Friday, June 4, 2010

Good Neighbors

Today I go to the Anthony's, a six hour, once every four weeks, big old house.  Their children are in their 20's and scattered around the world, the youngest in Taiwan.  We often skip for one reason or another, either I am sick or over scheduled, or most recently they had a major renovation under way that rendered all cleaning efforts futile until completion.  When the work was finished 3 days before Christmas, the interior of the house was blanketed with black soot from an old coal bin in the cellar that had been shoveled out.  When I arrived on the scene the following day it was clear that Lisa and Doug had run around the house with mop and rags removing the worst of the powdery black film, before hurrying off to meet one of their children in DC.  I am still amazed at the energy of this couple just a few years older than me; they are involved in several community arts efforts, volunteer in several neighborhood projects and faithfully attend city meetings about the planned intercity fast rail service in order to keep informed about the latest developments.  Over the years, they have bought several decaying houses in the neighborhood, and with their three children working in tandem, restored and resold them.  It is inspiring to work in the homes of people who sustain such neighborly interest in their home town.

Now that the children have all left home, and Lisa has finished her two terms serving on the local school board, she is chafing at her new job.  She says it is hard to be tied to an office without license to come and go at will.  I am remembering a day back when her children were still in school, when she was still able to exercise that freedom; a woman renting a room in the house across the street asked Lisa for a ride to the post office.  Of course Lisa was happy to help out, grabbed her keys and jumped in the car.  Soon she returned with a troubled sigh and told the story of this young, poorly educated single mother.  She was going to pay COD charges of $50 to a predatory company selling packets of materials for starting an in home business.  The envelope contained nothing of use to this woman who had probably given over the last of her income in the hopes of finding a way to support herself and her child.

Through the years I have cleaned for Lisa, and watched her work on various campaigns in the community, her lack of cynicism has shown as a beacon for those who would condemn innocent victims for falling into the  traps of grasping charlatans.  She is always a tireless advocate for educating each and every member of the community without prejudice.  It is a real pleasure to work for people whose lives are so dedicated to strengthening the fabric of society.

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