Naquetta Foote considers herself a loving, kind-hearted person who often gives to others, but she hasn’t always received the same treatment in return.
Foote, known as Shay by friends and family, is a single mother of three kids who said her kindness often has been taken for granted. She said she had been having an especially tough time as of late and was in need of a pick-me-up.
A group of Timbergrove Manor residents, who were strangers to Foote a little more than a year ago, recently provided that boost. Last Sunday afternoon they held a block party in honor of Foote, who has endeared herself to the neighborhood since becoming its mail carrier for the United States Postal Service during the summer of 2018.
“Tears came to my eyes, because it just feels amazing,” Foote said. “I had no idea this was coming, and it just came right at the right time. I needed this love.”
The bond between Timbergrove Manor and Foote, a 36-year-old Atascocita resident with no previous ties to the Greater Heights, could be considered unique in an era when neighbors don’t always interact with each other, let alone outsiders who pass through the community as part of their job.
Courtnie Hays, an 11-year Timbergrove resident who organized and hosted “Shay Day,” said Foote has been an extraordinary presence in the community because of her cheerful, outgoing demeanor and attentiveness while delivering the mail Monday through Saturday. Hays said Foote has made it a point to learn the names of residents and their children, playfully interacting with them as she walks from house to house, and looks after their homes while they are away.
Foote provides personal touches, too. Knowing that Hays’ 5-year-old daughter, Drew, was anxiously awaiting an announcement about who would be her fifth-grade teacher this year, Foote messaged Hays when the postcard was on its way so the family could capture the delivery on camera.
“She’s an amazing human being and an awesome postal worker,” Hays said. “She just goes so far above and beyond.”
It’s not just the Hays family that has become close with Foote. When Hays expressed her interest in hosting a party for Foote in an August post on the Timbergrove Manor Facebook page, several other residents chimed in and some posted their own pictures of the popular mail carrier.
Jennifer James shared a photo from January, when her family had a photoshoot on the front porch and included Foote as she was making her daily route. Foote said the family has asked her to be in next year’s photo as well.
“Yes! We love Ms. Shay! We are in,” Amy Pham Heilbrun wrote in response to Hays’ post about the party.
Hays said about 80 people attended Sunday’s two-hour event, with several community members contributing food, drinks and decorations. There was pizza, cake, two bounce houses and a garland covered with red, white and blue balloons.
Foote brought along 10 of her relatives, who she said were treated like family by the neighborhood she serves.
“We all just bonded,” Foote said. “We were all happy.”
Hays said it’s been inspiring to see someone take so much pride in a job that many might consider thankless. Foote said she considers delivering the mail a big responsibility, because she often handles important documents, and she treats letters and packages with care as if they were her own.
Foote said the treatment she’s received from Timbergrove Manor has been uplifting and unusual compared to some other neighborhoods where she has worked. So she plans to keep the route as long as she can.
“They make me see my worth,” Foote said. “They make me feel appreciated.”