Today, September 28, is National Good Neighbor Day. This thought from NationalDayCalendar.com:
It is a blessing to have a good neighbor, but it is even a greater thing to BE a good neighbor.
What if we made it our goal to be a good neighbor year-round?
Here’s a fascinating, rather-hard-to-believe statement from a Psychology Today article about the epidemic of loneliness:
The American Psychological Association warns that the loneliness epidemic now represents a threat to public health that exceeds that of obesity.
Seriously? Loneliness exceeds the threat of obesity?
In previous years, according to the article, scientists believed that chronic loneliness represented as great a risk to our long-term health and longevity as cigarette smoking.
And now chronic loneliness is being compared to obesity.
The article concurred that while there’s nothing we can do, other than urging, to help a loved one change a smoking habit, when it comes to loneliness:
… we can actually be the solution: We can reach out, call, visit, and include them in activities and get-togethers. We can initiate deeper, more meaningful conversations and make them feel seen and loved.
Here’s the cool thing for those of us being bullied by our own losses and sorrows: When we reach out to others in need, it takes the focus off our challenges for that period of time.
Consider theses 9 gleeful ideas for being part of the loneliness epidemic cure by being a good neighbor:
1. Coordinate regular visits and meals.
There are interactive online calendars, like MealTrain, that allow a coordinator to organize visits and meals for any elderly, shut-ins, newly-widowed (or even previously-pregnant-newly-delivered moms) in your neighborhood.
The online tool allows participants to sign up for a meal on a specific date. Meal preferences and allergies can be listed, and reminder emails are sent to participants.
2. Accompany the neighbor to a neighborhood function.
When there’s a neighborhood barbecue or block party or baby shower, arrange to “pick up” the single person so he/she doesn’t have to walk to the party alone.
3. Invite a neighbor to an activity.
If you’re planning to visit the library, or attend a community concert, church activity, or high school play, consider inviting a neighbor who might not otherwise go to the trouble of getting out.
4. Schedule a movie night.
When my mother lived with us, Tuesday night was Girls’ Movie Night. We watched all of Mom’s favorites, over and over: “Roman Holiday,” “You’ve Got Mail”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, “Anne of Green Gables.” How fun would it be to pop some corn and settle in for a classic movie and a fun girls’ night with several neighborhood girlfriends in the home of the shut-in or widow?!
5. Arrange neighborhood card drives.
Draft a list of birthdays of the elderly and those living alone in your neighborhood, and let your neighbors know when a birthday is coming up. Can you imagine the joy of receiving a whole rash of birthday cards with gorgeous notes written inside … to read and re-read and read again?!
6. Organize after-surgery care.
If a single person in your neighborhood will need full-time care for a period of time after surgery, consider organizing a calendar so the neighbor isn’t alone during the recuperating time.
I have an out-of-town, single friend who was going to need full-time care at home following spine surgery. She wrote about the astonishing experience of how seventeen women signed up on a rotating schedule, 24/7, for the week. Bandages were changed; vigils during painful, sleepless nights were kept; bathing needs for attended to; meals were delivered; coaches pushed the patient to walk the doctor-ordered laps around her living room. And daily follow-up visits took place in the weeks following. As you cn imagine, my friend was overwhelmed by the goodness.
7. Plan a gift of house-keeping.
Someone gave my friend (who had the spine surgery) the gift of cleaning her house weekly for two months. Wow. I’m thinking of scheduling spine surgery.
8. Take children to visit shut-ins.
Back in a previous life, I procured a list of birthdays of residents in a retirement center, and organized high school students to pay visits. On a monthly basis, we made personalized, computer-generated cards, and paid an unhurried visit to each birthday person. The high school students loved doing this, and the retired person glowed as the shining, beautiful voices and faces of these young people beamed on them.
9. Become a Porch Fairy.
When my husband, Gary, was still alive, we had a Porch Fairy (and from time to time, she continues to find my porch in its new location in these widow years).
A Porch Fairy is someone who leaves gifts on front porches so as not to disturb the residents in the house, one of whom might be in a hospital bed in the living room.
Our Porch Fairy was an overachiever, gifting us with jars of homemade soup, chocolate, pumpkin scones, banana nut bread, mismatched socks, bouquets of flowers, bouquets of colorful fall leaves. And Chai tea. Every morning at 7:30 for several weeks, Chai tea was left on our front porch as my husband was slipping away from me.
Consider leaving thoughtful gifts on a front porch—or on the hood of a car, or on the desk of a co-worker—when the occupants of the house, car, desk could use some encouragement.
One final thought …
This wisdom from someone who epitomizes a good neighbor — Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”:
I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said “yes” when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to someone else.
I’d love to hear your “good neighbor” ideas to add to this list! What have you done to show neighborly kindness? What ways of neighborly kindness have been shown to you?