Community in the Happy Valley ❥ Helping Friends and Neighbors

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 18, Community

Recently, a friend of my third boy had a medical emergency. This is a lifelong buddy, who lives a hop, skip, one street crossed and a jump away so that play can flow like a helix from one abode to the other and back again.

During the crisis, friends began to rally. First, there were a couple of phone calls, then a flurry of emails. Little surprises for the sick child appeared, along with snacks for the parents. The entire class sent cards.

Things were hard, and harder and then improving and improving—phew.

My family has been on the receiving end of such rallying, the dinner that simply shows up in the preschool cubby after a new baby arrives, the piece of advice that tilts things in the right direction after the kindergartner breaks his leg (this: “You won’t recognize your child for days, because he’s in pain, but right when you fear he’ll never return, in about a week, he’s there again.”), and stellar support during times of bigger, messier crisis.

Anywhere you go or anywhere you live, you can and will find kindness much like this when things go wrong. Communities reach out, or neighborhoods or classrooms, sure. The thing about where we live—biased opinion, indeed—is that in a way, our reaching out isn’t remarkable; this is what happens whenever there’s a crisis. You get concerts for arson victims; you get friends like ours, who just reach out because it’s a reflex to do so, or if not a reflex, perhaps a muscle that remains toned, because the gesture—meals when someone has a baby or friends pooling resources to help fund a parental leave in lieu of other gifts—of reaching out, that’s engrained. That’s how everyone does it around here. We help our friends and neighbors. It is so cool. And I am grateful every single time.


Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

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