Paying it forward

I had been living in a unit complex for a couple of years when I bumped into a young woman fiddling with her keys in the stairwell. She had 3 young kids with her and she looked exhausted. I smiled at her and she gave me a knowing look and walked into her unit. Since that day I wondered about her and hoped she was okay – she only looked about 23. Sometimes I could hear her talking on the phone but she was always very quiet otherwise. She never yelled at her kids or made them cry.

I was in the shared laundry and noticed a load of washing was already on. The young girl walked in and was on the phone, she had her kids trailing behind her, one on her hip. She looked flustered and checked her laundry and tried to grapple with the clothes whilst juggling the baby and her phone. I mouthed to her that I’d do it for her and she mouthed back ‘Thank you’ and looked apologetic for being on the phone. I took her clothes out of the machine and put them in the dryer.

She didn’t come back for a while and I could here her baby wailing. I couldn’t stand that she had no help so I instinctively folded her clothes and put them neatly in the basket. I brought them to her door and she was so astonished. Her name was Leah and she was 22. She was a single mum and explained how much it meant for me to help her out – her second youngest had autism and she was doing it all by herself. I asked where her parents were and she said that they had kicked her out because she kept getting pregnant. With three under 5, she could do with someone to just give her a hand. I was an empty nester in a new suburb and I felt my motherly instincts taking over, and for 7 months I would wash the kids’ clothes, babysit and do what I could for Leah and her little family.

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This was nearly 5 years ago and we still keep in contact but I wanted to share with you that paying it forward and helping out without expecting something has given me great joy. I’m no saint, I’m just a normal person. I want to help and I offer it when I can. I could go on about the different things I’ve done but the story of Leah is my favourite because perhaps you have seen someone in your neighbourhood who needs a hand or just someone to talk to. We can too often turn a blind eye when even asking if there’s anything we can do could change someone’s life.

So how can you start to pay it forward? I first started by paying for tolls for the car behind me (now I can’t because of the automatic payments) and then moved to passing on my parking permit to someone who was driving into the carpark at the university where I lectured. Even just opening doors or carrying bags for someone can brighten someone’s day.

Kindness is contagious, let’s make this world a happier place…


Do you pay it forward? How do you help others out? What is a story of a random act of kindness by you or someone you know? Tell us below!