In the 2000 box office hit “Pay It Forward
,” a Social Studies teacher tasks his Junior High class with creating an idea that will change the world. The young lead character Trevor, designs a plan to “pay forward” any good that he receives. But, not before he confronts his teacher with a fair amount of skepticism. “Are you saying you’ll flunk us if we don’t change the world?” an incredulous Trevor inquires. “Well no,” the teacher replies with a sly grin, “but you might just scrape by with a C.” Trevor needn’t have worried about getting a C once his plan was underway…and neither should the people of Nantucket.
The residents of our little island are generous beyond measure – they show up in extravagant ways. Their generosity builds hospitals, theaters and a new Boys and Girls Club. The local non-profits are overwhelmed with volunteers, in-kind donations and monetary gifts that help our island thrive. But there are other ways the island people quietly show up to exhibit extraordinary compassion, altruism and good old-fashioned neighborly love. When one of us goes down (literally or figuratively), many of us rise up to ask “how can we help?”
That inimitable neighborly love was on full display this month on Nantucket. One of our beloved Nantucket locals, famed writer, photographer and local “Mahon About Town
” reporter, Gene Mahon, was taken ill a few months ago. His friends broadcast on social media that he’d been receiving care off-island, but desired to return home to Nantucket and was unable to do so without resources for travel and long-term care. It didn’t take long (as in, a few short days!) for the island to rally.
A Go-Fund-Me campaign (appropriately dubbed “Mahon Down!) was quickly created to raise money and a number of local restaurants, businesses and individuals put together a proper Nantucket fundraiser at the Chicken Box
to honor our local friend. Hundreds of big-hearted locals gathered for an evening of music, refreshments and some friendly island competitive bidding for the amazing silent and live auction items. I’m sure it was a coincidence, but the fact it was timed for the weekend before Valentine’s Day seemed entirely suitable. Love shows up in many ways…but perhaps no more beautifully than when an entire community collaborates to offer a warm embrace accompanied by a large check to help a neighbor through some dark days. It’s an unspoken, but clearly understood Nantucket philosophy…we’re in the business of paying it forward.
If you’re off island and only now hearing about Gene’s story, it’s not too late to offer a helping hand https://www.gofundme.com/f/mahon-down
If you’re on island this winter and interested in joining hearts and hands with other locals, there are countless non-profit organizations looking for volunteers to serve the good people of Nantucket. No one will flunk you if you don’t change the world, but why not pass with flying colors?
Pay It Forward