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With warmest regards: Kindness soothes and sustains us

Published September 29. 2017 11:28AM

 I’m often amazed at how one little act of kindness can uplift spirits.

Take something as simple as standing in line at a grocery store. I wasn’t very happy standing there because it was one of those days where if something could go wrong, it did.

After a long day of trying unsuccessful to solve some the maintenance problems around my home I tried to make one of David’s favorite casseroles. But I had to stop and run to the store because I didn’t have some of the necessary ingredients.

As I standing in line the older gentleman in front of me said, “Why don’t you go ahead of me? I’m retired and don’t have to rush anywhere.”

He had the sweetest smile and we enjoyed a bit of pleasant conversation that made the wait seem shorter.

Walking out of the store I contrasted my rushed, impatient attitude with that gentleman’s easy going persona. I took a few deep breaths and vowed to try to find the peace I lost in all this hurricane related mess.

I’d like to share with you the kindness that flowed through my community in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Even before our electricity was restored people were reaching out to help each other.

Actually, that help started right before the hurricane hit. Two small business owners stopped working at their jobs to go out into the community to help the elderly and disabled prepare for the hurricane. They put up hurricane shutters or plywood and made sure the homes were free of objects that could become destructive missiles in high winds.

Actually, calling them small business owners makes them sound bigger than they are. One is an independent air conditioning specialist who works alone. The other is Jason, a handyman who doesn’t have any income if he doesn’t work.

These two guys gave up money they need to make sure older folks could survive the hurricane.

They weren’t the only ones who did this in our community. But I know for a fact they were the ones who were most financially impacted by their volunteerism.

Before the hurricane stores ran out of water, bread and canned staples while gas stations ran out of gas. All that made a tense situation worse.

My new friend Kim, who did her buying well ahead of the rest of us, went around delivering water, food and filled gas containers to those who needed it.

We have a lot of older folks in our community. Some just moved there and didn’t have anywhere to go during the hurricane. Determined not to let anyone alone during the hurricane, others reached out to them, inviting strangers into their homes for several days.

Many of our residents are snowbirds. They leave their cold climate and come here for the winter months. Kim thought about how worried they would be about whether their homes survived.

“I know how worried I would be if I didn’t know if I would still have a home here,” she said.

By using social media through our community Facebook page Kim offered to check the homes of out of town residents who wanted to know the fate of their property. It was a generous offer and Kim had more than 100 requests.

She spent three days working from sunup to sunset, taking photos and videos all around each home and sending them to the owners.

In at least one instance Kim and her husband Dan saved a home from certain ruin. The owner had just bought the home a month ago and was still in France.

When Kim went to photograph the home she saw that as big tree had fallen on the roof, creating a huge hole. “Water was pouring into the house and I knew we had to act or mold would take over,” Kim said. After contacting the owners, Kim and her husband worked for days to save the home of someone they had never met.

After Dan removed the fallen tree and repaired the hole in the roof, he and his wife soaked up several feet of standing water then tore out the ruined carpet and woodwork.

How many people would work like that for total strangers? The answer seems to be “more than we think.” When the chips are down, we help each other.

Before his own electricity was restored one guy cooked a big pot of stew on his propane stove and took it to the thank you dinner that was organized for linemen working 16 hour days to help us.

The out of town linemen were exhausted after long days but they said they were never treated so good.

There are so many similar hurricane stories of strangers helping strangers and people reaching out to help while they were still struggling with their own circumstances.

My friend Andy organized a big community potluck supper for next week in thanksgiving for surviving the hurricane.

“We will all have hurricane stories to tell. We have grateful hearts because the hurricane didn’t ruin our community. It only brought us closer together,” he said.

Never underestimate the power of one little act of kindness. When all those little acts are joined together, it creates a better community for us all.

Plus, every kind thing we do for others lights up our own inner being.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at


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