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Acts of kindness the whole year long

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As 2011 comes to a close, villagers were asked to tell stories of acts of kindness they witnessed or received this year. From helping lost dogs and giving impromptu singing lessons, to supporting people in times of their greatest sorrow and need, Yellow Springers reached out to one another.

Enshane Nomoto: During the ice storm in February, I was amazed at the outpouring of assistance and kindness from all of our neighbors, many of whom came door-to-door to check on each other and cleaned up the debris from one another’s homes.

Mary Donahoe: One of my favorites is the time when I put my large pan of Current Cuisine lasagna on the hood of my car so I could unlock the door, and it slid off.  Two people walking by jumped to my rescue, one catching the pan just as a corner hit the sidewalk, me and the other person catching parts of the flying noodles and carefully smushing them back in the pan. We stood for a moment with our hands and clothes dripping red sauce and then burst out laughing. The lasagna was for an end-of-year student party, and thanks to these kind people, I didn’t go empty-handed.

Lisa Abel: The support that we received from friends and family inside and outside the village when Lynn had surgery and radiation for cancer during the summer was overwhelmingly generous and comforting. It really is amazing what simple acts can do for the person with cancer and her partner. It was wonderful and humbling to experience the breadth and depth of assistance that we have when needed.

Charlie Fenimore: I have a friend who is Chief Grote and he has a big heart. One day he came to Special Olympics to watch me run and I felt happy. He is a nice man and his light is bright. His good joy and his givingness is shine in love. This is my happiness to know him.

Vickie Hennessy: The first thing that comes to mind in the generosity/kindness category is Nancy Peters. All on her own, Nancy donated and distributed over 20 copies of the Gasland DVD to residents in Miami Township last winter and spring, wrote letters, and went door-to-door to talk with potential lease signers. She also gave me a gift certificate for a massage in thanks for my work on the fracking issue. It was an awesome massage, and so incredibly thoughtful.

Jonas Bender: This friend who regularly visits the sick and shut-in all year long.

Ara Beal: As a single parent who, like so many right now, is severely underemployed, I have been moved by the assistance I have received from state and local agencies. Because of these groups, my son has healthy food to eat, a safe place to play, a brand new winter coat to wear. Additionally, my friends and family have been generous with their time and love.

But these things aren’t the true gift. The true gift, and the one that moves me, is the gift of peace of mind. I know that he isn’t hungry; he is safe and warm. I know I don’t have to do this all alone. And because I don’t have to worry about these things, I can be a better parent. I can take a break from looking for work to play trucks for part of an afternoon; I can laugh at the knock-knock jokes he makes up. Because of the kindness of others, I am able to give the gift of kindness to my son.

Grover Criswell: When I think of acts of kindness I think of a gift given to me in the last few weeks. A longtime good friend of mine was dying in Florida. His adult daughter would call me when he was awake and hold the phone to his ear so I could talk to him even though he could no longer respond. She knew how important this was to him and to me. It was a gift to both of us that I could speak to him even the day before he died.

Frank Doden: Even if I disagree with them, I am always impressed by the people who are willing to put themselves forward as candidates in local elections. The positions they seek are neither glamorous nor well-paying. Rather, these jobs are amazingly time-consuming and frequently fraught with difficult decisions. And yet each time we have a local election, we seem to always have a slate of genuinely good people from which to choose.

Erika Lynn: We got the keys to our new home in Yellow Springs on January 7, 2011. When we arrived, our already-established Yellow Springs friends assisted us with the move. Since then, every person we have met here has welcomed us with open arms.

My three-year-old son also joined the Perry League t-ball team. Coach Jimmy wrote a darling article about him in the paper that he still talks about. It was his first time ever being in the paper. When we couldn’t make it to trophy night, Coach Jimmy also made a special trip to our house to bring him his trophy. We are so delighted to be a part of this community and can’t imagine living anywhere else!

Sarah Wildman: I just want to say how emotionally generous people have been to me throughout 2011. It was not unusual for people who I did not even know to embrace me on the street or in a store and tell me that my son, Maxwell, and I are in their thoughts and prayers because of the loss of my son, Eben, in October 2010.

The first responders on the accident scene were from the Village of Yellow Springs Police Department and the Miami Township EMS.  They and so many others have been kind and thoughtful throughout the ordeal and countless people have shared personal stories of loss and recovery.  I am so grateful and thankful that I have been surrounded by the residents of Yellow Springs and Miami Township and will hold all those moments and encounters tenderly in my heart forever.

Mary and Susan Hyde: We’re part of the Joy of Sharing tree at the Yellow Springs library. One of the presents someone donated for a child was a woodworking bench that they made for a 4-year-old. You could tell it was made with love. The back of it had real tools for a child that you want to start teaching how to use real tools. The top had a measuring grid, and the back was made of pegboard with all the early tools attached. Adhered to it was a plastic box under the bench on a little shelf with pieces of wood to practice on and a stool to fit the bench. Attached to that was a step-by-step list of instructions on how to teach a child to work with wood and how to safely introduce each tool. It was such an amazing workbench that somebody put a lot of thought and effort into. To me it was amazing.

Ken Bode: In April, Jenny [Cowperthwaite-Ruka] let us show the movie People Speak by Howard Zinn for a free showing. It was the perfect movie for Yellow Springs. At 10 minutes to 3 p.m. it was one-third full. Then they poured through the doors. Every seat was filled and we had to turn 70 people away. The theater was one of the reasons why we moved here. It cemented our commitment to the Little Art.

Harold Wright: I thought it was real kind that some guy in a car stopped and let me cross the street in one of those new walkways with a little stop sign. I was still on the sidewalk when he stopped!

Jocelyn Hardman: The act of kindness and generosity that most stands out to me from 2011 is my husband, Jim, supporting me in accepting an assistant professor’s position in Aarhus, Denmark for the next three years. We have been married for 22 years. The two of us, as well as our two children, grew up in Yellow Springs, and we have many friends and family members with whom we have had a rich and fulfilling life there.

I believe his calling in life is to be working with young men and women to share his love of the beautiful game of soccer. With that love, he has created lasting relationships with the kids who grew up under his tutelage, to not only become better soccer players, but to become members of a loving community and to hopefully find themselves returning to pass that gift on to the next generation in some way.

What amazes me is that with all that Yellow Springs means to Jim, he was still willing to give me the opportunity to grow in my own way, to accept a challenging new position and the chance to work with researchers I respect and admire, to move to another country and learn a new language and new way of life in a deep and lasting way. So, my husband’s kindness and generosity continue to humble me — in 2011 and for the rest of our lives.

Christine Roberts: The greatest act of kindness that I can think of is Beverly Logan’s continuing crusade to teach people of all ages, including older adults, how to sing. It is an amazing gift for people who have thought for their whole lives that they did not have an ear for music that they can, in fact, sing and sound beautiful.

Ellis Jacobs: Some time last winter, after I had mentioned to Bev Logan that I was interested in taking some singing lessons, I ran into Bev downtown as we were both walking by the bank. I asked her whether she would be giving lessons anytime soon and right there, standing under the bank’s drive-through overhang, she gave me a lesson. More free indoor lessons followed.

Mary White: All of us involved at Friends Care Community are enormously grateful to the staff for their outstanding kindnesses every day to the residents in their care, and to the countless individuals this year who contributed their time, effort, financial support, and works of art for our new Rehabilitation wing.  We couldn’t do what we do without your help, all year long.

Eric Clark: My wife and I like to take a couple of gift requests from the Library Christmas tree for a Secret Santa gift. This year there was someone who needed a gas card and a child that wanted Legos. Our family doesn’t exchange anymore so it’s fun to shop for someone who needs a little something. We also decided to spend just about all of our holiday money in our local shops. A small gift for our local economy!

Pam Conine: June Elaine Hemenway Conine, my 85-year old mother, has lived a life of generosity and kindness. My siblings and I long ago learned not to admire something of Mom’s too much. She would literally give you the shirt off her back if she thought you’d enjoy it. When I hear stories of a “Mother’s love,” without hesitation, I think of my mother. How lucky is that? I’d like to give back to her by cutting these words out of the newspaper and giving them to her on Christmas Day.

Amy Scott: The Amrhein/Bridgeman family pet was sheltered in Tom’s and had his picture posted on Facebook until his owners were identified. I believe Beth noticed his picture, which was posted by Chrissy Cruz. He’d come quite a distance from where they live outside of town. In describing the dog, Chrissy said he “smells good.” Heh!

Babette O’Reilly: The Yellow Springs Police Department coupled with the Yellow Springs schools provided my daughter with a brand new winter coat, hat, gloves and boots for the upcoming winter. Last year, they outfitted my son. Thank you to them all for their efforts, time and money to help the kids in the village enjoy the cold weather!

Cheryl Keen: I was overwhelmed by the power of the whole weekend: the flow of people supporting the arts, making it and enjoying it. It was like people say, ‘this is why we live in Yellow Springs.’ I felt so incredibly privileged to live here this weekend.

Kitty (Jensen) should get a prize. She was in six [of the weekend’s art events], starting with Friday’s performance by the Madrigals, followed by the YSKP play. After that we went to the Emporium where my friend Michael Halter played with this incredible band — and the energy! I felt like I was transported to a different planet. There were all these happy people, groups of conversation, off the chart good music, dancing… then someone invited me to a caroling party. I walked in and I knew everybody.

On Saturday morning, I went to breakfast with our doctoral graduates, then had rehearsals with the chorus and the Quakers Christmas Eve event. Then I went to the community band concert and later the Presbyterian Medieval play and cast party at Ruth Bent’s. I went to the Quaker thing Sunday morning, then led the town Christmas caroling with Emily Elliot. We had 25 people! Then I ran home, ate, and went to our [chorus and orchestra] concert and cast party.

Elsie Hevelin: I remember coming to the village in 1929 when Arthur Morgan hired my father at Antioch. Then I went to Antioch with Dick Eastman — we took our tests at Antioch together in what would have been about 1941.

What happened to me is thanks to Dick’s son, John. I am losing my eyesight through macular degeneration. I’ve had 20-some operations where they stick a needle in your eyeball. My eyesight seems to be improving, but in the meantime the libarary lady brings me 40 books on tape each week. I listen to them all, but you know, you can get different pictures in your head when you read the books yourself.

This sweet young John called the Senior Center and donated this machine called a Merlin, where you put a book on it, and it magnifies the print. I have dozens of paperback books which I want to read but can’t because the print is so small. With this thing, I can put the whole book on there and read all my old books. I’m 88. I don’t want to read the new books with that new language for my personal entertainment. I like to re-read the old books — for instance, right now I’m reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It’s one of the nicest gifts that anybody could do for me. This machine has opened up a whole new world.

Mark Thornton: Being a father, I think about all the people in this town who help me out. I’m grateful for the generosity of people, who will take Erasmus in, take him places and feed him.

Abigail Cobb: When I think about kindness I think of all those people, well known, known a little, known not at all, at Tom’s Market and the Emporium who smile and connect with me with their eyes even when I’m having a difficult day. And, I think about all those many people, near and far, who desperately need kindness, knowing I have shrunk from reaching out, feeling overwhelmed, feeling I have nothing more to give, when a smile would have sufficed.

One of the kind things in my life right now is that a neighbor and I sit together, without words, for an hour a week. Our differences and antagonism had finally erupted in a screaming match, with cursing, name calling and tears. Now, we sit together in silence, unable yet to use words to bridge the chasm of our fury. Still, we have found a small door leading to that wordless realm of inner peace and acceptance, where the decades of hostility sift like dust suspended in sunbeams, falling harmlessly to the floor.

Patti Dallas: The staff at Friends Care perform acts of kindness every day. As someone who has had both parents there for several years, I think we are so fortunate to have such a facility in the village.


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