Imagine for a moment that you are not connected, I mean really not connected to the digital world. You’re yearning for somewhere to go where you will feel safe and understood and in your pocket the only thing you find is a dollar. You’re hungry, tired and emotionally exhausted. But somewhere, deep down inside you a little spark tells you to go out and find just one person whose been in your shoes to share your anguish with so that together you can live for today.
OK, ok, you say to yourself, I’m going but only because I know I’m not the only one…
Upon walking down the street, you notice the old wooden side-door of the neighbourhood Church buzzing with activity. Opening, closing, opening, closing. What is going on in there you wonder. And then you see her. She is laughing and holding the door open for someone. She is holding a hot steamy coffee. Happy, you think. Why, you wonder. Could that be me?
Usually you are too shy and nervous to go inside the Church, especially for Sunday service. All the folks are dressed to the nines and driving fancy cars…
That darn fear of the unknown strikes again.
I can’t. You will. But I just can’t. But you will… Just go, do it. Your hungry, your sad, you need this….
Toast, coffee, and cinnamon awake your senses as you swing open the old door. The stairs are squeaky as you tiptoe down them. Laughter and a lot of buzz fill your ears. As you peak around the corner to see exactly what is going on in there – someone yells, hurry, grab yourself some coffee bingo is just about to start.
Bingo, coffee, laughter, and a whole room full of someone…
Nervously you pour a cup of coffee and sneak a seat over in the corner. Unsure of what to expect but secretly hoping that you fit in. As you take off your jacket, the telephone beside you rings. The lady next to you says get the phone. Hello you say quietly. Is Nancy there, they ask. Panic. Nancy? As your eyes look out across the room and your heart pounds you realize that you have to shout out and find Nancy.
Is, is Nancy here you say. Who, “someone yells back”. Nancy, the phone is for Nancy. Nancy, the other lady yells – loud. Come get the phone. Nancy comes rushing over smiling, oh I hope it’s about the job interview I had, she says.
I got the job! Nancy yells across the room… And everyone starts clapping, smiling, and hugging Nancy.
Finally, you think. I found my somewhere to belong.
Later on at home, as you are sorting through the bags of food that were given to you at the center you find the calendar of events that they slipped into the bag for you. Immediately you start crying.
- A holiday party
- A weekly food bank
- A Resume builder workshop
- A pick a new outfit day
- Bingo with prizes
- Family outing day
- Computer skill building day
- Networking online day
- Food, coffee, and socializing everyday
It’s not just that I am thankful for the food, you think. What is this that I am feeling?
Why can’t I stop crying?
The other women, they are all just like me. They welcomed me. Laughed with me. They got to know me. And, they invited me back. But that is still not it. They are facing the exact same hardships as I am, and they are giving back just as much as they are getting (without even realizing it).
It’s a community, you think. It’s my community. I felt love there. They met my needs there. I just can’t wait to go back.
Not only did I feel immediate gratification, but I feel I can count on the community now. I can get the daily essentials that I need. I can make a difference too. You think…
Bloggers strive to build community everyday. Do you think that sometimes maybe we over think our community building strategies?