Best Acts of Neighboring Announced from Missouri Good Neighbor Week 2023
- Published: Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Second Annual Missouri Good Neighbor Week (Sept. 28 to Oct. 4) was a documented success. Organizers had a goal to document 15,000 acts of neighboring. But instead, Missourians reported 19,752 acts of neighboring during the week.
The sponsors of Missouri Good Neighbor Week -- University of Missouri Extension and The Hopeful Neighborhood Project – recognize the most engaged neighbors and the best acts of neighboring during the week to encourage acts of neighboring all year.
According to David Burton, community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension and creator of Missouri Good Neighbor Week, 10 different reported acts of neighboring were selected as the best examples in Missouri this year.
“Whether you are an award winner or not, we want to encourage Missourians to keep learning the names of their immediate neighbors, finding ways to use their names, and planning fun neighborhood events to develop positive relationships and increase social capital,” said Burton. “Your personal health and social capital improves, your neighbors have an increased sense of belonging, and your community benefits from more civic engagement.”
Each statewide award winner receives a signed certificate and a prize check by mail as a thanks for their efforts. Several participants this year marked their submission as wishing to remain anonymous and were not considered for these awards. One goal for 2024 is to do more of random prize drawing from among submissions to include all submissions.
TOP ACTS OF NEIGHBORING IN 2023
The top reported acts of neighboring as chosen by a committee are as follows.
Shari McCallister and D&L Florist in Houston, Mo., worked with sponsors, volunteers and partners to distribute 5,078 individually wrapped roses on September 28 across Texas County to neighbors and community heroes. This year's effort increased by 2,000 roses by involving partners in other Texas County communities: Licking, Summersville, and Cabool.
The City of Springfield, KY3-TV, and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board worked with other community partners to organize four neighborhood block parties in four different parks in Springfield. Each event was attended by hundreds of people and helped neighbors make new connections, grow the membership in neighborhood associations, and elevate the community conversation of what it means to be an engaged neighbor.
The Cooper County Extension Council and 4-H Clubs partnered on a pet supply drive during the week to make a “pawsitive impact on the lives of some deserving animals.” The project leveraged multiple partnerships in the community and collected over 400 items. Twenty Cooper County 4-H’ers also made 20 no-sew kennel blankets. All donations were given to Second Chance, an organization in the community dedicated to rehoming unwanted pets.
Wanda McLane of Nixa, Mo., used her abundant crop of cucumbers to make new connections during Missouri Good Neighbor Week. She began sharing them with neighbors, with strangers on street corners and at the local police department. Soon, neighbors reciprocated by bringing Wanda fresh eggs, green beans, pie, seedling trees and more. Word spread on the community Facebook page and by the end of the week Wanda had gifted over 500 cucumbers around her community. She hopes others embrace her message of kindness. “This world and our town needs more simple acts of kindness with no strings attached,” wrote Wanda.
Susan Peck and members of MapleGood in Maplewood, Mo., hosted a neighborhood event called "Rock and Roll", featuring two of MapleGOOD's programs: The MapleGOOD Dino Dancers and MapleGOOD You Rock (a community rock painting effort). Volunteers also made 200 bags of homemade cookies for this afternoon event.
University of Missouri Extension staff and council members in Pulaski County, Waynesville, Mo., in conjunction with Missouri Blue Star Families, held a food drive focusing on military families. Many military families starting their careers experience food insecurity. Blue Star Families also hosted their Missouri Welcome Week during the same time frame as the Missouri Good Neighbor week, so each program complemented the other.
Sgt. Thomas Crossley of the Jasper County Sheriff's Office in Carthage, Mo., and other deputies assigned to the Village of Airport Drive organized a movie night for local residents to bring people together for fun and connect deputies and community members.
Marylyn Prosper in Springfield, Mo., recognized that neighbors on her street had a unique opportunity to celebrate their ethnic backgrounds with food. She organized an ethnic potluck dinner for residents of Warmwater Avenue (a small deadend road).
Darla Noble of Rogersville, Mo., worked closely with her neighborhood association to host a neighborhood cookout and deliver cookies to 99 houses in the neighborhood with a sticker reading: "Happy National Good Neighbor Day from Patriot Place HOA.”
Cathy Baker of Republic, Mo., planned ahead for Missouri Good Neighbor Week. She grew a large bed of flowers from seed and then used those various flowers to create vases for delivery to 25 neighbors. Each vase had a hand-painted card celebrating Missouri Good Neighbor Week.
Greene County led the state with over 6,000 reported acts of neighboring, followed by St. Louis County, Texas County and Boone County.
Sixty-one county MU Extension councils conducted a day of service during Missouri Good Neighbor Week that involved hundreds of volunteers and reached thousands of Missourians.
Missouri's Governor signed legislation HB1738 on July 1, 2022, establishing Missouri Good Neighbor Week. The week begins on Sept. 28, also National Good Neighbor Day (first created in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter). Being a good neighbor offers tremendous health benefits, reduces crime, reduces loneliness, improves communities, and improves our quality of life.
Missouri Good Neighbor Week was selected as the best neighboring program in the United States for 2023 by Neighborhoods USA.
For more information, contact David Burton, community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension, by phone at (417) 881-8909 or by email at [email protected] or online at http://engagedneighbor.com.
Writer: David Burton
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