To celebrate the legacy of Mister Fred Rogers and the theatrical release of Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville's Won't You Be My Neighbor, Focus Features launched the #BeMyNeighbor contest, encouraging the recognition of neighbors in the community who are making a positive difference.
After recieving submissions of incredible stories from across the country, Focus Features awarded two special neighbors a private screening of Won't You Be My Neighbor? for their neighborhoods. Read more about them below.
Get tickets to see Won't You Be My Neighbor? today.
Grand Prize Winner: Susan Grosskoph and Nominee Mr. Dwight Miller
Susan Grosskoph won the contest by nominating her local neighbor, Mr. Dwight Miller, a special needs bus driver in the community, for being a good neighbor, and describing how he is making a positive impact on the community. Susan’s nomination highlighted Dwight’s efforts to make connections with children that find it difficult to connect, and his wonderful, spiritual soul and amazingly giving personality. Read her submission below:
"Mr. Miller emulates Mr. Rogers every day. He likes everyone just as they are. He truly is the best a neighbor can be!"
"Mr. Miller is our local special needs bus driver. He has been transporting children in our district with love and care for most of their lives. Parents know their children who are cognitively and physically challenged and medically fragile are given respect and friendship every single trip to and from school.
"He sings with the kids, he knows everything about them and their families. He has taken the time to do those little extras that endear him to all of us. He has been known to shovel snow away from the bus in a driveway so a wheelchair can get back into the house. He makes connections with children that find it difficult to connect. He becomes a father figure to a young adult with anger issues, letting him know it's okay and he has his back, that he likes him just the way he is. He is a wonderful, spiritual soul and amazingly giving.
He not only took our high school students on weekly social / community outings but got right in helping the staff with activities. Mr. Miller has showed disabled young adults real life skills like landscaping and guided them as they tried new things.
"When he isn't driving the bus he is running a friendship ministries program for special needs children of all denominations within our community. He has been a Big Brother for our local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency for many years. If anyone needs him, he is there, no questions asked. I personally am a better person for having him in my life. the parents, staff and children of those his life has touched feel the same. I can not think of anyone more worthy of this honor because Mr. Miller (Dwight) emulates Mr. Rogers every day. He likes everyone just as they are. He truly is the best a neighbor can be!"
Honorary Neighbor: Beth Sheller and Nominee Grace Murdock
An honorary prize went to Grace Murdock, who developed Kindness Bracelet after the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "My idea with Kindness Bracelet... was to have wearers intentionally think about kindness," Murdock explains on her site. "By focusing on looking for kindness in others and performing kind acts the wearer can feel better about his/her immediate space in our huge world."
Murdock was nominated by her friend Beth Sheller, who's nomination noted Murdock's hope of changing the focus on Sandy Hook Elementary from tragedy to hope and the many bracelet donations and fundraisers she has contributed to. Read her submission below:
"The thrill for Grace is to see 500+ people of all ages and backgrounds come together and bond through kindness."
"My friend, Grace Foxwell Murdock, is known in our community as the 'Queen of Kindness.' She began her 'reign' by developing a bracelet to count kind acts. After the tragedy of Sandy Hook, CT, she read a Facebook post about Mr. Rogers' mother telling him that, 'in times of tragedy always look for the helpers.' This led Grace to be a helper and create her bracelet. She sent some to Sandy Hook in hopes of helping change the focus from tragedy to hope. She began selling her bracelets and decided to donate her sales. She sent anonymous checks to people with medical and emergency needs. She donated bracelets to school and church fundraisers. She often sent bracelets to folks who did marvelous deeds for others.
"As a former educator she continued to stay connected to schools and learned about Buddy Benches, so every child can have a playmate at recess. She contacted school officials and asked them to build benches with her funding to place on 17 elementary playgrounds. Books on kindness accompany every bench.
"Grace then created 'Wicomico grows Kindness' for fundraising purposes to bring international kindness speakers and events to our schools. Our city has participated the last two years in the worldwide Dance for Kindness through Life Vest Inside. The thrill for Grace is to see 500+ people of all ages and backgrounds come together and bond through kindness. We will dance again this year.
"Grace's focus this July is to host the Chief Advisor to the Board for World Kindness USA City and have Salisbury designated as a World Kindness USA City. Grace is tireless in her efforts to raise our kindness climate through opportunities to unite everyone and support everyone as they seek a happy and meaningful life in our community. Her hope of uniting neighbors is being realized with every event. I am convinced Grace's efforts are working! Her passion for kindness is contagious. Anyone would welcome to opportunity to have Grace as a neighbor."