‘When it’s this negative, do something positive’: Wichita grandma and firefighter create unique bond

Positive Connections

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita woman’s garden has sprouted more than her typical vegetables and fruits; it has sparked a conversation and a sense of community.

“The day I got here I noticed she was out there in the yard doing yard work, and it seemed like every day she is out there in that yard doing something,” said Wichita Fire Captain Mark Jordan.

Jordan, a 29-year veteran of the Wichita Fire Department, was assigned to Station 15, located near Maple and Maize Road about a year ago.

After watching his neighbor, Mary Goodwin, work in her garden day-in and day-out he ventured across the street and introduced himself.

“I told her who I was and the first thing she said was, ‘hey, would you like a sack of okra?’ and I’m like, ‘well, yes ma’am,'” Jordan explained. “Then, I asked her does she sell that stuff. She told me, ‘no, I just give it away.'”

“I call it my love garden, and you know, I give it to family and friends. It’s not like everybody comes and picks it or anything like that, but just whatever we can’t eat I just always give it away,” said Goodwin.

Turns out, Goodwin has been gifting treats to her firefighter neighbors for more than two decades.

“Twenty-three years ago when my husband had a heart attack and they saved his life, so I call them my boys. I do different things for them,” Goodwin said.

The first few years following her husband’s heart attack, Goodwin took pies to the firefighters during the holidays. She now takes over fresh vegetables from her garden.

“I don’t know a lot of them personally, but that doesn’t matter. It’s just that they do so much and I feel so comfortable with them there. We have called on them many of times with my husband’s condition,” she said.

Jordan said he and his crew are simply doing their jobs. He believes Goodwin is the one responsible for spreading hope throughout the neighborhood.

“We always get complimented as the fire department. We always get complimented for what we do and we appreciate that, but when we see others out there doing something in the community, you know, sometimes it’s our job to give them some kind of recognition. To me, with the COVID thing going on, people losing their jobs, she is out there working hard for herself, and the, she is giving it away,” Jordan said.

Jordan said he hopes by recognizing Goodwin for her good deeds more people will spread positivity.

“Maybe somebody seeing something like this will encourage them to want to do the same thing. If we can get that all across, man, that would be a beautiful thing just think about how much better this world would be,” he said.

“When it’s this negative, do something positive,” Goodwin said.

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