Last week, people took to social media about an incident in the Village of Hokendauqua, Whitehall Township.
A neighborhood block had been taped off by police, cruisers and other emergency vehicles lined the street, and word spread that the coroner had been called to the scene because two bodies were discovered there.
Some surmised online that it was an overdose. Some suspected a murder-suicide. The latter might have seemed a bit far-fetched had Whitehall not had such a tragedy the week before.
In fact, the police incident that night was, sadly, the deaths of two sisters, ages 79 and 86, who lived together in a home in that neighborhood.
The older sibling, according to the coroner, died of natural causes. The younger died from injuries sustained in a fall that could have occurred as early as May.
Many in the conversation stated they lived in that area but did not know that home’s residents.
Did anyone know these women? Did neighbors not notice the sisters hadn’t been seen for quite some time?
It turns out at least one person did take note. Whitehall Township Police Chief Michael Marks confirmed a neighbor asked officers to check on the sisters’ welfare.
The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” also applies here, on a larger scale. It takes a village to care for its own, no matter the age of those in need of care. It takes an entire village to keep itself healthy so it may continue to prosper.
After all, we live in our village for a reason. Maybe it’s the neighborhood in which you grew up. Maybe you loved the school district or the nearby park. Maybe it’s in close proximity to family and friends. Villages allow us to maintain those relationships and create new ones.
This season brings the added necessity of knowing our neighbors. These warm temperatures can take a toll on the elderly and the very young — but really, anyone is at risk of heat exposure.
If you see your older neighbors outside, take note if they might have been in the sun for an extended period of time. What better way to get to know your neighbors than taking a drink to them and sharing some conversation?
If their homes lack air conditioning, invite them to yours, or offer to take them somewhere cooler — a mall, a movie theater or one of our senior centers.
If you haven’t seen them for quite some time, check on them.
Summertime offers opportunity to see your neighbors outside and know when they might need assistance. But really, the importance of being a good neighbor and a viable member of your village is a year-round responsibility.
Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her 1996 book, “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us,” wrote, “When I am talking about ‘It Takes a Village,’ I’m obviously not talking about or even primarily about geographical villages any longer, but about the network of relationships and values that do connect us and bind us together.”
As residents, we need to be aware of our surroundings, know our neighbors and the natural state of our neighborhood.
We need to play an active role in our villages and simply be present.