Friday, September 17, 2010

Won't you be my neighbor?

I have a neighbor who has lived across the street from me for over 16 years.    His name is Bobby.   Bobby walks his dog regularly and when I see him he always greets me like a long lost relative.  He may be a block away from me, but as soon as he spots me, he waves his arms, smiles and shouts “Hi Neighbor!!!” at the top of his lungs.  I ALWAYS smile, wave and shout “Hi Bobby!” in return.   I can’t think of another neighbor who greets me like Bobby does and it truly makes my day.  I know that Bobby cares about our family and in turn, we care about him.  When we lost our grandson, Bobby watched the chain of events from his front yard.  He was so concerned about our family and wanted to help – but just wasn’t sure how.  He decided to cut out the obituary from the newspaper and give it to us.  His kindness touched our hearts in a very special way, during an especially difficult time – and his “neighborly” love for our family was very much appreciated.  Bobby has served us in very simple yet meaningful ways throughout the years, for which we will always be grateful.   Bobby has Downs Syndrome – and although he has his share of challenges as he finds his place in the world – he is a neighbor like no other.  He is someone who is such an example of genuine love and compassion and it is a privilege and a pleasure to be numbered among his friends. 

Although we may think that such a kind, caring and attentive neighbor is a rarity these days, actually I have found a special place in another neighborhood that I cherish:  The Project Linus neighborhood.  Last weekend, Carol and I attended a Project Linus regional conference in Kansas City MO.  This weekend we are attending the Portland OR/Vancouver WA Northwest regional conference.   Chapter Coordinators and volunteers in these regions of the country gather together for a weekend of inspiration and fellowship with those who share our love and passion for Project Linus!  Although we are far from our physical neighborhood in the Midwest, we couldn’t feel more welcome and more at home as we gather together with our Project Linus neighbors across the miles.  We have learned new blanketmaking techniques and skills, visited with volunteers and chapter coordinators, enjoyed the inspirational stores that have brought others to our “Project Linus neighborhood” while sharing our love for Project Linus.  It doesn’t matter whether or not we have met before – it feels like home.  As soon as we see the “Project Linus” t-shirt or nametag as we walk down the hall or enter a room – we know that we’re meeting a beloved  neighbor and we feel an instant connection.

We often talk about the mission of Project Linus – donating handmade blanket to seriously ill and traumatized children.  We occasionally mention the second portion of our mission which to provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children.  This meeting of our hearts is what creates that special neighborhood.  We not only serve the children, but we serve each other.  We teach each other, we care for each other and we love each other. 

It’s time for us to gather together again for Make a Blanket Day.  If you haven’t registered, please do so right away.  We still have openings and we ask that all of our attendees register.  See our Project Linus newsletter for details.

I hope that I can use Bobby’s neighborly example as I see my Project Linus neighbors at home and across the country.  So – to each of you, I’m waving my arms, smiling and sending you a special  “Hi Neighbor” greeting!   Have a wonderful day!

Happy Blanketmaking!