A New York woman is in Maine for the week as part of her yearlong mission to prove there is more good than bad in the world.

Mary Latham, 29, arrived Saturday in Portland to spend the next week documenting Mainers’ stories of random acts of kindness. Maine is the third state she has visited since she launched her project last month. Her goal is to visit all 50 states and publish the results in a book for hospital waiting rooms.

“Some of my favorite stories have been the simplest ones,” said Latham, a wedding photographer.

The idea for her More Good road trip was hatched four years ago at her desk in Manhattan as she mulled over the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A co-worker interrupted her dark thoughts to announce he had been the recipient of a free coffee, thanks to a man who shelled out $100 to pay for a free round for the house at a coffee shop.

Latham’s mother, who was sick with cancer, advised her to stop dwelling on the bad news and focus on the good, such as the random act of kindness toward her co-worker in the coffee shop.

So Latham and a friend decided to create a Facebook page, the GrAttitude Project, which launched on Feb. 14, 2013, for people to tell their own stories of random acts of kindness. Within a week, the page’s inbox was filled with stories.


Latham turned to those stories two weeks later, reading them aloud to her family as they sat in the hospital where her mother was dying. Since her mother’s death three years ago, Latham’s idea for the road trip slowly percolated.

Latham, who lives in Orient on the tip of Long Island, started her trip Oct. 29 in Connecticut, then moved on to Rhode Island. After a couple of days in Portland, she heads to Camden next and then on to Vermont.

She relies on the kindness of friends, friends of friends and some outright strangers who have offered her places to stay as she drives her mother’s 2008 blue Subaru around the country. In Portland she is staying at the home of Margot Levy, whom she met on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands three years ago and stayed in touch with her through Facebook.

Levy said Latham’s visit triggered her own memory of kindness from a stranger when she was waitressing to put herself through graduate school.

“I was bad at waiting tables and often had nights that were soul-crushing,” Levy said.

But the worst was the time that a couple, on a blind date that had gone terribly wrong, jumped up from the table and left without paying.


“This was the last thing I needed,” she said.

Then everything turned right when a woman at a nearby table, who had been watching the whole drama unfold, paid for the food and drinks and a tip.

“She said, ‘I’ve been there.’ It was the nicest thing in the world,” Levy said.

Latham meets with people in coffee shops, and the meetings often lead to other encounters. In the two weeks she has been on the road, she has talked to a youth group and found another subject at a road race.

On Saturday she met up with Dr. Cathy Krouse, who has a medical practice in Falmouth and is a friend of a friend of Latham’s. Krouse offered up several stories, such as the time she was living in Lewiston, where she was doing her medical training. The first year was really rough. After one particularly grueling day, Krouse was walking the mile home with no jacket when it started to pour great gushes of rain.

“And this guy pulls over, rolls down the window and hands me an umbrella and then drove off,” she said.


Latham said that a lot of people forget these moments, but when the memories do come back, they can snowball.

“Every day, people are doing nice things for me,” she said.

Latham posts the stories she hears on her website, www.moregood.today, as she goes along. She pays for gas and tolls through donations at https://gofundme.com/more good.

She can be reached by email at moregoodtoday@gmail.com. She hopes people will send her their own stories so she can meet up with them as she travels through the states.

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