This past Neighbour Day, Nextdoor asked neighbours across Australia to honour those who go above and beyond to better their communities. In this Neighbour Day Award Spotlight, meet Jeannie White from Southport, Queensland.
After Jeannie moved from New Zealand to Southport, Queensland, she bought a local convenience store. People from the neighbourhood would come visit and chat with Jeannie, and she quickly became a driving force in building the social fabric of Southport. One day, Jeannie received a call from a local customer whose husband had just had a heart attack and was in desperate need of childcare, so she could accompany her husband to the hospital. While Jeannie was more than happy to help, she couldn’t help but wonder why someone who had lived in the neighbourhood for over 30 years would turn to her instead of a nearby neighbour or friend. The answer: she didn’t know any of them.
Jeannie grew up surrounded by a tight knit community in New Zealand. When things were tough at home, she would simply walk nextdoor and confide in a neighbour. She said, “I’d love for every child to know that they have a neighbour somewhere close by who they can always go sit and talk to.”
Feeling compelled to bring her neighbours together, Jeannie decided to start a community garden. She began promoting the garden in her local newspaper, and was able to rally more than 70 people to start building the garden. “The very first day when I had notified people that we were going to start building our community garden, they all came along. They didn’t know each other, and I sat in the background and watched. Within ten minutes, they were all chatting away like old friends,” said Jeannie. To this day, the garden continues to be a place where relationships build and community thrives for dozens of Southport neighbours. Jeannie has since coordinated the construction of 40 garden beds, a large storage shed, composting areas, and a plant nursery.
When asked if she has advice for anyone searching for community, Jeannie said, “Make yourself known to your neighbours. Just go for it – don’t be embarrassed by it. Try and do what you can for other members of the community. Most importantly, be kind to everyone.”