Lake Norman & Mooresville

Community website shares positive stories

People have complained for years that the media tend to highlight bad news over good.

Stories about crime and accidents and corruption clutter newspapers and news stations, and it can drown out positive stories.

This trend has alarmed Mooresville couple Richard and Dawnmarie Grack and prompted them to do something. When they lived in Hilton Head, Richard and Dawnmarie, 42 and 38 respectively, started a website called Lowcountry RAKs, which was devoted to sharing RAKs, or random acts of kindness.

The site did well, but almost two years ago, the Gracks moved back to their original home of Mooresville, off Perth Road, wanting their son to grow up knowing his grandparents. Deciding to try again, they launched Lake Norman RAKs in June.

Self-described as the Southeast's "Good News" website, it features a section for people to respond to their peers' questions (example: "I'm new to the area, how can I get involved and meet people?"), a calendar for nonprofit events, a place for people to submit their prayers of praise, and of course, a blog for ideas and examples of RAKs.

"The whole concept is being positive, thinking of others, celebrating the good things in life - not just focusing on the negative," said Dawnmarie. "Do what you can to make others' lives easier, even just a little something to put a smile on someone's face."

The Gracks don't have sponsors on their site, and they don't sell anything or make money from the endeavor. Richard works as a software consultant and Dawnmarie stays at home with their three-year-old son. Acts of kindness have always been incorporated into their own lives, and they enjoy spreading the positivity to others.

"We thought it would be a neat and different way to just encourage people to look at the positive and think of others, not just themselves," said Dawnmarie.

The RAKs can be random or planned, big or small. They can be as simple as holding the door for someone or sharing a coupon with someone at the supermarket.

"Sometimes people think it has to be something big or they have to spend money and you really don't; just think of others," she said.

As the site is so young, the Gracks have been focusing on bringing it to public attention. They have a Facebook page and pass the news along through word of mouth. They ordered business cards, and as they did in South Carolina, they will begin to leave them in places for people to pick up.

One of Dawnmarie's tactics is to pay for the person behind her in a drive-through and leave them a card. It serves the dual purpose of bringing the site to someone's attention and making them smile.

The Gracks encourage others to share their content to make the website grow. As they saw with Lowcountry RAKs, the site can be a positive place for the community to interact and a catalyst for hope.

Dawnmarie's favorite example of the power of the S.C. website is the story of a toddler who suffered from a serious illness. Her mother wrote in updates on the child's progress, sharing the positive news doctors gave.

"Other people could encourage and be encouraged," said Dawnmarie. "A lot of people prayed for them, and they wouldn't have known about it if it wasn't for seeing (the story) on the website."

The Gracks hope to build content on the website and get the Lake Norman community more involved. They have gotten a lot of support so far and are optimistic the site will grow.

"The idea is to do something for someone else to make them feel good, to make them smile, to make their life easier, even in small way," said Dawnmarie. "We want people to focus on a lot of good, a lot of positive, and even be a part of it."