Rainbows spread hope around Shelbyville

Friday, March 27, 2020
Sylvie Graves slowly creates one of the rainbow scenes found around her home.
Submitted photo

Whats not to love about a rainbow, especially when 1,300 community residents use the colors to shed rays of hope all over town during a virus pandemic?

Bedford County went on the map Wednesday afternoon with the first confirmed case of coronavirus. So being quarantined at home is going to likely become less of an option for local residents in the days ahead.

Just in the nick of time, meet Shelbyville Rainbow Hunt organizer Keeley Graves, who began with a creative idea last weekend featuring rainbows.

Some locals might know the Shelbyville mom as she works as the Shelbyville Central High enrollment clerk. This week in the interim of schools being closed, she, and her recently formed Facebook group, are counting rainbows being displayed all over town.

Within just a few days, from Stephens Lane to Tennova Healthcare, shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (ROYGBIV for short) are decorating everything from nursing home doors to church marquees.

The idea is not originally mine, explains Graves. I read somewhere that children in Italy were drawing pictures of rainbows and hiding them in their windows. It gave them a kind of scavenger hunt since they have been quarantined and unable to do much of anything else.

Later that day, she says her neighbor, Susan Pinkston, mentioned the same Italian article. Like minds went about sharing something positive in the community.

We talked about getting a rainbow scavenger hunt started in our neighborhood. They were actually the first family to hide a picture in their window. I told her that I would post something on Facebook about it and maybe a few neighbors would play along. Little did I know that it would explode into the whole town and surrounding areas. I started the group on Sunday and now we have over 1,300 members, Graves said.

Graves said she and her children, Ava, 15, a freshman at SCHS and Sylvie, a Thomas Magnet fifth grader, have some time on their hands, especially now that school is not scheduled to resume until April 24.

I have gained quite a bit of insight from this. Basically, people are bored, Graves said. A project like drawing/painting/creating a rainbow out of all kinds of materials has given them a project and maybe even a purpose for that particular day. I am a fairly crafty person, but some of the rainbows that I am seeing are elaborate and time consuming to create.

She said how lots of people are really putting sincere thought into the Shelbyville Rainbow Hunt, which is a private Facebook group but easily joined with permission.

The Shelbyville mom believes the project has been positive as shes seen how it has helped people take their minds off the coronavirus (COVID-19) scare.

I never ever ever thought that I would get this reaction out of it! I was just hoping for a few friends and some neighborhood rainbows! I am amazed, Graves said.

She said the lists of pictures and comments on her Facebook page called Shelbyville Rainbow Hunt demonstrates the project has been good for such times as these (tornadoes and virus all in one month.)

I am also seeing a lot of people referring to the rainbow as Gods Promise that everything will be okay. I also love that Celebration Way [senior living and assisted living] residents have created rainbows for their windows. Also some of the nurses at our hospital [Tennova Healthcare] have made rainbows for their units.

Shes enjoying seeing the Facebook pictures and posts, especially now that she hasnt been out of the house very much this week. The school system employee advised it is heart-warming to hear about people driving around town, counting rainbows at local businesses.

In normal circumstances, a rainbow project would not take off the way that this has. Everyone is searching for a little bit of happy, Graves said