JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Christmas is a time for giving, but there are some people who give all year long. It’s just who they are and what they do. For one Jonesboro neighborhood, it’s their mail carrier. So they decided to return the favor—with one special delivery.
“I’ve been out here for over 16 years now,” Quentin Shavalia said.
Shavalia talks about the mail route he runs every day in a central Jonesboro neighborhood called Birdland. It’s named for streets like Starling, Thrush, and Dove.
“I love my people,” Shavalia said as he speaks of the residents along his route.
He also loves their pets.
“I’ve got to grab three biscuits out of my truck because there are three dogs that live there,” Shavalia said as he pointed to a white house with a big smile.
Shavalia doesn’t just deliver packages. He brings loving kindness to every stop. Shavalia stops to place dog treats on top of a large parcel that he sets on a doorstep.
“One of the things he asks me often is how my elderly neighbors are doing on either side of me,” Leslie Williams, a Birdland resident said. “He wants to make sure that I’ve seen them—especially if they haven’t gotten their mail.”
But it’s the four-legged friends that Shavalia has developed a special bond, you might say.
“The dogs sense that he’s coming and they come to the door,” Tracey Parker, another Birdland resident said. “They bark and want to go outside.”
They know treats await. It started with a dog named Sport.
“Quentin would always give him crackers or some treat like that, and it just became a habit that the dog would hear the truck coming,” Matt Parker said. “He would run out to the curb and wait on Quentin.”
Sport passed away and Parker’s parents, Herbert and Marie, had a second dog named Abby. When the Parkers died…
“Quentin was so concerned about what would happen to Abby, and he asked if he could have her,” Parker said.
Abby lived a long life with Quentin’s family and died over a year ago. Birdland neighbors sensed the loss and Quentin’s impending retirement.
“They’re coming!” Ray Osment, another Birdland neighbor said.
So, they banded together—humans and four-legged friends, for one big surprise on a weekday afternoon as Quentin ran his mail route.
“So Quentin, you probably are wondering why we’re all here,” Osment said.
“Oh, my God!” Quentin said shaking his head.
“You go above and beyond for all the neighbors,” Osment said. “We think this might mean a lot to you. The neighborhood rallied together. We got you something for your retirement. We hope you really enjoy it.”
“Oh, my goodness! Oh, my goodness,” Shavalia said.
“So, we’ve got one of these coming your way,” Osment said as he pointed to a Bella Doodle Goldendoodle dog.
“Thank you so much,” Shavalia said shaking his head. “I’m speechless. It’s wonderful!”
“We’re going to miss you!” Williams said as she hugged him.
“I’m going to miss you all,” Shavalia said to the group gathered on Robin Road. “The smiles and I felt. Don’t you cry, Quentin! It’s very touching and I did not in a million years see it coming. I can’t tell you. It’s overwhelming. It really is. And I appreciate you all.”
The hugs and the smiles all witnessed by Shavalia’s own family too, as they were in on the surprise.
From the neighborhood who thinks of him as family…
“I’ve watched them go to college and get married,” Shavalia said. “Half of my postal career has been on this route.”
“He’s an exceptional man, and it’s been an honor to have him in our neighborhood every day,” Tracey Parker said.
A couple of heart attacks are leading him to retire, to spend time with family, but his Birdland family won’t forget him.
“I think it’s been a blessing to have Quentin as our mailman so somebody has pretty big shoes to fill and better bring treats for our dogs,” Williams said.