WAVERLY – When Kelli Grosshans saw her neighbor and friend of 15 years Susan Asher pull into her driveway on May 5, Grosshans thought she must be turning around.
Next thing she knows, the doorbell rings and her husband comes back with a giant, stuffed banana named Barry and instructions to sign it and pass it on to a friend.
But Grosshans wasn’t surprised at all. Because this is what Asher does – spread joy.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, Asher has been doing different, quirky things to give others happiness in the Waverly community despite the pandemic.
“It says a lot about her character,” Grosshans said. “She’s willing to do things for others.”
One of those acts of kindness was starting Barry the Banana. Her son bought it at a garage sale for $3 and at first she didn’t know what to do with the stuffed banana. That’s when she thought it would be a great way to bring the community together.
She came up with the instructions to sign the banana, take a photo and post it on the Barry the Banana Facebook page Asher created and pass it on to the next person. Grosshans was the first person to receive the banana.
Asher estimates there have been at least 15 people who have received the banana.
Along with Barry, Asher has also spent the pandemic dressing up in a clown costume and traveling around Waverly to wish others happy birthday.
Asher said she learned to share kindness from her 76-year-old mother who lives in O’Neill where Asher is originally from.
“She is still always giving, giving, giving,” Asher said. “I was always raised to watch out for your neighbors.”
Asher tries to impart this to her two grandkids Claire, 5, and Callum, 2. She has taken Claire, also dressed as clown, to wish Waverly residents a happy birthday as well.
“You never pass up an opportunity to make someone else happy,” is what Asher tells her granddaughter.
And for Asher, making someone else happy is a small-town necessity.
“I think that’s what sets small towns apart,” Asher said. “That’s why we all live here.”