Caught in the act

Good deeds and kindness in Juneau

I recently observed my six-year “Juneau-versary” — the six-year mark of my move to Juneau — and got to thinking again about why that “summer in Alaska” turned into six years. Whether a person has called Juneau home for six years, six months or one’s whole life, there’s something about the community that makes this place feel like home.

One nice thing about the Neighbors beat is that I almost exclusively write the good news. There may be stories about crime and taxes in the A-section, but in Neighbors, it’s overwhelmingly positive news. I have gotten to interview local celebrities like the late Bill Overstreet, the most adorable award-winning baker Denali Schijvens, inspirationally hard-working and positive youth like Taylee Escalante, passionate educators like Bob Veith and so many more.

Neighbors is also home to the community’s thank you notes, often highlighting community support of fundraisers, events and organizations.

But I think we’re missing something. There ought to be recognition of the smallest things that make this community great. It was Wally Olson who ultimately inspired me to pursue this recognition of such small things.

I had been pondering the concept for some time, but it wasn’t until Wally accidentally sent me an email meant for an old friend of his (we share the first three letters of our first names) and I wrote back that he had reached the wrong ‘Mel’ as a courtesy. That little interaction spurred a conversation about what Wally referred to as acts of respect, and what I had been thinking of as acts of kindness.

Wally wrote in an email that these acts are “preserving something very important in American life — that other people are people too, just like you and I.”

In a later email, he wrote, “I don’t think things like this are “acts of kindness” as much as they are acts of respect for others when we know and understand the situation. If I were to live in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles or other urban areas I am sure that I would be much more “cautious.” But Juneau is Juneau and respect for others makes it a different kind of place to live.”

I can think of tons of examples of these acts of kindness or respect, including numerous occasions when people have helped me to extricate my car from a snowy prison, a time when my coat was mistakenly removed from a Halloween party and returned the next day in-tact and with my phone, money and cards still there, or when a stranger stopped to ask if I was ok after I had thrown myself to the ground to keep my dog from running into the (car-less) street.

Wally shared a few occasions of someone stopping to help him change a tire or helping to carry recycling.

So, the next time you catch someone in the act — of kindness or respect — submit a sentence or two or a photo with caption of the do-gooder by emailing, and let’s recognize these little things that make Juneau so great.


Guy About Town: Help for a town made of people

Hey, all! I hope you’ve been having a healthy, enjoyable January despite the meteorological mood swings. Like seriously, it’s like it can’t decide whether it wants to try to rip the door off my house or knock on it gingerly and sell me cookies. I have the fortune, however, of not having windows in my office. See, I don’t have to watch the tumultuous perpetual gray on the one hand, and on the other I don’t have to feel bad about being inside when it’s sunny. I just turn on my Costa Rica webcam and put my shades and Pet Sounds album on and party with those spreadsheets all day long.

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A big thank you to Bartlett Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation department

Thank you to the staff and patients of Bartlett’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Department for their donation of baby food. This much-needed donation is critical for providing healthy food to young family members, who are most in need of nutritious food. We should always remember that “healthy choices fight heart disease.” Bartlett’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Department’s special, specific donation reminds us that the health of our children is the first step towards a long and healthy life, and their generosity is overwhelming. This donation will make a difference in the lives of babies and their families in need. Thank you Bartlett’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Department!

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