Be the neighbor that you would want to have

Published 5:40 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In Southwest Michigan, we have built a resilient, strong community.

An important part of maintaining a healthy community is looking out for our neighbors. To apply the heart of the Golden Rule: Be the neighbor that you would want to have.

If you have elderly neighbors, you can play a key role in making their lives a little easier, just by making yourself available and looking out for them. This effort starts with safety. If something doesn’t seem right and you think your neighbor might need help, knock on the door and check that they’re okay.

A rewarding way to support our communities is to give back. I encourage residents to join me in helping meet the needs of struggling families this winter and throughout the year.

Last year, I donated toys for local children and helped raise money for area food banks. I also donated food to the Salvation Army Food Pantry of Niles, which was running low on supplies. For residents who also wish to donate, the pantry is located at 424 N. 15th St. in Niles.

The Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank distributes food to people in need. Residents can donate food to the food bank at 1488 E. Empire Ave. in Benton Harbor.

I often give blood in order to help ensure that there is an adequate supply for those friends and neighbors in need. Donating blood is a simple way each of us can help save a life.

Someone in America needs blood roughly every two seconds. Unfortunately, although nearly 40 percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, only 3 to 4 percent actually do.

Michigan Blood is a nonprofit organization that provides blood to more than 40 hospitals throughout the state. For more information, visit their website at

As we grow older, we naturally become more sensitive to cold temperatures. For seniors, these cold temps aren’t just uncomfortable, they can also be quite dangerous. With greater sensitivity to colder temperatures comes increased susceptibility to the health issues caused by cold.

I urge everyone to watch out for our older friends and neighbors and make sure we all stay warm this winter.


Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents Southwest Michigan.