By Jennifer Blanck, MiCAFE Network Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan
Have you ever heard of National Good Neighbor Day? I hadn’t until recently, when I stumbled upon it by accident while searching for resources on the internet. I thought this was a cool idea that I needed to share with others.
First, let me share a little background. According to an article on Awareness Days, National Good Neighbor Day was first proclaimed an annual holiday by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. A woman by the name of Becky Mattson came up with the idea of this holiday to recognize the importance of good neighbors in 1971. President Carter later announced the creation of the holiday to help raise “public awareness that good neighbors help achieve human understanding and build strong, thriving communities.” The holiday was officially changed to September 28th in 2003.
National Good Neighbor Day is an ideal opportunity to get connected with your community, celebrate your neighbors, meet and welcome new members, network, and just get to know each other. Most importantly, Good Neighbor Day is the perfect time to check in with older neighbors who may be isolated and not have many visitors, if any at all.
According to AARP, celebrating Good Neighbor Day by helping others provides more benefits than just the goodwill you show to your neighbors. The connections formed by being a good neighbor also benefit your health. Studies show that isolation is just as bad for your health as smoking in older adults. It is often neighbors and family members who are the first to notice if something is amiss with their neighbors and can offer proper help in a timely manner.
AARP’s connect2affect offers some tips to help you connect with your neighbors as well as resources and tool-kits:
- Knock on an older neighbor’s door and say “hello”.
- Invite your neighbor over for coffee or tea.
- Organize a potluck for the neighborhood or your block.
- Give your older neighbor a ride to the grocery store or an appointment.
- Start a game night with a few neighbors.
- See if there is a community center in your neighborhood where you can volunteer.
Stay connected in your neighborhood and community every day, not just on Good Neighbor Day!
Jennifer Blanck is a MiCAFE Network Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan and has been with Elder Law of Michigan since September 2014. As a MiCAFE Network Coordinator, Jennifer helps clients apply for benefits through the Department of Health and Human Services and helps find resources for clients with needs that cannot be met by one of our programs.