Help from a neighbor, small relationship support can make a big difference.

I often explain that the culture in a community can be changed.  Restorative Justice works on culture by improving the relationships between people.  Even strangers can help you feel better about your community.  I usually give the example of someone holding the door for you at the post office.  However, I bumped into someone recently and all though I stopped, turned and said “excuse me”, she kept on walking.  I was miffed, I went back to the office and had to tell my coworker all about it (not very “zen” of me, I know).

I experienced the opposite yesterday. 

I was at the gas station, I noticed two people, a man and a woman I know talking near his parked vehicle.  As she was walking back to her car, which was at the pump near my car, I called out to say hello.  She came over and we started to chat.  I shared how I serve on the board of her late husbands former employer.  I mentioned that I think of her, I know he dedicated a number of years and sweat equity to that organization.  She asked how things were going and as I related a few brief example, it occured to me how she had been involved via her spouse for decades.  I made a comment to that regard.  She laughed as well, and we both knew what role she had.

I’ve know this person in our community.  She’s volunteered and taken training at my agency.  She mentioned wanting to help more in the future.  She shared how she experienced Christmas time, how she missed her late husband.  It was a nice exchange of a few intersections of our life.  I put my hands in my pockets, and no car keys.  I expressed my concern.  Sure enough, I locked them in my car.

I was offered help, the use of her phone.  She gave me a ride to work.

Relationships are strengthened by going out of your way for someone.  This community member, really made feel supported, cared for and relevant.  We chatted all the way to the office, it’s not that far.  She even extended herself further, explaining she was free all morning if I needed more help.

That was a gift of relationship support.  Her kindness reinforced the importance of relationships with all kinds of people in your community.  If you have a chance to help someone, take the opportunity, you’ll be building community.

Orignally written for my areavoices blog Neighbor2neighbor.