Neighbours like these…..

Loren Balisky

A few weeks before Christmas holidays, the kids of Kinbrace faced a problem: the backboard on their well-used basketball hoop broke, leaving them to improvise a game that was more frustrating than fun.

Then, an unexpected email arrived from Mark, a neighbour of the Kinbrace community:

“I notice that the Kinbrace basketball net is broken – there’s no longer a backboard. It breaks my heart to see the kids still trying to use the net despite the lack of a backboard.

Our family would like to buy a new complete basketball system for the kids to play with. I was thinking I would assemble it and take it over for Christmas morning if you’re ok with that?”

For those seeking refuge in Canada, neighbours like these – attentive and hospitable – may be their single greatest gift.

Mark and Dyan, with their almost-three-year-old son Finn, are immediate neighbours. In fact, Finn’s bedroom window overlooks the backyards of the two adjacent Kinbrace properties in east Vancouver.

 “Finn likes to look out the window in his room which looks down onto the Kinbrace courtyard as there’s always lots of activity going on with all the kids,” says his dad, Mark.

Day after day, year after year, Mark and Dyan generously toss back over the fence the various-sized balls that (despite best intentions) inevitably sail into their property from enthusiastic games of soccer or basketball next door.

A general surgeon, Mark credits team sports for helping shape who he is today.

“Any opportunity to help kids become interested in a sport is not an opportunity to be missed,” says Mark.

Mark, with the help of Dyan’s dad, assembled and brought over the wonderful new basketball system on Christmas Eve, just as the snow began to fall.

It’s a gift generations of Kinbrace kids will be transformed by.

This Christmas, here’s a shoutout to the numerous neighbours near and far who welcome people seeking refugee protection.

If you haven’t had a chance recently to express your neighbourly heart, and would like to, you can donate now.