What began as an unassuming walk around the neighborhood with the family one night, led to a journey of friendship, giving and benevolence.
Chris Dykstra, a traffic manager based in Shorewood, Illinois had noticed a few raccoons milling around his garbage can, but didn’t think too much of it. Then one night when his wife Julie was taking their four children on one of their “flashlight walks”, they tracked the raccoons back to their neighbors roof. A further investigation revealed that the raccoons had chewed a hole in the neighbors roof and were living in her attic.
The Dykstra family has lived in their current home for five years and had very little contact with the neighbor up to this point. They knew her first name was Dorene and that she liked to watch their children play in the backyard, and that’s about it.
Concerned for their neighbors’ wellbeing, Julie decided to knock on the door to make their neighbor aware of the raccoons living in the attic. Julie knocked on the door and rang the doorbell, but no one answered. She decided to ask the local police department to do a wellness check on their neighbor.
Two police officers and an animal control officer from the Village of Tinley Park, Illinois visited the neighbors home to conduct a wellness check. This time the neighbor – Miss Dorene Shock – opened the door. According to Chris, Miss Shock was surprised to see someone check in on her. The officers made her aware of the raccoon in her attic, to which she responded, “I thought I heard something up there.”
Chris and his wife knew this was an opportunity to help a neighbor in need.
“My wife and I, we decided that it wasn’t by mistake that we had encountered this incident,” said Chris.
The Dykstra family agreed to pay for the extermination of the raccoons and the repair to the roof. Julie continued to make contact with Miss Shock and started to build a friendship. Eventually, Miss Shock welcomed Julie into her home. After touring the house, Julie learned that the home barely had any furniture and was in need of additional repairs and updates including new light bulbs. Julie took notes of all the light bulbs in the home that needed replacing and purchased new ones.
As their relationship with Miss Shock grew, the family learned that she has no family or friends and spends all of her time in a spare bedroom listening to a radio with foil on the antenna and sitting on a couch that is at least three decades old.
“She even said that she turns off her phone on the holidays because no one calls her,” said Chris. “We decided right then and there we were going to be Dorene’s people.”
Out of the goodness of their own hearts, the Dykstra family purchased a television, HDMI antenna, DVD player and some DVDs for their neighbor. They also had the doorbell fixed and bought her a Keurig coffee, “because she loves coffee.”
The Community Helps Out
In addition to the repairs that the Dykstra family assisted with, the home also had a few issues with the plumbing that required the assistance of a professional. Chris reached out to his acquaintance at G.R. Stob Plumbing in Homer Glen, Illinois for assistance and the company graciously agreed to help out. G.R. Stob replaced a faulty toilet, unclogged a drain, fixed the leaky kitchen sink and sealed off a gas leak.
But that wasn’t all they helped out with.
The Dykstra family learned that Miss Shock would walk three and a half miles to the laundromat to wash her clothes. G.R. Stob decided they would purchase and install a new washer and dryer so Miss Shock didn’t have to walk to the laundromat anymore.
Bob’s Discount Furniture Helps Out
In early December, Chris wrote a letter to the management at Bob’s Discount Furniture that outlined how his family had helped Miss Shock and asked if there is anything that the company could do.
“We do all of these things because our lives have been blessed in so many ways. One of those ways is working at a company that I love,” Chris wrote in his email. “ Bob’s Discount Furniture has changed our lifestyle in so many ways for the better. The best of everything has come into our lives. We knew that being charitable to our neighbors was just the next right thing to do. We aren’t sure if Bob’s would be able to assist with any furniture needs for this wonderful lady, but we thought maybe we could ask.”
After reading this letter, the management at Bob’s was more than happy to not only help a neighbor in need, but also support an employee in his efforts to assist someone in need.
The staff at my Orland Park, Illinois location invited Miss Shock to visit the store for a shopping experience that she’d never forget. “She said, ‘I’ve never been in a store that was this nice’”, Chris recalled.
Bob’s Discount Furniture presented Miss Shock with a gift card to purchase new furniture. She selected a new couch, mattress and box spring.
“This was a neat opportunity for us to serve someone right here within our community,” Chris said.
Welcome to the Family
Throughout these past few months, the Dykstra family and Miss Shock have developed a close bond. Chris said his children truly adore their neighbor and love to draw pictures for her and always ask then they can play in her yard and see her.
The family invited Miss Shock over for Thanksgiving and took her to see a Christmas light show. And the kids shared the fun experience of opening their presents as Miss Shock looked on.
“Their hearts have been opened up to what we believe life is really about and that’s love and service. We feel like our kids have learned some very good lessons from this and they’ve seen not just words but action.”