Acts of Kindness

November 1, 2003

In this issue you’ll meet five very special people, REALTOR® Magazine’s 2003 Good Neighbors. The Good Neighbor Awards program, now in its fourth year, celebrates the community spirit and service that is so much a part of being a REALTOR®.

Joining the Society of Good Neighbors isn’t easy. It requires an incredible commitment to better the lives of others. I’ve marveled over the years at the energy, enthusiasm, and generous spirit of the REALTORS® we’ve honored. They inspire me.

They also make me feel guilty. Most of us can’t match the level of community service displayed by these extraordinary people. Still, it’s worth striving to be a good neighbor (small “g,” small “n”) in whatever ways we can. Checking in on an elderly neighbor, serving occasionally at a soup kitchen, or tutoring a child are all things that make for good neighbors.

At my stage of life—I’m a full-time working mother and wife—I find it hard to devote large measures of time to community service, and yet, like most people who feel well blessed, I want to give something back. So I’ve adopted a philosophy of small, random acts of kindness. I sometimes bake casseroles for a women’s shelter; I call the police on behalf of stranded motorists; I give elderly people and pregnant women my seat on the commuter train.

The power of this kind of giving is the premise of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel “Pay It Forward,” which inspired the movie of the same name. Hyde, who founded the Pay It Forward Foundation, maintains that it’s possible to change the world one favor at a time. Combine this idea with the nearly 1 million REALTORS® in this country, and you get a mighty force for good in the world. (Hyde is a featured speaker at this month’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco.)

Read the stories of this year’s Good Neighbors, and I’m sure you’ll feel inspired to perform your own acts of kindness, be they big or small. After all, our communities need all kinds of good neighbors, the ones with capital letters and the ones in lowercase.

Pamela Geurds Kabati is the former publisher of REALTOR® Magazine and senior vice president of communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

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