Acts of kindness
The worst of times has brought out the best in many local residents
“I wanted to share this with you because I think our community is really trying to support us and I can’t be more thankful and this almost brings tears to my eyes. This is my first to-go today and the tip ($50 on a $55.78 bill) will go to my staff. I think another message is that people can support all restaurants by also buying food for homeless people, construction workers, neighborhoods in need and older [people]. I really hope we can get through this.” —Alessandro Ferro, co-owner Pizzeria Da Marco, Bethesda
When Marty Wuerstlin came to John Sclavounos’ house in Ashton to fix his ice maker in early March, the two men fell into conversation. Sclavounos, now 69 and retired, had lost his wife to Alzheimer’s disease, and Wuerstlin’s mother-in-law is suffering from the same illness. “We had a little bond there,” Wuerstlin recalls.
Some days later, Wuerstlin called Sclavounos to say he had the right part and would be over in the morning. But during the night, Sclavounos had woken up “with a severe case of chills, throwing up, headaches, the whole works.” So when Wuerstlin arrived, “I turned him away,” Sclavounos says. “It was not in his best interest to come into the house.”
Later that day, Wuerstlin left Sclavounos a phone message saying he remembered that he was a widower and lived alone. He wanted to bring over soup from his wife, who had also offered to stay with Sclavounos to help him get better. “I said to myself, this is probably the kindest thing I’ve ever heard,” Sclavounos says. “To me, it’s overwhelming that there’s such kindness out there.”
Wuerstlin gives his wife, Connie, a teacher, all the credit. “She’s an awesome cook and she has a heart of gold,” he says. He also credits their Christian faith: “The Good Book says to be generous and help others, so we try to practice that, especially with the current environment of course.”
Wuerstlin never did deliver the soup—Sclavounos’ daughter had moved in to care for him. (He tested negative for COVID-19.) But the gesture was the important thing. As Wuerstlin says, “There’s a lot of good people in the world, and nobody hears about it.”