HOLT, Mich. — Have you ever noticed that when you do something nice for someone else, the favor is usually returned to you? Some people call it karma, but we like to say it’s just Good Neighbors.
Mary Hannah-Calkins knows all about it. Mary, who lives in Holt, is very thankful for a few good neighbors who have made all the difference to her this winter. Mary lives on a fixed income and money is tight. She keeps warm by using her potbelly stove to heat her living room. She has electric heat but doesn’t like to use it.
“My electric heat is very expensive. Last month it was over $133. This month, it’s been extremely cold, so it will probably be over $200 this month. I’m not looking forward to that. More stress!” she said.
Mary keeps busy during the day as a volunteer for the Holt Food Bank, where she has been donating her time for the past 22 years. The only day she takes off is Christmas.
“My husband passed away in 1999, and I was rock bottom. I can relate to anyone with this problem. I didn’t know what to do. I asked God, show me something. He said, 'You’ve been a caregiver, and that’s what I want you to continue to do. Serve the public.' And that’s what I do.”
At a recent food bank meeting, Mary mentioned to fellow board member and Delhi Township Supervisor John Hayhoe that she needed some wood for her stove.
“When Mary and I saw each other at a food bank meeting, she said, ‘John, I would be willing to pay you to cut some wood for me to use in my pot belly stove?’ The wood has to be cut small. I went over to her house to see how small and realized she needed help. The stove takes really small pieces of wood. I decided to try and get help. I put it out on Facebook, and Gary Brewer responded. Gary and I aren’t even friends on Facebook, but he said he would help me out.”
Gary says there was no question in his mind about what he had to do.
“I’m just an old, retired, guy and I have plenty of time. I have a chain saw, so I volunteered to come over and help Mary. She has done a lot for the community, so this is a way to help her out and pay it forward.”
Mary says she is thrilled there are good people out there willing to help her.
“I don’t know what I would do if they didn’t help. I guess I could bring out more blankets. Or I could turn up the heat. I really don’t want to have to do that, so I have to be strong. All these men are good neighbors. They are good people.”
John says the community is passing it forward to Mary because she always helps others.
“She gives hundreds of hours. Twenty-one years she has been taking food to the hungry. If she does that and Gary and I get to get outside on a nice day, cut some firewood and have some fun. We are happy. She is happy. Everyone is happy.”
We say to John, Gary, and Mary, thank you for giving back and passing it forward. You all represent what a good neighbor is all about!
Want to see all of our Good Neighbors segments, click here.
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