By Nan Roche
For 37 years, we residents of Amherst Road have kept a directory to create supportive connections and a stream of communication. As my neighbor and friend Carol Nezzo says, “health is profoundly social in nature.” I encourage all residents to connect any way they can to benefit themselves and our community.
Our directory began with my neighbor, Ann Leffel. Back then, Amherst Road was home to many families with young children, and mothers worked together to swap childcare and arrange playdates. Ann kept phone numbers — all the phone numbers. She threw a party for me and my husband when we moved to the neighborhood, in 1983, and a flock of neighbors gathered to share food and all their recommendations. We were stunned — and thrilled. What an amazing welcome!
In an attempt to extend Ann’s hospitality, I went door to door with my clipboard — this was before computers, let alone smartphones — jotting down names and phone numbers. I explained to my neighbors that my list was exclusive to Amherst Road, and that it would allow us to contact each other to help with problems, share recommendations for plumbers and painters, and, of course, to organize fun — the parties we had were really great! Signing up was optional, but everyone eventually participated.
While old neighbors have moved out, and new neighbors have moved in, the list has stood the test of time. Our directory continues to serve us well, no matter who is on it. It has fostered close friendships among us. And we still try to have a party for newcomers, with the list as our guide — I’ll never forget the one Ann hosted for us.
And our directory preserves traditions. Kathy Reef organizes our annual progressive dinner, and Chantel and Don Bush host a Bastille Day party every July. We turn to the list to organize picnics, find walking companions, throw graduation parties, hire pet sitters and outsource snow shovelling — and so much more. But the list’s power of connection extends beyond convenience; our directory continues to create new bonds among us. Indeed, Joann Prosser, a newcomer to the neighborhood, recently organized another neighbor’s 90th birthday party. For the ways our directory connects us, Amherst Road feels like a small town.
I highly recommend creating your own street listing. If you need advice, you are most welcome to contact me, Nan Roche, at firstname.lastname@example.org.