Rock Stars

Crafty Friends

Reach Out to

Art Community,

Fill Cancer Center

Basket with Rocks of Love

A basket previously filled with rocks carrying messages of hope for patients at the NorthBay Cancer Center was running precariously low when Medical Assistant Krista Bonds put out the call.

She turned to new-found friend Kerry Wilmerding, a patient services representative at the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Green Valley. The pair had met a year earlier, discovering they had a mutual love of crafts and a new hobby of rock painting.

Kerry jumped on the Let's Rock America Facebook page where she's made many friends in the past year, and asked several if they could share a few rocks to help fill the basket until she and Krista had time to make more.

In the days that followed, box after box of rocks from all around the country literally started piling up.A basket is filled with painted rocks collected by NorthBay employees Kerry Wilmerding and Krista Bonds.

"I couldn't believe how many arrived, day after day. I expected just one or two, and several people sent whole collections," said Kerry.

With message such as "Hope," "I think I can," "Be Fearless," and "Don't Forget to be Awesome!" and colorful sunsets, starscapes, flowers and bugs, the rocks represent a colorful, cheerful reminder to cancer patients that they're not alone.

It all started in 2017, when Krista found the first rock in the stairwell at the NorthBay Cancer Center, on her way to work. It had a bright daisy painted on the front, and on the back it read: "Let's Rock America on Facebook."

After a quick online visit, Krista had a new hobby. She became so industrious, she decided to take some to work, to share with her Cancer Center patients.

After weeks of painting and posting, another rock enthusiast messaged her, asking for details about supplies and techniques. The two became Facebook friends, and it was only later that Krista realized that new friend was Kerry, who was also a NorthBay Healthcare employee.

It turned out that Kerry's mother, Glenda Barton, had been a patient of the Cancer Center in 2015.

Some of the painted rocks.When Kerry learned that Krista was making rocks for Cancer Center patients, Kerry decided she, too, would donate rocks for patients in honor of her mum, who died on May 26, 2015, at 80 after a short illness.

Kerry had spent some time at the Cancer Center - when it was still in Fairfield - while her mother received infusion treatments.

"It was a bit of a blur," said Kerry, "but I remember everybody there was very kind. It was an overwhelming time in her life, but my sister Samantha and I appreciate the support Mum received from the Cancer Center. It really helped her through the process."

Kerry loves being creative, and has experimented with many modes of art, including sculpture and murals. Rock painting has turned out to be very healing for her.

"It's helped me through the grieving process," said Kerry. "It's a way for me to show support for people going through something similar to what me and my family went through."

Since then, the two painted original art on hundreds of rocks at their own expense to fill the basket for cancer patients. Now, thanks to a little help from online friends, Kerry and Krista have again filled the basket with rocks of love and inspiration.

"I just can't believe how many people want to be involved in our little Cancer Center basket," said Krista. "I am so grateful that we are getting help because it has been a task to keep it stocked between work and personal life schedules. These rocks that are coming in are absolutely gorgeous and the patients love them."