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A Laurel teen's act of kindness recognized [Old Town Laurel]

Cora Salageria, her son Nicholas Nowlin and Sherri DePollar
Cora Salageria, her son Nicholas Nowlin and Sherri DePollar (Courtesy Photo)

Nicholas Nowlin was running into the Giant grocery store at Laurel Shopping Center around 5 p.m. one evening in late October when an older woman stopped him and asked for help with her broken cell phone.

The 18-year-old senior at Laurel High School then spent the next three hours trying to fix the problems with the woman’s phone. The woman, whose name was Victoria, had been living in area hotels and needed the phone to return calls from prospective employers.

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The scene that unfolded between the two strangers was witnessed by Laurel resident Sherri DePollar, who was so impressed by Nowlin’s act of kindness that she jumped in to help and then worked to share his good deed with his family, school and community.

“This act caught me off guard,” DePollar said. “I was so thrown back by the kindness of this kid.”

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Nowlin first accompanied Victoria, who had some difficulty with communication, to the Sprint store in the shopping center. Employees there told the pair they couldn’t help because the woman’s phone was a Verizon flip phone. Nowlin then offered to walk Victoria to a Verizon store. DePollar, in the Sprint store at the time, offered to drive them as it was getting dark.

At Verizon, Nowlin helped Victoria tell employees about the phone’s problems. Fixes for the phone there proved unsuccessful. Victoria was upset and at a loss as to how she would be able to stay in touch regarding jobs. Nowlin tried to cheer her up and was ultimately able to retrieve some old messages. Then he offered to escort her back to her hotel, with DePollar once again chauffeuring them. By the time they saw Victoria safely home, it was almost 8 p.m.

DePollar said she was grateful that her 12-year-old son witnessed a good deed by a young man who could have easily ignored the older woman, who was likely homeless, or declined to help her. She wanted Nowlin’s parents to know that they had raised a charitable son, but she didn’t know his last name or his contact information. So she got in touch with Aubrie Santuccio-Wever, a friend of hers who teaches at Laurel High, who played detective and identified Nowlin.

“I don’t know too many teenagers or too many adults who would have stopped to help this lady over a cell phone,” DePollar said.

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Laurel High honored Nowlin during a Nov. 28 assembly for his good deed. DePollar read a letter and Nowlin was presented with gift cards donated by Nando’s Peri-Peri and Blaze Pizza. Nowlin’s mother, Cora Salageria, and his sister and aunt were in attendance.

Nowlin, a part of Laurel High’s Cisco Networking Academy and a member of its basketball team, remained humble about the encounter.

“I just thought she’s the same age as my grandmother,” he said. “I just wanted to look out for her and try to help her.”

Wreaths Across America, which honors deceased service members by placing wreaths on their graves during the Christmas season, comes to Laurel on Saturday, Dec. 16. A ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at the Municipal Center, 8103 Sandy Spring Road. A procession will follow to Ivy Hill Cemetery, where wreaths will be placed. Contact site coordinator Lisa Wright at waaivyhill@gmail.com for more information.

American Legion Post 60, 2 Main St., will host its Children’s Christmas Party on Sunday, Dec. 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. The free family festivities include crafts, games, refreshments and a visit with Santa. Call 301-725-2302 for more information.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church will present its Christmas concert on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. at the church, 7607 Sandy Spring Road. This year’s theme is “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room.” The concert will open with a candle-lighting ceremony to commemorate children who have died, a yearly event sponsored by the Compassionate Friends Organization. The concert is free and open to the public. A freewill offering will be taken to benefit Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services. A reception will follow. Call 301-725-1666 for more information.

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