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Project Compassion

Story ID:6220
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Biography
Location:Unknown Utah USA
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I saw a video about an amazing woman on a mission.
It so inspired me, I contacted her. We had a
wonderful conversation. Enjoy the videos after the story

This is Kaziah's story

Project Compassion

In her small house in Utah, on a fifteen acre ranch, Kaziah lives alone, paints and
raises goats. In 2003, she watched a news report about James W. Calway, Utah’s first
fallen soldier in Iraq. Kaziah was a basket case. She sat on the floor and cried, as the
story spoke of James’ life.

Due to ovarian cancer, Kaziah is unable to have children of her own. This young
man could have been her own son. “I need to do something for his family.” she said to

Kaziah contacted them. They sent her photos of their son and Kaziah painted
his portrait free of charge. It was the beginning of what would be known as “Project

She didn’t stop with this one painting. Each time she learned of another death in
the war, she contacted the family, and painted a portrait of their hero. “Kaziah, what are
you doing? You can’t paint a picture of every fallen soldier!” A friend said.

It was a challenge she hadn’t considered. She thought about it for less than five
seconds and said, “Yes I can. I will!”

An accomplished artist, Kaziah donates her valuable time and talents to what she
likes to call “my kids”. The family of any fallen soldier only has to write project
compassion, and they will paint portraits of their lost loved ones for free. She started
Project Compassion with five thousand dollars and soon was in debt for another five
thousand. She got on her knees and prayed, “Lord, I need your help, because I cannot and
will not turn down a mother’s request.” Soon after, a generous donor heard of her
mission and volunteered to pay the cost of supplies. The paint, canvas and frames for
each painting costs between two hundred and fifty to three hundred dollars. Kaziah
recruited four other artists for her project. To date, they have completed more than
twenty-four hundred portraits. Kaziah has personally painted seven hundred and sixty-
six. And she does her best work on each of them. One afternoon, she was ready to varnish
several paintings to prepare them for shipment. One stood out. The background wasn’t
right. It was a replica of the photo the family sent, but she didn’t like it. She refused to
send it to the family as is. She set it aside. Days later, she walked in the room, picked up
the painting, and was inspired. Her brush flashed over the canvas, and in a few minutes,
she had a painting worthy of her talents and the family who would receive it.

Her work has not gone unnoticed. She has been recognized by the State of Utah,
the VFW, American Legion, DAV, DAR, and many other organizations for her

“My joy is in knowing that I have tried to give the nicest gift I could give and let
them know how much I appreciate what they gave up.” Kaziah told me. Not for the first
time since we spoke, I heard her tears in her voice. She is passionate about her work.

In 2007, Kaziah received the Utah Artist’s Guild Humanitarian Award. She sat on
stage with others who were being recognized that day. She noticed a large screen behind
her and wondered what it was for. Kaziah sat as others on the stage received awards. One
lady had donated twenty million dollars to the arts of Utah and was recognized for her

“Now we would like to introduce our next guest.” the master of ceremonies said.
The reason for the screen became clear to Kaziah. They played the video a news program
had done about Project Compassion. Kaziah stood. The crowd rose to their feet, and
Kaziah cried. “I was a blubbering mess.” she told me. When I composed myself, I
spoke for five minutes and the crowd stood again, and I cried more. There wasn’t a dry
eye in the house. One person told me, ‘Kaziah, what you give is worth more than all the
millions that were donated to the arts.”

Kaziah has been awarded the Sword of Loyola, which is symbolic of the Ignatian
vision of service and has been selected as Saint Louis University's highest honor for
individual achievement. The Sword of Ignatius Loyola Award is given to those who have
given of themselves to humankind for the greater glory of God.

Previous recipients of the award include U.S. President Harry S. Truman,
entertainer Bob Hope, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, dancer-choreographer Katherine
Dunham, Olympic champion Jackie Joyner Kersee and more.

A television reporter asked, “What does it mean to receive this award?”

“It’s a beautiful thing to be appreciated, but I don’t care. I just feel a need to do
what I do.”

It is said, Kaziah was the most reluctant person they ever considered for the

Kaziah’s assistant, Kenna, wrote me.

Kaziah is an amazing woman! I have known Kaziah for going on 12 years now!
I live on a farm with my 81 year old Dad and my two children - we are located about 400
yards north east of Kaziah's small log cabin. Project Compassion headquarters is located
in the basement of her small art studio/one bed room/office home. That way Project
Compassion's electricity, rental space etc. can be paid by Kaziah - so that Money is saved
for what we need it for – MATERIALS! Frames! ETC... Although I have only been
with PC for two years - it has been the most gratifying position I have ever held.

Through the years I have known Kaziah - as she bought this little peace of land - and
lived in a "Tuff Shed" for a while until she could build her own little home. When she
moved to this area - she introduced herself to my father - he was living in our old farm
home alone - and made arrangements with my dad; she would cook Breakfast and dinner
for him (clean up after) then, clean the house - my dad's house for a few hours a day. In
return, she would have a room down stairs where she could shower and change her

About the time Kaziah's home was completed - is when I moved to the farm with my
children - and ever since - Kaziah's and I have been wonderful friends. My father drove
a school bus for 24 years - while he was gone on bus/school trips - I would lamb the
sheep and calf the cows! Kaziah, being a goat farmer herself, came to help me when I
needed it. One night - cold winter/ blizzard - I had seven sheep have their lambs - I was
out in the dark, in the blizzard trying to gather them all up and get them in the barn, to
feed and water the mothers and get the new born lambs warm and up to eat! Kaziah
came over without hesitation and helped!
Thanks for all!


Project Compassion is a nonprofit and survives solely on donations in order to continue
the project. Some links are provided here for information regarding Project Compassion
and the Hero Paintings Gallery. Information is provided on the Web site for donations
should you desire to help this project.
Watch the video on Project Compassion
Kaziah Hancock – Project Compassion:


* Home page: http://www.heropaintings.com/kzindex.aspx

* About the project: http://www.heropaintings.com/aboutPC.html

* Paintings: http://www.heropaintings.com/ShowGallery.aspx?Gallery=1

* How to donate: http://www.heropaintings.com/contact.html#donations

Given up her career for these portraits http://www.luminpublishing.com/xo/2009-04-KaziahHancock.html

A mother’s fear is that their son or daughter will be forgotten
She makes sure they live on for the parents

Michael T. Smith