I believe in the power of neighborliness. The little things people do each day for and to others in their community—whether that community is a neighborhood, a town, a state, a nation, or the world—make a larger impact than many of us realize. Neighborliness can range from simply being extra courteous in a world that seems to run severely short on manners at times, to watching out for the well-being others, to being there for one another at accident scenes. The small things we do can also be a powerful example to others. And by improving our community we benefit as much as the people around us.
My mother taught me this with actions more than words. Mom would always treat people with courtesy and respect, and thank them sincerely if they did some small favor for her. She watched out for neighbors and their kids and pets. Upon noticing a suspicious vehicle hanging around or circling the block one too many times she would jot down the tag number on the calendar and contact the police; even if the police didn’t find the vehicle, should there later be a break-in the neighborhood, she had the information handy. In addition, my mom donates blood religiously.
One day we passed a big man on side of highway changing a flat—two hours later he was still struggling with the jack. Inadvisable as it is to stop for a stranger she couldn’t leave someone stranded in the Texas heat; the man was exhausted from struggling with a nonfunctional jack, and grateful for the loan of ours.
On another night, she spotted lights on at a house whose elderly owner had passed away—Mom’s house being the only two-story on the block, it was the only one with a view just over the rise where the other house sat. She notified the police—and after just 10 minutes the ‘intruder’ called her at home. He was the son of the deceased woman, come to put his mother’s house in order, and wanted to thank my mother for her vigilance and concern.
Even now, as she approaches 60, she finds ways to do things for the community. She plays the piano at the chapel at a local hospital and volunteers at Caritas weekly. Whenever quilt tops or quilting supplies are donated, she purchases them herself and she and a group of friends make quilts for a halfway house for families on the streets. More quilts are made and raffled for money to donate to worthy causes. And while she is a tough act to follow, I try to follow her example.
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