay it forward cards, then it grew to 5,000. What started as one couple’s idea to inspire kindness on Long Island has reached as far as Thailand and Australia. Today, there are over 70,000 ReesSpecht Life cards distributed worldwide.
“We’ve gotten reports back from every continent, except for Antarctica,” Richard said. “Unless there are any penguins doing any good deeds but we’ve gotten things back from everywhere else. I can’t even really fathom the idea that it’s spread like that. It’s completely unexpected and unbelievable.”
Click here to nominate a National Grid Hometown Hero.