Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in the New Year

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be-kind-everyone-you-meet-fighting-hard-battle-whoisplatoThe old year is put to bed, and the New Year is still waking up and getting started. As you rise up with it, consider some ways to make this year a little happier for you and those around you. You can make a difference in the lives of the people you come into contact with with only a small amount of effort. Here are five ways you can be a good neighbor this year. Can you suggest more?

1) Seek First to Understand: By now we’ve all seen the Internet memes out there with Plato’s quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard (or harder) battle.” Next time you encounter someone who seems like he or she is about to bite your head off, consider the person might be having a really bad day, or is going through a painful time. If it’s someone in a store or on the road, let them pass and silently wish them well. If it’s a friend, co-worker or family member, save the tart response and ask a few questions. Hey, are you having a bad day? What’s up?

2) Schedule in Chance Conversations: Years ago my neighbors told me it always looked like I was in a hurry to get somewhere. I [Read more…]

Leukemia Slayer Defeats Cancer, Will Keep Helping Other Kids

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The Leukemia Slayer has conquered cancer, or in his words, he, “kicked cancer’s butt!”

Jacob Goeders Slays Leukemia

Jacob Goeders letting his 10,000+ fans on Facebook know his bone marrow is free from cancer.

The 12-year-old Slayer, a.k.a. Mountain View resident Jacob Goeders let his more than 10,000 Facebook fans know recently that he is cancer-free after a battle lasting 3 years and 3 months.

In his usual friendly and non-capitalized style, Jacob wrote on The Leukemia Slayer Facebook Page, “hello it is the leukemia slayer well it is official i have slayed leukemia!!!!!!! i was so happy to hear my dr come in and say who in this room has clear bone marrow? that would be me!!”

I had the great privilege of meeting Jacob in December 2011 at a Christmas party in Mountain View for kids with cancer and their families. He told me about his “Santa Slayer” project, where he asked his then 2,000 Facebook fans to each send $1 so he could buy holiday gifts for the other sick kids on the cancer ward at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. Despite being in the fight of his life, all he could think about was how crummy it was for other kids to be in a cancer ward at Christmastime. He himself had spent a good chunk of December 2010 in that same ward, immediately after being diagnosed.

[Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in April

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Earth-Day-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-April-2013As the weather warms up, so does the calendar: there are an increasing number of activities going on in the Bay Area in April. Lots of opportunities for cleaning up the environment, charity walking, service projects, community events, and more, are available.

Every month I list five ideas of how you can get involved in the community and make a difference to those around you and the rest of the world. Consider incorporating at least one of these suggestions into your calendar.

Speaking of calendars, check out my new Kindness Calendar, which lists special service and awareness days/weeks/months that happen annually. There are eight listed for April alone! And for even more community events, keep an eye on the GNS Community Calendar (or list your own events there!).

1. Love Your Mother (Earth): April 22 is Earth Day, but the entire month of April is in essence, Earth Month, with all the events happening around the Bay Area designed to beautify, build awareness of, and celebrate, the care and protection of our planet (it is, in fact, Keep America Beautiful Month, and Arbor Day is April 27). The first weekend in April kicks off Earth activities. Saturday, April 6, the City of Cupertino is [Read more…]

Lisa Blanchard of The Grateful Garment Project Featured on NBC Bay Area Proud

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Lisa Blanchard of The Grateful Garment Project was featured on NBC Bay Area Proud on Thursday night, as I reported earlier this week. Congratulations, Lisa!

 

 

Put Your Sweater On and Help Someone, it’s ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ Day

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It’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Day, a.k.a Mister Rogers’ birthday. America’s favorite neighbor would have been 85 today. Over the last 10 won't-you-be-my-neighbor-day-fred-rogers-mister-rogers-volunteerismyears since his death, March 20 has grown in popularity as a special day to promote volunteerism and all-around neighborliness. Plus wearing sweaters.

When “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” premiered on PBS in 1968, the gentle children’s show always started with the song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, along with Mister Rogers putting on a signature cardigan sweater (usually zip-up, and always knitted by his mother) and a pair of lace-up tennis shoes. The show encouraged the qualities of creativity, kindness, tolerance, and altruism.

In Fred Rogers’ hometown of Pittsburgh, PA., city groups celebrate this day with volunteer service projects, and everyone is encouraged to don a cardigan sweater. In fact, collection drives for sweaters, shoes, and other clothes, along with diapers, food, books, and more, are popular events. [Read more…]

Super Volunteer Awarded ‘Woman of the Year’; Send Us Your ‘Person of the Year’

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From left to right: Cupertino Mayor Orrin Mahoney, Bev Lenihan, Assemblymember Paul Fong.

I knew Bev Lenihan was a busy volunteer, but I didn’t know just how busy until she was awarded—and rightfully so—”Woman of the Year” for the City of Cupertino by Assemblyman Paul Fong last week.

She was surprised by Fong at the Cupertino Quinlan Community Center with a bouquet of roses and the news that he had chosen her for the honor, thanks to a nomination by Mayor Orrin Mahoney.

You can read all about Lenihan and the amazing number of community groups she is helping in this great story on Cupertino Patch (just scroll down past the subscription form).

One group Lenihan serves as a board member for is the Faith in Action Silicon Valley Rotating Shelter, which I profiled on Good Neighbor Stories last year.

Congratulations, Bev!

Send Us Your Woman/Man/Volunteer of the Year News

I am always interested in featuring news of outstanding citizens, so if your group or community is honoring someone for their service, please send me the information, along with photos, if possible.

And if you know of anyone who receives such an honor, and you’d like to see them get noticed on this site, please send along any links and contact information. Thank you!

 

 

‘Optimistic Explorer’ Leads Service Trips to Make the World a Better Place

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Alisa Matsuzaki with a rainbow created by children at the Hogar Cristiano Orphanage in Costa Rica. Photo by Matthew Borror.

Alisa Kumiko Matsuzaki is a world explorer searching for more than just exotic destinations. She’s searching for hope, optimism, and new ways to make the world a better place. And everyone is invited to join her.

The San Jose freelance web designer is pursuing her passions of volunteer service, cultural exchange, and travel, through organizing service trips to foreign countries, as well as here in the U.S.

Although a number of her trips are done in conjunction with larger nonprofits—she’s leading a trip in April to volunteer with an organization in New Orleans—she recently returned from a Costa Rican service trip she organized with the help of friends. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in March

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By SMcGarnigle on Flickr

Amidst the “special” days of March, there’s “Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day” (March 1), “Popcorn Lovers’ Day” (same day as “National Pi Day”, March 14), and, I kid you not, “Extraterrestrial Abductions Day” (March 20). I could go on, March has a lot of wacky days (“Everything You Think is Wrong Day” on March 15, anyone?).

Here at Good Neighbor Stories, I like to share five ways you can contribute to the local community each month. Here are the suggestions for March.

1) Catch Some Luck of the Irish: March is National Irish-American Heritage Month, designated by Congress starting in 1995. With more than 1 million people of Irish descent in the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s a lot of celebrating going on, and not just on St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, the 17th. Starting on Saturday, March 9, and going all the way to April 26, it’s the 10th anniversary of the Crossroads Irish-American Festival in San Francisco. The festival, “promotes the discovery and understanding of the Irish experience in the Americas to ensure that the richness of the arts, culture, history and traditions of this heritage are both held in great esteem and preserved for [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in January

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Happy New Year! The world didn’t end in 2012, and the even better news is we get a fresh start in 2013. How will you make this new year better than the last for yourself, andNational-Mentoring-Month-Five-Ways-to-be-a-Good-Neighbor-in-January-2013 for the community? Here are five suggestions to make the world just a little nicer in the month of January. Try one, and let us know what happens!

1. Be a Mentor: January is National Mentoring Month, a time to highlight how important it is for every child to have a caring adult in his or her life. The awareness month is spearheaded nationally by the Harvard School of Public Health; Bay Area Mentoring is leading local awareness efforts. Thursday, Jan. 10, is “I Am a Mentor Day”, when all mentors are encouraged to go on social media to tell their stories, and inspire others to become mentors. Thursday, Jan. 17, is “Thank Your Mentor Day,” for anyone helped by a mentor in childhood to share his or her story. Keep up with the latest on the National Mentoring Month Facebook Page. To find out how to become a mentor in the San Francisco Bay Area, be sure to visit the Bay Area Mentoring website.

2. Donate Blood: January is National Blood Donor Month, established in 1970. The holiday season usually means less blood donations, because of holiday [Read more…]

‘Leukemia Slayer’, Age 11, Plays Santa for Fellow Kids With Cancer

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Jacob Goeders, a.k.a. The Leukemia Slayer, a.k.a. Santa

Imagine being a kid stuck in a cancer ward at Christmastime, getting poked and prodded, feeling sick, and very often bored waiting for the next test or blood draw, while missing out on all the magic and fun of the season.

Jacob Goeders of Mountain View, CA., 11, doesn’t have to imagine, because he’s lived it. And because he knows what it’s like, Jacob is in his second year playing “Santa” to dozens of children at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto this week, delivering presents he purchased after raising money from Facebook friends, and friends of friends.

Two years ago on Dec. 2, Jacob was diagnosed with high risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, landing him in the Packard cancer ward during the holiday season. Christmas was suddenly upended for Jacob, his mom, Sherry, his dad, Todd, and his little brother Jordan, then age 4.

As the one-year anniversary of the diagnosis approached last year, Jacob got an idea: what if he asked all his friends to donate $1 so that he could buy Christmas presents for the other children on the cancer ward and bring them a little holiday cheer?

“I wanted to make other kids feel good, and I wanted to do something,” Jacob told me recently. “I felt good because I was helping other kids who were stuck in the hospital like I was.” [Read more…]