This story was submitted as a nomination to the Reader’s Digest “Top 10 Nicest Places in America” contest: a crowd-sourced effort to uncover nooks where people are still kind and respectful in an era of cultural and political divides. If you know of a community, business, or nonprofit where kindness prevails, then be sure to submit a testimony or anecdote herebefore the June 5th deadline.
There is no competition when it comes to the village of North Riverside.
Neighbors, strangers and village staff are more than fun and nice: They are genuinely caring, compassionate and concerned about those around them, 24/7. From sharing garden vegetables; shoveling snow; mowing lawns; driving to doctor appointments; donating unused items; paying utility bills; kids writing cards to the elderly; giving struggling, depressed residents a reason to smile; and hosting youth scholarships where no one is turned away – no place in the country comes close.
For more than 25 years, residents have made the Golden Rule the town mantra and it has changed lives, including my own — and I don’t live there. I wish I did. God bless 3,000 of the most caring people in the USA.
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The town even has an active Neighborhood Services committee that helps all residents in need — they’ve even written a manual on how to do so!
Stories About North Riverside
One time, a captain chose to give a little live Christmas tree to a man who was very ill. The sick man was touched by the little tree since he had no decorations in his room and always remained in bed. The next day, we received a phone call from his niece. She said, “Thank you so much for what you have done. After the captain left, my uncle asked if we could drive him around town to see all the decorations. We had been asking him to do this, but he refused to try and now he wanted to go out.” She said she had tears in her eyes. A few months later, we learned he passed away, but we felt great joy that we had made his last Christmas on Earth a little happier.
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Another time, there was a power outage on one side of a neighborhood block that lasted for over 30 hours. A neighbor ran borrowed extension cords to her neighbors on the other side of the street so they could get power to turn her oxygen on. The Public Works then employees stopped by to place two protective barriers to protect the cord that was running across the street. Other neighbors stored food in their refrigerators – and another neighbor started a generator for a family with frail individuals.
Finally, there was a block party get together and a couple on the block was invited for three years and had never come. But for the third year, they came out. All the neighbors gave them a round of applause. Even the mailman was invited and came to that party. No one is left out.
There are hundreds of other stories as well, such as the villagers helping each other around the holidays, and the neighborhood committee that helps community members connect with each other.
Reprinted with permission from Reader’s Digest. To learn more about GNN’s part in searching for the Top 10 Nicest Places, click here.
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