Meet Deb De Laurell: Good Neighbor, Common Space
This week, I had the opportunity to interview Ms. Deborah De Laurell, who is the Board Member who oversees the Resident Volunteer cluster. She stressed to me how passionate, community-minded, socially-justice-minded, and exciting all of the Resident Volunteers are. Her role includes meeting with the RVs once a week and they have a “book club” of sorts. Last semester, they read Living into Community by Christine Pohl and she excitedly told me how sharply that book contrasts what they’re reading this semester, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (an author she wholeheartedly recommends).
I loved speaking with Ms. De Laurell. We talked so effortlessly with each other that there was a point where she said, “I’m so sorry! I promise I’m not the one interviewing you!” She has such a bubbly and friendship-oriented personality that when I finally got around to asking her what it meant to her to be a Good Neighbor, it was no surprise that she gave an answer that emphasized the importance of caring for and about others. To be a good neighbor, according to Ms. De Laurell, “You have to put the needs of the whole above or on par with your own needs.”
Ms. De Laurell explained to me that she’s from Massachusetts and that the biggest difference she can tell about living in Texas is the socioeconomic difference. To be a Good Neighbor, we have to be sensitive to those differences. We have to be aware about how we can help the people around us, aware of their needs, and be an ally for people who don’t have a voice.
I loved speaking with Ms. De Laurell, especially because she tied all our conversation back to her Good Neighbor experience. She said that her definition of “Good Neighbor” is exactly what drew her to Good Neighbor House: it offers an accessible common space where anyone can come and have a celebration or gathering. “Common space,” Ms. De Laurell said at the end of our interview, “is a powerful thing.”