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When Postal Worker Retires After 38 Years, Neighborhood Comes Together for Heartwarming Sendoff

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It’s always nice to have your work and years of service recognized by the people you serve. There are plenty of retirement parties thrown by close friends and family, but it’s rare that an entire community gets together to celebrate.

But residents of Tempe, Arizona, decided to recognize a man who stayed at the same job for nearly four decades, thanking him for his 38 years of service with an all-out neighborhood event.

John Vandello started working for the U.S. Postal Office as soon as he graduated from high school in Iowa. As is true for many, the warm Arizona winters eventually compelled Vandello to move, and he continued to work as a mailman in the desert.

He’s clearly made an impact during his years there, which is rare in a time when so many communities are not as open or aware of their neighbors as they used to be.

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When the news got out that Vandello was retiring, plans were started to give him an extra-special sendoff.

Neighbors — at least 100 of them — on Vandello’s route decorated just for him. Some dolled up their mailboxes, some wrote messages in chalk and some turned up in person to thank him.

They also came together to give Vandello a generous monetary gift of $1,250.

“We are here to say happy retirement,” Jill Strandquist said, according to KTVK-TV in Phoenix. “We wish you the best. You are loved by each and every neighbor here.”

“He’s just the most friendly guy, goes out of the way to make everyone feel happy and comfortable,” Michelle Mooney said. “To have a guy like that come by your house every day and just say ‘hi’ and wave, it’s a good feeling.”

The mailman was surprised by the turnout.

“Not in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine this,” he said.

“I really appreciate this. This is more than anyone could ever expect. This is unbelievable.”

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The day was even officially named in his honor.

“I do hereby declare April 27th, 2020, John Vandello Service Recognition Day in Tempe Arizona,” Tempe City Councilwoman Jennifer Adams said, reading a proclamation on behalf of the city and the mayor.

What a lovely way to recognize a life of service in a role that is so often overlooked. Hopefully, Vandello will now get to fully enjoy the warm winter weather that led him to Arizona.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking