How do you help out others in your village?

It takes a village and then some! I am flying solo this week, but I don’t think I could do it if I didn’t live in Minnesota where they take that concept seriously. As serious as being able to count the minutes on your hand from when you move in to the time your first Hot Dish arrives at your door. With my new job, vacation days are precious. This meant I needed to rely on my neighbors to help me out this week since my husband was traveling and my new nanny’s not yet out of school for the summer. You see I found myself in that horrible spot, “WON”…. Without Nanny. My nanny left for a full-time job and I knew a replacement would be hard to find until school was out. Village to the rescue!

Mom #1 helps by dropping daughter off at preschool with her son. Mom #2 gets me a nanny from her large family who can start two days after she gets out of school. Mom #2 also covers me the week my husband is out of town in Florida. She puts my oldest daughter on the bus, watches younger daughter all day, then retrieves oldest daughter from the bus stop at the end of the day. There are snuggles and hugs all day as my daughter is missing my husband and is ultra sensitive this week. Did I mention these women were both pregnant while playing their village roles?

I know others claim they have great neighbors and friends but my Minnesota Village is unbelievable. In addition to childcare, my husband was flying to his son’s graduation on the buddy-pass of my other neighbors who happens to work at an airline. She not only booked his tickets and checked on them before departure, she actually drove him to the airport on her way to work, and sent me updates on his flights via text.

I, too, am a good Minnesota neighbor; I am the staff photographer of the cul-de-sac. I photograph the reunions, family gatherings, and babies. It is my small contribution to the wealth of help and love we share. We all share what we have and what we do. We are carpenters, flooring specialists, graphic artists and master electricians. We have all shared services, fed a hungry snackster and put a band-aid on an invisible boo-boo. I hope my children grow up to emulate this love of God and village.

Do you live in a village? When was the last time a neighbor helped you out and what did they do?  What part do you play in your village?

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 Hillery Smith Shay, is the Manager Brand Services at HealthEast Care Systems. A proven leader in Visual Communications and New Media Marketing, she holds a MBA, from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Haverford College. Shay is an award-winning photographer who has worked for the Associated Press and various newspapers. Hillery resides in West Saint Paul with her husband Jeff and their daughters Jenna and Hayden. She is also the proud stepmother of Erin, Ginger and Jack. Read more about her at and follow her on Twitter @crazphotochick.