MOODY: Recognizing the kindness, generosity of locals

Susan Moody, Emerald Coast Insider

As I sit down to write this, only weeks after the anniversary of Sept. 11, and a week after the shooting at the Navy Yard in my beloved Washington, D.C., I’m having another conversation with my 8-year-old about terror attacks and random violence, this time after hearing the news of the shootings and hostage situation in Kenya.

Once again, we chat about first responders, emergency workers, aid workers, and the ordinary people who find themselves doing extraordinary things in exceptional circumstances. If I’ve learned anything in the last decade, it’s that heroes come in all shapes and sizes; that some feel called to a life of service as a firefighter, police officer, or EMT; that others are bound by a sense of service to their country or community; and still others just find themselves acting bravely in the moment.

After the Newton Shootings and Boston Marathon bombings, many parents echoed the words of Mister Rogers who, many, many years ago, advised children to look for the helpers. Today, I’m thinking about him again, but this time in terms of “the people in your neighborhood.” (I know that you are now humming that song — I am too).

In every neighborhood and community, there are people who go above and beyond everyday expectations. They might be the neighbor you call when you’re stuck in a meeting or traffic, and you need someone to grab your kid off the bus. They are the neighbor who drops by with a lasagna six or eight weeks after you have a baby, when your family has all gone home and you are fighting sleep deprivation, and insist that they’ll fold your laundry. Everyone has a friend, who despite what might be going on in his or her own life, manages to drop a card at your desk, or brings a coffee to the playground “just because.”

Small acts of kindness, random acts of generosity, and the willingness to spend some of their emotional capital may often go unrewarded, but never unappreciated. 

I’ve written in the past about Destin’s generosity for helping others. Whether we’re supporting backpacks full of peanut butter and jelly or raising funds to get kids dental care, this community is willing to dig deep into its pockets and its heart. One local business is looking to reward some everyday heroes with an opportunity to carve out time for some well-deserved self-care and fitness.

Evan Chelini and Sand Dunes CrossFit is asking the community to nominate some deserving residents for some personal training. (Full disclosure: I work out regularly at Sand Dune CrossFit, and my dedication to the training regimen could certainly be another column at a later date.) 

“Cross Fit is a training tool used by the military and many first responders, so throughout the community, there’s a sense of civic responsibility and community service. While some of my clients are military, many are just connected to the community, and have an eye and ear on people who are going above and beyond traditional community service. What I want to do is open my doors to some deserving people who may not have the financial resources to commit to an intensive physical training program. I’m asking the Destin community to nominate 'everyday heroes,' someone who could use some additional self care in recognition of everything he or she does for his or her friends and family,” Evan tells me in between burpees and lunges.

Nomination forms can be accessed via the Sand Dunes website at, and self nominations are accepted and encouraged.

This fall, I’m committed to recognizing kindness and generosity in the people around me, and I hope you will be too. If you know someone who’s making a difference and deserves a little recognition, drop me a note, and if you think they might like some intensive personal training, drop Evan one, too.

Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at