Editorial: Little acts of kindness

By on October 1, 2009

The term “small-town values” is used often—and the concept behind it is something that the Elburn Herald tries to focus on regularly.

However, the definition of this concept is difficult to articulate, and therefore the concept is left as something that is just understood by people who get it and misunderstood by people who do not.

As the local, hometown newspaper for Elburn, Sugar Grove, Maple Park and Kaneville, it is our responsibility to serve as a mirror for our Kaneland communities; and that means that in each edition, we try to provide as many examples as possible of that difficult-to-articulate sense of small-town, or community, values.

Go through this week’s edition, or just about any past edition, and you will find these small acts of kindness that serve as examples of the small-town values that create communities and serve as the foundation for why we live and/or work here.

It is the letter to the editor from Lola Salamon, whose husband suffered a medical emergency while stacking firewood at their Elburn home. Not only did the emergency responders arrive promptly and treat them with compassion, but the firemen on the scene finished stacking the firewood for the family while Mr. Salamon was transferred to an area hospital.

It probably took relatively little time and effort to do this, but as Lola Salamon wrote in her letter, “My heart broke just a little to see such kindness and compassion in this day and age where, most of the time all you see is jealousy, anger and resentments.” That “little act of kindness” is a perfect example of the small-town values that is hard to put into words but is vital to our communities.

It is the outpouring of support for the Krol family of Elburn. The Krols suffered through a challenging time when their oldest son was diagnosed with a rare, but serious, form of cancer when he was less than a year old. Fast forward a few years, and the family experienced the joy—and fear—of finding out they were expecting quadruplets. That fear was compounded when Matthew Krol became a victim of the economy and lost his job.

Yet, those hard-to-define values kicked in, and friends, family members, neighbors and community members (many who had never actually met the Krol family) pitched in and began raising funds—and diapers, among other items—to help the family while in need.

“It’s really been very special,” Michelle Krol told Elburn Herald reporter Martha Quetsch. “Nine months ago, we were asking ourselves how it could all come together, how we would make it work.”

It is the decades-long dedication to helping others; the kind of dedication demonstrated by Sugar Grove resident Ann Alexander. Ann dedicated 43 years of her “spare” time to assist Tri City Family Services, a nonprofit organization focused on providing counseling, prevention and intervention services to local individuals. Alexander has served on the board of directors, worked on behalf of the organization’s Friends group, and has simply volunteered in countless ways through her 43 years of service. The organization recognized her service by giving her the Judy Burgess Award for Outstanding Volunteerism.

When describing Alexander’s countless little acts of kindness through the years, TCFS Executive Director Jim Otepka told Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill, “She has inspired all with her passion for her ministry of service and with the joy she exuded in carrying out this ministry. She really does put her faith into action.”

These are just three of the many examples of the types of little acts of kindness that show up in our paper each week, and serve as the foundation for our communities.

Small-town values may be hard to define or put into words; but the members of our community have no trouble putting that concept into action.

Whether it is taking a few minutes to finish stacking firewood for a community member facing a temporary emergency; a community coming together to help a family in need; or an individual dedicating much of her life to benefitting others, these are the things that turn towns into communities, and communities into homes.

We are just happy that we get to help share with our readers the inspirational acts—these little acts of kindness—of our fellow community members.