By Pam Marino
At the start of every month my Good Neighbor Stories website shares five ways you can be a better neighbor in the San Francisco Bay Area. From community events, to volunteer opportunities, to simple ideas on how to be more neighborly, "Five Ways" encourages you to be a part of a more vibrant local community.
Here are five ways to be a good neighbor in August:
1. Say “Aloha”: Enjoy the spirit of the Hawaiian Islands with both old and new friends at the 17th Annual San Francisco Bay Area Aloha Festival, August 4 and 5. The event is organized by the Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association, bringing together entertaining dancers, arts and crafts displays, island cuisine, kids’ activities, and much more. The festival is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Dr., San Mateo. Admission is free.
2. Spend a Night Out With Neighbors: Tuesday, Aug. 7, is the 29th Annual National Night Out, a community awareness campaign that stresses crime prevention, anti-crime activities, and the overall strengthening of neighborhood ties. Neighborhoods and cities all over the Bay Area are hosting activities from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The City of Cupertino is even hosting some pre-event activities, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Target parking lot, 20745 Stevens Creek Blvd. Check the National Night Out map to see if your neighborhood is participating. At the very least you can leave your porch light on from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., or get a little more ambitious and invite your neighbors over for an impromptu gathering.
3. Support a Jazzier Community: More than just an organizer of great music festivals and events, San Jose Jazz has supported local musicians and music in the schools since 1986. You can help keep the art of jazz alive in our region by attending Summerfest, Aug. 10-12. It’s billed as the largest live music event in Silicon Valley. Celebrated performers from all over the country and the world are on this year’s lineup.
4. Assemble Care Packages for Soldiers: You can help the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross put together care packages for soldiers as part of the Operation: Care and Comfort program, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 12, at the American Legion Post #318, 1504 Minnesota Ave., San Jose. Sign ups are through One Brick Silicon Valley. Since 2003, the program has shipped over 711,000 pounds of care packages for distribution to Marine, Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard personnel deployed in conflict regions. While not necessary, volunteers who are interested can bring donations of items like beef jerky, Mach III razors and cartridges, dental supplies, DVDs and CDs, batteries, AT&T phone cards, or hot drink mixes.
5. Smile, Be a Friend, Forgive Others, Kiss and Make Up, and in General Be Kind to Humankind: Every month as I research ways to be a better neighbor I always check the national holidays, awareness campaigns, and all those weird “National Day Of” events that people will whip out as conversation starters (“Did you know today is National Wear Your Shirt Inside Out Day?”). August seems to have attracted days and weeks that appeal to all of us to be better friends, family members, and human beings. For example, there are some organizations that are promoting August 5 as International Friendship Day (although others place it at July 30). But if one day isn’t enough, the third week of the month is declared National Friendship Week by some. The week before is National Smile Week, by the way. Forgiveness is another theme in August, with International Forgiveness Day on the same day as International Friendship Day, Aug. 5, and Global Forgiveness Day on Aug. 27. Once you’ve forgiven someone, why not kiss and make up on Aug. 25? That’s supposedly Kiss and Make Up Day. Finally, there’s someone who since 1988 has been promoting Be Kind to Humankind Week, which takes place the last week in August. Each day of the week has a theme using alliteration with the days’ first letters, like “Motorist Consideration Mondays”, “Touch a Heart Tuesdays”, and—here’s one of those themes again—”Forgive Your Foe Friday.”