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Nicole Phillips, Published February 03 2012

Phillips: Story of new friendship brings touch of warmth during our long winter

Baby, it’s COLD … so today, my act of kindness is to remind you that even in Fargo, summer will make her triumphant return.

This story from Keith in north Fargo may not have warmed my toes, but it sure did warm my heart.

“On a warm Saturday afternoon in July, a young woman biked up to our door selling children’s books. Her foreign accent sounded familiar as my wife is from Russia. When she said her name was Katya, I told her that is also my wife’s name. Katya, the bookseller, is from Estonia and was here for the summer through an exchange program.

“The lucky ones get to work at amusement parks for the summer and earn enough money for airline tickets and living expenses. Katya’s job selling books via bicycle was not a profitable experience.

“I thought she was a very brave woman, riding her bicycle and carrying a heavy backpack in the summer heat trying to make a buck. I don’t think she realized that Fargo becomes a ghost town on weekends during the summer. To make matters worse, Katya’s assigned territory was north Fargo and her host family lived in south Fargo.

“Taking pity on a lost or at least lonely soul, I told Katya to come back at 6 p.m. for dinner as I was planning to grill too much food. After she left, I called my wife and told her we would have a guest and needed more supplies.

“I made a quick run to Hornbacher’s to get fresh salmon. Our meal for the evening consisted of corn on the cob, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chicken, pork tenderloin and salmon. As we were eating, I asked Katya her age, and she replied “I’m 25 years old today.” We were quite excited and honored to have a surprise birthday party.

“During the next month, Katya visited my wife on a regular basis and shared that she wanted to get home to Estonia as soon as possible. The book sales were not going well, and she wanted to be with her fiancé.

“In August, we arranged a ride for her to Nashville, Tenn., so she could fly home. I wish she would have stayed longer so we could have taken her on a road trip.

“We recently received a package from Estonia which included wedding photos of Katya and her husband. My wife continues to speak with her via Skype.”

Thanks Keith. It is always amazing to me how people come into our lives. We may think we are helping them, but in the end I often find it is me who got the greater blessing.

Continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.