Members of the Greene County 4-H Teen Council celebrate Missouri Good Neighbor Week 2022 by creating 94 no-sew blankets and delivering them to first responders to give to people on calls who have lost everything due to fire. Shown here are four members of the teen council with three firemen from the City of Willard. (Photo provided)

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From 1956 to 1968, CBS aired a television panel show, “To Tell the Truth,” hosted at different times by Bud Collyer, Garry Moore and Joe Garagiola.

The show featured three contestants, two of whom were impostors and one whose unique occupation or experience was read aloud by the show’s host. However, all three challengers introduced themselves using the same name.

The four celebrity panelists on the show then asked the contestants (designated as “Number One,” “Number Two,” and “Number Three”) questions to identify the “real central character.” When asked questions, the two impostors may lie, but the “central character” must tell the truth.

After questioning, each member of the panel votes on which of the challengers they believe to be the central character.

Once the votes are in, the host asks, “Will the real [person’s name] please stand up?”

The central character then stands, often after some brief playful feinting and false starts among all three challengers. The two impostors would then reveal their real names and their actual occupations.

In the context of this monthly article, with a new school year underway and Missouri Good Neighbor Week ahead (Sept. 28 to Oct. 4), it seems like a good time for our community to ask: will the real neighbors please stand up?

On Sept. 25, 2022, Pamela Buhr and her husband Dave hosted a BBQ for all residents living on Rochelle Avenue (26 of the 34 neighbors attended). They used the event to introduce neighbors and handed out a household directory. “I can’t say enough about Pam and all the things she does for our neighborhood,” said Johanna Cunningham. (Photo provided)

Meeting the real neighbors

A real neighbor understands the importance of helping when needed, sharing a cup of sugar when asked, and happily lending a strong back.

A real neighbor is one with a fire pit (or other amenity) in their backyard and a willingness to share the experience with the neighbors nearest them.

A real neighbor is willing to share a conversation and a listening ear over a freshly brewed cup of coffee or another drink of choice!

Real neighbors find joy investing in those around them and take the time to learn and use the names of those that live near them.

A real neighbor understands that they must be active in their neighborhood or homeowners’ association. Even if the current association is small or dysfunctional, a real neighbor has talents to offer and is willing to give their time for long-term gain. One of the best things you can do is help your association focus more on building connections and less on “rules.”

A real neighbor knows the saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and puts it into practice.

A real neighbor does good deeds without being prompted. (Go online to find my list of 101 Acts of Neighboring)

Real neighbors know that building positive relationships requires more than a smile and a wave.

A real neighbor keeps a tidy home and lawn. They remove brush piles and tires (that can harbor pests) and avoid outdoor décor like cars and machinery that do not work.

A real neighbor knows the importance of being a quiet neighbor. They don’t mow their lawn at seven in the morning, don’t honk their horn every time they pull into the driveway, keep their music down past 9 p.m. — you get the gist.

A real neighbor is active in the community, attends meetings, and works to create social connections right where they live.

Real neighbors understand the importance of welcoming others while also respecting an individual’s personal space.

A real neighbor is thankful for those living near them and sees it as a chance to be a blessing.

Being a real neighbor can bring out the best in all of us. The good in humankind bubbles up when neighbors form mutual relationships of help and support, kindness and understanding.

Real neighbors are engaged neighbors

This year more than others, we need to be reminded that real, engaged neighbors help to create good neighborhoods and vibrant communities.

People say the type of company you keep can significantly impact your way of life. This is true for the type of neighbors you have, too. But to have engaged neighbors, you must first become an engaged neighbor yourself.

If you want a friendlier neighborhood or community, you begin by being the change you want to see. That change starts with making choices about our time and tasks. An engaged neighbor holds their time and schedule loosely.

You can begin your march toward being an engaged neighbor by taking the Engaged Neighbor Pledge. This will link you to resources and content aligned with 20 Engaged Neighbor Principles that will impact your life and your neighborhood!

Take the pledge online.

During Missouri Good Neighbor Week 2022, about 20 members of Ridgecrest Baptist Church baked food items and assembled goodie boxes and the distributed those boxes to the 65 residential and business properties (representing 225 people) that adjoin the church property. (Photo provided)

Get started with Missouri Good Neighbor Week

Missouri residents are encouraged to participate in appropriate events and activities to help establish connections with their neighbors during the second annual Missouri Good Neighbor Week from Sept. 28 to Oct 4. The celebration is created, organized, and supported by two organizations: University of Missouri Extension Greene County and The Hopeful Neighborhood Project, headquartered in St. Louis.

Missouri Good Neighbor Week was recognized nationally in May of 2023 at the annual Neighborhoods USA conference as the neighborhood program of the year for the United States.

Nominating top engaged neighbors and reporting acts of neighboring are both quickly done at the official website.

Click on the appropriate link, and answer questions on a simple survey to complete either the nominating or the reporting process.

Contact information submitted is used for reporting purposes and for mailing of prizes. This year, all engaged neighbor nominees will receive a unique keychain by mail, and the top 10 nominees statewide will receive a frameable certificate and $100. Those judged to have done the “top acts of neighboring” will receive the same prize package.

A submission is an entry to both the statewide and county recognition programs.

David Burton

David Burton has served as a County Engagement Specialist with University of Missouri Extension for over 20 years. To learn more about his “Engaged Neighbor” program, go online to or contact him by email or telephone at (417) 881-8909. More by David Burton