Good People Doing Good Things — In Linda Taylor’s Neighborhood

Today I have just one good people story, but the story has lots ‘n lots of good people and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.  And at the end, I have an idea that I need your help with!

It’s amazing what people can do when they work together to help someone.  Linda Taylor, at 70 years of age, was given two months’ notice from her landlord to vacate the Minneapolis house she has lived in for nearly two decades.  It wasn’t that she didn’t pay her rent, or that she somehow violated the rental agreement for the house she has lived in for 19 years, but the owner was eager to sell the house and take advantage of skyrocketing housing prices.  The landlord,  Greg Berendt, was asking $299,000 and told Linda she could buy the house, or otherwise be out by January 31st.

Until 2020, Linda had worked for a local non-profit organization, but was laid off due to the pandemic.  Since then, she has struggled to make her rent payments, using some of her savings, and with help from family plus a government program started during the pandemic to help keep renters from being evicted.  But there was no way Linda could buy her home for $299,000!

Now, Linda was a beloved neighbor in her Minneapolis community, often referred to as the “bright star” of the neighborhood … everybody loved Linda.  So, when word got out, the neighbors, about 400 of them, decided to step up to the plate.  The Powderhorn Park community decided it would not allow their neighbor to be displaced.  Says Andrew Fahlstrom, who lives across the street from Linda …

“We have an active local neighborhood group because we’re within two blocks of George Floyd Square.  The infrastructure was there, the communication line was there, the neighborhood relationships were there.”

First, the neighbors wrote a letter to the landlord, urging him to wait on eviction and start negotiations with Taylor so she could buy the house. It was signed by about 400 neighbors and hand-delivered to Berendt.  The landlord responded that Linda could remain in her home until June 30th, and he also lowered the price to $250,000 – still out of Linda’s budget, but a bit better.

Another neighbor, Julia Eagles, took the initiative to organize such things as an art show, bake sale, pro-bono work by a real-estate agent, countless small donations, and other community-fund drives to come up with the money … and they did!  By May 31st, they had raised enough money for Linda to purchase her house!  Said Ms. Eagles …

“I don’t want anyone getting displaced or priced out of the community. We all believed collectively that we were going to do what it takes to keep Miss Linda here. So many people know and love this woman.”

In just four months, the people of Powderhorn Park raised $275,000 for Taylor — enough to buy her home and cover some needed repairs. Any additional funds will go toward utility payments.

Says Miss Linda …

“I knew my neighbors loved me, but I didn’t know how much.  Yesterday I went and did the closing for the house. It makes me feel so good, everything that I have given, it’s coming back to me and I want to continue to give. I love this neighborhood.”

I had an idea the other night that I wanted to share with you and maybe get your help.  I know we all have been on the receiving end of good people before – friends, neighbors, family members, and sometimes even strangers.  I certainly have throughout my life!  My own most recent ‘good people’ encounter took place over a period of several months after the onset of my heart problems. I was unable to do much more than walk 10 steps without passing out, so my beautiful neighbor, Maha, would cook extra each evening and bring over enough supper for me and my family.  She did this for months, and in fact even now she sends food over at least once a week, despite the fact that she’s having her own health issues at the moment. She also brought me flowers, balloons, chocolates, and other little special treats, and either she, her husband Ali, or one of their three sons came to check on me every day!

Every week, I write about good people, some doing huge great deeds like traveling to Ukraine to help people find housing, or cooking for the displaced refugees, and others doing small things, like shoveling an elderly person’s walkway, rescuing an abandoned kitten, or buying a meal for a homeless person.  And these stories inspire us, remind us that there are many good people in the world, far more than the not-so-good ones we see on the news every night.  But I was thinking … I would love it if you guys shared stories of the good people who have crossed your paths recently.  You know … if your neighbor helped you carry your groceries in, or a stranger stopped and helped you change a flat tire, or a local teen carried your weekly trash to the curb.  Little things mean so much.

So, no pressure here, but if you’d like to tell the story of an encounter you’ve had with a ‘good people’ recently, I would love to hear and share your story in next week’s ‘good people’ post!  If you’re interested, let me know in the comment section and then you can email me your story!  Again, no pressure at all … it’s just something I thought might be fun to do!

I Ask Of You A Difficult Task

Another school shooting, voting rights disappearing, the war in Ukraine … these days it’s easy to lose HOPE, but our friend Roger gives us a new way of thinking about (and not losing) HOPE! Thank you, Roger!

Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

Truth be known. Some might think this as two tasks. Some might feel the source material and sentiments are not appropriate. Stay with me though.

Firstly I would ask you to read the following Russian (there’s the current trigger word) WWII poem by writer and war correspondent Konstantin Simonov, written in 1941 to actress Velentina Serova. The moving work was carried by many USSR soldiers, wrapped with a picture of their wife or girlfriend, it became an unofficial icon, a means of coping, a hope the bearer would survive.

Wait for Me

Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait with all you’ve got!
Wait, when dreary yellow rains
Tell you, you should not.
Wait when snow is falling fast,
Wait when summer’s hot,
Wait when yesterdays are past,
Others are forgot.
Wait, when from that far-off place,
Letters don’t arrive.
Wait, when those with whom you wait

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Good People Doing Good Things — Samantha & Friends

Samantha Rodriguez found herself in a tough spot after both of her parents passed away within a couple of years, leaving her responsible to raise her five younger siblings.  As their primary caregiver, the young woman has had to make huge sacrifices to be able to continue to look after her brothers and sisters, the youngest of which is five, the oldest seventeen.  The children were in danger of being placed in the foster care system where they would almost certainly have been separated.

“I knew what I had to do. I learned so much from my mom. I was like her sidekick. I learned what it meant to raise a family. It can be tough knowing when to be like a parent and when to be their sister. Sometimes it can feel like I’m alone.”

She moved with her siblings to Orange County, Florida, because their grandmother lived there.  But resources were scarce, and Rodriquez had to grow up fast.  Samantha has been juggling her education with running things in the family home. She has relied on Uber or public transport to get all six family members to school events, doctor appointments, etc.  Quite a lot of responsibility for a 20-year-old, isn’t it?

Well, somehow this family and their situation came to the attention of the Orange Country Sheriff’s Department.  This was in December, so the Sheriff’s Department invited the family to come for a visit.  The kids were treated to a helicopter ride, and then taken into a room where there were stacks of gifts for each of them.

“We focused on clothes but also toys. We wanted to give them a good Christmas.” — Lieutenant Antorrio Wright

But the story doesn’t end there.  The sheriff’s department posted a video of the Christmas surprise online. And people began responding, asking to help.  Lieutenant Wright and his compadres put their heads together and, remembering that the family had hired an Uber car to bring them to the Christmas surprise, they collected the donations from the community, added some of their own, and …

Last week, Lieutenant Wright contacted Ms. Rodriguez and asked her to come to his office.  She was puzzled, but … when the cops call, you go!  When she arrived, he escorted her into a large room where she found all the officers from the Christmas event waiting for her.  There was a board with a covering over it, and …

The lieutenant told her that the community had gotten together and wanted to do something to help her and her family, so … he pulled the cover off the board, and …new-carThe department had bought Samantha and her siblings a new car!!!

“When they told me the car is for us, I remember thinking, ‘They just took away all these worries and stresses.’ It was such a big weight off my shoulder and will help so much.”

new-car-familyFolks … this is what it means, or at least should mean, to be a part of a community.  We look out for one another.  My hat is off to the Orange Country Sheriff’s Department, to the members of the community who stepped up to the plate to help this family, and to this young lady, Samantha Rodriguez, for taking on the responsibility for her five brothers and sisters, putting her own life on hold to keep the family together.

Note:  Pay It Forward Day is on April 28, a week from Sunday.  I’m thinking about doing a post about things people did to “pay it forward” the Wednesday after, so if you see or hear of things that you would like to contribute to that post, please send me a short email.  Thanks!