People from the Midwest are known to be some of the nicest people in the world and Maggie Connolly, a Milwaukee native, is no exception. Although Maggie has since moved to Brooklyn, she possesses that “niceness” that Midwesterners are known for. And in these times, she is using that characteristic to help her neighbors.
After running to the grocery store late last week, Maggie started to think about her grandmother, her late father who was in a wheelchair, and her elderly neighbors who may not be able to make a quick trip like she can. So she and her dog, Trudy, put a plan into action. While out for a walk, Maggie and Trudy hung several signs simply saying, “If you need help or don’t feel safe going to busy stores right now, your neighbors are here to help!” She added her email address to the sign and she and Trudy went on their way.
Though they probably didn’t expect it, their small act of kindness went global. Maggie’s neighbor, who she previously didn’t know, but now does, took a photo of her sign and shared it on social media. Shares of Maggie’s sign went viral – being shared by @goodnews_movement and Blake Lively – and emails started flowing in from all over the world with offers to help, donate money, and instances of individuals taking a page from Maggie’s book and setting up delivery services for their neighbors.
In a recent virtual conversation with Maggie, she says that one of the most heartwarming things that she has experienced from this comes all the way from Australia. A mother sent Maggie a photograph of the signs that she and her kids put up in their neighborhood. She shared with Maggie that she was “happy to have the opportunity to be able to teach her kids how to show love and compassion amongst fear.”
Maggie now has a spreadsheet of more 70 volunteers who live within a few miles of where she and Trudy are located. These 70 volunteers have started hanging their own signs around their homes so that those in need are able to easily access someone who lives the closest to them.
Many of Maggie’s neighbors have emailed her directly, but not all for help immediately. Some reached out just to introduce themselves and to thank Maggie and Trudy for what they are doing for others. Maggie said that she has done runs for not only the elderly, but also people who are sick and unable to leave the house and new parents.
As she continues to help her neighbors and inspire others to do the same, Maggie makes sure that she is taking the proper precautions to stay healthy. She suggests that if you are going to take on something like this, to only accept payment via cashless apps, such as Venmo.
Through her efforts, Maggie has met a group of like-minded 20-year olds who have set up Invisible Hands, an online platform that organizes volunteers, donations, and requests for assistance for those who live in New York City and Jersey City with the hopes of expanding to other cities across the world.