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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Neighbors helping neighbors in Suffolk*

Yes, Virginia, we have volunteers and good people in our midst---ordinary people who do extraordinary deeds.
Suffolk is not in short supply of caring people who volunteer their time and selves to help. They go the extra mile to make a difference in others’ lives.
After Monday’s snowstorm (that brought about 5-7 inches of snow over Hampton Roads on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 16th), our neighbors, Margaret and Ritchie Shermer and their daughter Kate and her fiance Matt (a U.S. Coast Guard), braved the cold Tuesday morning to clear my snow-laden driveway and front yard. 
This act of love on their part reminds me of what they did (again) last year to my family and me, a disabled, retired U.S. Navy veteran.
I thank them for all their help. They showed me to always trust in God. They were God’s instruments of His goodness and love. They reminded me to continue to do good and make difference for others and to always have hope.  
One of our friends in neighboring city, Mike, who saw one of the snowstorm photos I shared to Facebook, commented, “Good things come to good people. May God bless you all.”
I do believe that if you’re good to people, something good come out of it. I keep on thanking God and praying for our good friends and neighbors that we always maintain good relations with them, no matter what the circumstances are in our lives.
Just as I trust our Almighty God, I also trust in the goodness of people. (In Proverbs 3:5-6, we read: “Trust in the Lord with all your might and lean not in thine own understanding, In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.")
Neighbors are a lifeline when family members are far away. They are your family when no one else is around.. When they know you’re disabled, they are there to extend a helping hand. They are there to look after you. You try to help them, too, with what you have and can do.
Having worked in naval hospitals and clinics, I would say I did my very best to care for patients (and other healthcare beneficiaries to the point that I have this disability). (God knows how) I interacted with them, making sure they get the best care out of me, my knowledge and skills, and life experiences. (Putting myself in their position,) I did my best to alleviate their condition, without any reservation (at all). I treated them the way I wanted to be treated---with dignity, respect, and professionalism.  
I’m so grateful that I have good neighbors like Margaret and Ritchie and family. I’m also fortunate to have lived in a city like Suffolk, where volunteers and good people abound. It’s hard to find them nowadays (in these times and age), when there are so much anger, apathy, indifference, mistrust and suspicion, hatred and intolerance going on around the globe. 
But, I still believe in the goodness of man, that we are all precious gifts of God to one another, that we live for each other in good times and bad.
We are interdependent. No man is an island. You need me; I need you to make me grow and develop, like a child wanting attention and care, and love. Interdependence can never be underestimated.
In this Lenten season, I resolve to have trust and hope and  love for my neighbors, just as I have trust and love in our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. (I pray,) May we have more good and caring people in our midst. God bless us always.

-CHRIS A. QUILPA, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, February 19, 2015. For more information, visit

                                         (c) 2015 Photos and text by Chris Quilpa

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