THE LITTLE CARDS — As Ann Wainwright has given little uplifting notes to others, she’s received them, as well, sometimes from family members. She has three children and five grandchildren.

Ann Wainwright didn’t set out to be the Johnny Appleseed of positive vibes across West Volusia. She actually set out to teach a few young friends about the power of a handwritten thank-you note.

Retired after teaching for nearly 40 years, Wainwright lives in a spacious Deltona home filled with the neatly arranged artifacts of a long life lived among artists and craftspeople. When neighborhood children visit, she often presents them with a small gift selected from among the treasures.

One day, Wainwright realized she had never received a thank-you note, despite her frequent bestowals. Moreover, she realized that the very custom of writing thank-you notes might be endangered.

Wainwright got out her art supplies and began showing her young visitors how to create simple thank-you notes from folded, unlined index cards. A lifelong artist, she helped them decorate their notes with their original art. She urged the children to give the notes to their mothers, to thank them for cooking supper, to their teachers, or to their school-bus drivers.

The project was a success. Then Wainwright had another revelation. When was the last time she, herself, had given someone a thank-you note?

“I thought, ‘Ann, you’re bossing everyone else around. How about you?’” she said.

She began making her own little notes from folded index cards, and decorating them with her artwork. She expanded from thanking folks to lifting them up.

HAPPY RETIREMENT — A quilt given to
Ann Wainwright when she retired in 1996
features squares made by fellow teachers.

“Have a wonderful day!” urges a tiny card decorated with a sunny flower. “Have fun today.” “Be happy. God loves you.” “Have a beautiful day.” And so on.

Waiting for a ride home after an appointment, Wainwright noticed a football-player-sized gentleman sitting in the middle of an outdoor bench, his face buried in his cellphone. He finally noticed Wainwright standing there, and grumpily offered to leave so she could have the bench.

“No, just scoot over so I can sit down,” she said. He did.

Then Wainwright dug in her purse and got out one of her little cards. She gave it to him and got a warm smile in return.

“He’s sitting there holding this card like it’s the most precious thing,” Wainwright recalled.

Before long, the gentleman’s father and brother exited the office and joined them. The man showed them his little card, prompting Wainwright to dig out cards for them, too.

Wainwright’s ride arrived. As they pulled away, she said, the three men waved their little cards in a cheery goodbye.

Wainwright once transformed an entire waiting room of silent, morose people into a cheerful, chatty group sharing pleasantries, she said, just by handing out a couple of her little notes.

She’s offering something far more valuable than 3-by-5-inch cards that sell for less than $1 per 100. It’s human connection, something medical researchers are finding has all kinds of benefits, from reducing anxiety to lengthening life.


GRANDPARENTS’ MEMOIR — Ann Wainwright shows a visitor a painting
she did as a memoir of her grandparents. It features their wedding photo, and a jug her grandfather got in Russia after traveling there on a clipper ship as a young man.

“It’s not the cards,” Wainwright said. “It’s that people are starved. … The whole world … they’re starving for a kind word.”

Wainwright feels the power of the cards herself. After spending a lifetime caring for others — her students, her children, her parents and then her husband at the end of his life — Wainwright finds herself with no one to care for.

She asked, she said, “God, OK. What for me now?”

The answer came, in part, in the form of tiny folded index cards with the power to lift the spirits of stock clerks, beleaguered cashiers, busy nurses and imposing security guards. She has passed out at least 150 to people of all ages and vocations, and has been rejected only once.

“It’s not the cards,” she said again. “It’s love.”

In addition to many smiles, Wainwright’s cards have inspired hugs and even tears. They are pinned on bulletin boards, hang from recipients’ rearview mirrors and stay tucked in wallets and glove boxes, ready to be pulled out to chase away dark thoughts or reverse momentary bouts of sadness.

Wainwright hopes her notecard project will inspire others to make their own cards and use them to connect with and uplift others — and maybe lift themselves up at the same time. She wishes those who take it up the same joy she has found in the project.

“We’re all doing our little part, aren’t we,” Wainwright said.


  1. This is a wonderful story! I have been on the receiving end of one of these cards and it really made my day!

  2. I am a Services Coordinator at Hugh Ash Manor in Deland. I have a resident interested in the cards and would like to connect with Ms. Wainwrght.

  3. Ann, you are an inspiration and a blessing to many people, big and small, young and old. Keep on being you and sharing your love.

  4. Ann reading this makes me feel a little better. My shoulder hurts and sometimes I feel a little tired 😪. I’m glad you are doing well and I know I will be fine with time. Love you

  5. Hi Ann, I enjoyed reading this article and have been fortunate enough to enjoy some of your cards. Nice to hear you are doing well and keeping busy. We’re in Ithaca for the summer but will head back down this Fall. Evie


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