BEVERLY – To many people in Beverly, Brenda McFeeters needs no introduction.
“It’s a seed the people need to hear. And I’m doing it not in your face. Well, I guess I am in your face because I’m out here with a sign,” she told WBZ-TV.
The sign she’s talking about is the one she holds outside every morning for people while on the sidewalk on a popular street in Beverly. One side tells people to “Smile” and other side says “God loves you.”
“I know people’s names now, kids’ names, dog names,” McFeeters said Thursday morning, as she was interrupted by someone she knows honking at her. “Hey, I know you!”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, McFeeters has been standing on McPherson Drive in Beverly, greeting people in the mornings with her cheers, dancing, and as of a few months ago, her sign.
“Some people are hard, you know. You gotta work on them. Like I said, a woman smiled after two years! It took her two years, but she did it!,” McFeeters exclaimed.
She said she felt a calling one day, like a tap on her shoulder, to come out and brighten people’s mornings. It started with her just dancing, singing and praying for people who she knew were going through a tough time at the peak of the pandemic. She calls everyone her “boyfriends” and “girlfriends,” cheering as if they’ve known each other for decades. But she also encourages new people she sees driving by to join in her joy.
“You can smile sir, there you go!. It’s okay, you can do it,” she said to a driver not quite ready to match her enthusiasm yet.
When she started, her father was dying and she got the idea to include the sign after she would stand outside the hospital with a sign for him when COVID was really rampant and she couldn’t go inside to see him. But she says this isn’t about her. Instead, it’s the message she can bring to others.
“Life can be meh. I won’t say the word I want to say, so just meh. So if I can interrupt your life which is going that way and say ‘Hey smile’ and then on top of it ‘God loves you,’ it’s a double whammy,” McFeeters told WBZ.
She’s okay if people don’t wave or honk or even smile back. At 60 years old and semi-retired due to health issues, she says this is how she engages with people.
“You’re a hard one to crack. We’ll get you soon sir,” she said to one driver Thursday morning.
She understands that many people are hard on themselves and going through hard times.
“You’re worried. Your kids are in trouble. You don’t have money to pay for your mortgage or whatever it may be. So, I come along and I’m a goofball and it’s like ‘look smile’,” she said.
She’ll be out here no matter the weather, waiting for a smile one day.
“You know you gotta be patient with people. God is patient with us that’s what I say,” she said.