#GarrettsSmileArmy: Metro family using cards to turn grief into positivity after loss

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Two metro women are on a mission to make your day.

Their messages come from the heart, but not without their own heartache. They say a simple card can make all the difference.

"Dear reader, smile. You have found one of our smiles for Garrett cards," Marsha Bailey read aloud from a worn piece of paper. "Garrett was my son. He battled depression and unfortunately lost his battle this past January."

Garrett Thiesen's mother, Bailey, and aunt, Leslie Jenkins, wish every day they could see him again.

"He could have talked to us about anything," Bailey said. "Just tell us how bad you were hurting, or you could have talked to us about anything and we would have been there. We would have listened."

"Everyday. You know, you think about him, and that's why I started this whole thing," Jenkins said. "It is therapeutic. I just don't want any other family to go through this."

Smiles for Garrett started as a simple idea. Jenkins saw a stack of cards at the store for a couple bucks and thought it would be a good way to share the love she wished Garrett knew at his lowest moment.

She did a few, and then shared the idea with Bailey. They started making them together. Covering envelopes with encouraging words, happy stickers, and a semicolon, a symbol for suicide prevention.

"You're not alone. You matter. You are loved and needed. If you know someone battling depression be there for them," Bailey read.

Every time the women leave a note they hope it creates a new smile somewhere in the world, and maybe a few more.

"Restaurants, Walmart, anywhere I go I try to keep three or four cards around somewhere where people can find them and hopefully the right person finds them," Bailey said. "We've even had people pass the card on which is awesome."

As the smiles grew, so did their message.

They gave cards to family members and friends who travel to leave them wherever they grow. People from across the country, in Texas and Nevada, circling back to say thank you. Some saying they were at a low point, but seeing the card reminded them to smile.

"He would be proud of us, I think," Bailey said. "That we're doing something positive, and not just depressed all the time. We've made something positive."

The cards leading people to a Facebook group meant to be a constant reminder that you are worthy. Both women post encouraging messages daily meant to keep those smiles coming, and that you are worthy.

"Sometimes I post silly memes, or anything that will make someone laugh," Jenkins said. "Inspirational, uplifting reminders that tomorrow is a new day. You've got this."

"He would be proud of us, I think," Bailey said. "That we're doing something positive."

The note ends asking the reader to share the love, and put a smile on someone else's face.

"Just know that you have a purpose," Bailey read. "Spread some kindness around, and always keep smiling."

If you are interested in how to make your own smile cards, or see more of what the women are up to, visit their Facebook group Smiles For Garrett #GarrettsSmileArmy.


If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.

Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Click on the boxes below for our FOX 4 You Matter reports and other helpful phone numbers and resources.

 

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