The Power of One

I have to say, mustering up as much humility as I can, that I’m extremely proud and honored to be a commissioned chaplain with the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Service. It is one of the most beautiful examples I know of people of all faiths setting aside their differences and coming together around a common purpose – to love their neighbor. It’s a unique and powerful model that I hope every city will imitate. Click here to find out about it!

Today I had a chaplain’s call out that was very inspiring. A woman who lived on Social Security, in low-income housing, and had suffered multiple physical ailments passed away in her apartment last night. She was missed this morning by all her friends in the neighboring apartments. You see, every morning she would sit out on her step and greet her neighbors as they came and went – to get their mail, walk their dogs, or go to their cars. She would buy groceries for ailing neighbors, drive them to their doctors’ appointments, or cook them meals when they needed a little help. She would loan them money if they were a little short, and always had a pot of coffee on for those who wanted to come over and chat. She was a supporter, encourager, and all around kind human being. So when she was not on her step this morning and her dog was in her apartment barking, the neighbors knew something was wrong and called 911. Her simple acts of kindness created a community that did not exist before her arrival in this complex. I got to sit with a dozen of her neighbors in an impromptu memorial in the carport outside her apartment while they hugged each other, shared stories, cried, and promised to continue her legacy by looking out for each other. None of these people knew each other before her arrival in the complex. Now they are making plans to share Thanksgiving together in her honor.

In this fragmented world where so many lonely people hide behind their locked doors, one person can be the glue that pulls a community together. We all long for community – maybe, just maybe, our community is longing for us to call it forth.

Say hello to your neighbor today. Your smile just might change a life.


19 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sandy Bryant on October 23, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Fawn, thank you for posting. Very well written and most inspiring…you were given a gift that day.


  2. Posted by Hazel Bishop on October 23, 2011 at 7:03 am

    I know exactly what you mean. We are called into an abyss ….. not know what we are getting into…. anxious, reminding ourselves to stay calm and professional ….. minutes later we are being held by strangers who are indeed no longer that. The privilege we have been blessed with…. standing with our community in a unique way…. and sometimes I wonder what did I do Lord to to be granted this heavenly task. We each represent our community when we put on that jacket and put our cell phones in our pocket. Thank you Fawn for representing us all so beautifully.


  3. Posted by cachyb on October 23, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Thanks Fawn, and I bet she didn’t “plan” on making her daily visit to her porch. She was being who she was; loving, caring, helpful, etc…..what a tribute to a wonderful woman…what an inspiration as I see that it is the little things, the little details that demonstrate love in action…..


  4. Lovely story! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called out for believing that people are basically good – they aren’t out to rob and rape and kill us. We simply need to reach out with a smile and they’ll respond back. This woman did that – and look what it brought.


  5. Posted by Ken Risling on October 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Appreciate your experience and your insight. Ironically, my first thought went to “if only”: “If only everybody would act with the consciousness and good will of this one great person…” But of course, it’s not up to everybody. As you point out, it’s only up to one person (in my case, me) and that one person can make a huge difference. Thank you, Fawn.


  6. Posted by debralee on October 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    That she had no idea that her generosity would touch someone’s heart that she never met, and they would share that in writing and honor her life in this way, spreading the truth about how one simple act of kindness can change people for the better, gives me faith in people who walk in it. Bless you for giving twice…to her neighbors, and to me.


  7. What a beautiful post. All of us have the power to connect with those around us. Every interaction with another human being is an opportunity to bring us closer together. Take the time to greet your neighbor, engage a person in the check out line at the grocery store, thank the person who fills your order at Starbucks. Let’s all look for opportunities to connect, share, collaborate, and support each other.
    Thank you, Fawn, for your selfless service to “God in Humanity”. Warmly, Ron


  8. As I read this again I am reminded of the blessing it is to be a Chaplain and experience human nature like we do. I would like to get this blog into our Chaplaincy newsletter and will include it in my yearly report to our Board Of Directors in Feb. Well written my friend!


  9. Posted by Em on October 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    i am sorry I do not read your posts as soon as they arrive. Many days I do not even check anything on my computer. I am always warmed, touched by all you do, say and write. How glad I am that you have become part of my life. Guess I will have to back track and see what I may have missed. Love you lots!!!


  10. Hey Fawn… When I read your comment at my blog first thing this morning, well, I smiled and am still smiling all these hours later. I don’t know, it just felt so serendipitous (or something) to have someone who knew me at 16 comment on that post, especially when that someone was you. Can’t really explain it, but it felt very, very nice. So thank-you! And too, all of us teens from the church back then probably disappointed each other on a regular basis, so don’t worry because hey, we were all so extremely clueless back then, now weren’t we?!! ….smile…. So glad I know you….. Debra


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