Best birthday everJaktana phongphuek/ShutterstockAngie Tyma had called her house in Hudson, Florida, “home” for 35 years. When her husband died about 20 years ago, a family friend bought the house and rented it back to Tyma. Little did she know, though, that her friend would eventually run into money problems and stop paying the mortgage. The lender foreclosed the property, and the house was sold, leaving Tyma without a home. Her neighbor from a few doors down, Danielle Calder, couldn’t stand the thought of Tyma and her two dogs living in a hotel room, so she put down $167,500 to buy the house back. Tyma moved back in on her 89th birthday and now pays rent to Calder. "It was the right thing to do," Calder says to TODAY. “We’re family—the whole neighborhood.” Don't miss these other heartwarming true stories.
Do you live in a place where neighbors help each other out? Then help us in our search for Nicest Place in America by nominating it today! If chosen, it will appear on an upcoming cover of Reader's Digest!
Mother figurehaveseen/ShutterstockKalon Smith had been in foster care since age two, until a judge sent him back to live with his mom when he was 17. When his mom kicked him out of the house, he spent winter nights sleeping in a park while trying to finish high school. Smith had no bed, no documents, no shower—and no food. He went back to his old neighborhood and knocked on the door of Brook Welton, hoping to get something to eat. But she didn’t just give him a meal and send him on his way. She took him into her home, where he had warm food and a roof over his head. She also set him up with the church down the street, which helped him find a job and apply for a social security card. "Brooke has been my backbone. She's my mother figure now," Smith tells WFAA.
Suspicious newspaperCebas/ShutterstockJohn Connelly had always been kind to his next-door neighbor. He would shovel snow and melt ice for the elderly woman, and even carry her newspaper from the sidewalk to her doorstep so she didn’t need to walk so far. Still, he never expected his good deeds would save a life. One winter, he realized she hadn’t been taking the newspapers from her doorstep. Thinking it was odd, he knocked on her door. No answer. Connelly called the police, who discovered the woman had fallen and couldn’t get up. They guessed she’d been there for about three days, disoriented and dehydrated, but she reached a stable condition at the hospital. "Who knows what may have happened if it had been even another day or so?” Connelly tells KSHB.
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New roommatePressmaster/ShutterstockNorma Cook, 89, and Chris Salvatore, 31, became friends living across from each other in a West Hollywood apartment complex. After Cook spent two months in the hospital with pneumonia and breathing problems on top of leukemia, though, doctors said she couldn’t move back without 24-hour care. Her insurance wouldn’t cover it, so Salvatore stepped in. He raised more than $77,000 on a GoFundMe page to cover the costs, but the expenses quickly sucked that money up. Cook doesn’t have children, and Salvatore didn’t want her moving into a facility, so he asked if she wanted to move in with him. She stayed there for about a month, until passing away in his apartment. “The last thing she did was put her arm around my neck —she was so weak, I don’t know how she did it—and pulled me in and kissed me and said, ‘I love you,’” Salvatore tells People. Don't miss these secrets to making a life-long friendship.
Fixer uppersHalfpoint/ShutterstockOne house in a Hamilton Township, New Jersey, neighborhood was a bit of an eyesore. Anne Glancey, a retired teacher, had grown up in the house but blew off her neighbors’ offers to help her fix it up. Then, Glancey received a letter saying her home had code violations that could cost her up to $3,000 per day. She didn’t have money for the repairs or family and friends to lend a hand—except the couple next door. At a loss, she told Adam and Kristin Polhemus, who immediately offered to help. They recruited friends, neighbors, and members of their church to help out, with up to 25 people working at a time. Over the next several weekends, the group painted the house, landscaped the yard, and donated the car. Glancey served homemade orange juice and carrot cake to the workers, making friends in the process. “I think the biggest thing is Anne’s happiness and her kind of restored life,” Adam tells People. “Her outgoingness to other neighbors is based on her house being improved.” Her property violations are now erased.
Home improvementVlue/ShutterstockCode violation threats aren’t the only thing to spark a home makeover. Josh Cyganik overheard some teenagers insulting his neighbor’s house within earshot of the owner, Leonard Bullock, who was 75 at the time. The teens said, “Look at this crappy house—they just need to burn it down,” Cyganik tells TODAY. Bullock looked upset, so Cyganik decided to fight the insults with kindness. He turned to Facebook, rallying up hundreds of volunteers to repaint the house, with Bullock’s permission. Volunteers traveled from as far as Texas to the Pendleton, Oregon, home, transforming it to something Bullock could be proud of. Try these color scheme tricks for your own paint jobs.
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Grandma's new coatAndrey-Arkusha/Shutterstock"My grandma Vera Kramer was the best grandma a girl could have. She was kind, caring, thoughtful and never said a bad word about anyone. She always found good in a person. When I was young, Grandma worked hard all spring and summer to buy a new coat for the winter. She sold eggs, berries and anything her garden produced to earn enough money. Her old coat had seen better days, and she had patched it quite a few times. When she finally had enough money saved up, off to town we went. Grandma looked so pretty in her new coat, and I was proud of the hard work she did to earn it. That winter, in the small town of Harwood, Missouri, where she lived, a family with three small girls lost their house in a fire. They needed clothes, food and household items. Grandma decided to cut up her new coat and make three coats for the little girls. I pleaded with her not to do it, but she kissed away my tears. She told me those girls needed coats much more than she did. When they were done, we loaded up the red wagon with the coats, an apron for the mother, blankets, food, and three little dolls. I had watched Grandma make the dolls, coats and apron on her old treadle sewing machine. When the family saw what was in the wagon, the mother started crying and the girls hugged the dolls. On Sunday, Grandma wore her old coat to church and she was the prettiest grandma there. She was my best friend and second mom, and I dearly miss her." -Brenda Lovewell, El Dorado Springs, Missouri, Country Magazine
Get well giftperlphoto/ShutterstockDuring the summer of 1958, I was recovering from a broken pelvis that I had suffered in a car accident. My sister, Shirley, was recovering from rheumatic fever at the same time. Our rural mail carrier, Emil Salberg, grew lovely gladiolas in his garden. One day, he left a note saying we should meet him at the mailbox, which was about two miles from our farm. Emil delivered to Shirley and me the most beautiful bouquet of white gladiolas. It was the kindest and most heartwarming gesture that anyone could have done for two young farm girls who were feeling very low. We were so thankful for his generosity, and we will never forget him. -Ardella Score, Minot, North Dakota, Country Extra Magazine
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Refreshing actsirtravelalot/ShutterstockA few years ago, on one of the hottest days of the year, I was pulling into my driveway when I saw a man mowing and trimming the grass at the bank next door. I didn't know him, but I decided he needed a cold drink. I went in the house and grabbed a Gatorade from my fridge and went back outside. Then I stood on my sidewalk where he could see me when he turned the mower around. I held up the drink and pointed to him. He nodded. When he came over to accept the bottle from me, he thanked me profusely and said he was thinking about going to the nearby gas station to get something to drink. Ever since that day, he has done favors for me. He trims the grass around my sidewalk, assembles lawn furniture, installed a 20-foot flagpole and gives me advice whenever I need help. He will not take any pay. He just shakes my hand and gives me a hug. I've been repaid in kindness so many times. -Agnes White Hoffman, Illinois, Country Extra Magazine
Flocking to the FowlersTony-Campbell/ShutterstockThe early winter storm was much worse than the forecast. In the 1950s, weather was frequently a best-guess science. "Sweetheart," Dad whispered to Mom, "I've got to get out of bed and go check on the turkeys." When Dad left the house, Mom worried that he would not be able to make it to the farm. The snow was whipping around the little white frame house at 40 miles per hour, and there were deep drifts on the driveway. At 7 a.m., Mom was ready to call for help when Dad's truck slid into the driveway. He nearly collapsed on the kitchen floor. "Call Bishop Gurney," he stammered. "Have him tell the congregation to come up to the farm and get a free turkey for Christmas dinner. "Near as I can tell, we have 500 frozen birds," he said, shaking his head in defeat. "Give me a minute to get warm and cleaned up." With seven children to feed, he knew the loss would be financially devastating. That morning Bishop Gurney relayed the tragic story. Then he called other local bishops and urged them to tell friends and neighbors where they could get a turkey. As the sun burst forth, hundreds of cars drove up the snowy road to the Fowler farm. Every turkey was claimed. Friends viewed the tragic scene in sympathy. But the mood changed as more people arrived. Nearly all of the birds, which still had to be cleaned and plucked, were paid for in cash. With the realization that the tragedy was being salvaged, neighbors talked and even laughed. Someone placed a donation can on the hood of Dad's truck. Often more was proffered than what the birds would have cost at the store. Mom and Dad humbly thanked the Lord as they counted hundreds of dollars and hundreds of friends. -Bill Fowler, St. George, Utah, Country Extra Magazine
Lost and foundBAF-Photography/ShutterstockIn September 2002 my husband, Jay, and I took a trip to Alaska. During our adventures we stayed at a bed-and-breakfast in the middle of nowhere. The 80-year-old owner quickly endeared himself to us with his many stories. We knew we would never forget our new friend, Boots. After our trip we started corresponding with him, mostly just Christmas cards and a letter here and there. Boots wrote us when he moved from Alaska to Nevada to be closer to relatives due to his age and health. One year we got no Christmas card. We wrote to him immediately and received neither a reply nor a "Return to Sender" notice. We assumed that Boots was just not capable of writing back. So for several years we would occasionally send him a letter. On Jan. 29, 2012, we received a "Return to Sender" notice that was postmarked Feb. 6, 2006! The envelope looked like it had been through a war zone. The post office had written, "P.O. Box closed. No forward," on the envelope. Now our curiosity and concern were in high gear. I knew the town where Boots lived was very small. Maybe the post office workers would remember him, so I decided to call. They were nice, and after searching they found a forwarding address in Colorado. Our daughter, Sarah, suggested that we write a letter explaining the situation. Sure enough, a few days later we got a phone call from Boots' daughter-in-law, who told us he was living with her and her husband in an apartment attached to their house. I had a delightful visit with her, and then she let me talk with Boots. He was slightly hard of hearing but quick-witted, and he remembered us. We're so happy to be reconnected. -Lisa Forseth, Columbus, Montana, Country Extra Magazine
If any of these things sound like they could have happened where you live, you should nominate it for Nicest Place in America! If chosen, it will appear on an upcoming cover of Reader's Digest!
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