Community Member Stories

12 Days Of Kindness – Choose Kindness This Holiday

Written by Siobhan Moylan

In the spirit of Christmas, Nextdoor is celebrating Australian neighbours with 12 Days of Kindness. 

At Nextdoor,  the world’s largest neighbourhood network, we believe that your neighbourhood should be more than just where you live, rather a community that you are proud to call home. In the spirit of Christmas, we are sharing stories from across Australia about the amazing acts of holiday kindness we see on the platform every day. 

Nextdoor Australia’s Country Manager Jennie Sager says, “Nextdoor is a technology that helps neighbours connect, and what we love is that these connections are taken offline and into the real world…

Knowing your neighbour and having human connection has never been more important than today. Particularly, as we look at societal issues like homelessness and emergencies like the current catastrophic bushfires, community has a huge role to play in providing a support network.”

Nextdoor Member Ingrid Korda reaching out to neighbours at Christmas

Kicking off this year’s Nextdoor 12 days of kindness, is Allan Connolly from Kingsley in Western Australia.  Allan is a Nextdoor Community Lead and we are blown away by the hardships he has endured in his life and how he has used Nextdoor as a support to heal and to grow community.  

Being a Nextdoor lead helped me to get through the grief and the anger I was holding inside about the loss of my amazing wife and soulmate to cancer aged just 38 and then a short while later becoming homeless and moving into crisis housing in a low socio-economic area.

Nextdoor has, directly and indirectly, allowed me to open my eyes and my heart and return to my humanitarian ways and do something to continue to help,  and in return, realise my own self-actualisation.”

We’re thankful for neighbours like Allan and want to recognise others who are spreading kindness this season. Here are 12 amazing stories to warm your heart this Christmas.

1. Allan Connolly, Kingsley, WA – Rebuilding lives by reaching out to neighbours 

Allan Connolly aka ‘Big Al’ is a trusted and multi-award winning leader in entrepreneurship and a Global Goodwill Ambassador in Humanitarianism. Al has grown his Nextdoor community to one of the biggest in Western Australia, hosts a regular coffee group, and is an in demand motivational speaker. Al is a widow and father of two – having experienced homelessness in his own life, Al has a unique story to tell and says that, “by becoming a lead, I had to put aside my prejudices and anger as it was my role to bring the community together and boy did it open my eyes… these refugees and migrants had endured heartache and hardship on multiple levels and whilst they were grateful to be in Australia, they were suffering from the same challenges that I had…Nextdoor has helped them feel more connected.”

2. Keith & Wendy Pearson, Maitland,  NSW – Supporting neighbours through Nextdoor and Rotary

Keith is a strong Rotarian in Maitland and says that, this Christmas, he and his wife Wendy are pleased to assist the Maitland Neighbourhood Centre (MNC Rutherford) in making up food and toy Christmas hampers for those in the community who are doing it tough, “We support and partner with the neighbourhood centre.” They have used Nextdoor to call out for people who can assist in supplying a few non-perishable food items to the MNC, suitable for a Xmas Hamper. Keith says, “We like the app a lot, the best thing is that we keep local work. We help neighbours through Nextdoor and Rotary, the two compliment each other in my eyes”

3. Jules Armstrong, Coombabah, QLD – Curing Christmas loneliness

Jules lives life by the ethos of “the more the merrier” and says that Nextdoor is a very busy place to be as she is inundated with messages of people wanting to connect. This Christmas she is inviting friends she has made through Nextdoor over for a jacuzzi, swim and a laugh”. She has also arranged a secret Santa so everyone gets a gift. She describes the group as a “hoot and half” and is amazed at how people go out of their way to help each other on the platform, “what I find is that my community is so amazing, whether it’s dropping someone at the doctor or helping find a lost pet… people that come don’t feel they are intruding. You always feel welcome and no one is a stranger.” 

4. Keith Mudge Lead, Turramurra, NSW – banding together to help the firies 

The community organised a huge thank you fundraiser at the local sports club recently and raised close to 10k to go to the Rural Fire Service via Nextdoor. Keith told us that, “on the day the firefighters were awesome! They extinguished multiple blazes and brought a very dangerous situation under control very quickly. The local community was amazing. A gentleman was at work and told his teenage children to leave the home to get to a safe place. Being teenagers, they couldn’t drive so they started walking. A neighbour saw them walking and drove them away to safety. The local Sikh Temple brought some delicious food down to feed the exhausted firefighters.” They also threw open the temple doors to anyone that needed refuge. Keith loves his neighbourhood and uses the platform to solidify connections and groups.

5. Pauline Kenny, Alphington, Victoria – Encouraging people to speak out against stigma

After years of struggling with her own mental illness, and witnessing the stigma that is still so heavily attached to mental illness, Pauline decided to take matters into her own hands and is using Nextdoor to get her message out about speaking out. She has worked in psychology and studied mental health throughout her career and is now a huge advocate of owning your own truth and is spreading this message in her own community of Alphington. Pauline has created the #IDo movement: Raising Mental Health Awareness by Raising a Hand campaign, with the aim to help create a safe and stable environment for people living with mental health issues, and also for carers. Pauline is using Nextdoor to spread her message locally. 

6. Pheobe Maxwell, Modbury North, Adelaide – Making lollie pinecones for neighbours 

Phoebe is new to Nextdoor and is loving it so far, she told ND that, “My partner and I have made lollie covered pine cones for 3 households of elderly neighbours in our street. They are all absolute treasures. They have lived on our street since the early ’60s/’70s and have lots of interesting stories about what the area used to be like and how it has changed and hearing those is just wonderful… Community is important to us.” Her other half has even picked up some gardening jobs on Nextdoor already! Recently her elderly neighbour had his gallbladder out and she pruned his rose bush and dropped a meal off. They are now good friends.

7. Ingrid and Graeme Frankston, Victoria – A couple passionate for community

Ingrid is a passionate Nextdoor Lead in Victoria who aims to bring her community together. She told us that, “We are excited about the possibilities that Nextdoor provides to strengthen community relationships in Frankston since it started in 2018. We were delighted that some of our members attended the recent Melbourne meeting with the Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar and we are excited about some of the ideas we heard there. We have been in contact with Frankston Cr Glenn Aitken about the possibility of holding a barbeque in the park for Frankston members and have had many positive responses to this idea.”

8. Brendon Roberts, St Kilda,  VIC – Anyone got a spare TV? 

Brendon heard about Nextdoor via word of mouth and told us that, “I was hoping I would come across finances myself to purchase a TV – I thought I’d either embarrass myself or humble myself and I chose to be humble and ask for help on Nextdoor – It’s a really good TV I ended up getting!” Brendon lost his family and job over Christmas last year, and then his daughter passed away.  “I was in a bad position and still am, I have been robbed that many times… Nextdoor made me realise how many good people there are out there and that maybe I am not alone. I am in a share house in St Kilda now. I grew up in the bush and was a shearer. I grew up in foster care raised myself. I educated myself and it hasn’t been easy, it’s never easy of Christmas. I had another bloke on give me plates and cups which I really needed, he even delivered them to me. I would have walked to get them but he was kind enough to drop them off. I can’t thank Nextdoor enough. I don’t have friends so next time, I might humble myself even more and see if anyone wants to have a coffee and a chat.”

9. Edna Goldman Rosebud, Victoria – Everyone needs a buddy

Edna has lived in the seaside town of Rosebud Victoria for  13 years. She wanted to reach out to her community as she is retired and is involved with the University of the Third Age (U3A) and a couple of local choirs. She is very social and loves being connected to life. She said, “I noticed on Nextdoor that people were reaching out and new to the area… we literally just had a meet up yesterday and ten people came out!  We chatted for over 2.5 hours. We met at the local cafe and everyone felt happy and safe.” Edna says people need to feel free to bring themselves and their own talents,” you can sing, or you can go walking or create a special interest group”. I am not the leader. I just wanted to bring people together because I don’t like to seeing people on their own and sad. Everyone needs a buddy. We are going to catch up again soon. We had some people in their 40s, right through to the 80s. I am so happy I did it.” 

10.  Josef Maritz – Dawesville, WA – Cowboys cry too 

Josef turned to Nextdoor recently as he was being bullied at work. He says managers bullied him to the point where he had no choice but to leave. “It was so horrible and I tried to stay for the money and for my family. I ended up with anxiety and depression which ended up causing marital issues, me and my wife nearly divorced, so it’s been tough. I ended up getting fired and in court”. Josef posted about work on Nextdoor and says that for him, “The app is really great. One lady gave me a job hanging up posters in her house and she was really nice and two other guys reached out to help and also other just say sorry. There are so many men these days that take their own lives due to stress so  the support that Nextdoor offers is useful in today’s society. It is not easy posting my story on social media but it’s just so nice to know people in my community care. I feel I owe it to tell my story, especially for men…. Cowboys need to cry too.”

11. Ingrid Korda, Bondi Junction, NSW – Are you lonesome tonight?

Ingrid has a passion for art and helping people. She told us that, “It’s so good to be on Nextdoor,  if you are looking for a handyman or painters or just wanting to contact local people, it’s all there… We have just started a new community of three people which is all about art so it fits my niche. It’s great for networking.  At Christmas I see so many people sitting on benches alone and they look like they want to chat and my heart goes out to them. People get flat at this time of year and need company. It breaks my heart to see lonely people. It’s the old people we forget at Christmas and my hope is to use Nextdoor to connect people.” 

12. Zelda, Kippa-Ring, QLD – Women starting over 

Zelda has just become a Nextdoor Lead in her area and is keen to spread kindness this Christmas by using her own life experience to share stories with women who are having a hard time. A survivor of domestic violence, she moved from England three years ago to start a new life and is using Nextdoor as a tool to do so. She is a holistic coach and author and has a passion for helping and connecting people. “People in our area are quite reserved and often keep to themselves, and I want to help them open up through sharing stories.” Zelda’s aim for 2020 is to connect people in the area. Through Nextdoor she has created a group for women who have been through divorce and this Christmas she’s created a support group of local women who want real connection. 

To do our part to cultivate kindness, Nextdoor is proud to have launched ‘Kindness Reminder’, a feature that encourages positivity across the platform. If a member replies to a neighbour’s post with a potentially offensive or hurtful comment, Kindness Reminder is prompted before the comment goes live. The member is then given the chance to reference our Community Guidelines, reconsider and edit their reply, or ultimately refrain from posting. Amazingly, in early tests, 1 in 5 people who saw Kindness Reminder hit “edit” on their comment, resulting in 20% fewer negative comments. 

Australians vote on simple acts to spread kindness at Christmas 

The 12 Days of Christmas provides the perfect opportunity to spread kindness throughout your community this holiday season, while inspiring others to do the same.  By simply being kind, you’re sure to brighten a neighbour’s day and create a ripple effect of goodness all around you this holiday season.

Nextdoor is an easy way to open the door. We recently ran a poll of Nextdoor members in Australia to find out how they planned on spreading kindness this holiday season. Here are the results:

For interviews with any of our members and leads above or with Nextdoor Country Manager Jennie Sager contact Siobhán Moylan, Head of Communications & PR, Australia M:  0422 755 785

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