You know how it is, you come home from a hard day’s work and even though your neighbors are out on their front lawn, it takes all your energy to just wave hello with a somewhat ingenuous smile. All you want to do is park your car and make a beeline to your front door. At least, this is how I often feel. And, interestingly, I consider myself a friendly, happy-go-lucky, outgoing person. Hello, my name is Rachel and I have had the pleasure of being a part of Extreme Community Makeover.
The vision of Extreme Community Makeover is outstanding: Transforming Denver neighborhoods, one block at a time, with home improvement projects that enable neighbors to build relationships within their community. ECM states, “When we get to know our neighbors and begin to build relationships with them, we start to help and look out for one another and that’s part of living together in a shared geographical space. In the busyness of life today, we often don’t take time to meet our neighbors, which is why Extreme Community Makeover exists – to build relationships between neighbors and across neighborhoods.”
I stand behind the vision of ECM, of course. However, if you were to ask me if I was incorporating this into my every day life in my particular neighborhood, that would be a resounding no. I didn’t even know my neighbors’ first names, not a one! I did recently move to a new neighborhood, but this should not be an excuse.
Recently, I was leaving my house in the same manner I enter my house: A beeline right to my car and quickly, even though my neighbors were outside on their front lawn, kids and mom playing, dad washing their family van on the curb, etc. To my surprise, my car looked sparkling clean. I put two-and-two together and shyly asked the dad if he washed my car. Yep, he sure did! I was shocked. He said they see me from time-to-time coming in and out of my house, but they never got a chance to properly meet me. This changed my demeanor immediately. Instead of wanting to rush into my car and drive off, I opened up and shared what I did for a living, where I moved from, my interests, etc. We actually got a chance to get to know each other. We even left the conversation discussing plans about me visiting their church in the near future. A thank you card in their mailbox a couple days later was the least I could do.
I can honestly say, I feel better about my neighborhood and I feel a lot safer now. It’s nice to know I have friendly neighbors that I can rely on.
So, the question is: Can a simple gesture inspire me to change and make me re-evaluate my behavior in my neighborhood? Yes, absolutely! You can be certain that I will be looking for opportunities to connect with and bless my neighbors. It’s so easy to get self-absorbed and get distracted by the busyness of life. It’s easy to forget how important it is reach out and connect with those around us, especially those in our own communities.
This is my good neighbor story. If you are inspired, I encourage you to go be a good neighbor and surprise your neighbors with a genuine, simple gesture. It’s definitely life changing and community building.