TO HELP OR NOT TO HELP




Neighbors, however, may not always be helpful.  There are a number of things they may do that generate feelings of discomfort, frustration, or even anger.  Some neighbors are intrusive.  They prod for personal information.  They spread gossip.  They won't take no for an answer when you say you do not need any help. Some become resentful or hurt over their good intentions being rejected. And then there are some who just want to be left alone regardless of their circumstances.

 

In the north I have watched next door neighbors being neighborly in still other ways.  

  • Neighbors turned the laundry room into a book, magazine, and clothing exchange room.  Anyone with a few unwanted belongings left them with a note to help yourself.   
  • During heavy snows, neighbors are out shoveling the piles that street cleaners had made behind their cars.  Able-bodied neighbors pitch in to help individuals unable to lift and use a shovel.
  • When neighbors left for vacations, other neighbors were quick to watch for mail being left in the box after the request for stopping service had been made.  They also monitored the place and notified the vacationing neighbor if there were any problems.
  • When someone is ill or dying, it is the neighbor who is quick to offer to be of service.  Neighbors in good health give older adults who are sick rides to the doctor or to the store when family members are not available.  During hospice care it is the neighbors at the door with food trays for visiting family members. And when a neighbor returns from the hospital or inpatient rehabilitation, it is the neighbor with a gift of "welcome home" goodies.
  • Sometimes it is the good neighbor who notes that the bell ringer in front of the local store raising money for the poor and disadvantaged is gloveless on a cold day and purchases a pair for him.

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Neighbors

I have been fortunate to have several exceptional neighbors while living in apartment complexes in the north and south.  One elderly southern neighbor impressed me so much I wrote a letter about her to the local radio station that was sponsoring a contest.  She won second prize.  Here are examples of her neighborliness:

  • The first way she helped was as a "Welcome Wagon".  On the first day I arrived at my new apartment she stopped by with home baked goodies and offered use of her phone while waiting for the telephone company to set up my connection before cell phones were popular. Since I was new to the town, she also shared information about the community and its resources.
  • The second way she helped was as a listening ear when I had a difficult decision to make or a problem to solve.  She told me uplifting personal stories such as how one of her sons ran away from home and how she handled it.  She went on to describe how that experience helped him during the war to  escape from prison camp and get to safety.
  • The third way she helped was to introduce me to family, friends, and acquaintances.  One introduction included celebrity singers who attended her church.  
  • Another way she helped was to let me reciprocate to help her address her needs.  She needed to walk more often so we walked together.  She needed her car driven on the highway so I drove it.

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