Be that Neighbor

When I was 3 years old, my father married a woman with 2 daughters older than me and together they had 2 sons. In a very short time, our family grew in numbers and there were 5 mouths to feed, small bodies to clothe and send to school. The work ethic my father learned as a child, continued and he was always employed but at that time, the jobs weren’t high paying jobs and we struggled. I remember, I didn’t know where it came from but every month, we received a package of rice, beans, canned goods, cheese and some basics. When we asked where it came from, we were told a very nice neighbor provided and wanted to help. To this day, I truly don’t know where that food came from. As I grew up, I never wanted to ask. I just knew someone was kind and took the time to share what they had with us.

When I was 10, dad got a “really good job” working for a drug store chain and we moved to Bixby, Oklahoma. Dad drove every day to Tulsa to have this “really good job”. We were all very proud of him. He wore white shirts to work every day with a tie and nice pants. We thought he must be very important. Even with this really nice job, we still didn’t have much. I was happy to have 3 pairs of shoes: for Sunday School; school and play. Clothes often came from an outside source. Mom would re-invent them somehow and we would be thrilled. When we asked where they came from, we were told a very nice neighbor provided and wanted to help. I just knew someone was kind and took the time to share what they had with us.

We moved back to Oklahoma City when I was a teenager. Dad was transferred and got the chance to do better. We were very involved in church. Church provided my spiritual life, my social life and my chance to grow. People were accepting, supportive and nurturing. In my church, going to camp was a big thing. I so wanted to go to camp, but I knew that even though things were better, there would be no money to go. The youth group directors kept asking me and encouraging me to go. I replied I really wasn’t interested and that it was ok. However, some adult with wisdom figured out that wasn’t really the reason. I was told I would go to camp and they would tell my parents it would be taken care of. Well, I did go to camp. When I asked my parents how I was able to do that, I was told a very nice person wanted me to go to camp. To this day, I don’t know who that person was, but I knew someone was kind and took the time to share what they had with us.

Even through all of this, my mom and dad taught us to give to others. I remember thinking how little we had and wondering how we could possibly help someone else. But my memories today are those of mom taking food from our dinners and making a special meal for a widow neighbor or a single mom with small children. She also took our outgrown clothes to them. I remember asking her if they knew it came from us. She replied no, all they needed to know was that a neighbor provided and wanted to help.

Our family is doing well. All siblings are involved in churches, mission work and charitable organizations. Mom passed away in 2000 and Dad a year ago. I found out about a year before he passed away, that even in his retirement, he would send Infant Crisis Services a small check monthly. He wanted to help the babies.

I was helping Infant Crisis prior to becoming a Board Member and it will always be a priority because I will never forget that a neighbor cared and wanted to help. I knew someone was kind and took the time to share what they had with us. Please be that neighbor who wants to help. It can make all the difference in the world. That child you help today, may grow up to make a difference in someone else's life.

Kathy Bookman
Infant Crisis
Board Member