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Neighbours get shout out from city

Celebrating Good Neighbours contest now open for nominations

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 06:00 am

ON VACATION – The Oake and Sinclair families definitely buy into the
ON VACATION – The Oake and Sinclair families definitely buy into the "Good Neighbour" philosophy.
LEANNE OAKE/Supplied photo

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They wave at you when you drive past. They shovel your driveway and check your mail when you’re away. They even help stop crime by keeping an eye out on the block when they see suspicious activity.

Yup, everybody loves to have good neighbours. That’s why the city is once again sponsoring its Celebrating Good Neighbours contest. Angie Dedrick, the neighbourhood development co-ordinator with Family and Community Support Services (or FCSS), said that the initiative isn’t meant to be a popularity contest about who is the best neighbour. It’s meant to show just how much good comes out of people who are neighbourly.

“Celebrating Good Neighbours is a way for us to share stories about people who are already being good neighbours so that we can encourage others to do so as well,” she said.

The city just opened up the call for nominations this past week. The program, launched in the fall of 2012, offers residents a formal chance to pay thanks to the people that make living in St. Albert better.

Leanne Oake is one person who is very thankful for her neighbours, a married couple that, she said, are tops in her books.

“Vince and Karen are the best neighbours possible. They are always ready to help out with our kids when needed and go all out at Halloween to make it a great night for the neighbourhood kids. They also always have a watch on our house, if there is a vehicle or person they don't know we get a phone call!”

She said that they frequently have her kids over in the morning for breakfast and even drive the kids to school, something that they’ve done for several years. If there’s a family emergency, they’re there to help too. They help with snow shovelling and lawn mowing too.

“We know that no matter what we can count on them! They are not just our neighbours; they are our best friends!” she continued. “They make me think of how things were when I was growing up in St. Albert and my parents knew all their neighbours and they used to all spend time together. They make the neighbourhood feel safe.”

They have become such close friends that they even vacation together. Oake added that she and her husband repay the favour as well.

Neighbour Karen Sinclair said that it’s all about how one good turn deserves another. She sings her neighbours’ praises as much as they sing hers.

“To be a good neighbour to me means doing what you can for your neighbour because you want to and not because you may need something in the future! Having Leanne and Jason as neighbours has been nothing but a wonderful experience for our family.”

Sinclair complimented them for help with childcare and household emergencies. Pretty much any situation that needs a good neighbour, she said, they’re there.

“They go out of their way to help in any way they can. To me being a good neighbour also means that we are there for each other when needed or even when not needed.”

Dedrick is thrilled to hear these kinds of stories. She hopes that publicizing them and promoting the contest would help prompt more people to be conscientious and courteous toward the other people on their streets.

The city, she said, has it pretty good in this regard already.

“I think that St. Albert is doing a great job. We have some challenges … but what I see from the number of block parties (which has grown every year) and from what I hear from people who come to our Neighbourhood Network is that people are really craving that connection with their neighbours.”

The network is a group of people who have been working since 2012 to develop neighbourhood-building activities.

The deadline to nominate your good neighbours is Friday, Feb. 28 with the special celebration for all nominees and nominators to be held on Wednesday, March 26. All nominees will be entered in a draw to win a special gift. For more information, call FCSS at 780-459-1756 or visit www.stalbert.ca/celebrating-good-neighbours.

The site also offers stories from nominations of past Good Neighbours plus a Good Neighbour Tool Box with hints and suggestions at how to be a better neighbour. Dedrick added that there would also be a Block Party Boot Camp on Thursday, May 1.


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