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Sending a Sign

Story by: ELLISPark.co I Sept 5, 2023

Man standing in front of buildings

Doug “Grover” Bower was overwhelmed by the bad news bombarding him on the radio and TV. So one day last year, the 86-year-old CAA Member decided to do something about it.

He was out driving in Toronto when he spotted a billboard and decided that the massive canvas would be the perfect way to spread a positive message. Right away, Grover paid the $4,000 fee to book the billboard for a month with his message: “Do as many nice things for people every day without expecting anything in return.”

“I thought we really just needed some positive reinforcement,” he says.

That’s exactly the sentiment behind our Driven by Good Neighbours initiative. Being a good neighbour – someone who is committed to helping others and making their community a better place without expecting anything in return – is embedded in the DNA of CAA. So we put a call out to our CAA community for uplifting stories about acts of kindness and nominations or good neighbours who should be honoured in some way. That’s how we met Grover and learned about his billboard.

“When I came home and told my wife I’d just spent $4,000 on a billboard, she thought I’d lost it,” he recalls. Still, she knew there was no stopping him, and Grover contacted friends and family asking to help. Within a day, he had enough support to pay off the sign.

Turns out, it was a good investment. The billboard quickly caught the attention of passersby and such news outlets as CP24 and CBC. He received more than 140 emails sharing feedback as well as messages of thanks for helping spread positivity. He responded to every single one.

This act of good is the norm for Grover, who has been following his own billboard advice for decades. His earliest recollection of the impact of a small act of good was some 25 years ago, helping an elderly woman pushing her grocery cart while trying to use her cane. “She looked at me and said, ‘This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me,’” he says. “I couldn’t believe how a simple gesture could make someone smile so much. From that day forward, I have tried to do something nice every day, even if it’s just a smile.”

To others hoping to do the same, Grover has this advice: “Keep inspiring people about the good they can do and continue to spread the word.”

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