Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

Goodwill Toward MenIt’s the holidays, the time of good cheer, parties, lots of smiles and presents. Expectations are high for the New Year. Good moods and merriment are running rampant. Everybody is smiling and yelling, “Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas or Happy New Year.” Children are waiting for Santa, and adults are hoping (just a little) for a white Christmas.

Another thing that happens at the holidays is good will towards men. There are plenty of charities to carry out this sentiment: Salvation Army Angel Tree, Christmas Mother, Toys for Tots – just to name a few. Unfortunately, it just seems that good will towards men wanes after the holiday season. We all get caught up in our lives, our kids, our schedules, etc. and “good will towards men” takes a backseat. That is such a shame. That is why I have chosen to tell you a story about a man named Warren.

Warren is a 91-year-old widower. He has lived in a small village in Vermont (about 800 people)  for 40 years. His closest neighbor is just a little more than a mile away. His wife died three years ago. His immediate family, who live nowhere close to him, either want him to move in with them or go to an assisted living facility. Warren keeps refusing, and up until recently this worried his family. All they saw was a 91-year-old widower, alone, in the backwoods of Vermont with a sketchy memory and very few services available to him. Then, just recently actually, his family learned the meaning of good will towards men and how it helped Warren. 

Every Sunday morning Warren gets picked up and driven to and from church. There is no Uber or Lyft, so the church parishioners take turns. On Mondays, a neighbor stops by to pick up his grocery list, and she buys his groceries as well as her own. Then on her way home, she stops and puts them away for him, and she also takes the time to make him lunch. Every Tuesday evening he gets picked up and driven to and from Bible study. Again, the church parishioners take turns. Every Wednesday, summers included, a member of the local high school chess club drops by in the afternoon to play a game or two of chess with him. Warren loves chess. Warren’s house is on the outskirts of a ski resort area. Every Thursday, a security guard from the local ski resort stops by on his way to work to just shoot the breeze with him. He stays about two hours. They met in the waiting room of a doctor’s office a few years back and hit it off. On Fridays, the local handyman stops by to see if anything needs “a-fixin’.” He helps out with things like holes in his screens, cleaning gutters, and tightening loose doorknobs. Warren also has another neighbor who stops by once a week to help clean up and do his laundry. 

There is a lot of small wildlife in Warren’s yard, and he loves to feed them. Every morning he puts out a big bowl full of food for “the critters,” as he calls them. The thing is, Warren never runs out of feed for these animals. When he needs something like animal food, batteries, a flashlight, ice melt or any other hardware-related items, he calls the local hardware store and they bring it to him. They don’t have a delivery service. What they do have are several employees who are willing to drive over the mountain and bring Warren his order. 

On top of all this, a local family has “adopted” Warren. They stop by his house every day to make sure he has taken his medicine and to make sure he is OK. They take him to doctors’ appointments, help him with his checkbook, help him pay his bills, help with any problems he has and just plain keep him company. They call in the evening or stop by to make sure he has eaten, taken his meds, and to advise him of his schedule the next day. Warren does have Meals on Wheels, but his “adopted family” brings him a home-cooked meal once or twice a week and sometimes they pick him up and he eats dinner with them at their house. They keep all his family members’ phone numbers handy in case anything happens.

Warren isn’t a celebrity, politician or a business tycoon. He isn’t rich and famous. He is just a normal guy who lived an average life and did the best he could. He just helped people whenever he could, and if he couldn’t, he gave the best advice he could think of. In return, this small community has rallied around him in the later years of his life. They make a collective, daily effort to take care of this old man with no wife, far-away relatives, mobility issues and a sketchy memory. They don’t procrastinate or complain. They don’t ask what’s in it for them. They just help. They help not just at the holidays, but every day. 

My question is: What would happen if we all did that? Just helped. Not just at the holidays, but every day.

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