Here is a quick story to remind us about the true meaning of community.
Ten years after John Chhan and his wife, Stella, emigrated to the United States from Cambodia, they opened a small donut shop in the southern California town of Seal Beach. Since 1990, they arrived for work at 2:30 AM, seven days a week, to make sure there were plenty of donuts for their customers when the shop opened at 4:30 AM. They loved their community and their community loved them back.
One morning, Dawn Caviola, a shop regular of 13 years, noticed that John was alone in the shop. She asked about Stella; John told her that his wife had suffered an aneurysm and was recovering in a rehabilitation facility. Not seeing them together like she had for so many years surprised Dawn, and she posted a quick note on the social media platform Nextdoor.com to spread the word among the locals.
The community was quick to offer help, but when someone suggested they start a GoFundMe campaign to help the couple, John refused. He said that what he wanted more than money was time to be with his wife.
Word continued to spread and people of the community started lining up to buy donuts… and lots of them. Even people who didn’t eat donuts were frequenting the shop to buy a dozen, just to give them away and help support the couple. The faster the shelves clear out, the sooner that John could call it a day and close shop and visit his wife – on good days, he sold out by 8:30 AM.
His wife eventually recovered and was able to speak again and she also relearned how to feed herself. John expressed his gratitude that the community listened, responded and gave him the precious gift of time.
Sometimes the things that are most helpful result from simple gestures or small acts of kindness, born from listening to the people in our community, and given with love and respect.