There are plenty of towns around America that are filled with friendly communities, but it's especially easy to find kindness in South, which is generally known for its hospitality. In fact, one spot in Tennessee was recognized by Reader's Digest as being 2021's Nicest Place in America.
"For the fifth year in a row, Reader's Digest named the Nicest Place in America, where people are kind, resilient, and work to make their communities better. After America faced a global pandemic and fought together for racial equality in 2020, this year is one of healing and building, of bouncing back stronger, together."
The magazine chose Kodak, Tennessee, and more specifically the Quality Inn in the small Sevier County town, as the nicest place in America. The honor was inspired by hotel owner Sean Patel's kindness to open his doors to local residents during a historic winter storm in December 2020.
Because many inns around the Smoky Mountains are reserved for tourists, members of the small community were left out in the cold, literally, when below-freezing temperatures and winter storms knocked out power in their homes on Christmas, sending them in search for a warm place to stay. That's when Patel stepped up, posting to social media to tell residents who were affected to come by, saying, "We will take care of you."
Here's what Reader's Digest had to say about the nicest place in America:
"The weather may have made a mess of the holidays for many in the area, but inside the inn, the Christmas spirit was alive and well — with Patel playing Santa, giving the gifts of electricity, water, warmth, and friendship."
The Kodak Quality Inn was nominated by Patel's friend Steve Smith, who praised the former's spirit and generosity.
"I frequently ask him to dial it back a bit because he spends so much of his own money and energy to help others," said Smith. "But he has such a big heart, I know he will only give more."
Reader's Digest also announced the two runners-up for the nicest place in the country: Sun and Moon Ranch in Lexington, North Carolina, and Manton, Michigan.
Check out the report here.