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This blog is a small, first step toward encircling all of our community members in friendship and sharing. Are you intrigued by the concept of a common place for those who believe in the value of inclusion in the fabric of shared community? Email me at

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kindness of strangers

In the New York times today, Ted Gup penned an article about the kindness of strangers during the Great Depression:
IN the weeks just before Christmas of 1933 — 75 years ago — a mysterious offer appeared in The Repository, the daily newspaper here. It was addressed to all who were suffering in that other winter of discontent known as the Great Depression. The bleakest of holiday seasons was upon them, and the offer promised modest relief to those willing to write in and speak of their struggles. In return, the donor, a “Mr. B. Virdot,” pledged to provide a check to the neediest to tide them over the holidays.

Not surprisingly, hundreds of letters for Mr. B. Virdot poured into general delivery in Canton — even though there was no person of that name in the city of 105,000. A week later, checks, most for as little as $5, started to arrive at homes around Canton. They were signed by “B. Virdot.”

continued "Hard Times, A Helping Hand":

In the communities around the North Shore of Chicago, as well as around the country, there are many who have known difficult times as well as those who like to discretely help those who are less fortunate. Your gifts to others do not have to be financial. Perhaps you can read to a shut-in, tutor a student, drive someone to a doctor's appointment, invite someone to dinner, or make books accessible for those who have print disabilities. What can you do?

Welcome to Winnetka Commons

Winnetka Commons is a place (and possibly a movement) where community-minded people of all ages can share ideas, resources, and commitment to doing acts of kindness and sharing for the common good while finding ways to survive during times of personal, financial, and/or community downturns. Please share your links, projects, and resources as I grow this project.

There are many ways to share. Do you have an expertise? Do you have favorite books that have inspired you to to give back or that have comforted you as you struggled? Has someone mentored you along the way? Do you, or have you in the past, belonged to a civic organization such as Rotary? Do you know of a family member, a friend, or a stranger who needs assistance?

During the "Great Depression," families and entire communities rallied together and shared what they had. Are we headed into another Depression? Most of us are too young to remember living through the last Depression, and worry that we might not survive through the current economic downturn. Those who do remember the Great Depression have stories they should share to help the rest of us know that we, too, can survive.

It is my hope that Winnetka Commons will grow into a way to "pay forward" acts of kindness and community spirit. This blog can be a place where I hope to quickly share the thoughts, hopes, and acts of others who believe that sharing what you have is the best way to experience wealth (of spirit).