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September has been a month filled with events. With back to school for many of our nation’s students and a variety of holiday celebrations, this month has been filled to capacity. However, this month ends with a holiday that–during this season and in this climate– needs to be celebrated because of its focus on the building of communities and the strengthening of bonds between individual citizens. This is none other than National Good Neighbor Day, and on September 28, 2020, we pause to celebrate and hopefully participate in this holiday.

A Brief History of Good Neighbor Day

National Good Neighbor Day was conceived in 1970 by Becky Mattson of Lakeside, Montana and was later proclaimed a national holiday by President Carter in 1978 via Proclamation 4601. Previously, the holiday was celebrated on the fourth Sunday in September; however, in 2003 the national observance of this holiday changed to September 28.

When students returned to school this year, the “new normal” was virtual learning. With no end in sight for a return to classrooms in the foreseeable future, many families and children have struggled to gain adequate access to the internet. Many parents are overwhelmed with maintaining their daily survival and the added stress of providing or maintaining internet access for their child’s learning has become a major issue for many community residents.

To help solve this problem, in many communities, “neighbors” have stepped in to lend a helping hand. Excellent examples of neighbor helping neighbor can be found in local communities across the country. One example of a good neighbor is the Mississippi Library Association. As a result of their efforts, the Mississippi Parking Lot Wi-Fi initiative* became a reality and saving grace for many families. This service, which utilizes Google Maps, allows local citizens to see real time locations where Wi-Fi hotspots can be accessed from parking lots, in most instances for free,

In the words of Fred Rogers, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

When communities come together and neighbors help each other, this is what makes beautiful days in the neighborhood indeed.

Happy Good Neighbor Day!

*If you or someone you know needs access to the Mississippi Parking Lot Wi-Fi resources, click here.