- C Johnston
Kris Hovan: Caring for Neighbors
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
Many of us try to love our neighbor as ourselves. That’s one of the two great commandments Jesus gave us, second only to loving the Lord with all our heart, our soul and mind. So are we loving our neighbor as ourselves as casually and automatically as we breathe? Is it part of our operating mode, day in and day out?
She wouldn’t be the one to tell you herself, but Kris Hovan of Ohio Township, PA loves her neighbors as herself each and every day. And it is intentional. Caring for others is an act of will that she eagerly accepts. She keeps a lengthy list of things to do for people, sick or elderly friends to check in on and those to give a call or a text. “We all get thoughts or proddings of things to do for other people, but it’s also easy to forget them. So I began writing down what I want to do and the list got pretty big. Then I checked it a couple of times a day and followed up on the tasks. It became a way of life.”
It started more than 24 years ago, when Kris left her office job to become self-employed. Because she needed a flexible schedule to be able to work around the special needs of her young son, she started a cleaning business.
This solution worked for her because she has a servant’s heart
and (true!) a bit of a clean obsession.
She’d been the “go-to” person in her office for advice and friendship, and found she couldn’t just turn off the caring spirit she always had. So she embraced it, and over time it increased.
As she gets to know people whose houses she cleans, she spends some precious time before or after working to chat and make sure they’re okay. She leaves notes and buys little gifts that might help someone going through a tough time or provide some cheer on a holiday. She plants more flowers at home so that she can cut and deliver bouquets to others.
“People are going through tough times, they’re stressed. A little extra love can make a big difference for them. That’s what God calls us to do – and honestly, it makes me feel good,” she says. She reminisces about an office building that she used to clean, where there tended to be a lot of pressure and tension. At Christmas time, for many years, she used her own money to purchase and decorate 13 Christmas trees around the property. She bought desk decorations for every employee and, one time, ornaments bearing each employee’s name. She wanted to make them happy and help them think about the joy of Christ’s birth in the midst of their hectic work season. She anonymously slipped cash into an envelope and put it into a desk drawer of a woman who didn’t have money to get her brakes fixed.
One long-time friend and customer, Antoinette, remembers, “It was my first Christmas without my husband. I was so grief stricken and numb. I came home from work one day and for a split-second thought I was in the wrong house. I walked in the door to soft lights and Christmas music and a beautifully decorated tree. I gasped and felt such gratitude and love. Only Kris could be so kind.” She says that the tree and decorations were a perfect gift from Kris she’ll never forget.
Kris also collects freebie giveaways from people who go to Pirate games to give to a young man who loves the Pirates but doesn’t have finances to be able to go to games or buy the merchandise. She, her husband and another neighbor get the mowers out and cut multiple lawns of nearby people who aren’t able to care for their own yards. They shovel their snow in the winter, too. It can be back-breaking work for people who already have physically taxing jobs, but they love their neighbors.
Kris stops on her way to or from work, or between jobs to visit shut ins, lonely people or folks who could use a smile. She enjoys spending time with them. She does much more than she’s shared in this blog but she not going to give away all her secrets. That might take away some joy from those receiving them, she thinks. She wonders if the examples she’s given are enough to inspire others into action. We can hope.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13: 13