By Evelyn Richardson Here and There

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

The first time I read these words of wisdom from writer Maya Angelou, they stuck. How true. Every one of us has been encouraged, lifted up, and had our day turned around by a person's attitude toward us. And we remember it.

It was the beginning of the school year in the fall of 1941. Consolidation had moved those of us from our one-room Midway School to the "huge" brick structure of Olmstead High School. I was scared to death.

Catching the bus instead of walking across the fields was a big change. Finding my way through the long halls to the sixth grade room required guidance from teachers who recognized us as newcomers.

My desk was assigned and I took up residence. In a few days I had the main rules and routines memorized and my fears began to subside.

Then one morning the bell rang at an odd time. What did this signal mean? "Time for chapel!" our teacher announced as she headed for the door. What in the world was chapel? That had not been covered in our orientation.

As the seasoned students began shuffling their papers and organizing their desks to leave, I sat immobile. Could I bear to expose my ignorance by asking? What must I do?

From across the room came a girl who seemed to sense my dilemma. In a nonjudgmental manner she said, "We are going 'up chapel' -- I'll show you," and she extended her hand.

In the auditorium with all the rest of the student body I'm sure we said the Pledge of Allegiance, heard a brief meditation message and sang a song or two. I proudly found my way back to the classroom unassisted with a newfound self confidence in learning my way around.

I do not remember the name of the girl who befriended me. She, for some reason, transferred to another school and was not with our class in succeeding semesters. I've probably never seen her since, but after all these years I remember her and how she made me feel when I needed support.

We hear people testify to the impact of a smile, kind word, or caring gesture that came their way at just the right time to actually change their life.

How many opportunities do we miss to do the simplest thing that may alter the outlook of another person?

I'm willing to bet that my youthful friend continued her caring way of life without giving a thought to how her presence made others FEEL. But I've remembered.