Monday, January 21, 2013

Six Ways to be a Better Neighbor

Vintage Homes in North Bend, OR 

I’ve posted stories about two women found dead in their homes. How this happens in today’s world is a mystery to me and yet, I now wonder what would happen to me if I fell down the steep stairs to my bedroom.

I rarely open my front blinds unless guests are coming. Only one neighbor can see the mini-blinds open in my TV area. Would anyone notice if my lights stayed on or off day after day? 

My Oregon children call or text, but it’s not unusual for me to not be available. Would they call back? My sweet granddaughter is now settled in her cute home with Snookie dog. She doesn’t drop by as often. Most of the week I text or talk to Marcy, my co-workers or one of the church family, but how long before they missed me?

Do I sound morbid? No, just being real. It happened to at least two women we know about, and probably many never made the news.

Six Ways to be a Better Neighbor:
  1. Watch for signs of life. No one noticed when Karen Freelin’s lights remained off month after month. They paid no attention to the lack of yard care or if a car left or arrived. They didn’t watch to see what happened with the mail or if the garbage cans were put out weekly.
  2. Some people may feel reluctant to ask for help. Introduce yourself to your neighbors and offer a contact number. If your neighbors are elderly, send a note once in awhile or drop by. Keep a sharp eye out for a change in their routine.
  3. In extreme weather conditions call your neighbor and ask, “Can I pick up your groceries today?” Or, “I noticed coupons for....” When you visit, offer to pick them up an extra supply of milk, bread, or canned goods the next time you are shopping.
  4. In today’s electronic age, your elderly neighbor may have email. Offer your email address and watch for responses.
  5. Create a flyer to hand out in your neighborhood. List emergency numbers, food bank numbers, meals on wheels, the Council on the Aging and community center numbers. Add the church phone number in your area, too.
  6. Be available. It may disrupt your schedule, but the alternative is an “Alone Too Long” incident right in your neighborhood.

Do you have an elderly relative that needs a phone call? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Teens Teach us More on Being Good Neighbors

When I interviewed Kevin’s grandmother I learned that when Kevin spent time at the Yakima Indian Reservation a compost heap spoke to him. When he arrived home he spent two hours telling his grandmother about his work there and how the rural communities everywhere need to be more aware of their responsibility. He learned a lot about the need to recycle.

It’s great to come home from a mission trip with ideas of how help the needy neighbor—or like me—a wish to blanket the neighborhood with protection. But what about the one person that doesn’t want your help, the one that can’t seem to hold a job, or the crab next door. Can you trust all your neighbors?

“Take this home with you,” the Native American instructor said to the youth. “You can make a difference. Treat everyone the same.”

The Louisville teens listened to his advice and set goals to be a better neighbor. .
  1. Don’t put down another person, you don’t know their circumstances in life.  
  2. Reach out a hand to help someone else out of a hard place. 
  3. Get involved with your neighbors.
  4. Listen, you may hear a cry for help.

We may not be able to make a huge difference, but Jesus gave us a simple rule to apply to our everyday lives, whether at school, work or in our neighborhood. Matthew 19:19 “Honor your father and your mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.”


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Louisville Nebraska Teens Learn About Neighbors

Yakima Indian Reservation

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
~Eleanor Roosevelt

In 2007 I interviewed the Christian Church teens in Louisville, Nebraska, about their mission trip to the Yakima Indian Reservation in Washington. The three 15-year-old-teens returned home inspired to ask, “What about my neighbors.”

“I do some community service here in Louisville, a little bit—you know,” Trista said. “But after the workshops at the reservation, I know I need to be more involved here at home. Like, care about others more and just listen.” Moved to tears more than once while she worked in the daycare, she added, “The lunches were such small portions. I couldn’t see how the kids had enough food. When they left for the afternoon, I had a snack before the evening meal—they didn’t receive one. It makes me realize there are families in my community that might be hungry and I want to do something about it.”

Jessie worked in the daycare also. Because of the demeanor of the children, she noticed the impact of verbal and negative putdowns. “Some of these little kids have it in their head they are dumb and useless. It really hit me—how if you say something even one time it can affect the other person. Even if you are kidding around someone might not take it as a joke. I know it happens at my school—it needs to change.”

There is more to this story, these teens wanted to live a new day with new strength and new ideas. They inspired me in 2007 and again today. 

Still Lionhearted, Kat