BANGOR—Going into a turbulent fall filled with pandemic stress, election and political pressure, and a ramped-up divisiveness America has never before seen, we all need a little kindness in our lives.
“Serve A Neighbor” was the simple idea generated in September by a group of friends in Bangor that turned into a grassroots initiative.
Cheryl Crabtree, one of the group’s spokespeople said: “We were complaining and moaning about all of the changes in 2020 that were happening beyond our control. We were all in a holding pattern waiting for things to return to normal and with three months left out of this year, we decided to switch it up and control whatever we could in our own sphere of influence. That really came down to feeling good about doing one good thing a month for someone else.”
The concept is to be of service to a neighbor, which, in turn, often inspires other neighbors after seeing the service offered.
The group’s simple edict is: “Over the next three months plan to do one thing a month that helps or uplifts a neighbor in some way. The projects don’t need to be large in scope or take a long time.”
Here are a few of their suggestions:
During the month of October, Serve a Neighbor by helping with outdoor autumn cleanup, write a note, send a card, phone a neighbor who lives alone, rake leaves, complete small home repairs, wash outside windows, or clear away brush. Ask your neighbor what would be helpful.
In November and December, Serve a Neighbor by sharing a gift of nonperishable food; write a note; send a card; phone a neighbor who lives alone; deliver food baskets; create seasonal decorations to share; shovel snow – a walkway, a mailbox, path to fuel tanks; phone a neighbor and check if they need food or fuel; call 211, the State of Maine Resource hot-line, for help identifying resources.
'A rising tide lifts all boats'
“By doing something good, it makes me feels better; the other person is lifted, and often, others who witness it, are further inspired to help someone else,” said Crabtree. “This has been a message that people have been really happy to refocus on. What’s surprising to me is how many people have told us ‘I do this anyway; this is a way of life for me.’ We hear a lot of negative sad stuff about humanity in the news, but out here in the quiet sphere are people doing good things for each other.”
Tired of being hunkered down in your home, Serve a Neighbor
Tired of bad news, Serve a Neighbor
Make someone smile, Serve a Neighbor
Shut off the TV, put down the phone, Serve a Neighbor
Isolation and loneliness are real, Serve a Neighbor
Shine the light of hope, Serve a Neighbor
Days are getting shorter, extend the light, Serve a Neighbor
Serve the one, look after the one, Serve a Neighbor
End 2020 with kindness, Serve a Neighbor
Though the initiative started in Bangor, the word quickly spread through Facebook and Crabtree was hearing back from people all over the world. “We have heard from people in Canada, Australia, Japan, England, and nearly every state on Facebook,” said Crabtree, who added we'd love to see a Midcoast Maine presence.
Citing one story shared on their Facebook page, “One woman had seen the Serve A Neightbor page and had gone into The Dollar Store where she witnessed an elderly gentleman bring up some pots and pans to the counter. The credit card he tried to use wouldn't function, so he began to put the items back on the shelf when this woman ran over to him and said, ‘Bring your things over here; I’ll take care of it today.’ He thanked her and off he went, feeling good. These are the kind of things that choke me up.”
Please share your photos and stories and liking Serve a Neighbor on Facebook
If you’re in the Midcoast and are inspired to do a good deed for someone or are the recipient of a good deed, email PenBayPilot a photo and some description.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org