As anyone who has talked to me in recent weeks knows, I cannot stop going on about a young man from Greece who used a work bonus to buy and deliver water for the children of Flint, Mich., during the city’s polluted water crisis.
Since meeting with and writing about Juan Montes-DeOca, I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been so struck by this act of kindness.
Perhaps it’s because this is the Year of Mercy. What I do know is that writing about this corporal work of mercy led me to reflect on my own childhood and the people who served as good role models in my life.
This reflection also reminded me of my New Year’s resolution to live my life in gratitude.
I am truly grateful for Barbara Loudis, who as a young woman in my native Utica decided to befriend my little brother and me when we lived on the same street as the bakery where she worked. She would give us pastries, treated us to dinners at Pizza Hut and helped me look like Princess Leia for Halloween. She also helped me prepare (successfully) for an audition for the only school musical I ever attempted in high school.
I also cherish the time spent with Eva Schraeder — may she rest in peace — a fellow parishioner at St. John Church in Utica who picked us up for Mass weekly and gave us cards and gifts for every holiday and special occasion.
I understand now that God placed these thoughtful and generous people in my path to teach me about caring for the least of my brothers and sisters. So when I write stories of good people like them, I am reminded once again that I also have a duty to pay it forward.