The key to happiness is helpfulness

A very prominent lady of the area sent me a card and her message ended with words to the effect that I was a positive influence on the community. I was pleasantly surprised because I think highly of her. But it also laid a responsibility on me. I thought of the people who have asked me to leave columns behind. If I get the time, I’ll leave some behind.

After my last column, I got a call and a woman said to me, “I have a criticism about your column today. It was too long and why did you put in there about the charities you give to? It sounded like you were bragging.”

I’m sorry if she thought the column was too long. I’m never told what to write about or the space that I’m allowed. As for her second criticism, I just mentioned the charities I think are being used wisely and not the others I give to in hopes they will go and be used wisely for people that need help. There are so many; we can’t give to everybody. I think they have my name on the “softy list.” Anyway, if there are other readers out there who felt the same was as this woman, I apologize. That wasn’t my intention – to brag, but only to encourage my readers to give to worthy charities, as well.

Next, I got another call from a reader who said, “I just finished reading your column twice. It was so good! You have a talent for writing!” Well, that’s the way it goes. You win some, you lose some. Just know that my intentions are good. Thank you.

We must remember that “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The pen can influence people to use a sword or not to use a sword. Words can start wars. We see it among people and among nations. Let’s look at families. If words are always critical and hurtful among parents, the children will pick up these bad habits. And if children always hear about how naughty and stupid they are, or how dirty or other negative words, they will have low self-esteem and get into trouble. Do you want to do that to your spouse or children? Especially when you have the alternative to say all positive things. You can’t control how smart your children will be, but you can teach them good habits and you can always praise them and give them good self-esteem.

My mother was always a good example of that. She gave me so much praise, I would do anything for her. She never got flustered if we had unexpected company. The food seemed to appear out of nowhere. She’d always say in Italian, “What’s it take?” Nothing was hard or impossible for her. It’s been so many years and I still remember. Your kids will remember, too. What will their memories be? Will they be positive or unhappy?

One day I was saying what a good life I’ve had. My sister Jo said, “You’ve worked like a dog all your life.”

“Yeah,” I said, “but I love to work.”

This conversation says it all! It’s so easy to create happiness! Or you can turn it around and create unhappiness all around you. And here we go again – you have the power to choose! I’ll be darned if I put a puss on my face or anyone else’s!

Last week we found out that the Dunkirk Carriage House will be closing in April. Also Petri’s Cookies in Silver Creek. This gets us right in the pit of our stomachs. What can we do to help? I found some things other areas have done in similar situations. 1. Give those individuals free tax preparations. 2. Give them help with insurance. 3. Make counseling available. 4. Give donations and gift cards for things like groceries and gas. 5. Volunteers gave people rides to school and job interviews. 6. There was a health fair. 7. The individuals affected got free computer lessons. 8. They got free help writing resumes. 9. They got free haircuts and manicures for job interviews. 10. They got free job training supplies.

Going with the theme “Every cloud has a silver lining,” silver ribbons were tied to trees and houses in the community and people wore them, too. Windmill plants were initiated. Business tax incentives were given. Regular colleges and two-year colleges had training classes.

Let me know if you have any more ideas for how to help the people affected by these businesses closing.

Remember, we’re all in this together.

Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to