EAST MISSOULA — We’re taught from a young age to love our neighbors as ourselves. It's a simple teaching that often leaves huge impacts, and it's playing out across one East Missoula neighborhood.
Resident Sally Richardson would know.
“There's just a lot of people in Missoula that are good,” said Richardson. “There’s just so much that my neighbors have done. I can't tell you how much they've done for me.”
A former hospice nurse, Richardson used to be the one playing Good Samaritan.
“I loved my job,” said Richardson, “I knew that God had put me into that position, and I was good.”
A bad fall on an icy driveway years ago sent her to the hospital and ultimately into a tailspin of medical problems. She would never work again, and her life would look drastically different.
“It affected my motor skills and my short-term memory. If it was just that, it wouldn't be so bad, but because I was declared brain damaged, they took my car away. They took my license away. I mean they cut my license up right here in the doctor's office,” recalled Richardson.
Disabled and homebound, she relies on the kindness of neighbors for everything from shoveling snow off her ramp to picking her up from doctor appointments. Once, her neighbors even rushed her injured dog to the animal hospital. When the dog had to be put down, they paid for the procedure and the cremation of the pet knowing how devastated Richardson would be. They never asked for anything in return.
“They give back in more ways than they realize,” said Richardson.
“I don't deserve any special recognition or anything, I just do what I'd want somebody to do for me if I was in her situation,” explained neighbor Molly Lakey. She’s one of a handful in the neighborhood to assist Richardson. Through her actions, she hopes to set an example for her daughters, but she’d help even if it weren’t for the lesson it teaches her kids.
“That's just what we should do, that's what we should do for each other. It's not really anything special. It's just what people should do for people,” said Lakey.