Member Stories

Lean on me: Asking your neighbors for help

Written by Shannon Toliver

“We need our community. If you put yourself out there, you might just meet someone wonderful,” -Katie G.

When Katie G. first moved to Napa Valley, CA, she found herself feeling alone and isolated. As a full-time nurse and a single mom to seven-year-old twins, she felt she’d never have the time to develop close personal relationships that are so essential to a happy and fulfilling life.

That is, until she had the idea of using Nextdoor to post a request for a “grandmother” figure – someone loving and supportive to join Katie’s family. At first, she was hesitant to request any help, but after a year Katie decided to take a leap of faith and open up to her community.

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Much to her surprise, Katie’s post received dozens of positive comments and private messages from her neighbors. The responses ranged from offers to help take her kids to karate and dance lessons to kudos for being brave enough to ask for help. Overwhelmed by the kindness of her community, Katie decided to invite her Nextdoor neighbors over for a dinner party to show her appreciation.

Katie believes that the relationships formed during this dinner party truly saved her life. “Three women came to the dinner and we formed a bond over shared feelings of isolation, the desire to overcome our different but overlapping personal hurdles, shared stories of challenges and triumphs, and a promise to get together monthly. We pledged to be there for each other in personal support, social dinners, lonely holidays, sickness, and emergencies. All of us acknowledged that isolation in one’s community leads to depression and together we can be one step closer to a more meaningful and happier life.”

This new “family” of women invited each other to reach out and ask for help whenever they may need it.

Loneliness is a growing public health concern. Studies suggest that social isolation is a key contributor to poor health and can even lead to a decreased longevity and quality of life. Acceptance of these feelings, openness to reaching out, and deciding to take action like Katy did, is a critical step in mitigating the risk factors (National Academy of Sciences). Nextdoor encourages neighbors to turn their online interactions into offline relationships to build stronger communities and better lives.

Katie hopes that her story will inspire other people in similar situations to reach out and do the same. “We are defined by the loving relationships we have in our lives. When you move, you can feel isolated and lonely. Thank you Nextdoor for the platform in which I could reach out and we could find each other. It’s a beautiful thing.”

20 Comments

  • We are only as good as we treat others. We call it Nextdoor and we do knock to borrow or give a cup of kindness when needed. Thanks all.

  • Such a good, brave idea to reach out for friendship and support — tempered with caution for safety. It worked out very well for this young woman. I see people in our area reaching out for recommendations and referrals but not much personal reaching out. I’m curious what others in our area think about Next Door as a forum for neighborliness and how you would use it?

    • I think there can be a great need for this kind of reaching out. So many people I have known may sit behind four walls waiting for neighborly connection and not knowing how to reach out for it. Or fearful of ‘strangers’ who may just be a few conversations away from becoming friends. I hope we can encourage this kind of sharing in our neighborhood.

    • Hi Eillen!
      It was a huge risk indeed. I felt like I should hide my jewelry for the dinner party and that I must be a desperate fool to invite strangers to my house. But, out of 30, 3 showed, and they were golden. It was lucky. And I’m so glad I took the risk. Good luck to you and your community!!!

  • Thank you for your bravery to reach out to your neighborhood! It can be VERY intimidating. But it worked!!! Now it is up to me to do the same!!!

  • Yes I have gotten lonely so I volunteer at Meals on Wheels or Thrift Store. It helps me be around people. I joined a makeup company so I could do makeovers. That has helped me with my loneliness and developing relationships. I sometimes pray to help other women in same situation get out of their house. I am very thankful.

  • Nextdoor.com is a really good site for sharing, seeking advice or help. It is also good to let others in the neighborhood know what to look out for on certain streets. Safety issues here.

  • I love that Katie used Nextdoor to find someone to add to her village…this is so inspirational on so many levels..a unique use of Nextdoor, and with great results…

  • I’m a single woman @ 58y.o. I would like to make some laďy friends in Port St.Lucie,Fl. If there’s other ladies that would like to make a friendship, Please text me back, on Nextdoor.com singles, straight, married, LGB’s,,I’m open to make new friends. We All need companionship & Support!😇 Look forward to meeting Good,Honest, & funny women! Respond on my private NEXT DOOR SITE! THANK YOU!

    • Good Afternoon Bonnie,

      I live in Atlanta, just want to say hello. I hope you are feeling well today.

      I am married, have a daughter. Just wanted to say hello as loneliness is not a joke, everyone wants to feel cared about and thought about. I am thrilled when a friend reaches out to me, I am mindful to do the same.

      Take care……

  • Reading these comments on how others have reached out in their neighborhoods was inspiring but I’m still too afraid to do it myself. I have parkinsons’ and seldom leave home, I don’t walk well and have been so isolated for so long that I don’t know how to communicate with others very well. I am married to a nice able bodied man who has many things to do and is gone a lot but I have 3 puppies to keep me company. I’m sad and lonely a lot but I will be starting counseling in Sept. and look forward to having someone to talk to. I live in Montesano Wa. and our home is isolated from others. I might hookup well by email with someone, I’ve never tried that before.

    • I am in the same situation as you almost. I get out on Sundays to go to church an occasionally to a grocery store. I am in a wheelchair and don’t know the area That I am living in very well. I would like to correspond with you either by emails or phone.

      • Yes, I would like to correspond with you online, I had my daughter look at the site and make sure t was safe first. She’s an attorney in Wa. DC. I’m 75, have two boston terriors and a bull mastiff. 2 little and a huge one. I retired a long time ago and lived in Ca. for a few years and loved it, then my husband died and then my parents got sick up here in Wa. and I had to sell out in Ca. and come here to take care of them. That’s when my problems started. I got very sick from taking care for my father and ended up in the hosp. having surgery. I’ve never gotten over it and it’s been several years now. I remarried and settled down here in Monty. I now find myself home bound. It’s not much of a life not having anyone to talk and no where to go. In my working years I was quite the social butterfly. I’ll wait now for a reply from you. dt

        • I am owe about this site. I been living in Bristol pa. for a little over 13yrs. 7yrs. Seven yrs. ago I been through a divorced, although I’m involved in a church, there was no supprted there! it was very hard for me. But By the grace of God I made. what you guys is doing are beautiful, thoughtful and more. With that they will be less suicidal and less depression. We need each other to grow that is the reason God created us. I been living in Bristol, pa for13 years. I probably know one person in the block! Not know but we waved to each other’s sometimes. everyone kept to themselves. If there is somebody out there that willing to chat. I will love that. God bless.

    • Hi, Diana
      My name is Chris and I have cats. I am also alone as my husband passed 3 yrs ago and I have had 2 strokes since his passing. I cannot speak clearly as a result. My wish for you is that you enjoy and take good care of those pups, enjoy the things that you CAN do, make life, and living good for yourself and grow outward as far as you can. Be joyful.

  • Hi, my name is Lisa. I’m a 57 year old lifelong New Rochelle, NY resident. It’s taken much courage for me to write this, but here goes it.
    I’ve been separated from my husband for 7 years this month. We lived together with our child for 10 years, and I now have custody of our 16 year old daughter. He won’t give me a divorce because then he’d have to pay me alimony, (I always knew how to pick em’) and I cannot afford to pay for a divorce on my own. Besides, all his earnings are paid under the table! He barely gives her the time of day, (though does contribute some weekly child support) so I pretty much play dual roles of both parents, which btw is rather daunting, exhausting, overwhelming, and extremely difficult to manage on my own, especially with her issues with ADD, ODD, to name a few, in addition to my own mental health concerns. I have few friends around here anymore, not many people to talk to, have no car, have trouble getting around, am on disability and cannot work. I am usually cooped up in our tiny apt and am so lonely and starved for some adult time and interaction. It’s been very depressing living this way and have been on meds for that, and go to counseling regularly. I need some sort of outlet to help me get out of this rut and out of the house! A woman’s group, perhaps? A community service program?(am always willing to help others if I can) I just know I cannot go on without other caring people in my life. I’m a good hearted woman (to a fault in most cases) and have been taken advantage of and deeply hurt by so many people that I’m beginning to lose faith and hope for any kind of future for myself going forward. Please reply if you, or anyone you know is willing to let me in, let me help, be my friend. I used to be such a outgoing, vibrant, sociable person but circumstances beyond my control has put me in a dark place and has compromised my livelihood. Please, someone help me find the light again! Thank you. 💟😑

    • Lisa, you are so not alone. I highly recommend putting yourself out there on nextdoor like I did. It’s TRUE that kind hearted, loyal, empathetic people get taken advantage of by broken people who cannot be fixed and instead use you to your own demise. I was there. It was so hard to put myself out there on nextdoor but it really oaidoff. To my surprise, the respondents also had a need. A need for connection, for vulnerability, also a need to be of service. I was amazed by that. We all want to feel useful, appreciated, validated, needed and lived. We need an outlet for our love, ideally one that is reciprocal. Just go for it be optimistically cautious. I commend you for writing what you have. It’s a great first start. And if this forum doesn’t pan out, don’t give up! Ask the universe to respond. Stay open. I believe in you.

  • Just go for it Phillis! You can always be super cautious or change your mind but one thing is for sure, some risks pay off, and doing nothing leads to no change. We really do need each other.

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