How important is community, and how does community begin?
If I look back, moving to a new town, not knowing anyone here outside of work, how did I come to be so tightly connected to the individuals who live here?
It started with Elevation, a community of believers intentionally focused on living life together. The image of “together” expanded far beyond hanging out on a Sunday afternoon. Together looked like wrapping up baskets of nice-to-have products for low-income individuals on valentines day. Together looked like donating mattresses to new refugees who were just entering the city, sleeping on the hardwood floor. Together looked like bringing meals to every member of the Church community who just entered the amazing, and daunting world of parenthood. Together look like a group of different people journeying in community to explore the wonder, struggle, and mystery of created life and its Creator.
Community grew wider when our daughter was born. Neighbours appeared with gifts and clothes. Our fence-less backyards spread wide a space of enchantment and fun, where kids run and play, fight and argue, swing and dance and paint, and neighbours enjoy a beverage together while catching up on the happenings of everyday life. Those small conversations paved the road to enjoying some of the most incredible, cherished group of people I could have dreamed up. When my husband died they, along with my Elevation community, became my local family. Neighbours took my daughter for sleepovers, or honoured the memory of my husband with a dedicated tree, sent their kids over for play dates, and engaged in deep, honest, or ridiculously silly conversation.
Then entered the YMCA. It started with an idea and an email. “I would like to write about how exercise has helped my grief journey in exchange for a membership.” They accepted. With every post my appreciation for the YMCA grew. New ideas emerged. They entertained my thoughts. Like Elevation, like my neighbours, they were intentional about connecting community. Recently I asked if I could have the Director from a local organization I volunteer with contact them about having some kids they work with visit the YMCA for a few weeks? “Yes!” they responded.
“I’m working on revamping an organizations volunteer orientation. Could I meet with the individual who runs your volunteer program?” “Yes!” they responded again.
That’s how I’ve come to learn community grows. It’s active, and it’s about being active within it.
A few years ago, one of my neighbours came to the house with her kids to hand out holiday goodies. The next year we, and four other neighbours, followed her lead. She planted a seed, and now we’re a blooming garden of support and creativity. It starts with one, then there are some, and maybe one day there will be a ton of do-gooders all eagerly thinking how they can do a little thing, or a great thing, to better where they live.
The YMCA is currently taking nominations for the YMCA Peace Medallion. If you know of a deserving individual who has made a difference in your community, be sure to fill out a short nomination form by clicking here. I’m surrounded by so many incredible individuals I couldn’t stop at just one. I’d love to hear who you’re voting for. Let’s show the world how truly irreplaceable this community is. NOMINATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED UNTIL OCTOBER 19TH, 2012.