Opinion: Small acts of kindness can conquer devastation, rebuild communities

By Sarah Stubbs 


Remember the Ebola scare?

When everyone and their brother was fearing contraction of the awful virus because according to the CDC there have been four confirmed cases of Ebola and one death as a result of it in the entire United States? Logical, right?

Comparing the United States’ numbers to Liberia, for example—which is up to 8,263 cases and 3,515 deaths—it’s obvious that it was and is silly to fear getting Ebola in the US, but you know that was not the case if you watched the news at all in the months of October and November in 2014.

I was reminded of this Ebola ‘epidemic’ while I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline and saw a Huffington Post article announcing that Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal are closing their doors for good.

I was immediately disappointed. Coming Attractions is about 10 minutes from my house and right down the road from the restaurant I waitress at in the summer. I bought my prom dress there a few years ago and my sister Laura just bought her homecoming dress there last fall.

If you didn’t follow the events of the Ebola scare too closely, here’s a recap:

Last October, Amber Vinson, one of the nurses treating Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, had tested positive for the virus and proceeded to fly to Northeast Ohio to visit her mother.

News of Vinson’s visit blew up across the United States and especially in Akron, my hometown. In fact, the day that she arrived in Akron, my mother called me to tell me that a few roads by my neighborhood were blocked off for media parking—it turned out that Vinson’s mother lived just a few blocks away from my house.

During her time at home, Vinson went shopping with friends and family to Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal.

After dress shop owner Anna Younkers found out that Vinson had visited her store, and news of the visit hit the rest of the world, anyone who had been in the store that day was screened for Ebola. Younkers even ended up paying out of pocket to have her store cleaned with UV light decontamination.

One month later Vinson cancelled her order with Coming Attractions, demanded a full refund and expressed that her bridesmaids and she were taking their business elsewhere.

Not only did Younkers lose business because of the negative stigma now associated with her dress shop, she lost business from the woman she made accommodations for.

Now she is losing her store.

On Jan. 7, Younkers made the announcement on the business Facebook page: “Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal is being forced to wind down its operations after 30 years of service due to the devastating effect that recent events have had on our business. Despite our best efforts, we simply have been unable to recover.”

I suppose that the media is to blame for blowing Ebola out of proportions by keeping it such a hot topic for such a long time—when it was truly not a health issue in the US at all. But I think that Vinson’s classlessness might be of higher impact to the store’s current lax in business that is forcing them to close.

After reading the Huffington Post article, I decided to check out the Coming Attractions Facebook page and was pleasantly surprised to see a Plain Dealer article about a total stranger who has started a fundraiser to help save the shop.

According to the Plain Dealer, local Terri Crispin didn’t know the store owners and has never even shopped at Coming Attractions, but she had followed the Ebola scare and simply decided to help.

The Plain Dealer also reported that the city of Akron reached out to Younker about vacant properties for possible relocation.

As of press time, the “Help Save Coming Attractions” GoFundMe account boasts that $8,805 has been raised in three days through donations from 284 people.

The fact that two of these amazing acts of compassion happened almost immediately after the store announced their decision to close is astounding and makes me proud to be from Akron.

Younkers told the Plain Dealer that she didn’t anticipate all of the support, so she hadn’t even been considering relocating and reopening yet, but I hope that she does.

Thirty years in business is a long time for such a random and unlucky event to be the demise of it all.

Crispin’s small act of kindness elicited a ripple effect of support. Her decision to donate and raise awareness on behalf of Coming Attractions is proof that any small act of kindness has the capability to influence others and have a positive impact on the lives of many.

A tiny bridal boutique in Akron, Ohio may not seem like much. Of course it’s important to its owners, but it’s also important to its customers past and present.

A lot of times it seems impossible to make anything happen on a large scale. This story is just one of many a time that I have been convinced that every honest act of compassion is essential.

Every individual carries so much power—we just have to be bold enough to harness it. Something that is trivial to one person may be everything to the next. No act is too small.

If you’re interested in donating, here’s the link: http://www.gofundme.com/SaveBridalShop


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