Sunday, August 14, 2022

Lions in South Africa: email mix up results in kindness across continents

  • January 12 2022
  • By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    

SHERBROOKE -- “I know this email might look like spam, but please read it,” began an email Nancy Chaston, secretary for the St. Mary’s District Lions Club, received shortly after Christmas from an address on her Lions’ mailing list.

As it turned out, not only was the email not spam, it was also an unexpected lift to welcome the new year when COVID-19 was hitting Nova Scotia hardest.

The email continued, “I cannot remember the first email I received from you and the Lions. When I searched in my mailbox it dates back to the 24th, June 2019, but I’m sure it was a while before that. How I came into your mailing list, I honestly do not know, but I find myself looking forward to reading what is happening on the opposite side of the world.

“My name is Chester Rudolph. I live in South Africa,” said the mysterious email, adding that they’d been receiving the club updates for so long, “that I feel like an unofficial Lions member.”

In the last email Rudolph received from the Lions, Chaston had brought the club members up to date on December activities, including the provision of Christmas packages to families in the Sherbrooke area.

Rudolph’s email referred to the club’s recent activity: “So the other day I saw this mail and that you all managed to get together and help five families. So, my wife and I decided to join in. We may not be in Canada after all, but everything counts. So, we jumped in the car and shot off to the supermarket and put together 24 hampers of basic foods and toiletries, jumped in the car and shared a bit with those that are in need. Giving them peace of mind that they have a few days of not needing to worry about getting food into their stomachs.”

Rudolph’s email concluded, “The reason I’m sending this to all of you is just to show that the hard work and time given to help communities does not go unnoticed and even inspires those 15,174 km away … The world works in mysterious ways and hopefully I get the pleasure of meeting you all somewhere along the way, whether it is in this life or another.”

Chaston was understandably shocked to receive the email. She told The Journal, “I read that email and went, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ He had been receiving, for the last two-and-a-half years, every email in regard to our minutes, our agendas, any type of activity that was going on.

“Now, I had to go back to all the members and say, ‘Ok I have to tell you, I don’t open up my email all the time…but I just opened this up and I have to share some good news-bad news with you.’ I just kind of said, ‘I’m embarrassed and unbeknownst to me the Chester Rudolph email was going to a Chester Rudolph – same spelling as the Chester Rudolph here – in South Africa. But the good news story is, he helped people.’”

The email Rudolph in South Africa had been receiving was meant to go to St. Mary’s District Lions Club member Chester Rudolph. Chaston explained that she had a group mailing list for all the Lions Club members and when she initially set it up, there were a few issues. Some Lions Club members weren’t getting the emails, among them Chester Rudolph. He later supplied a second email address to Chaston, and hearing no more complaints about missing email, she thought the problem had been solved.

Chaston said she was really inspired by the email she had received from South Africa, “Because the news that we get today is so negative and depressing but it was such a great news story that I just had to tell the members right away.

The email from Rudolph demonstrates how far kindness can travel. Chaston said, “The little things that we do here in the Sherbrooke area, influence many beyond who we know. It’s the little deeds in life … you never know when you are reaching somebody else – the world is small, now that you think about it.”

Chaston concluded, “It’s a great story as far as what one couple did as a result of seeing somebody else do kindness.”