Spreading sunshine secretly in the neighborhood

By Charla Spalluto Misse, NOLACatholicParenting.org

My neighborhood is like many others in Greater New Orleans: a mix of old and new homes, old and young residents. 

When we were first married and in our first house, I would run or cycle almost every day in the early morning hours.  My return home was on the same schedule as the newspaper delivery, which meant dodging the delivery truck as well as the hurling papers – in the dark.  

With that daily (and unavoidable) reminder, I would walk up and down our block moving the newspapers at my elderly neighbors’ houses to their front porches, maybe returning a trash can or two. 

I don’t know if they ever knew it was me!  Maybe they figured it out after we moved …  Of course, my husband always wondered why I had so much grass on my shoes when I came home!  (I’m just a mystery to him, hee hee.)  

It was such a great way to start my day, sharing a little kindness with others. 

Honestly, I probably benefitted most from my secret neighborhood call of duty.  

I started thinking about why this simple act meant so much to me. Was it my nature to be quietly helpful or was I influenced to behave this way?  

As I think back, I realize the strongest voice in my life was, indeed, the quietest.  Because it was so subtle, it took me a while to realize that it was my father, whom I admire very much, who was so discreetly generous in his service to others.  

I can recall an ongoing list of moments where he selflessly helped a neighbor or even a stranger, sometimes without them even realizing.  

When he retired from engineering at the Port of New Orleans at 86 years old, I was fortunate to attend the board meeting where he received a service award and was graciously invited to speak. 

Afterward, I was greeted by such an enormous outpouring of respect, admiration and gratitude from all levels of employees, both working and retired, with varying stories of his dedication to job, his brilliance in ability, his fairness in treatment and his heartfelt consideration for them personally – all without his desire for grand recognition. 

I believe he is driven by an inner desire to show respect for others, to provide service to others and to use his talents for good.  A true Christian.

I happen to pray daily that I am able to use my gifts to help others. I now realize that I am praying that I could be like my father, a disciple of Christ.  

So, the question remains:   Is it my nature to be quietly helpful or was I influenced to behave this way?  

In the meantime, I’m on the lookout for a new way to “surreptitiously” spread sunshine.  

Any ideas?

Charla Spalluto Misse graduated as valedictorian from Immaculata High School, earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and a masters of business administration from The College of William & Mary. She has worked in high-level advisory positions throughout her career and is now a financial advisor where she enjoys using her analytical and planning strengths to develop specialized solutions for her clients. Charla cherishes the opportunity to directly make a positive difference in people’s lives. A native of New Orleans, Charla feels blessed to be near her family and to enjoy the natural beauty and cultural richness of her hometown. She supports various charitable organizations, sits on the board as an officer for the LPO Volunteers and is a Boy Scouts of America Den Leader. The things that make her happiest are laughing with her husband and their son, baking for her loved ones, exercising in the outdoors, visiting the adoration chapel and picking up her son from school.

Please send comments to nolacatholicparenting@clarionherald.org. Visit the blog featuring three new posts a week at www.nolacatholicparenting.org.        

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