West Columbia filled with acts of kindness

Gus and Pete Manos of Zesto.

It’s “Random Acts of Kindness Week.” That’s a good time to recognize those in West Columbia who are known for their willingness to help others.

Steve Cohen, is on the West Columbia Beautification Foundation Board and the Greater Cayce-West Columbia Board. He also takes time out from his business Home Concepts Too to help others. Cohen cuts the grass of West Columbia residents who are not able to do it for themselves.

“It gives me a good feeling to help out when someone needs it,” Cohen said.

“Steve has the heart of a true servant, said Melissa Sprouse Browne, chairwoman of the West Columbia Beautification Foundation.

West Columbia’s Zesto is also ready to help when an act of kindness is needed. As law enforcement personnel flooded the West Side of the River last week, while a national news event transpired, Gus Manos, who owns Zesto with his son, Pete, expressed their generosity for those who were serving the public interest.

Steve Cohen’s truck ready to cut grass

To help first responders working the operation, Zesto filled boxes with its much-loved Southern fried chicken and put together hamburger baskets so the  hardworking and weary personnel on the ground would have something good to eat.”It’s important to help the community in times of need,” Gus said. “And we are very sympathetic to the work they were doing.”

Gus said he always believes in supporting those who serve our community. “Zesto has been here for 60 years,” he said, “and not a month that goes by that we don’t have law enforcement come in.” 

West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles said anytime there is a need it’s important to reach out to help. The West Columbia Police Department and the West Columbia Fire Department provided as much assistance as possible in the time of need. “We have a great sense of cooperation,” said Miles.

“All of us serve in a representative capacity. We get a sense of satisfaction from helping others. It’s why we do it.”  

Residents of the community also take it among themselves to practice acts of kindness. 

West Columbia’s Westover Acres neighborhood conducts an annual luncheon for the West Columbia Public Works Department. It’s held in December at the B Avenue Community Center.

Luncheon for city Public Works employees

The city employees served include the sanitation, water and maintenance departments. There’s lots of food and gifts for the employees.

“We have been doing a luncheon for the West  Columbia Sanitation Department for seven years now,” said Kathleen Varnadore Drawdy, who was a founder of the luncheon.

“We started it just for the sanitation workers,” she said. But it has grown. Drawdy explained why the kind act is important.The sanitation department is out in the elements every day collecting our garbage to make our neighborhood look much nicer, she said.

She wanted to make sure their effort was not overlooked. “It does not matter if it was cold, hot, or raining, they would always smile and wave at you. One particular worker, Kyle Ramsey, stood out to a lot of us, with his yellow boots at his Pittsburgh Steelers gear. He would bend over and give you the “ red carpet” kind of curtsy move and smile and wave you on. It makes you smile.” 

Ryan Miles is the City of West Columbia’s sanitation superintendent. He is very thankful for the luncheon.”It’s special, said Miles. “We’re very grateful and look forward to it every year.”

Miles also the luncheon is a humbling experience and a chance to get to know the residents served by name.

Drawdy noted that donations are collected to fund the luncheon. Residents participating are from:  the Westover Acres Homeowners Association (the part of the neighborhood from Mohawk to Hummingbird) and the Saluda Chase Homeowners Association, along with the Crime Watch Club (the part of the neighborhood behind Rush’s.)

“I look forward to doing this every year for the City of West Columbia workers, said Drawdy. “So do a lot of other people. This year, along with all the city council members, and even our mayor, think our sanitation and water and maintenance departments do such a great job,” said Drawdy, who has helped oversee the event since the first one.

Steve Cohen

Drawdy said the act of kindness luncheon helps the volunteers who put it on get to know the employees on a personal level. She also said it’s a team effort.

“We would not be able to do this for them if our whole neighborhood and community did not all work together as a close-knit community that we are to make this happen for them,” said Drawdy. “Faye Coats, who lives in Westover Acres,  knits each employee a warm hat for the event. Sue Byrd, Jeanette Hornsby and Madison Duncan have been volunteering at all of them since the first one.  

Drawdy said the luncheon has now become a tradition. She said she has formed new friendships with wonderful people with giving hearts who love to help.

“Not only do I think that it has brought our neighborhood closer together and we all have met new neighbors who have become friends, but I think that it has brought the community of West Columbia closer together as well.

Here are ways you can perform a random act of kindness:

  1. Let someone go in front of you in line
  2. Buy a commemorative brick in West Columbia’s Carraway Park
  3. Buy tickets to Tuesday’s Taste on the River
  4. Run the May 16, Foot Pursuit 5k for the West Columbia Police Department
  5. Volunteer, or contribute to Special Olympics
  6. Pick up litter in your neighborhood
  7. Visit a lonely person
  8. Give a stranger a compliment
  9. Make dinner for a struggling family
  10. Bake cookies for the elderly