“Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”

It’s a wonderful thought, isn’t it? It’s also the name of an organization I learned about recently.

I was working a volunteer shift at a Non-Profit Expo sponsored by the Eatonton-Putnam Chamber of Commerce. I was there with Georgia Writers Museum, one of about a dozen charities and non-profits at the Expo. In between the time we spent talking with visitors at our own tables, we had time to visit each other’s.

I enjoyed meeting new people, as well as chatting with a few I already knew. Of course, people who work and volunteer at non-profit organizations tend to be caring, friendly people, so it’s always a pleasure to interact with them.

I also enjoyed learning more about organizations I was already familiar with, such as Goodwill, the VFW, and our local hospital. But it was the ones I didn’t know  before that interested me the most – especially Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With an inviting name like that, of course I wanted to know more about them.

Some of the work they’ve done includes one-time critical home repairs for families living below the poverty line, and building and delivering beds to families with children who don’t have a bed of their own, and have been sleeping on the floor or in a bed with their siblings or parents.

The work they’re doing is impressive and inspiring, but what’s kept me thinking about it ever since is the name of the organization. The phrase “neighbors helping neighbors” calls to mind images and stories from another place and time – of barn-raisings and sewing circles, when neighbors got together as a matter of course when someone had fallen on hard times and needed some assistance, or when a major repair or restoration was needed, and it was too big a job for the family alone to handle.

I’ve lived in places where I barely knew my neighbors, but I’ve also lived in places where neighbors quickly became friends – the kind who showed up without even being asked if someone was in need. I consider myself fortunate to live in that kind of neighborhood right now, although I’ve never taken part in any barn-raisings or sewing circles.

By the way, I thought it was interesting that Neighbors Helping Neighbors was originally founded as “Men of Lake Oconee,” but it didn’t take long for them to realize that much of their growth and success was due to support and contributions from women in the community, and that there were women who wanted to get involved and help in the work they were doing. So the name was changed to Neighbors Helping Neighbors, which, according to its president, better describes the work and focus of the organization.

It also describes a mindset and mantra I wish more people would embrace, especially in the divisive times we are living in right now. I don’t think there’s any problem that couldn’t be solved by neighbors helping neighbors – both here and around the world.

September 26, 2022
©Betty Liedtke, 2022

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