LETTER: Please don’t forget that Newton is also full of smiles and friendly people

The Editor,

Scary. Sketchy. Depressed. These words defining Newton are, at times, true, but they are not the only words to describe a neighbourhood I have been getting to know for the past year and a half.

Friendly. Helpful. Outgoing. These words are also true.

I work at an organic grocery store in downtown Newton and part of my job is to walk the recycled paper and cardboard down the back alley and across the parking lot to the dumpster. One would not think much could happen in that 100-foot distance but they would be wrong.

Recently, a gust of wind knocked a container filled with bits of plastic and paper off the cart I was pushing, blowing debris across the parking lot. I scrambled to pick them up but the wind kept blowing them further away.

To my surprise, a woman who was driving by stopped her car, got out and helped me retrieve all the paper. It had been snowing and raining out so the debris was wet and muddy yet this kind woman braved the muck and helped me out anyway.

This is not the first time something like this has happened. Once, on my garbage journey, a young man stepped out of nowhere and helped me throw my cardboard from my cart into the dumpster. Turns out he was a recovering addict living in a local recovery house and he just wanted to help someone the way he felt he had been helped. I was impressed.

I feel fully confident walking to and from work, even when it’s dark. Obviously, I wouldn’t choose a back alley to walk home in, but then one needs to be cautious wherever they live. No neighbourhood is completely free from violence.

I like Newton. It has become home to me. I like the diversity of the people who live within it. Most of all, I like the easy smiles I see on the faces of people I pass who come from every walk of life and culture. We are all here together trying to make our community work and while scary, sketchy people do live here, by far the majority are as I stated at the outset: Friendly. Helpful. Outgoing.

Leslie MacFarlane, Surrey