“We don’t just do what’s easy; we do what’s right.”
Today I am excited to share a story that I learned a few weeks ago. It’s the true story of a boy from Otsego, Michigan, who just finished the eighth grade and will be a freshman in high school in the fall. His name is Navene Town, and this story actually started four years ago when Navene was nine years old.
The young nine-year-old was working on a family tree project, and he was gathering data and trying to learn about all his past relatives. He was asking questions to his parents and grandparents and putting all the data together. He eventually gathered enough info to piece together the last two or three generations of his family’s history. There was something about this process, though, that was exciting for him. He kept trying to go back even further, and eventually, this led him to the local cemetery in town.
He came across a headstone that said “Oka Town.” This made Navene curious, since the last name was the same as his, and he asked his grandmother to help him figure out whether Oka was related to them. After some help from his grandmother, he learned that Oka was his five-time great-uncle, which is five generations ago. They also learned that Oka was the first judge in that county and one of the founders of the area.
Of course, Navene was excited to learn all of this, but there was one thing that did not sit well with him. The headstone of his great, great, great, great, great uncle was filthy! It was weathered, and dirty, and you could barely make out the letters and numbers. Navene decided that he was going to clean his great uncle Oka’s headstone. He did some research and figured out what cleaners and tools he would need, and soon, he was in that same cemetery gently scrubbing and rinsing away decades of dirt and grime.
When he finished, the headstone was like new, and he was proud of his work. He immediately thought to himself that no one should have a dirty headstone, so over the course of the next several weeks, he cleaned headstones for other deceased family members. Eventually, he became passionate about this and became better and better at it.
People started noticing his great work, and they started asking if he would be willing to clean their families’ headstones as well. So Navene decided to go into business! It was not as easy to get started as you would think. Navene actually had to learn exactly how clean these headstones safely and respectfully, and he even became certified for it.
Then he was ready to launch his business, and he started charging $20 to clean headstones. Each one took about an hour or so, and he quickly started getting many requests for his services. He saved some of the money he earned but also used some to buy more supplies so he could keep cleaning more sites.
There was one thing, though, that Navene realized he did not like: charging money to clean the headstones of any United States Veterans. He decided they should not be charged and has since donated his time to the families of veterans by cleaning them for free. What a great gesture and show of gratitude. I love this young man!
Four years later, you can still find Navene in that same cemetery when the weather is nice doing his best to make a difference. His work is not easy, but I am sure he feels it’s the right thing to do. I am proud of him, and I am sure that at his age, he probably has some kids that make fun of him because that’s what kids do. Not this kid though. I think Navene is the coolest kid ever, and he has inspired me to be better and has blessed me with his story.
I found Navene’s Facebook page today. It is “Navene Cleans Headstones,” and I personally reached out to Navene and let him know that I want to donate money towards his next five veteran projects. As of now, he has not responded, but if I had to guess, it’s because he is in that cemetery doing what he does.
I am sure you can agree that the world is a crazy place right now. Each day we hear and see things that make us question whether there are even any good people out there who can make a difference. Then we meet or hear about someone like Navene and realize there are plenty of amazing people out there; we are just looking for them in the wrong places and at the wrong ages!
If you want to see a video and meet Navene, I have a link here for you:
Meet Navene Town Here
His company’s Facebook page is here:
Navene Cleans Headstones FB Page
I appreciate your reading this and all my messages, and I remind you today that doing the right thing not only feels good but gets people’s attention, too! Keep being great. Someone will notice, I promise!
Have a great week and may God continue to bless you!