On the Bright Side

A local family came up with a novel way to celebrate a milestone birthday despite the coronavirus pandemic and it ended up leading to some nice things happening, perhaps even 80 nice things. 

When Fran Reed of Oneonta celebrated her 80th birthday June 15, her friends and family were limited in their ability to celebrate with her. So her daughters, Cindy Miller of Stamford, Debbie Mueller of Stamford and Stephanie Cooke of Oneonta, decided to send out invitations anyway, letting all of Reed’s friends and family know about the milestone.

In her honor, and in lieu of a larger celebration, the daughters asked the invitees to perform 80 acts of kindness. 

“Eighty is a big milestone,” Miller told The Daily Star during a phone interview Friday, July 31. “We had a small celebration for her, but we wanted to do something for all the people we were not able to invite.

“This is what we came up with as an alternative, so we could include people that we could not invite to a party,” she said. 

Miller said within a few days of the invitation going out, they started getting emails and other responses from people about their acts of kindness. The acts included giving blood, picking up trash and paying for someone else’s groceries. Miller said her niece delivered Girl Scout cookies to essential workers at A.O. Fox Hospital. 

Last week, the family had a larger, outdoor, socially distanced party of about 17 relatives, Miller said. At the party, she said they told her mom about the invitation and read her all of the acts of kindness people had done in her honor.

“She was, I think, taken aback,” Miller said. “She had to be silent for a minute to take it all in.

“Then she shared with us some times when she had seen us doing acts of kindness, which was sweet,” she said. “Then we all talked about times we had shown kindness to one another. It was really nice.”

Miller said her mom is still active and vibrant despite becoming an octogenarian this summer. Reed volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and also likes to help teach people to learn to read. She is also active in her church, Elm Park United Methodist Church in Oneonta. 

Reed and all her daughters are graduates of Stamford Central School and her mom was a teacher there when Reed was growing up, Miller said. 

So, with their local ties dating back more than a century, Reed inspired a lot of good deeds in Delaware and Otsego counties this summer. 

“I’m just hoping maybe other people can use this idea and do the same thing when they can’t do a big celebration,” Miller said. “It was a lot of fun, and it helps other people, too.”  

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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