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.
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.”
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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