I’ve learned more about history wandering state parks during van life than I ever did in a classroom. When I see the distinctive historical markers and signs, I seek them out – walking well out of my way to understand how this space went from landmark to a wonderland of walking trails. I love these stories. Plus, they make for great small talk with people I meet along the way.
One of my favorite history lessons came via Flagler Beach, FL. In 1886, the Flagler Beach House of Refuge was established on what is now a beautiful beach called Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. This House of Refuge was one in a series of 10 houses established along the coast of Florida by the U.S. Life Saving Service in the late 1800s until it was marked inactive in 1918.
The purpose of these houses was to help shipwrecked sailors during a time when the coast was relatively uninhabited. Each house was operated by a person called a keeper and his family. The houses were two stories. The main floor was divided into four rooms and a wide porch where the keeper and his family lived. The attics were used to home shipwreck survivors. Family members helped the keeper by patrolling the beach after storms to search for people who may have washed ashore.
I picture something very Hollywood but I know it would be traumatic to know that you could wander upon a body on shore after a big storm. Even worse knowing that was likely just the beginning of the wreckage. But in a true ode to duty, they stayed. Keepers showed up.
Without a formal title, we idolize keepers – whether it was the woman in Buffalo helping a man with disabilities who was freezing to death in a blizzard or someone that picked up a starving dog on the side of the road. These keepers are featured on the Today Show and highlighted on Instagram, but why?
For one thing, there are a lot of endorphins involved in beautiful endings. It feels good to see the ending change in a story where we know the statistics. It’s also because we know that helping others without expectation is rare. There are so many stories about scams and situations that end poorly for people with big hearts.
I never realized just how much doing what’s so obviously right mattered until I posted my letter last week talking about sexual assault. I knew I was doing what was right by standing up and speaking out, but it isn’t so easy. I spent my weekend scared of a lawsuit or some other consequence for calling out this behavior.
Instead of getting sued, I saw this wave of keepers show up on my digital shores. These people came to me to share their stories and remind me that while standing up in a storm isn’t always easy, doing the right thing rises the tide. They reminded me that speaking up inspires others to stand together and stand up for what’s right.
I watched people from many industries that I’ve never met before say the words that can help us rewrite this history for a better future: no more. Each a keeper of a future where we don’t have to be so scared to say “this isn’t right.” Each another person we can rely on to expect absolutely nothing but still be willing to do it all when our wreckage washes ashore.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.