South West News Service reports that when Sharaine, 32, and Wilson Caraballo, 42, moved their family of seven into a new home in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, last year, they weren’t sure how they’d be received.
“Our biggest fear moving into a new neighborhood was, ‘What if our neighbors don’t like us?’ What if, because we have a lot of kids, they make a lot of noise and we come from a big family, so what if there’s any conflict with the neighbors?” Sharaine told USA Today. “We’re the only Black family in our neighborhood.”
But all that fear quickly dissipated when their new neighbor, Paul Callahan, 82, showed up with a ladder and offered to help the family spruce up their new home.
“He was coming over with tools. He’d bring screwdrivers and teach Wilson how to fix up the garage, and Wilson followed all his advice,” Sharaine told South West News Service. The recently-widowed octogenarian soon became a fixture at the Caraballo house. Now, he stops by nearly every day and can always be found at the family’s cookouts.
Callahan has become a great friend to the family’s children, whom he entertains with stories from his past. “The kids run up to him like that’s their grandfather,” Sharaine said. “Paul is definitely a family member. He’s no longer considered a neighbor.”
Callahan believes that it’s all about taking the time to be friendly.
“You get many chances to talk to people. If you don’t take a chance, you may miss a friend,” Callahan said. “It doesn’t hurt to be nice. That’s the other thing, it costs you nothing, but a lot of times, you get a better return.”