In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.

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In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.

Joanne Palmer: It's time to make a difference

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Joanne Palmer

Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at jpalmer@springsips.com

Find more columns by Palmer here.

— I’m inspired.

A recent, uplifting article in the newspaper about the plight of the downtown flower baskets got me thinking. Because of budget cuts, the beautiful flower baskets that hang from light poles during the summer were in danger of going away. The estimated cost of the flower baskets was $13,000, which included their daily watering. Prospective Steamboat Springs property owner Richard Thompson issued a challenge grant of $3,333 to save the flowers, and in less than a week, the remaining money was raised.

Hooray!

I love those flower baskets. That article made me wonder: What else could happen? What else could people do to help one another? So I’ve decided to write a challenge column. I challenge each and every one of you to make a difference. For the next week, ask yourself, “What can I do to help someone else?”

You know how this works. It’s not hard. Pay it forward. The economy is tough. But it’s even harder if we don’t reach out and help someone else. We all are busy. Everyone is running in a million directions at once.

And yet.

It takes less than 10 minutes to clean out your pantry and donate canned goods to the LIFT-UP of Routt County food bank. It takes less than five minutes to pull two sweaters out of your closet and drop them at LIFT-UP’s thrift store. And it takes less than one minute to write a check and donate it to the nonprofit organization or friend of your choice.

There are countless other ways to help. Get up early and blow the snow from your neighbor’s driveway. Go visit someone in the hospital and read them a story. Drop books off at the library. Buy someone a lift ticket. Give new parents a free night of babysitting. Deliver some homemade soup to someone.

Redecorating? See if there is someone you know who could use your old furniture. Upgrading appliances? Donate old ones to ReStore, the Habitat for Humanity store. Call Routt County United Way and find out if there is a family that needs some help today. Not tomorrow. Today.

Ski season is winding down, and a lot of people are getting laid off. Pay someone’s utility bill, or water bill, or cable bill. If you are a business that can hire, please do.

If you are a business that has had a successful season, give some of your customers a free month of service. Or a free meal. I love it when Soda Creek Pizza has a free pizza tasting early in fall when a lot of folks aren’t yet working.

Get creative. Think outside the box. If you’re stuck for an idea, ask a child, a friend or a co-worker for suggestions. One person can make a difference. I read about one woman in Gillette, Wyo., who fills backpacks with food for local school children so they have something to eat during the weekend. She got inspired when she read about a national organization called “Blessings in a Backpack.”

Trade services with someone else. I know a group of friends who help one another with house projects. They rotate houses once each month and show up, tools in hand, to help another family clean out the garage, fix drippy faucets, paint a bedroom or accomplish other house projects. In exchange, the host family cooks dinner.

As the old cliche goes, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Take the challenge. Make a difference. Help someone.

If you are in need of help or want to help or have other ideas about how to help, leave a comment on the bottom of this column at SteamboatToday.com. Let’s see what we can do!

Comments

Tracy Barnett 2 years, 8 months ago

Love the idea of the once-a-month "help a friend" work parties! I would love to be part of a group like that. And I am going to go check my closet right now. The bigger message is to be aware of "pay it forward" opportunities. That's what makes this community so great.

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Sandra Sharp 2 years, 8 months ago

There are also several families in need of assistance with their kindergarten bill. Full day kindergarten is not funded by our school district, and it is a hardship for many families to pay the required tuition. Please contact the school district if you are able to help. Lift-up has tried to get the week-end back pack program into our school district for several years. If you support this program, again, please contact the school district and voice your support. Also, remember that lift-up provides food to families in need 3-4 times a year. It is important to keep your eyes open and to be alert to families that may be very thankful for lasagna or a bag of groceries. Thank you for writing this, Joanne, and please contact me with any needs.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 8 months ago

The elderly are particularly reluctant to ask for help. The police department is probably aware of more than a few who could use a hand. Adopt a senior citizen and on your first visit, take a toolbox. You'll find towel racks that need tightening, screens that need repair, light bulbs that need replacing, faucets that drip, toilets that run, and so on. Clean out their refrigerators and get rid of expired food. Take some power strips 'cause you'll find overloaded outlets. Offer to pick up groceries or drop off dry cleaning. Most of all, just spend time with them. Take some tea and cookies and spend an afternoon letting them tell you about "the good old days". You won't believe what a difference you can make.

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