Raleigh, NC

"Compassion abounds" and "We welcome all with our southern charm"

Raleigh’s Balloon Festival fills the sky with color. (Credit: Pamela O’Connor)

Pamela’s Story

In my mind, compassion doesn’t have to be a global campaign to solve world hunger or peace, but can be a small gesture of kindness to a neighbor or co-worker. It starts with a simple smile or “Hello, how are you today?” When I moved to Raleigh some years ago from up north, I was not ready for all the smiles and kindness of the people here. At first, the friendliness was a bit unnerving and you ask, “What do they want?” I’ve since jumped on the compassion train. Raleigh truly cares about it’s people and their needs, and constantly tries improve on the community. It is a very diverse area, which immensely contributes to our ability to join together. Many of us here do not have relatives in the area, forcing us to make new friends and try new things.

Donna’s Story

I’ve grown up in Raleigh, while it’s grown a lot it still has that hometown charm. You will not meet a stranger and we have lots of wonderful activities for folks to do. There is always something going on, whether you like the arts, sports, or community activities. A lot of northerners have moved down here, and while we like to tease them about being Yankees, it’s all in good fun. A friend moved down from New York and was told a lot, “Bless Your Heart!” I said it once to him, because of a faux pas he asked what it meant, that he’s been hearing that a lot. When I told him that it had a different meaning than what he expected, he laughed out loud! We like to joke and kid around with the Yankees! We have a large variety of people who come from everywhere and we welcome them with open arms. I love living in Raleigh, it has all you need but with the small town charm I’ve seen over and over.

Stories About Raleigh

There’s a rescue group, Rottweilers Hearts Rescue, that fosters pups and makes the public aware of how sweet and loyal Rotties can be. Barbara May and Jay Westall are so passionate that their joy is spread around through their many events. One lady was very scared of Rotties, but after just a few moments with a gentle giant and the family adopted him, and have since adopted one more!

Barbara May and Jay Westall of Rottweilers Hearts Rescue with Donna McQueen at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (Credit: Donna McQueen)

Another special person is Sharon Shelton, who has a meet-up group called Listen To Your Life. It’s a wonderful community of people who want to learn and grow about themselves. After a meet-up, you feel filled up and ready to face the world. I know most of the folks at my grocery store, post office, Office Depot, and etc. It’s great to see familiar faces in the places I go.

Our community comes together through the use of the app Nextdoor, which is like a private social media venue for your neighborhood. For example, when an elderly neighbor suddenly lost his wife, I posted on Nextdoor to see if anyone would be willing to cook a meal for him. The response was amazing. To avoid overwhelming him, everyone brought their dishes to my house, and then I brought them over to him all in one trip. It was quite an effort, but a huge success.

This Christmas, a single mother of three with severe medical issues didn’t have enough money to buy her children presents. I posted again on Nextdoor to see if anyone could spare some extra gifts for the children. The response was once again overwhelming! People came in droves to drop off gifts, one even a bicycle for the young boy. Presents and gift cards galore came rolling in. I was truly overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion. People really care and want to help here.

When another hurricane appeared imminent, I posted my phone number and email account on Nextdoor for my neighbors to use if they were in need of non-911 help, such as flooding that preventing you from getting groceries or supplies. I also offered my grill to cook on if gas and electric appliances were malfunctioning. Another incredible response. People in other communities took our lead and began doing the same thing in their neighborhoods, so in essence, we covered at least 6,000 people.

When a pet is lost, someone takes them in and posts pictures of the animal, and the owner is usually found within a day. We’ve re-homed many animals that needed a new place to live. In other words, we work together as a cohesive community and truly care.

Raleigh has many virtues…far too many to list but among them are events like Best Friends/Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children and Compassion International, which is an interactive tour that immerses visitors into daily life in another country. It’s a four day event where visitors will be invited on a self-guided journey where they will be immersed in the lives and stories of two children living in Uganda or Bolivia. Each child’s story starts in hardship but ends in hope. Raleigh also sees events from organizations like Silver Compassion, a ministry designed to help navigate the complex world of aging. In addition, Islamic Relief has been a part of a coalition of nonprofits rebuilding homes in Princeville since the town was flooded by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. It’s very physically demanding work, but Islamic Relief sees more and more volunteers return to Princeville to provide aid.