By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
BEACON FALLS — A year after tragedy struck a local family, a movement is afoot to spread kindness and honor a life lost.
Kristen Ellen (Carver) Fonseca, who grew up in Beacon Falls, died July 23, 2019, at the age of 31 due to renal, or kidney, failure. She left behind her 10-year-old daughter, Gabriella “Bella” Almeida.
Fonseca’s parents, David and Sandy Carver, both 74, of Beacon Falls, are caring for Almeida.
On the anniversary of Fonseca’s death, Sandy Carver started “Kindness for Kristen,” a movement on social media that encourages people to do one act of kindness in honor of her daughter.
Sandy Carver started by writing encouraging comments to people on Facebook, and it snowballed into people doing acts of compassion and sharing them on social media.
The family started a Facebook group called “Kindness for Kristen CT.” It is open to the public, and people can share their stories of how they are spreading kindness.
Sandy Carver said she started Kindness for Kristen to show her granddaughter that something positive can come out of the tragic ordeal.
“We need to treat everyone with kindness and love. I feel that’s what it’s really all about, and how do I teach my granddaughter that because all she sees is God taking away her mom,” Sandy Carver said.
The Kindness for Kristen movement quickly spread on social media. People locally and across the country carried out generous acts in honor of Fonseca.
Sandy Carver pointed to just a few of the acts: a Beacon Falls man donated a laptop to a friend who has an autistic son; a Florida woman went to the grocery store during dedicated hours for first responders and paid for groceries for six customers; one person anonymously donated $100 for pizza to Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 in Beacon Falls.
Sandy Carver said she was overwhelmed by the response to the movement. She said her motivation was simply to do something in her daughter’s honor that shows something good can come out her death.
“One by one, if we just be nice to one another, buy somebody a cup of coffee, smile at somebody. Just do that simple act,” Sandy Carver said. “You never know what’s inside somebody. They may smile on the outside but they may be dying inside. That’s really what it’s all about.”
Almeida said she had the best mom in the world. She hopes people will be kind to one another and that the Kindness for Kristen movement will continue in memory of her mom.
Almeida said one way to keep the movement alive is for people to write letters to patients in hospitals, since her mother spent so much in the hospital.
David Carver said Almeida saw her mother taken to the hospital in an ambulance about three times a month.
“That’s really what the Kindness for Kristen is. It’s not something material or anything else,” Sandy Carver said. “It’s just doing for one another. Out of chaos, we can find, there has to be some goodness.”
Sandy Carver described her daughter as someone with a kind heart and tough exterior. She said Fonseca had been sick since she was 19 years old. Health professionals told her she wasn’t supposed to get pregnant, according to Sandy Carver, but she wasn’t giving up her baby. That’s what kept her going, she said.
Sandy Carver added Fonseca went to hospital daily to hold Almeida when she born prematurely and stayed alive for as long as possible for her daughter.
“She just gave her life for [Almeida] and she just put her first for everything,” Sandy Carver said. “She suffered so long, and nobody really knew but I knew, and toward the end she says, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’ I used to tell her, would you die for your daughter? Than live for her.”