Joanne Palmer: It’s time to make a difference |

Joanne Palmer: It’s time to make a difference

Joanne Palmer

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 or

— 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.


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.

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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 Let's see what we can do!

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