BC Association of Community Response Networks

Neighbours Helping Neighbours: Spreading Kindness and Connection

Communities in Cranbrook and Kimberley are tackling the negativity of the pandemic head-on by focusing on the helpers and the good they are doing both big and small.

Cranbrook’s Seniors in Partnership with the financial and in-kind support of the Cranbrook community response network (CRN), BC CRN, Connect Church Cranbrook, United Way East Kootenay, and the local Age-Friendly Committee embarked on Neighbours Helping Neighbours, a two-month-long kindness campaign.

“We wanted to celebrate volunteers who support seniors,” says CRN Coordinator Sandy Zeznik. “Our original idea was to apply the funding from the Cranbrook CRN to support the Kootenay Canadian Association of Retired Persons’ (CARP) Seniors’ Expo. We couldn’t do it because of the pandemic. We realized our seniors are pretty well taken care of. So, we looked around and saw all the positive things that have happened. We wanted to share those stories.”

And the stories came from everywhere. Sandy herself was also a recipient of a random act of kindness: “I went outside to bring in the garbage can, and found my driveway cleared of snow and my garbage can place at the top of the driveway. It was a small thing that happened and it was delightful.”

The campaign was promoted through ads on local radio and newspapers, and on Facebook. The stories were posted onto the Neighbours Helping Neighbours Cranbrook Facebook page as a way to encourage locals to thank good Samaritans and inspire others to join in spreading kindness and compassion.

The core campaign team included Sandy, volunteers Carey Henry from the Alzheimer’s Society of BC, Karen Bailey-Romanko from Kootenay CARP, and Laurie Harris from Better at Home. The team worked together on networking, branding, managing postings on social media, and coordinating advertising.

The impacts of the campaign continue to be seen and felt throughout the community. The local newspaper’s Hugs and Slugs section, where residents can submit kudos and complaints, saw a shift in the number of “hugs” and “slugs”. (A “hug” is a compliment whereas a “slug” is a complaint.)

“If you look back at what was published in January 2021 compared to March 2021, the “slugs” have almost disappeared,” says Sandy. “I like to think the campaign did its job in shifting people’s mindsets and hearts, and lifting spirits.”

“The pandemic is also amplifying these acts of kindness to something quite important,” she continues. “We want to celebrate all of this in the hope of making more people think about connecting with others. It can be as simple as saying hello to an elderly neighbour.”

According to Sandy, the project part may be complete, but there is no “end date” for the campaign: “We are all neighbours helping neighbours. Let’s continue spreading kindness, encourage others to join, and make people feel like valued members of the community.”

Residents of Cranbrook and Kimberley are encouraged to continue posting their kindness stories to the Neighbours Helping Neighbours Facebook. The CRN is also looking for a Facebook savvy volunteer to assist with the management of the page. Interested individuals should contact Sandy at szeznik@icloud.com.

For more on the “Neighbours Helping Neighbours Cranbrook” campaign, view their Facebook page, or contact the Cranbrook CRN by emailing Coordinator Sandy Zeznik at szeznik@icloud.com.

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn: @debbiechowabc.

(Header photo: Neighbours Helping Neighbours Cranbrook Facebook)