Archive for the ‘Just Say Hi Heroes’ category

Hero of the Month

June 30, 2010

June 2010: Julie Taylor

Every neighborhood should have one. Someone everyone knows because s/he is so friendly. Someone who enjoys chatting to you when you pass by. Someone who makes a point of meeting new neighbors who have moved in, and introducing neighbors to each other.

In my neighborhood, that person is Julie Taylor. Julie is a people person and a party girl. She and her husband Jeff have hosted many gatherings of neighbors over the years, including block parties in front of their house, with Jeff’s band entertaining us. She sends out a relaxed, “don’t worry, be happy” vibe. Life threw Julie a curveball called cancer a few years ago, with exhausting chemotherapy rounds, but she has weathered it all with fortitude and humor.

When my first order of “Just Say Hi” t-shirts came in, Julie was one of the first people I gave one too (sorry, I’m not giving them away anymore). I asked her back then a question that I would also like to ask my readers: If someone is walking towards you but is looking down or away from you, do you still say “hi”? Julie answered “yes”, without hesitation. What do you think? By looking away, is someone sending a signal to you that they want to be left alone? Or should you say “hi” anyway, and maybe they will appreciate it after all?

Julie, thanks for being such a great neighbor; you are my “Just Say Hi” Hero for the month of June.


Hero of the Month

May 12, 2010

May 2010: Colleen Smith

So I don’t even know Colleen, but I admire her chutzpah. Colleen Smith is a professional volleyball player who lives in Southern California and is 6 feet, 6 inches tall. She has a blog that is mostly devoted to raising awareness about everyday products that don’t work for very tall people, like kitchen counters and legroom in cars.

But she is also making a difference in the world by being friendly. Going beyond a simple “hi”, Colleen gives high fives to strangers and gets big smiles in return. Check out her video. As she wrote a few months ago, “Through small steps, we can begin to understand other cultures, different upbringings, and the beauty of diversity that shapes the world. We can embrace other people rather than ignoring them.”

Colleen’s friend, Steve Crandall, tipped me off about Colleen’s “High Fives for Happiness” efforts. He wrote to me about how Colleen uses her height to her advantage. People stare at her because of her height, so why not turn that attention into something positive by engaging them in a high five? Colleen reports that the first time she tried it, it left her feeling fantastic for the rest of the day!

If you want to try giving high fives yourself, she recommends looking at the opposite high fiver’s elbow for best results. You also might want to check out her post about National High Five Day , which was April 15th. Kudos to Colleen Smith, my “Just Say Hi” Hero for the month of May.

Hero of the Month

April 4, 2010

April 2010: Bill P.

Bill is currently the coach of the MIT masters swim team in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I met him in the early 1990’s, at a pool in Boston where we were both swimming masters’ workouts. I was new in town, and he was immediately welcoming to me. We hadn’t known each other long when he invited me to join him on a relay for the Boston Light Swim. On that long day in the Boston Harbor, in a small boat crowded with swimmers, I learned how easygoing and friendly he was– and how he excelled as an open-water swimmer. What a beautiful long stroke!

Bill has a way of making you feel valued. He makes jokes and gives compliments easily and is genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say. He will say “hi” and strike up a conversation with anyone he comes across. Raised in Cambridge, Bill is my proof that people from the Boston area CAN be friendly. Bill P. is my first “Just Say Hi” hero of the month.

Bill has a weekly jazz radio program heard live on Mondays at 4pm on You can listen and if you’re feeling it — give him a call and “Just Say Hi”.

Bill and I are putting out a challenge… can you name your “Just Say Hi” hero of the month? Maybe it’s someone at the grocery store, bus stop, on the treadmill, or at your kid’s school. Please send me your nomination and short description of why they are deserving of being a “Just Say Hi” hero.