Just when you think America is losing its sense of community, an encouraging story of hope and joy pops up.   This true story is so compelling that we hope it inspires many of us to make a difference in our cities and in our communities.

There is a vivacious two-year old girl who lives in Newton, Massachusetts who, unfortunately, was born deaf. Her name is Samantha and her family and friends often call her Sam.  Her parents communicate with her through American Sign Language and other visual methods.

Her greatest joy is communicating with family and friends through sign language.  She becomes sad when she can’t communicate with people.  She is a happy and spirted child and enjoys being with people.

Her parents liked to take walks on their street where they often interacted with their neighbors, many of whom had a desire to communicate with Sam and make her feel she is part of their community.    

The remarkable thing that this group of individuals did is inspiring. The group consisted of women and men of all ages, and many were in their senior years who wanted to communicate with the child, so they hired an American Sign Language instructor as a group and began to learn how to “sign” so they could socialize with Sam.   At the end of each session, Sam joined the group and had fun.  Sam’s personality would light up with the interaction.

Her parents, Raphael and Glenda, were in awe of this remarkable act by their neighbors and it has brought the community closer together but, more importantly, these kind and wonderful people have given Sam the greatest gift, happiness.

I am usually at church on Sunday mornings when CBS News’ “Sunday Morning” is on the air, so I don’t normally watch the show. Recently, I was a bit under the weather and stayed home and turned this program on because they were promoting a segment on Diane Warwick, and I am a fan of her music.  Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley first introduced the story about Sam. In the news we hear about so much evil, so much hate, too much politics, and not enough about the wonderful things that do exist in our world today.  

This is the start of an ongoing column we plan to write about Giving Back.   We have featured “Giving Back” in many issues over the years focusing on individuals who give back to our society by volunteering, donating or mentoring.   We invite our readers to call or write us about inspiring people and events that we can share.   Previous stories included wonderful acts from South Florida architect William Gallo, JR Dunn owners Jim and Ann Marie Dunn, and Food For The Poor’s Boca Gala committee that includes two ladies close to my heart, Rene Mahfood and Julie Mahfood.   

We look forward to sharing this inspiring information with you in future issues of The Light Magazine. 

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