Thank you, Southwest!: A collection of readers special notes of gratitude for their neighbors

Generous Jensens

My neighbors Jim and Alda Jensen are amazing. In the fall, they routinely mow the leaves up off of our neighbor John’s lawn. They are always smiling when they do this. In the winter they are up well before the sun shines and they blow out his sidewalk and the walkways around his house before I even get dressed for the day.  John is a hard worker and earned a Purple Heart in World War II. He likes things to be in order and I’m sure he is extremely grateful to Jim and Alda for helping him keep his yard just the way he likes it. This world and this city in particular need more people like Jim and Alda. Here is to them.

Allison Johnson

Supportive friends

Sarah and Domenica are substitute aunties for my daughters and dog. Adopting a high needs dog from the Humane Society was a challenge and they have encouraged our family and supported us and praised us when we thought we were almost ready to give up. They have been there for both the kids and adults through our recent divorce process and are the most wonderful cooks. They not only feed us, but nourish our souls.

Felicity Britton
Linden Hills

Composting heroes

I’d like to thank the Participants in the Linden Hills Composting Pilot, Particularly the Compost Captains

Thank you to the more than 1,000 people in Linden Hills who are participating in the residential composting pilot. They’re finding up to 90 percent of their trash can be recycled and saving, on average, 5,816 pounds of carbon per person — or 5,816,000 for the neighborhood. I’m sure the Earth thanks them too! Thank you to the compost captains who have made it their mission to educate their neighbors on the benefits and ease of joining the program. Composters Rot! … I mean Rock!

Everyone who voted — Yay!

Felicity Britton
Linden Hills Power & Light

A neighborhood hero

Dear John,

Thank you for hanging a swing in your yard for all the kids, even though none of them are your own. Thank you for not minding when they wore a hole in your grass even though your lawn is the nicest on the block. Thank you for enjoying it when every neighborhood kid and their best friend ends up in your yard playing tag. Thank you for the crutches you built for Nathalie, the access to your workshop for Olivia and Henry, the listening you do for Luyda, the babysitting for Jodi, the dead animal removal for Paula, plumbing for Laurie, reading that mind-blowing poem to Ben, and the occasional beer all around.

But most of all, thank you for letting your croquet course meander all over the neighborhood, because that may be where all your good deeds started. You have connected all our yards into one croquet game and broken all the boundaries between our hearts.

XO and thanks from your friends on 41st & Washburn.

Tina Lee
Linden Hills

Standout teachers

I would like to thank my sons’ teachers: Susan Carlson, Trudy Kuhlman and Karie Svien at St. Peter’s Lutheran School. They are making a tremendous difference in our lives. Their enthusiasm and love of children and teaching makes us look forward to school each day. Thank you!

Barbara Daenzer

True compassion

A year ago there were six families — including mine — in the neighborhood that hit the empty nest syndrome at the same time. We all had children that spent the last 18 years growing up together and were off to college. All of us "wives" did a good job of "playing" together in the fall of 2007 … life was very good.

Tragedy smacked my family off-kilter last February when my father-in-law died of a heart attack and then two days later my husband Michael was killed in a pedestrian-truck accident while attending to his father’s funeral out of town. Our family and the whole neighborhood went into shock. After 25 years of living on the same street, with the same friends throughout the area, the neighbors were also devastated by the abrupt emptiness and sadness that filled the days.

And then true friendship, true goodness came to the rescue. Every room in our house was filled with flowers, the refrigerator was packed with food, laundry was done, firewood appeared on the porch, and so many kindnesses — a neck warmer for cold evenings, dog-sitting, neighbors even drove four hours to attend my father-in-law’s funeral. There have been tears and hugs and hours of talking. These kind women continued their caring for many months after Michael’s death — phone calls, offers to stay overnight if I was lonely. In May for Michael’s birthday — 25-plus people showed up with food for a celebration and they planted a tree in his honor in our yard. And just this week, as I recover from knee surgery, my neighbor friends are again in and out of my house with soup, flowers and laughter.

I knew my neighbors were good people. I knew they liked to hang out together. But we all saw the extent that we love each other in the face of this tragedy. I would like to thank all of my neighbors on Blaisdell and in the Tangletown area, but in particular my empty-nester life savers — Barb Pokela, Jane Werler, Linda Korman, Sarah Paquette and Jenny Hatch.

Erin Geiser

An amazing duo

My name is Patty Lang and I have lived in the Windom community for over 21 years. I’m contacting you about a couple who has done more for our neighborhood than all of us combined. Steve Brinduse and Terry Cole are amazing neighbors and friends. Hosting the block party year after year is just the beginning. Steve and Terry have bought and refurbished two trash houses in our neighborhood. They started a happy hour that is hosted by different neighbors for the purpose of welcoming new neighbors, staying up to date on issues in our community and simply staying connected with each other. Everyone has their own story how these two have touched their lives. Babysitting, dogwalking fence building, house painting, the list goes on and on.

What I appreciate the most about Steve and Terry is their genuine friendship with all of us. I think it would be fabulous to show how much we appreciate them by doing a story about them. Please consider this.

Patty Lang

A winter savior

Dear Jesse,

On behalf of all your neighbors living on the 4500 block of Garfield and Harriet, thank you. You are such a great neighbor in many ways, but come every winter, we are so thankful for you and your enormous snow blower! Although we never expect it, we certainly always appreciate the roar of the plow as it passes in front of our homes. You have our thanks and deep gratitude.

Your neighbors,

The Bitney Family

Lovely librarians

How would you like toiling away underground day after day? Me neither. Yet that’s the least of the downsides, I’m betting, to working at Walker Library, where, despite challenges both architectural and human, the staff more closely resembles Fra Angelico’s host of angels than the bedeviled victims of Hieronymous Bosch.

At least once a week I hand over a list of books I’ve admired at a bookstore, but cannot afford, and they track them down for me — one in my current stack arrived from Milwaukee! — and let me know when my turn for them arises. These folks not only take the time to listen to seemingly arcane (or inane) questions on the phone ("Who was the Greek poet who said….?") but then ferret out the info and call me back. Try to get Comcast or Best Buy to offer that kind of service!

They’re busy, they’re stressed (I’m guessing), they’ve heard it all before ("I left my library card on the dresser"), but uniformly they take the time to joke with patrons, help out first-timers, steer kids to great new finds, help teens score videos and old folks master the computers. This is not your granddad’s library, where silence was golden. It’s the staff who’s golden here, making the Walker Library a most welcoming place. Thank you, thank you!

Carla Waldemar
East Isles

Thoughtful yogis

The Blaisdell YMCA has been undergoing an expansion project since May. For those who attend yoga classes in the studio, this has meant noise, distraction and frequent frustration, the exact opposite of what makes for a beneficial yoga experience. But even with children in the next-door daycare banging on shared walls, and jackhammers throbbing overhead, two yoga instructors, Angela Vincent and Stephanie Meyer, have provided serene antidotes to all the confusion. No matter where their classes are located, they create oases of support, encouragement and growth, helping all their students to find "beautiful expressions," as Stephanie often says. Thanks, Angela and Stephanie, for transforming 34th and Nicollet into a transformative space for yoga. Your students appreciate all you do to help us on our yoga journeys.

Julie Kendrick

A positive spirit

I would like to thank my neighbor: James Graham.

He is always doing things that are very positive to the neighborhood.

He up keeps a vacant house next to him. The owner died a year and a half ago and so Jim cuts the grass and weeds.

Jim goes out of his way to clear the sidewalks for his neighbors when it snows.

He is always waving to everyone and very welcoming! Jim is also a grandpa.

We are very grateful to have Jim as a neighbor.

Amy and John Gracyalny

A haiku hero

I want to thank my teacher, Scott Kohanek for teaching me how to write haiku.

A horse struts across

the open field to hide from

an enormous wolf    

Lucy Kiernat, 7 years old
Kenwood School Second Grader

A strong leader

I would like to thank Paul Gates, a Southwest resident and an architect with an office at Franklin & 1st, for his two years of service as chair of the Minneapolis Zoning Board of Adjustments. Paul has generously shared with the Board and the public his steady leadership, intellectual rigor, and acute sensitivity in balancing the requirements of the City’s ordinances, the health of our neighborhoods, and the deep personal interests that people have in their homes and businesses.

Bruce Manning
Linden Hills

A snow angel

As we headed into the coldest time of the year on Dec. 15, I looked out at the new fallen snow and thought to myself, "better get out there and get the sidewalk cleaned off. I may be 65 years old, but I can still shovel snow!" But I didn’t much want to. It was bone chilling cold. When I walked down my front steps I saw that someone had gone from one corner to the other of my block, 4800 Xerxes Ave. S. clearing off the new snow for everyone. And it wasn’t with a blower, either. I could tell by the way the snow lay on the sides. I don’t have any idea who the snow angel was who cleaned off the sidewalk, but I sure want to say "thank you."

Martha S. Allen