The day was promising as I looked up at the sky and smiled at the clouds. Normally, I would be hoping for clear skies and sun, but today was an ECM Work Day! It is a treat when the weather gifts us with cooler days, making it easier to complete our tasks. My task was to interview the residents and the volunteers and write a story. I have come to trust that the story that wants to be revealed will come through these amazing people. I tend to be the kind of person who believes that every encounter with another being offers an opportunity to teach or be taught….and this day did not disappoint. And, today I would be the student.
At the beginning of the Extreme Community Makeover season the regular volunteers, also known as the Extreme Teams, come together and set goals. The responsibility of the Communications Team is to write stories about our Work Days. However, Communications Team members also take to heart that we are not here to just write a story, but also to plant the seeds of what it means to be a good neighbor, a good resident…a good citizen. So, I presented the question, “What does it mean to be a good neighbor?” to resident David.
David and his wife have only lived in the Westwood neighbor for 2 ½ years; however, his wife’s family has owned the property for over 50 years. David opened up as he shared stories about his neighborhood and of the many people that have come and gone, throughout the years. David’s answers to my question were profound and thought provoking…EXACTLY what I was hoping for, and then some.
David opened with, “Keep your yard clean,” then, he said, “Raise respectful children, our children are a reflection of who we are.” These children will become our neighbors…they are our future. David’s next response was, “Don’t think you are better than everyone else.” David explained that he had many privileges growing up, and that when he was younger he thought that those privileges made him better than others. However, later, life taught him that he wasn’t better than others, and that it wasn’t what you had or where you lived that defined a person. He said that he learned that every person grew up differently and came from different cultures and that those were not reasons to set him apart from others, but to accept others as they are…to be tolerant. David added that we need to find commonalities amongst each other rather than pointing out the differences. David closed with a quote from Dr. Phil, “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.” David explained his reason for sharing this quote: If we want to see changes in our world, our neighborhood, our cities, etc. we need to acknowledge who we are, how we think…that is what NEEDS to change in us, you, and me.
My thanks to David and his insightful, thought provoking words. For sure, most of us practice being good neighbors and better citizens, but to actually step up and make the changes necessary for a better world and a better life, this is where it all starts.
~Lisa, Communications Team