Hopeful messages

If you or someone you know is facing challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic or the shaky economy — or if you could just welcome a positive message — Theresa Harrison wants to help.

“People today feel very uncertain about the future,” said Harrison, a Frederick, MD, resident who has launched Just a Kind Note, a project to spread kindness at a time when it seems to be in short supply.

The idea is simple: Send a positive message in the mail to someone — anyone — who might need something to make them smile.

Harrison was inspired to send a note 20 years ago, when she met an older woman at her church.

“She said that unless she went to church, she didn’t have anyone to talk to during the week. That feeling of loneliness stunned me, so I started sending her short, kind notes.”

Harrison, who is president and founder of a Maryland-based cybersecurity firm, continued this practice and included friends and family.

Then, in 2018, she experienced the power of kind notes firsthand when she received a cancer diagnosis.

“As I went through my two-year battle to get well, people would send me kind notes, so for the first time, I was the recipient. I realized that having something sent through the mail — versus a text or an email or a call — said to me that the person took time to think about me. It was so impactful.”

Harrison realized many more could benefit from receiving supportive, encouraging messages.

Last April, she recruited 10 friends, who met on a conference call to discuss the project.

As Harrison explained her idea, “a person on the call said, ‘Theresa, you sent me a kind note 20 years ago and I still have it.’ Right there, that said to me: ‘This is what we need today.’”

By May, the project had a name — Just a Kind Note — and a broader mission.

“With the coronavirus pandemic, more people are lonelier and unemployed. They feel very uncertain about the future. Caregivers and health care professionals have unbelievable levels of stress. There’s a gamut of people we can send Just a Kind Note to,” Harrison said.

In fact, hospitals, drug recovery centers and educational institutions have asked Harrison and her team of Kind Writers to send notes to their employees.

The typical Just a Kind Note is just two or three sentences long. A note could read, “I woke up this morning and you came to mind. I hope you are having a good day.”

Nevertheless, the notes can have a significant effect.

Jennifer Moxley, the student leadership and service coordinator at Fredrick Community College in Maryland, received a note from a student who is a Kind Writer.

“I have my Just a Kind Note on my refrigerator where I can see it every day. It is a nice reminder. It means a lot to me. Spreading kindness is a powerful tool,” Moxley said.

Paula Land was similarly touched when she recently received a Just a Kind Note from a member of her church.

“The note reminds me that I am loved. I keep it on my desk to be reminded that someone loves and cares for me — that God’s love is shown through others,” Land said.

Memorial Hermann, a Houston facility affiliated with one of Texas’ largest nonprofit healthcare systems, recently received more than 1,200 encouraging Just a Kind Notes given to nurses, maintenance staff and others.

“When I handed them out, the hospital workers held them to their hearts and smiled. The fact the notes were actually handwritten and personalized had a huge impact,” said Karen Fingado, a hospice nurse. “It touched my heart and it touched the hearts of many people here.”

Just a Kind Note doesn’t charge for its services.

Said Harrison: “We’re not asking for anything other than spending a few minutes a month sending three kind notes. If you need stamps, we’ll provide them. This costs nothing, but it is priceless to the recipient.”

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

Show me the data

The Postal Service recently introduced a dashboard to enhance service performance for Priority Mail Open and Distribute (PMOD) shipments.

The Received at Opening Unit (RAOU) dashboard uses the Informed Visibility platform to deliver greater insight to serve high-value customers, particularly pharmaceutical companies that rely on USPS to send medication — a need that has grown during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new dashboard measures and displays RAOU scan performance for PMOD shipments. It also gives managers and supervisors at delivery and processing units the analytics they need to improve scan performance and deliver timely service for pharmaceuticals and other priority items.

“It’s amazing what you can do with complex data when you see it through telling visuals and an intuitive user experience,” said Erika Ramirez, operations integration and support director at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC.

The dashboard also delivers:

  • End-to-end network visibility;
  • Real-time snapshots to allow for incremental adjustments;
  • An elevated view of RAOU scans for prior days;
  • The ability to drill down to facility level by origin, destination sectional center facility and destination delivery unit;
  • The ability to capture individual PMOD container scans; and
  • Easy identification of pharmaceutical mailpieces.

The dashboard is available online and through the Informed Visibility application.

Transportation strategy

Peter Routsolias has joined the Postal Service as transportation strategy vice president, a position established during the organization’s structural realignment in August.

Routsolias leads the strategic design of the USPS transportation network and the development of improvements for plants and delivery sortation operations.

Routsolias, who has more than 25 years in international logistics and operations, previously served as transportation senior vice president at Ashley Distribution Services.

Other prior positions include serving as a transportation vice president for companies such as Univar Solutions and XPO Logistics as well as holding director- and executive-level positions at Schneider Logistics, Exel Logistics, DSC Logistics, and Roadway Express.

Routsolias reports to Chief Commerce and Business Solutions Officer Jakki Krage Strako.

First comes Love

The Postal Service will release its first stamp of 2021 — the latest entry in the popular Love series — Thursday, Jan. 14.

This year’s design is a group of graphic hearts and simple shapes in bold colors arrayed playfully around the word “love” on a dark blue background.

Bailey Sullivan created the art and designed the stamp, while Greg Breeding served as art director.

The Forever stamp will be dedicated in Loveland, CO, complete with special postmark, but the ceremony will take place on the Postal Service’s Facebook and Twitter pages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Love series began in 1973 with Robert Indiana’s famous pop-art “love” with the tilted “o,” a design he originally created for a Museum of Modern Art holiday card. The series picked up again in 1982, and the releases came with regularity after that.

Since 2004, USPS has released a Love stamp annually.

This year’s release will be available at Post Offices and usps.com.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

News Briefs

Scanning snapshot

A snapshot of Postal Service scanning data shows the national rating was 95.18 percent during the week ending Jan. 8, down 1.14 percent from one week earlier.

The data was collected Jan. 13.

Western Pacific led the four areas with a rating of 96.65 percent, while Atlantic ranked last with a 93.59 percent rating.

Among the 67 districts, Dakotas, part of Western Pacific Area, ranked first with a 97.89 percent rating, while Philadelphia Metro, part of Atlantic Area, ranked last with an 83.37 percent rating.

Scanning data allows customers to track their mail and packages, which helps USPS deliver excellent service, boost loyalty and drive revenue.

To see the latest data, go to the Informed Visibility website and select “Customer Experience,” followed by “DES 2 Scan Performance.”

Stamp ceremony. The Postal Service will dedicate this year’s Black Heritage stamp during a virtual ceremony that can be viewed on the organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 11:30 a.m. EST. The stamp honors playwright August Wilson.

PRC VIP. Ashley E. Poling has been elected the Postal Regulatory Commission’s vice chairwoman, a one-year term. She joined the commission in 2019 for the remainder of a six-year term that will end in 2024.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.