The term “neighbor,” can conjure a number of connotations.
On the negative side, everyone can probably come up with a “bad neighbor” experience, from a Nosy Nellie to the never-ending yappy dog.
I have quite a fondness for the basic term since my dear departed husband, Bob, would introduce me as “my neighbor, Jeanne” — actually, up until the day we married. I was his neighbor, two doors down; that was our “meet cute” story.
I want to introduce you to someone who could be listed in the Mr. Rogers universe of neighbors.
Dave Adams of Nampa was recently named a Great Neighbor. In fact, Adams came in second in the nation after being nominated for The Great Neighbor Shout Out Contest by his friend and neighbor Kathy McCandless. The nationwide contest, which looked for people who went “above and beyond” for neighbors, the neighborhood and community, garnered more than 200,000 nominations and sifted through 7,000 applications to come up with five finalists. It was co-sponsored by a CBS sitcom, “The Neighborhood,” and Nextdoor, the social network for more than 245,000 neighborhoods — of which 900+ are in the Treasure Valley.
Adams was feted for his good neighbor contributions with a catered block party on Sept. 13 for him, and, of course, all of his neighbors.
I recently sat down with Adams to find out more about his award and the story behind it.
JH: I understand one of the reasons you were nominated for the “Great Neighbor” award is because you are a mentor to local kids. Can you talk about that?
DA: I used to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club in Nampa. I did that for about six years. The director there got me in touch with Donna Shines, the director at Mentoring Network; that’s where I volunteer now.
I also volunteer for the Boise Rescue Mission. I’m on the banquet food line for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve been doing that for five years. One man said, “Thank you so much. I didn’t know where I was going to go.” … and that made me feel good. With the Mentoring Network, they cover Canyon County.
JH: So, how does that work?
DA: A counselor, with the help of a kid’s teacher, will see a student who needs an extra friend. Donna matches us up with a kid. We meet for an hour a week for the whole school year.
I’ve got a kid in the 10th grade — I’ve had the same one since he was in first grade.
I have three kids I mentor altogether. I have another one in sixth grade; I’ve had him since first grade, too. And another in fifth grade, who I’ve had for about a year and a half.
JH: As a mentor, what kinds of things do you do?
DA: We talk about the social issues they’re dealing with and you just help them through them. Kids these days have more issues than you and I did.
JH: Kathy McCandless nominated you for this award. How do you two know one another?
DA: Basically, she’s like a sister to me. She’s my very best dear friend. We’re that close. I’ve known her since 2001, when I moved into my house. I moved right across the street. She had a “For Jesus” on her license plate. I thought:, “Oh my God, a Bible thumper.”
She gave me a book, Rick Warren’s “A Purpose Driven Life.” It asks you why are you here? What’s your purpose in life?
That’s what got me to go back to church. Since then, doors have opened up for me. That’s when I started volunteering. Everyone has spiritual gifts — mine is helping kids.
I like to mentor the hard kids, the kids who are having a hard time. It gives me a challenge.
One of my kids has anger issues. I thought and thought about how to help him. I said, before you do something, the next time you get angry, stop and think: “What would Dave do?” So he stops and thinks — “what would Dave do?”
JH: Can you talk a little about your life — where you were born, grew up?
DA: I was born in Jerome, did most of my growing up in Buhl. I went to the Deaf and Blind School in Gooding until about the eighth or ninth grade.
I got an eye waiver to come in to the service. I was in the Air Force and they sent me to the motor pool — can you believe that? (Chuckles.)
I drove 18-wheelers. I was going to stay in for 20 years and come out and drive truck or go to Italy and work civil service. I had my whole future mapped out.
But God had a different plan for me.
JH: What happened?
DA: I was in Spain for four years … I was overseas and wanted to come back to the States. They sent me to Mountain Home. That’s where I had my stroke. I was 31. It was Dec. 16, 1989. I don’t like to talk about it. I got out with a medical retirement.
The sent me to Saint Al’s for my MRI and a month and a half of rehab. When I got back to Mountain Home, they were processing me to get out of the service. On May 31, 1990 I was discharged — E5, a staff sergeant.
I moved to Boise and rented a duplex. I used to square dance. Then I moved to Nampa — cheaper taxes and the cost of living was cheaper.
That’s when I met Kathy. She thinks of me like a brother and I think of her like a sister. She’s just a sweetheart.
JH: What made you turn to volunteering with kids?
DA: My mom, we was talking one day and she found out I was mentoring kids. She said when I was a kid I always wanted to be around kids.
Kids are honest. I would rather be around kids. They don’t hide nothing.
Jeanne Huff is the community engagement editor for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at 208-465-8106, JHUFF@idahopress.com, and follow her on Twitter @goodnewsgirl. https://www.idahopress.com/community/life/meet-dave-adams-not-only-good-but-a-great-neighbor/article_8254a2ee-79de-5002-a519-969d52bbb849.html