Neighbor stories

Meet 5 of America’s Greatest Neighbors

Written by Shannon Toliver

In the spirit of National Good Neighbor Day on September 28th, Nextdoor and CBS ran “The Great Neighbor Shout-Out” contest to identify neighbors who are doing things both big and small to positively impact their community. After receiving nearly 7,000 nominations, America voted and the following neighbors from around the country have been awarded the deserving title of “Great Neighbor.” 

Michael Hayden Jr. | New Orleans, LA

Michael H. Jr is a 20 year old boy with autism who is known to his neighbors as an all-around super helper. For years, Michael has helped neighbors by taking their garbage cans to the curb for trash day and back after pickup. His nominator, Heather, guesses he helps some 200 homes! She jokes, “When he is out of town, his dad posts on Nextdoor that everybody will have to take out their own trash. Funny thing is… it is obvious when he is not around because everybody forgets to take the cans to the street.” When neighbors’ lawns are overgrown, Michael volunteers to mow. He even helps maintain the parks of Lake Vista. He’s also Lake Vista’s number one protector, always keeping an eye on things and patrolling the neighborhood on his bike. Recently, Michael served as an altar boy in his neighbor’s wedding. He also LOVES Mardi Gras, and rides in the parade every year and crowns the King. Michael is a very special young man and really goes above and beyond to be a great neighbor to the residents of Lake Vista. As our grand prize winner, Michael got to fly to Los Angeles to watch a live taping of the CBS hit comedy THE NEIGHBORHOOD and meet the celebrity cast members! Check out Michael’s shout-out below from the cast:

Rosie Griep | Blaine, MN

For several years, Rosie has volunteered every day after school at the community youth center in Centennial Square Mobile Home Park, where she supervises a group of kids ages 5-12. She also coordinates and advises a group of teens who perform service projects in the community. Her goal? To give these kids and teens a place to go after school where they can participate in healthy, safe activities. Rosie also helps coordinate a meal recovery program that delivers unused hot lunches from several schools in the area to the residents of the mobile home park each night so that they have food to serve their families for dinner. Rosie is so passionate about being a mentor to the kids and teens she meets at the youth center, and is a huge support to the families who live in the mobile home park. She does all of this as a volunteer and her skills and services are invaluable in making Centennial Square Mobile Home Park a great place to live. 

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Dave Adams | Nampa, ID

Dave is an Air Force Veteran with a passion for mentoring kids in his community. Originally, Dave began as a volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club. It was his first time working with kids and he quickly learned that this was a way he could make a positive difference in his community. As a disabled veteran, his physical condition kept him from participating in many of the Boys and Girls Club activities, so the director of the program connected him with the Mentoring Network. For the past nine years, Dave has dedicated his time to mentoring kids from challenging backgrounds who are often struggling in school. While he often helps with school work, his primary goal is to be a friend to these kids so that they know they are loved, respected, and, most importantly, not alone.  

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Rob and Robyn O’Doniel | Council Bluffs, IA

Imagine this: 13 children in the home, 6 grown children on their own, two birds, and a little fluffy white dog. That is the O’Doniel family, the symbol of Great Neighbors. Rob and Roybn have fostered and adopted many children over the years with special needs and children from struggling parents who wouldn’t have had a chance otherwise. They provide these kids with a happy and active life, and a home full of love and laughter. As if having that many kids isn’t enough, all of the kids are in sports, dance, choir, you name it! Further, the O’Doniels have a pool that the entire neighborhood is invited to every summer weekend. Rob opens the grill and cooks for the neighborhood, while Robyn hosts weekly Bunco games and Bachelorette watch parties. In the winter, their garage is a shrine to the Green Bay packers, where they host neighborhood watch parties on the big screen and all of the kids dress in Green Bay clothes. Rob and Robyn have dedicated their lives to these kids and have opened their home to all in their neighborhood. 

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Cathy Davis – Lumberton, TX

Whether it’s delivering baked goods to welcome a new neighbor, or bringing a hot meal to someone who’s feeling under the weather, Cathy is always there to offer support to a neighbor in need. Planning a party? Cathy will decorate cookies, cupcakes, or cakes for your special event. Hosting a dinner or BBQ? Cathy will be there with the main course, if not the entire meal! Volunteering and giving back to her community are at the core of who she is. After Hurricane Harvey hit Southeast Texas, Cathy volunteered at a local church that was housing and feeding individuals rendered homeless by the floods. She often volunteers to drive neighbors to appointments or pick up goods for them while she’s out running errands. Whatever it may be, Cathy has her neighbors’ backs! 

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Is there someone in your community that deserves a Good Neighbor Spotlight? Let us know in the comments below!

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    • Wow! These great neighbors are incredibly inspiring! And the grand prize winner – a special needs “man”, not boy. The special needs community is an awesome group of kids and adults. It’s easy to think of them as children, but the fact is they all have the hearts of children. Incredibly trusting, incredibly generous. Our youngest son Mark is very much the same way. I tell him he’s not a burden to us, but a blessing. I am disabled so having The Marker here with us is truly a wonderful blessing.
      Thank you Nextdoor and CBS for recognizing these great neighbors! This is the same spirit that has made our country, our home, the greatest place on earth. God bless America!

  • Neighbor is someone that you really “have their back” not just someone you say good morning to. The examples you show prove that. Thanks.

  • Congratulations to all these wonderful people and close-knit neighborhoods! It’s inspiring and heartwarming to read these stories and we’ll-deserved tributes. Finally, a big Thank You to Nextdoor for making all this possible.

  • Wow. I wish I had known about this earlier. I would have submitted the whole town of La Honda, CA.
    My husband and I used to manage the market in our small town. We noticed that whenever someone was in trouble and needed help that people in town just show up and help. No questions asked. And we thought about how magical this town is. Then my husband got sick with cancer and the magic happened for us. Everyone helped us in every way they could. Some gave money. Some sent prayers with love. Some did work around the store when repairs were needed or if I needed help loading the deliveries into the store from the pallets outside. Some offered rides to the hospitals for treatment. Two came into the store every day just to watch me and make sure I was OK. Those two also helped me with paperwork and filing and insurance and taxes at a time when I was so overwhelmed. It goes on and on. It’s like having a giant family and we will never leave La Honda because of the people.
    We both lost our jobs because of our illnesses. I got sick working 7 days a week to save our jobs and our home. But, we found a way to stay in La Honda and the town is still there for us! It’s hard work and we are both still in recovery. But, we started a hot dog cart and are loving it! We get to see people again that we’ve missed so much. Especially the kids. They grow up so fast and this is their town. We want them to enjoy it and have happy childhood memories.
    There are just not enough words to express the amount of love and thanks that we have for this town. Honestly, we don’t even know all the names of the people that helped as some remained anonymous. I thank God every day for the love of La Honda. They helped me save my family and that would not have happened in the “big city”. I pray that God helps each of them find solutions to their needs as well. I hope that one day I can be the person that God sends to them when they need it.
    In the meantime, we’ll stay here and provide as much love as we can.
    Thank you God and thank you La Honda.
    Sherry & Tom & Chelsea

    • Sherry,
      That sounds good to me. Even here things are getting out of control and it makes me long for somewhere peaceful.
      I am happy for you and your family. You look great. It was a good thing that you got away from SFO. I deal with Roxanne and she does a pretty good job. The whole thing gets old though. I pray every day that I can exit stage left. I am sure that you remember Rob. About a year and a half ago he died right here in front of all of us. He came in from a smoke break and told Melody to call 911. He had a heart attack. The medics worked on him for a while then they took him to Ohio State University Hospital. John came in to tell me that he had died about an hour later.
      You know all about this stuff.
      God bless you and yours. Save me a hot dog. One of my favorite nephews got a great job with Oracle and lives right in SFO.
      Your friend,

    • Sherry, what a testimony! In these days of bad news everywhere it is so heartening to come upon your post. Thank you so much for highlighting the wonderful people of La Honda and their generous/selfless actions. You are to be commended yourself as I’m sure you and your family have been the same kind of neighbors as you describe.
      Jesus left us with only 2 commandments:

      -Love one another as I have loved you, and
      -Love your neighbor as yourself

      I think that the town of La Honda is closely following our Savior’s words, whether intentional or not – these days good things don’t just happen by themselves. Seems to me that La Honda is intent on making life better for her “family”. God bless all men and women of goodwill


  • I nominate The Northern Colorado Secret Samaritan. She has a big heart and spreads kindness wherever she goes; in fact, spreading kindness is one of her main goals in life. When my late husband was in hospice care, and needed something to brighten his spirits, she asked me what kind of things he liked to do. Soon thereafter, she discretely put a basket on our front porch which contained a fishing magazine, some fishing lures, some of his favorite ice cream, and lots of chocolate. He absolutely loved it! He never got to use the fishing lures, but they have been lucky for me. I am catching more fish. She has also hid plastic Easter eggs filled with goodies in Loveland’s sculpture park. I have made her acquaintance since then, and she is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside.

  • I’ve known so many true good Samaritans. We can be that extra set of eyes to keep our neighbors safe. I used to think the Good Samaritan parable in the bible was true. The principle works. My own sister cried when I walked to her downtown apt. to leave her donuts. It’s the little things that count or + up.

  • Holly Mcbrayer..Best Neighbor ever…she has been chairing our community association for years. Where she gets the energy….I don’t know. I have never seen someone with so much love for making her neighborhood great! National Night Out, zoo animal visits, wine tours, meet the candidates, cookies with santa, santa delivers presents, Halloween party, you name it she plans it!

  • I’m involved with Neighbors HELPING neighbors with yard work for people in need who no longer can care for their property. Met some truly wonderful people in Next Door and we are continuing this project.These people are outstanding and now my dear friends. I’m truly blessed all because of Next Door. Thank you Next door. People helping people are the luckest people of all. I call them Heart of Pure Gold. Thank you Terri and Carl for your friendship and all your contributions to this ongoing project.

  • Thank you for such wonderful stories of how neighbors can benefit from each other from Nextdoor social website. It gives me hope that people are compassionate about their homes and neighbors!

  • Thanks to Nextdoor for helping me stay aware of what’s going on, not only in our neighborhood but the surrounding ones as well. Our neighborhood is made up of primarily senior citizens and everyone watches out for each other. Nextdoor, please keep on doing what you are doing, because it’s really helping build a greater USA, one neighborhood at a time.

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