On Wednesday afternoon, John Ball Park was filled with the sounds of birds chirping, workers putting the final touches on the carnival for the upcoming WestFest, and of course, the laughter of children.
But recently, this place of enjoyment and togetherness was a place for a person named “Allie” to express deep sorrow. This week, a note was found on the top level of the playground equipment. Written with black marker, it read:
“To be honest, I’m sad. Nobody ever wants to hang out with me and I have lost the only person that listens. I cry every day. I’m just sad.” -Allie
“She was so brave to leave that message, and she signed her name on purpose, because she doesn’t want to be anonymous. She does want to reach out for help. She wants community,” said westside neighbor Shannon Wendt.
The note was shared on the We Are Westsiders Facebook page, where it caught the eyes of hundreds of people. Some of them decided to take action.
Wendt dropped off a bin full of sidewalk chalk, along with two balloons instructing people to leave a note of support for Allie. Since then, dozens of people have written Allie, saying things like “Allie, you are loved” and “Allie, Jesus loves you.”
“I knew that would happen. That’s what West Michigan is really all about. This is West Michigan. When we see somebody that has a need, we just jump in,” Wendt said.
Wendt says she wants Allie to know she’s not alone.
“The dark forces of this world always do that when we’re at our weakest point. If they can pull us away from our community and make us feel like we’re isolated and alone, then they can attack us, and they can make us feel worthless, unloved, unheard, insignificant, and unworthy” she said.
“What we always need to do for other people is to bring them into the light, and show them what it means to be part of a community.”
Wendt hopes Allie’s story will help other people who might be feeling the same way.
“All of us have to kind of take that message to heart, that we can’t do this alone. When we’re suffering, when we’re grieving, when life gets really hard, there’s always people in our life that want to be a shoulder, that want to be an ear, and we just need to reach out.”