"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

PUTTING CLIENTS TOGETHER: Story Merchant Client Robert Dembik Interviewed by SM Client Diane Maroney For her IMAGINE PROJECT

Ordinary folks tell extraordinary tales

by  Mike Cejka

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Sometimes it's a good thing to pause and take stock in life's lessons.

This week the "Imagine Project" came to Buffalo to do just that. The soon-to-be-published book will highlight some ordinary people with extraordinary stories.

According to Dianne Maroney, book editor and nurse, "We realize everybody has a story and that there will be more compassion and less judgment and more kindness in the world. And just to make the world a little better place."

What sparked the idea was the emotional and physical toll that Maroney dealt with after giving birth to her three-and-a-half month premature daughter.

"I would tell people stories about their premature infants using the word "imagine." So, it was very impactful," Maroney said.

West Seneca native, Robert Dembik is among three from the area that will be featured in the book.

"My guardian angel was coming by," Dembik said. "A doctor saw the whole thing, started CPR on me immediately and it took a couple months to find out that the CPR the gentlemen was doing, was 25 minutes long. So anyone in the health industry knows that 25 minutes, you really shouldn't make it."

According to Tyler Kellogg from Watertown, who will also be profiled in the book, "I found myself depressed and overweight in my sophomore year of college. Instead of going on antidepressants, or down that road, I decided I'd live out of my car for a summer and just commit random acts of kindness for people."

The "Imagine Project" has an inspirational message for all of us:

"We all have challenges, big and small, and certainly some days are better than others. If you think in terms of having the mind set that this too will come to pass," Dembik said.

"Some us live out of a car and help people, some of us play bass guitar in a band, some of us work at a gas station, but it's all important whatever you do. Do it well and make this place a little better for the people who are around," added Kellogg.

Kellogg provided 115 acts of kindness over 65 days during his travels across the eastern United States. Everything from tarring a driveway and planting trees, to just listening to a widower reminisce about his wife.

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