I sensed something was up when I started receiving emails referring to someone named Nancy Benjamin. I did not yet understand. Nancy had written a strongly worded Letter to the Editor on May 29 in Current. In that letter she asked, “What happened to Hoosier hospitality? What happened to Carmel hospitality?” She went on to scold. “I feel ashamed as a native Hoosier at how we have treated a relocated family to the Carmel area.” Her stinging rebuke was not easy to read. I sensed her frustration, and I credit her for speaking up, but I just could not agree with her premise. She definitely had my full attention and as it turns out, she got yours, too.
The first email in my inbox whose attention Nancy captured was from Daniel Boylan. He and his family, newcomers to Carmel themselves simply stated, “Help me find Nancy. I have stuff to give.” Daniel was the first, but he was not alone.
Seems Ms. Benjamin learned first-hand Carmel hospitality is alive, well and abundant. Within hours of the Current hitting neighborhood mailboxes, she had more than 25 serious offers of help and financial support. During the next few days, the pledges of furniture, household supplies, clothing, Target gift cards and words of encouragement swelled and easily doubled. Nancy’s garage is stuffed with generous gifts, all meant for the New York family displaced by Hurricane Sandy who now call Carmel home.
When I reached out to Nancy, she was very clear, “I have received almost more support than I can handle, and the family is totally taken care of.” When I asked her if she would like to write another Letter to the Editor she said, “Everyone has been so generous and kind. I was shocked but I shouldn’t be. This is the Carmel I know having lived here 20 years.”
Although Nancy initially sought help from organizations not able to offer help in this specific case, she now understands there is a fully functioning safety net in Carmel serving Hamilton County. Several of the emails she received directed her to institutions like Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Furniture program and the Clay Township Trustee. But clearly, the majority of the emails were from Carmel citizens with so much to give.
The fact this story has a happy ending is no surprise to me. I believe in Carmel and the people who live here. And now, thanks to you, Nancy Benjamin and the family from New York are believers, too.