By just waving at people, 75-year-old North Carolina man builds a sense of community

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CHARLOTTE (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – We’ve all heard that “one person can only do so much.” But 75-year-old Luciano Rivera has touched the community with a small gesture.

All he does is wave and say “hello” to passersby.

“Yeah I’m coming,” Rivera said, walking outside his home in the Madison Park neighborhood to generate a wave of goodwill.

“Hello, hello!” he yells out, as cars honk in response on Seneca Place. He spends hours a day interacting with neighbors who used to be strangers.

“Just a simple wave has turned into something special,” Rivera told FOX 46.

“How are you doing?” he yells out to a woman, who pulled over and rolled down her window to speak to him.

“I am doing well!” she replied.

“Good, stay well! Merry Christmas,” said Rivera.

Lately, he’s worn a festive Santa hat as he waves, but these aren’t simply season’s greetings. He does this year-round to the delight of people like Preston Henderson.

“We all have stuff,” he said, referring to everyday problems. “And for a brief second all that stuff goes away. And there’s a nice little man standing here.”

“Ohh! Look at that… Hello!!” the jolly Rivera told someone on the street.

He started doing this a couple of years ago as a ploy to get drivers to slow down.

“I did not like the way people used to run through here like wild animals,” he said. “No one said good afternoon, nobody said good morning — nothing! They just go go go! Now I slow them down. Now they can see there’s another side to the story.”

This is his way of replicating the same neighborhood vibe he grew up in Puerto Rico.

“They slow down, they pull over, they talk to you,” says Rivera.

That’s why we shouldn’t underestimate the power of one, and the impact of a single waving hand.

“My mother always told me growing up, ‘You need to make sure that you make everybody’s day better when they leave,’” said Henderson. “And that’s definitely what he does.”

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