Niagara Gazette

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December 12, 2013

DELUCA: Her best day ever

Niagara Gazette — Sandra Lahrache turned 50 on Wednesday. It was, she said, the best day of her life. 

Her original plan was to celebrate by doing fifty nice things, but the day kind of spiraled out of control. As a result, there was a little epidemic of kindness that spread throughout the region.

The idea came to her last summer when she was having dinner with her teenage son, Zach, at a restaurant in Lewiston. They happened to notice an older man dining alone. When he saw Sandra and her son having a chocolate lava dessert, he commented on how good it looked.

On a whim, Sandra quietly ordered another dessert, and asked that it be given to the man without saying who’d paid for it. The waitress told the guy there’d been an extra one in the kitchen. He was, as you can imagine, delighted by the unexpected surprise.

With that action, Sandra got hooked on a sort of kamikaze niceness — swooping in and doing something to bring a smile to someone’s face and then disappearing, when possible, before being detected. 

It’s not like she wasn’t already engaged in a life of service. A mom with two kids, she worked at a foundation in Lewiston that assists families when a rape has occurred. She also volunteers as a rape crisis counselor. And, though her work might sound depressing, she told me she feels a certain joy in helping others. She wanted to do more.

As her 50th birthday loomed, she told her people that, instead of gifts, she wanted everyone to do a good deed. They were on board, but not particularly as enthused as she.  

The day of her birthday she rose at 4:30 a.m. and her first action was to write love letters to the most important family and friends in her life. Then, she and her friend, Shoshanna Cogan, dropped in at Heart, Love and Soul where they chopped broccoli and organized silverware for the lunch crowd at the soup kitchen. It was Sister Beth Brosmer who heard her story and phoned me and said, “You are going to love this woman’s story.” Of course, I did.

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