Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Good Neighbors

There are many ways to define a good neighbor. Friendly. Helpful. Generous. 

The Neighborhood Resource Organization handed out its 2016 Good Neighbor Awards in November and three residents of the Academy Neighborhood were recipients. I nominated all three and you can read my nomination letters below.

 Susan Earl

That's Sue on the left, back in 2013

Susan is the very definition of a good neighbor. She is friendly when dealing with neighbors, looks out for the safety of others, and is active in every aspect of the Academy Neighborhood Association. She has been the very picture of consistency within our organization. She has regularly attended meetings for three years now, has volunteered at our neighborhood cleanups and fundraisers, and can be counted on to sign up for a shift at any event or activity.

Susan went above and beyond her normal responsibilities as a citizen and I found it to be particularly inspiring. Earlier this year, Susan told me that she had spent an hour or so picking up garbage and trash from a particular part of our neighborhood for which no one takes responsibility. It was a small action but one that got me thinking – Why can’t this happen more often? Why can’t everyone step outside of their comfort zone and work to improve the neighborhood, quietly and independently? What can our neighborhood organization do to make Sue’s actions seem like the norm?

I nominated Susan so that she would know, and that everyone would know, that stepping out of your comfort zone to help is the norm, or hopefully the new norm in Erie. The Academy Neighborhood Association has benefited greatly from having Sue as part of our team: I cannot imagine the association, or our neighborhood, or our block, without her. 

Debbie Knecht 

Debbie Knecht and Donald "Gizmo" Johnson

Debbie never misses a meeting. Debbie never misses a volunteer opportunity. From our very first meeting at a bar in 2013 to our latest Saturday coffee gathering Debbie has been there. She made cookies for our latest bake sale and was on hand at our National Night Out in August, our biggest event of the year. 

Additionally, Debbie has had to go through some tough times in our neighborhood. Her husband was injured in a shooting several years ago, and just this summer there was a “shots fired” call in front of her residence. There was also a serious house fire across from her home on German Street.  

Prior to being involved in the Academy Neighborhood Association, Debbie was a key player in the Brickyard Neighborhood Watch group. She has been a consistent voice for our part of town for the better part of a decade.

I’m nominating Debbie Knecht for the Good Neighbor award. She has been a good neighbor, an active association member, and friend. 

Johnson's Car Care

Johnson’s Car Care is a private business in the Academy Neighborhood and I am nominating them, and their owner Donald “Gizmo” Johnson in the Community Ally category.

Johnson’s Car Care opened in the heart of our neighborhood, 3213 German Street, in 2015. Since that time the business has gained a reputation for its quality auto body repair work. 

The Academy Neighborhood Association holds its annual National Night Out event in August every year.  Staging the event isn’t easy. There are many necessary expenses: The performers, stage, sound system, tents, chairs, food, drink, and port-a-potty, all have to be paid for. The event itself is well worth it. National Night Out brings together hundreds of people in our diverse neighborhood. 

When we approached Mr. Johnson about making a donation to make our National Night Out event, in August of 2016, he responded promptly by writing a check. The check was generous and it relieved any pressure we had felt about funding National Night Out.

The support we have received from Johnson’s Car Care in the short time the business has been in our neighborhood has been tremendous. It assured the financial health of our National Night Out event for not only 2016 but the years to come as well. We respect and appreciate the hard work that it takes to be an entrepreneur. In keeping with our pledge to promote appropriate economic growth in the Academy Neighborhood we nominate Gizzy Johnson and Johnson’s Car Care for a Good Neighbor Award. 

Our neighborhood has many good neighbors and these three are truly deserving of the extra recognition.