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Viral Kindness
During this COVID-19 crisis, people are stepping up and spreading goodwill. We want to hear about the ways in which Kansans are responding to this emergency with compassion, and shine a light on the humans that exemplify humanity.Every other Friday, we'll share your stories on KMUW's new commentary, Viral Kindness.Share your experience. Use the 'Talk to Us' feature on the KMUW app, or leave a voicemail at (316) 978-6789.

Viral Kindness: Neighbors In Need Prompt 'Neighbors InDeed'

Richard Ruth just officially launched Neighbors InDeed, a nonprofit that finds people in need of help getting their property up to code and connects them with community members willing to assist. But it all started two years ago with one impactful call for help.

"There was a neighbor who was having some trouble getting their property cleaned up after an inspector had tagged it for some violations. Tall grass and weeds and then trash in the alleyway. And so I went and put a little note up on Nextdoor and asked if a couple people wanted to help and got a couple volunteers to go over there with me. In the process of working with this person, I found out a lot more about her situation and discovered that she was experiencing multiple seizures during the day, which prevented her from holding a job, but she wasn’t able to get disability. She’s really had a hard time because the seizures affect her memory.

I really became very encouraged about that kind of work. Because in a very brief period of time, it took maybe three or four hours, and her problem was solved. So I started doing more and more of these. I just started posting, 'Neighbor in Need,' and giving people a little synopsis on what the problem was. And there was just an overwhelming amount of willingness on the part of our neighbors to go out and help folks that were in these straits. It’s real simple physical labor, but when you turn and walk away from one of these jobs, there’s a level of peace that you get when you know that you just solved a problem that was unsolvable by that person alone.

Instead of looking at a house that’s rundown, with overgrown weeds, as being a nuisance, look at that as, 'Hey, there’s somebody in need over there.' I think this is one way we can begin to turn the ship from this divisiveness and fighting. When I work shoulder to shoulder with my neighbor, helping them out of their trouble, I see that their suffering is my suffering too."

Sarah Jane Crespo is the Director of Community Engagement at KMUW. She is the creator and host of Engage ICT and the weekly Engage ICT Mini series.