Why I founded Neighborly Way

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

I learned long ago that "why" a person does what they do is much more important that "what" they do. Here's why I founded Neighborly Way.

"I haven't told your mom yet, but if something happens today, now you'll know what's going on."

In the fall of 2013, my dad and I were out working in the woods. You see, my mom grew up on a farm and for that reason, I think, we always had some land that came with our house. Nothing extravagant, just an acre or so with some trees (and grass to mow, lots of grass to mow). Each fall and each spring, my dad would take great pride in cleaning dead branches, clearing vines, and sweeping leaves and other debris into burn piles. This particular fall, my dad and I were making some burn piles and planning a trip up to Minneapolis to see my beloved Golden Gophers play some football. As we began working, my dad stopped me and said, "Just to let you know, I've been a little short of breath lately. I've made a doctor's appointment, and I haven't told your mom yet, but if something happens today, now you'll know what's going on." I've never been one to pry or worry, so I simply said "Ok, let me know if you need to stop" and we went on with the raking and pruning.

It turned out that my dad had cancer. He was 71 that fall and would pass away the next spring at 72. It wasn't a happy time of my life, but I got to know the comfort that community provides in the darkest times of our lives.

I'll always remember the family friend who volunteered to miss the funeral in order to watch my parents' house since the date and time of my dad's services were in the paper and online.

Such a personal sacrifice to address a remote, but serious, possibility of home invasion during an already devastating time.

One of the most frustrating recurrences during my dad's last days what the cold reality that the world simply did not care about our hospital overnights, rushed showers, bleak commutes, and personal grief.

Despite the world shattering loss of my father, there was no grace period on my mortgage, all the bills (and more) still faithfully came due, and I still got cutoff in traffic.

As small as those items seem compared to confronting the mortality of a loved one, the weight of those realities was immense. What would I have given to have someone help my mom with the household chores, not that she needed it, she is an incredibly strong woman who grew up plucking eggs out of the hen house - she can mow a lawn and change an air filter, but as a simple act of kindness? That experience, along with my firm belief that no one should have to go broke just to help people, sparked a fire that has become Neighborly Way.

In founding Neighborly Way, I have committed to the idea that only the strength of community can support its members when those individuals find themselves in times of need. Please consider giving to Neighborly Way so that we can continue to support our vulnerable neighbors.

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