In the age of information technology in which we are living, 24 hours a day sometimes seems to be insufficient to do everything we have to do in such a short space of time. Absorbed in our thoughts – or rather, in the screens of our smartphones – we don’t realize that interpersonal relationships are increasingly scarce because we are no longer forced to interact with the world around us. Think about it : how many times in the last month have you stopped to chat with a neighbor you bumped into on the street?
Long before technology became popular and superficial friendships became the new normal with social media, more precisely in the early 1970s, Becky Mattson had the idea of taking the initiative to get closer to her neighbors in Montana. That became the first time National Good Neighbor Day was celebrated. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter, took it one step further and signed a proclamation officially establishing the holiday.
Oakland Park Actively Celebrates National Good Neighbor Day
Fast forward from the 1970s to the present day, National Good Neighbor Day is a date that continues to be celebrated across the country. The City of Oakland Park celebrated this neighborly day by partnering with neighbors and their neighborhoods to organize volunteer projects to positively impact the City.
Coby King , a community leader and candidate for Oakland Park City Commission, who headed up several of the clean-up projects said “Being a good neighbor helps us build solid and long-lasting relationships across our City“.
The morning began at Collins Community Center bright and early at 8am where neighbors gathered and enjoyed a beautiful healthy breakfast provided by the staff of Oakland Park. Steven Mattair, Volunteers Program Manager for the City, shared the different projects with participants and all were greeted by current City Commissioner Mitch Rosenwald and Mayor Michael Carn. Vice Mayor Aisha Gordon greeted volunteers on site at the Summer Lake Street Clean Up.
The City transported volunteers to different locations for each designated project. Some of the projects the volunteers completed were a Harlem McBride Neighborhood Clean Up, Rickards Middle School Clean Up, Corals “Operation Our Neighbor” House Painting, Lakeside Clean Up, Prospect Garden Clean Up, and 39th street Greenway Cleanup!
Emma Collum, Oakland Park resident and volunteer, joined the Corals Operation Our Neighbor House Painting. Accompanied by Mayor Carn, Commissioner Rosenwald, School Board Member Sarah Leonardi and a group of enthusiastic volunteers, they painted a retired teachers home a beautiful bright sunny yellow. “Neighbors stopped to comment on how exciting this was an how happy they were for the homeowner. The homeowner was absolutely thrilled and couldn’t stop thanking the city for the work done“, said Emma.
When the work was completed volunteers celebrated with a City-sponsored Ice Cream Social at the Collins Community Center . “The collaboration between the city and the neighborhoods was on full display with this great inaugural event! Everyone happily pitched in a really got to know each other while collaborating on these important projects. There was a true spirit of community and I can’t wait to be involved next year! It definitely was a labor of the heart“, Emma shared.
It's Easy to Be a Good Neighbor!
In addition to helping as a volunteer in social projects, donating in-kind or donating money, there are other ways to contribute to the good of the community that don’t require much:
- Greet your neighbors. It is easy and costs nothing to smile or saying good morning to your neighbor who is walking their dog on the street.
- Offer help. Is your neighbor experiencing difficulty or a problem and are you able to help? Do what you can to contribute to their well-being. A small gesture can mean the world to someone who needs it.
- Participate in community events. Events promoted by the city, or events that require volunteers, are great circumstances to donate some time and get to know your neightbors. Take advantage of events like Oktoberfest and Latin Fest, for example, to contribute and socialize.
- Help local businesses. Whether it’s an established store or a kid selling cookies at a stall, help out by shopping local.
Good Neighbor Day is one day that we can officially celebrate our neighbors and our community but if you really want to be a good neighbor you can celebrate every day from the smallest contribution to the world, such as a smile to greater gestures that can resonate in the lives of many.
Every Day Is a Good Day to Be a Good Neighbor
While the date is important for gathering volunteers and engaging in action, you don’t have to wait for this day to be a good neighbor. The City of Oakland Park has several projects and volunteer opportunities in need of an extra pair of hands. To learn more, please contact Steven Mattair at 954-630-4494 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Non-governmental organizations like Kiwanis and Elks are also always looking for labor or donations to bring help to those in need.
Remember, every day is good to to be a good neighbor!