“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right” (James 2:8).
This September 28th is the annual celebration of National Good Neighbor Day. Becky Mattson of Lakeside, Montana founded National Good Neighbor Day in the early 1970s. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter issued Proclamation 4601, which stated, “As our Nation struggles to build friendship among the peoples of this world, we are mindful that the noblest human concern is concern for others. Understanding, love and respect build cohesive families and communities. The same bonds cement our Nation and the nations of the world. For most of us, this sense of community is nurtured and expressed in our neighborhoods where we give each other an opportunity to share and feel part of a larger family…I call upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
In today’s day and age, it is not uncommon for people to feel isolated even when living in close proximity to others. We can change this by fostering care, concern and a sense of connectedness. The act of neighbors connecting with neighbors replaces feelings of isolation and division with understanding, caring, and respect. Each individual connection between neighbors builds a stronger community. Together, we can make great neighborhoods by becoming great neighbors.
The National Good Neighbor Day coalition lists these five ways to take your community from an ordinary neighborhood to a good neighborhood. First, connect. Introduce yourself to others in your neighborhood. Second, invite. Gather together to share experiences with each other. Third, celebrate. Congratulate neighbors on birthdays or other milestones and celebrate with them. Fourth, practice awareness. Neighbors are stronger together. Be aware of safety and security issues in your neighborhood and be there to protect each other. Fifth, focus on availability. Be there for your neighbors when they need someone’s help or support.
The members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society strive to be good neighbors all year long. For instance, members often reach out to elderly and isolated neighbors. In home visits, meal delivery and simple companionship can make such a difference in the life of an elderly person who feels completely alone.
Some of our neighbors are struggling emotionally, and the members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are there to listen and provide them assurance.
Similarly, the St. Vincent de Paul Society reaches out to neighbors who are in need of help with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter or transportation. They can help these neighbors get back on their feet and give them hope that they will be able to make it through the tough times.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community, for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”