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The Road to Good

New Yorker travels 50 states seeking stories

Emma Conway and Anne Fey

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Mary Latham has stayed in the homes of 90 strangers over the past year and a half. She’s visited 26 states and driven more than 20,000 miles, but she is only halfway done with her mission, which is to find and spread stories of hope throughout the United States.

She visited Rocklin High School as a brief stop in the area and spoke with Mr. Casey Nichols’ journalism classes and positive psychology students. She enhanced the student media’s goal of finding stories from a variety of people.

Her ultimate goal: to publish a book filled with stories of acts of kindness and to donate them to hospitals in hopes that people in hospital waiting rooms will find comfort in these stories.  

Mary’s own experience in hospital waiting rooms inspired the project.

Mary was always incredibly close with her mother, making the time spent in the hospital during her mom’s death from cancer five years ago all the more difficult. But a couple of months prior to the hospital visit, Mary’s mom had reminded her during a difficult morning that there is always “more good out there; you just have to look for it.”

This core belief inspired Mary, and just 11 days prior to the time when her mom was rushed to surgery, Mary started the GrAttitude project, a Facebook page that shared stories of kindness to combat the bad news the world seems to offer so readily. In the hospital, Mary and her family found comfort in reading those stories.

“I read this story to my family, and we were all crying, but […] it was a little shred of hope during that really bad time,” Mary said.

So, after moving to the Caribbean for a period of time and then visiting Italy, Mary started the More Good project and set off in her mom’s old car, “Old Blue,” on a journey across the United States.

“Taking leaps of faith are important,” Mary said. “It’s not good to be comfortable.”

Traveling across the United States all alone for months on end may sound lonely. Such is not always the case for Mary Latham.

During this journey, Mary gathers stories by sitting down with strangers to hear moments of kindness that they have experienced and never forgotten.

She often doubted herself at first, wondering if her journey would be worth it. But she remembered her goal, to expose human kindness, and she was able to overcome the obstacles of leaving the familiarity of New York, her family, and her home, all for the road.

Sometimes she finds these stories on the road or through chance connections; other times these stories come to her through email and letters. She has seen an eagerness from a variety of people who want to be a part of her journey– from retirees to teachers to prison inmates.

She relies on strangers who spread her message via social media, her blog at www.moregood.today and word of mouth contribute to her gas fund, and host her in their homes. She also has done many local and a few national media appearances.

Those who have welcomed Mary into their homes have further demonstrated the purpose of her mission.

“It feels like you’re getting home to your own family,” Mary said of driving up to her hosts’ houses.

Mary’s trip serves not just as a mission to find st

ories, but also as a continuation of her mother’s legacy. She tells her own story along the way to media outlets as well as churches, service groups and schools.

She also takes breaks, leaving “Old Blue” 

to return home, visit her three siblings, or continue her wedding photography business. She also calls her father on Long Island every day at 6 p.m. Eastern time.

Recently she was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme disease and has added the challenge of managing that to her road trip.

Rocklin became a part of Mary’s story last week when she visited Rocklin on her way to Redding. She shared with Rocklin High School students her story and mission and answered their questions about her time on the road.

“Mary inspired me and so many others that you should always look for the good in the world and appreciate it,” sophomore Caitlyn Kan said.

She’s moving on from California and continues to work her way northward toward Portland and Seattle. Her Instagram @moregood.today also updates her growing list of fans and friends.  

Her favorite story from the trip also defines her project. At the end of a ride an Uber driver in Washington D.C. dropped her off and said, “The most important work is the work you do with your heart.”

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