Always Look for the Helpers

A Letter to My Children

Dear Ella and Aiden,

There once was a really nice man named Mr. Rogers. When he was a little boy and would see scary or sad things on TV, his mommy would tell him:

“Always look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

You live in a place that has lots of helpers. You see a lot of them every day. Our family and friends and neighbors. Our doctors and teachers and camp counselors. They’re all helpers. They all love you and want you to grow up safe and happy.

Helpers can be people you don’t even know, but they still care about you, like our police officers and fire fighters. And you know what? Helpers don’t even have to wear a fancy uniform. They can just be regular people.

A few days ago, another set of helpers did something amazing.

Our mayor and council, the people who make the rules for Rockville, decided to make our air cleaner and safer to breathe by making sure that there’s no smoking outside at restaurants anymore in Rockville. That’s very important. We know that smoky air isn’t good for our bodies, right? Well, even though a lot of people who smoke don’t want to do it anymore, it can be very hard for them to stop. There’s a lot we can do to stay healthy — like eating healthy food and getting lots of exercise — but sometimes, like with smoking, people need extra help.

So we’re very proud of the mayor and the council. Everyone who lives here, or comes to visit, or works at a restaurant, is going to be healthier. That is really exciting!

This isn’t the first time they’ve been helpers for us. Two years ago, when you were really little, they decided to make sure that we have clean air at all the parks in Rockville. We see those ‘no smoking’ signs at our favorite parks all the time. Every time we see them, we talk about keeping our bodies healthy. They remind us that a little help goes a long way.

And now we get to celebrate even more good news. When it finally stops raining and gets a little warmer, we’re going to eat dinner at any restaurant in Rockville you want. We’re going to eat at a table outside. And we’re going to celebrate that we live in a city that has so many terrific helpers.

There are lots of things we need to fix in our world. Usually, it’s mommies and daddies and other adults who are the helpers, but guess what? You’re helpers, too! When you pick up trash at school, or make cards for people who are sick, or give our friends a hug when they feel sad, you’re being great helpers.

Less smoking is how I’m trying to be a helper. One day, you’ll find your own things that need fixing, and even more ways to be helpers.

Everybody can be a helper. Always remember that.

And always remember this: I’ve been talking about smoking for a long time. All the times you’ve watched me talk at a council meeting, or heard me on the radio, or write something for the newspaper, or send a note on the computer, it’s never been about me. It’s always been for you.