Richard Nowakowski sat on his front porch every day for 10 months giving praise and encouragement to the construction workers who were building a huge 38-unit apartment building across the street. One might wonder what sort of schedule this man keeps that would allow him to do this day in and day out, but this seemed natural for someone who according to his wife Patricia, is a “very, very, very, very friendly person…very boisterous”. There was something else that also lent to this activity – Rich suffered a stroke in 2012 which left him unable to speak but for a few words (beautiful, good job, Hey-Hey-Hey) which demonstrated his continued passion for the construction mens’ work.
The workers from Benoy Masonry (Verona, Wisconsin) became good friends with Rich, jokingly referring to him as “boss”, and because they appreciated his daily praise, they pooled together some money. This cash and the help from other companies allowed them to surprise Rich with something else he was passionate about…
One day on their lunch hour, 30 guys appeared on Rich’s lawn and presented him with Green Bay Packer tickets, $400 cash, and some Packers gear. Rich used a different word that day. All he could say was “wow, wow, wow”. Depression often occurs with people who have suffered a stroke, and so this gesture of kindness was just the thing to bring Rich out of that. Patricia felt this was the most wonderful thing they could do for her husband, especially this time of year. Business owner Andy Benoy was very impressed and proud of his employees.
But the gift receiving went both ways. Andy said having this type of experience with a neighbor stands in striking contrast to what his employees are used to:
When we’re building projects, neighbors don’t like us. We’re changing their neighborhood. We haven’t had anything like this, an experience like this, when people love you coming in there. It’s really refreshing.
Rich and his son Ryan had a blast at the Packers game which the Packers won. They took plenty of pictures at Lambeau Field, and Rich slept for hours afterwards because he was so fatigued after the outing. The day finally came when the men from Benoy Masonry finished their work, but even though they said goodbye to Rich, the bond that had been created over the last 10 months would continue for a lifetime.
-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team