A special section honoring your neighbors, unsung heroes and people who do the little things that just make life better in Lawrence.
Read about the honorees for the 2011 Only in Lawrence: "About town" category.
What makes a good neighbor?
Lawrence residents nominated more than 25 people who are the epitome of a good neighbor, whether they clear the sidewalks of snow or drive neighbors to the airport when they need a ride.
Marcia Epstein, director of Headquarters Counseling Center, said that good relationships with neighbors can increase a person’s quality of life.
“We’re going to feel better emotionally, and that often means we’ll feel better physically and we’ll be safer,” she said.
Epstein personally experienced a good neighbor when she got a call in the middle of the night from a neighbor who had stepped out to smoke and saw someone trying to break into her car.
“If we know our neighbors and we know a little bit about their routines, we can see that something is different, and it gives us the opportunity to check in on them,” she said.
Here are a few of Lawrence’s good neighbors.
Kenny Click, 5000 block Keystone Court
Kenny Click’s father taught him from an early age in small-town Mart, Texas, to help others. He and his father would help many people they went to church with by mowing their lawns and helping with other tasks.
When Click, now 49, asked his father why they helped without being paid, his father replied: That’s what a good neighbor does. Click maintains that attitude himself, and is now passing it on to his own children.
“If I know someone’s got a problem, we just help to help,” he said. “I’ve tried to teach them to go out and help without being asked.”
Click has been such a good neighbor to people in Lawrence, even a neighbor who moved away lauded his neighborly attitude. Current neighbor, Dick Hale, said Click is always available with a helping hand.
“They kind of adopted us,” said Hale, 81. “Part of it is his attitude. He likes doing it for you.”
Hale said Click will clear lots of sidewalks in their neighborhood with his four-wheeler with a blade attached. When Hale went on a three-week trip in February, he knew he didn’t have to worry about getting a ticket for his sidewalks not being cleared. During the summer months, Click keeps his land and another lot he owns completely mowed, and many neighborhood children use the land to play.
Click’s giving attitude fits in with the small-town values Hale said Lawrence maintains.
“I think more people should be that way, and when they are, it’s nice that they get recognition,” Hale said. “They’re not doing it for recognition. I know that’s not his purpose. He’s just a good man.”
Pete and Cathy Schneider, 4200 block of Harvard Road
Pete and Cathy Schneider weren’t always close with their neighbors. About 11 years ago, their church started a group, and the neighbors all went. Now they’re all fast friends, and their neighbors feel lucky to have them.
Pete, 60, has a range of tools, which he passes around when needed. He and Cathy have cut grass for neighbors who are ill, watered plants when they were gone and even power-washed a neighbor’s deck.
“You help the neighbor whoever you are,” Pete said.
Cathy, 55, said growing up in a small town in Missouri instilled the importance of helping neighbors.
“That’s just what you did,” she said.
Marie Potter said the Schneiders helped many of their older neighbors, and had personally picked her and her husband up from the airport, taken them to church and done some plumbing at their house.
“When you’re older, you realize you can’t do all that you used to do,” Potter said. “Sometimes you need help and you need to rely on people like that. A good neighbor is a very precious jewel for an older person.”
Don Barnett, 1700 block of East 1310 Road
Twelve years ago, Sarah Peters and her husband moved to Don Barnett’s neighborhood. Barnett quickly became a friend.
“He was one of the first people who stopped by when we moved in,” Peters said. “He’s just the friendliest guy.”
Barnett, 82, was once the owner of a garage, something Peters said comes in handy when a vehicle breaks down. Barnett also cares for the Peters’ cat when they leave town.
“Our cat is very stand-offish and the only three people she will let handle her is my husband and I, and Don,” she said.
Barnett said he learned to appreciate good neighbors when he was in the service and spent some time in New York City. There, he found that people who had lived next to each other for years hardly spoke.
“Nobody wants to get involved,” he said.
So now, he has a good relationship with his neighbors, helps when they need help and will share vegetables from his wife’s garden.
“All of us around here, if someone needs help, we help,” he said.
And despite his age, Barnett keeps walking around the neighborhood regularly with his dog, Sadie.
“He just never quits,” Peters said. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny.”
Christine Graves, 900 block of Prescott
Christine Graves, 60, lives in a neighborhood where all the neighbors help one another. In the winter, she’ll use her snowblower to clear the sidewalks, and in the summer, neighbors will edge her grass.
“People do stuff for me, and I do stuff for them,” she said.
One neighbor in particular said Graves was a great neighbor because she was always available to take care of his 3-year-old son.
Graves, a retired special education teacher, will go next door to put the boy to sleep when his father is late returning from work.
She also will watch neighbors’ pets, and one week in March she was taking care of two cats, a dog and a parrot.
“We just trade off,” she said.
After living in the neighborhood for 21 years, she’s grateful for the bond that has formed among people in the neighborhood.
“Everybody here is very considerate, because everything you do affects someone,” she said.