Missourians are encouraged to participate in appropriate events and activities to help establish connections with their neighbors during the second annual Missouri Good Neighbor Week from Thursday to Oct 4.
The official website for the week can be found at missourigoodneighborweek.com. The celebration is created, organized and supported by two organizations: University of Missouri Extension Greene County and The Hopeful Neighborhood Project, headquartered in St. Louis.
Missouri Good Neighbor Week was recognized nationally in May at the annual Neighborhoods USA conference as the neighborhood program of the year for the United States.
“With all of the national attention this week has received, we have increased our goal for reported acts of neighboring and have big future plans, but we do need Missourians to take action and then participate by reporting what they did on our website,” said David Burton, community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “This is also a great time for state residents to nominate someone for recognition as the most engaged neighbor in Missouri.”
Nominating top engaged neighbors and reporting acts of neighboring are both easily done at the official missourigoodneighborweek.com website. Click on the appropriate link and answer questions on a simple survey to complete either the nominating or the reporting process.
Contact information submitted is used for reporting purposes and for mailing of prizes. This year, all engaged neighbor nominees will receive a unique keychain by mail and the top 10 nominees statewide will receive a frameable certificate and $100. Those judged to have done the “top acts of neighboring” will receive the same prize package.
A submission is an entry to both the statewide and county recognition programs.
Missourians from all walks of life celebrated the first Missouri Good Neighbor Week from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, 2022. The goal had been to record 10,000 acts of neighboring, but the week ended with 12,854 acts being reported and over 113 people nominated as an engaged neighbor. Nominations of individuals or reports of neighboring came from 63 of Missouri’s 114 counties.
"I love discussing the acts of neighboring that got reported. These are the stories that do not normally make the news but are the behaviors that are impactful to our own health, community, and neighborhoods," said Burton.
According to Jennifer Prophete, program director for The Hopeful Neighborhood Project, reading about neighboring acts across Missouri was inspiring.
"There were big events like the rose giveaway in Houston and simpler efforts across the state," said Prophete. "Every story of an individual going out of their way for their neighbors was inspiring. Great job, Missourians!"
In 2022, 10 Missourians were recognized with statewide awards for the best acts of neighboring, and 11 were recognized statewide as the most engaged neighbors. A description of those top award winners can be found at extension.missouri.edu in the media release titled: “17 Missourians recognized with statewide awards following first Missouri Good Neighbor Week.”
In 2022, D&L Florist of Houston in Texas County distributed 2,850 individual roses to neighbors in and around Houston, celebrating National Good Neighbor Day on Sept. 28. Visitors to the shop could pick up a dozen roses for free at D&L Florist, while supplies lasted.
Each rose in the dozen had a tag with the names of the community sponsors that made this significant celebration of good neighbors possible.
“You keep one rose and give the other 11 away to neighbors,” explained Shari McCallister, organizer of the annual effort. “All of the love and encouragement that comes with this makes National Good Neighbor Day one of our favorite days of the whole year in Houston.”
After graduating from MU Extension’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy, McCallister developed a plan to expand this effort across all of Texas County. She wrote for and received a grant from MU Extension so this year the plan is to distribute 5,000 roses countywide.
“We will do 3,000 in Houston again and then 2,000 with partners in Cabool, Summersville and Licking to make this a truly countywide effort,” said McCallister.
Missouri's governor signed House Bill 1738 on July 1, 2022, establishing the special week and making Missouri the first state to designate a week for neighbors. The bill was introduced by Rep. Bishop Davidson, a resident of Republic, the city of residence for David Burton.
The celebration period begins on Sept. 28, which is also National Good Neighbor Day, first created in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. The week is jointly organized by University of Missouri Extension and the Hopeful Neighborhood Project.
“Research shows us that knowing one's neighbors reduces loneliness, crime and isolation, leading to safer and more vibrant communities,” said Burton. “Missouri setting aside a whole week is a real game-changer I think, at a time it is desperately needed.”
Neighboring is the art and skill of building relationships with the people who live in the closest proximity to you. Being a good neighbor offers tremendous health benefits, reduces crime, reduces loneliness, combats depression, improves communities, and improves the quality of life.
For more information contact David Burton, community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension by phone at 417-881-8909 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jennifer Prophete, program director for the Hopeful Neighborhood Project can be emailed at Jennifer.email@example.com.
The Engaged Neighbor program is on MU Extension's website at engagedneighbor.com and David Burton can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the Hopeful Neighborhood Project online at www.hopefulneighborhood.org.