Cheers to Kathleen Wiedenfield.
A Huntley resident, Wiedenfield formed One Neighbor at a Time in 2011 to help residents of a small, poverty-stricken township in Kankakee County, located about 70 miles south of Chicago.
As detailed in Sunday's story by Northwest Herald reporter Stephen DiBenedetto, Wiedenfield learned of the plight of Pembroke Township's 2,100 or so residents while watching The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005.
Pembroke has a predominantly black population, with a per capita income of $11,822. More than 25 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level. About half are unemployed.
Most would have felt bad about Pembroke Township's situation, but moved on. Not Wiedenfield. She decided to take action.
She first reached out to state and federal officials, but got little response. She then mailed almost 1,000 of the township's residents, asking if they needed help. Touched, Pembroke resident Keith Bobo said he wanted to assist Wiedenfield.
Together, the two have been able to help a few of the township's residents. For example, they've helped three residents get running water to their homes. Unbelievably, some township residents didn't have running water because of rundown, dry wells.
To date, One Neighbor at a Time has raised $20,000 to help Pembroke residents with basic necessities.
It's a great story, and one that could inspire others.
Our communities, our state, country and the world have many problems. None of us can solve them by ourselves.
But Wiedenfield has proven that little things do matter, and that each of us has the capacity to change the world, one small act of kindness at a time.