From The Heart
One kind gesture lights a neighborhood
By Robin Fogel-Shrive
Take a walk down 41st Street in East Sacramento and become transformed by an act of kindness.
This city street is committed to spreading a message of love and safe harbor. House after house shine with an illuminated heart in the window. They are gifts from a new resident to her neighbors, and the movement is growing.
This kind-hearted woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, moved into the neighborhood amid the pandemic.
With stay-at-home orders, getting to know her neighbors was difficult. As the dreary months progressed, with masks in place and few personal interactions, she discovered a way to connect with her community. She decided to purchase and give away lighted hearts.
At first she bought 10 hearts. Going door to door, knocking and saying hello, she asked strangers if they would like one. The gracious effort was embraced, sometimes with caution, and supported by many residents on the block. The hearts were never sold. They were simply given as gifts of neighborly friendship.
One man thought “it might be a cult.” He later admits, “It is a cult. It’s a lovely cult.”
Many residents embraced the positive message—a message soon shared by more than 35 households. As the numbers grew, the hearts expanded to neighboring streets, including San Antonio and San Miguel.
I first noticed the hearts on an early evening trek to the local market. The positive feeling from the lighted hearts inspired me to return home on the same path. I found myself almost skipping and singing The Doors’ song, “Love Street.”
When I tracked down the originator, she was gracious and told her story, but made it clear she didn’t want attention for her acts of kindness.
I decided to ask several neighbors their thoughts about the heart phenomenon and found Tammy Newell working in her front yard. “The hearts brought more love to the neighborhood at a time when I felt it was really needed,” she says.
Another neighbor, Sue Malan, says, “So lovely, such an act of kindness.”
I noticed two young girls walking down 41st Street counting the hearts in windows. They ask, “What do these hearts mean?” The answer: We need more love in the world. The girls nod and agree, “Yes we do.”
These simple neon symbols of love are hung inside homes and illuminate their message outward to the community.
Inexpensive, they can be purchased online. In a time of division, it’s a way to bring us back together.
On 41st Street, people see the hearts, greet each other, build connections and get to know neighbors. Let’s see how far the lighted heart movement can spread. Bring some love to your street.
Robin Fogel-Shrive is a Sacramento educator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.