Importance of community

April 6, 2007

My neighborhood learned a big lesson in the importance of community, caring, extending yourself to help another and just connecting with each other.   A year ago, the teenage daughter of my neighbor was murdered.  It was a senseless act of retribution from former “friends”.  

 This young girl had fallen into a rough crowd in her early teens and she and her family suffered the ultimate loss for such an unwise decision.  But my neighbors and I bear part of the responsibility.  We knew she was the only child of a single mother trying to make it in a high cost of living area.  We knew she was home alone way more often than is healthy for teenagers.   Unfortunately, her mother had to work two jobs to stay.  We knew, my neighbors and I, that this young girl was left alone most of the time while her mother attempted to do the right thing and earn a living so her daughter could live in a safe area and attend good schools.  Yet we never invited this poor girl in to our homes.  We were too busy, caught up in our own lives.

I will not make that mistake again.  This tragedy touched me so deeply, so profoundly.  It was the beginning of my transformation from surviving for myself to living.  Since this act, I have made a conscious decision to get to know our neighbors and to pay attention to what is happening in their lives and with their children.  Living isn’t easy in this modern world and we could all use as much help as we can get.

Another neighbor has been busy this year.  She and her husband have been struggling to improve their financial situation as they prepare to send their oldest to college in a few years.   My friend is working toward her masters degree. She could draw it out over the years or just push through and get it done.  She is taking a full load this year while working part time.  This has meant that her children have less time with their parents while dad is working and mom is studying, working, and attending class.  Her two boys have become regulars in my home.  So much so they now come in and make themselves at home, either watching television, playing with my son, or helping me in the wildlife gardens.  My son benefits by their closeness, the parents benefit because they know the boys are always welcome here, I benefit from “free labor” 😉 because they love my wildlife gardens.  The boys benefit from having supervision.

Last night my neighbor/friend and I were talking.  We realized one of her boys was gone and we found him in my house watching television.  She immediately expressed her feelings of guilt but was quick to say that her boys have been taking this very difficult year so well and she believes it is because they have us, our home, attention from adults in their lives, and a safe place to be if necessary.   Their lives would be so much worse without the connection, without us across the street, without caring friends there to help. 

This is living deliberately.  Making connections with the people in your life.   This is worth it. 

I hope all of you who are reading this blog take a moment and find where you can make a connection.  You may just make a difference in someone’s life. 

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