Oliver: Our great county comes through in times of need

Joan Oliver
Joan Oliver

If you’ve spent any amount of time in McHenry County, one of the things you’ve no doubt been struck by is how generous our residents are. Never is this more apparent than when someone is in need.

One of my fondest memories of this was from a few years back. It was around the holidays and a McHenry family had lost all its belongings in a fire. A call went out that there would be a collection at Chauncey H. Duker School that weekend.

I wanted to help, too, so I gathered a few things and walked over the school.

Car after car was going through the circle drive with items to be dropped off. The gymnasium was filled with people, and the organizers were doing their best to try to keep up with all of the donations that were pouring in.

The pride I had for my hometown, for our county, literally brought me to tears.

In the past couple of months, as I find myself on the receiving end of so much generosity of spirit, I find those tears coming again and again.

As one who is used to giving, it hasn’t exactly been easy to be in a position of requiring help.

Yet, I want to express my heartfelt and genuine gratitude to the many, many people who have gone out of their way to assist Tony and me as we’ve gone through this latest challenge of my breast cancer on top of Tony’s Alzheimer’s disease.

Thank you to the wonderful readers who wrote in with words of encouragement, whether in email or card form.

Thank you to the breast cancer survivors who offered their stories so that I had a better idea about what I was going to be dealing with. If you’d like to weigh in on what I need to know about dealing with radiation treatments, I’ll be happy to pass that along in a future column.

Thank you to a former Northwest Herald editor and his wife who sent plastic pink flamingos to cheer me up after I was diagnosed. And thank you to our dear friends in Kentucky who sent our favorite apple cider doughnuts from an orchard in the Georgia town where my mother used to live.

Thank you to my wonderful congregation, who provided delicious meals that had so much comfort food that I couldn’t help but feel the love.

Thank you to my terrific next-door neighbor, who surprised me by cleaning out the gutters of our house, which were starting to look like I was starting a maple tree nursery. My next-door neighbor on the other side took care of the mound of mulch where a crabtree had been and planted some grass. Boy, that little spot looks so much better.

Thank you to the wonderful veterinary tech who has been going above and beyond to help me with the care of my cat, Harriet, who managed to come down with a kitty infection right in the middle of all of this stress.

And thank you to the many dear friends who have made it a point to clean my house, weed my flower beds, go to every doctor’s appointment and make sure I know that I’m not alone.

If you offered to help and I didn’t take you up on it, please know that those offers meant the world to me. I can’t thank you enough.

I’ve always been touched by the generosity of the people who live in this county I call home.

These days, I’m apt to get a little teary-eyed when I think about all of the kindnesses that have been extended my way.

You all are amazing.

• Joan Oliver is a former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

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