Introducing 'Heart of the Community': A new community initiative for helping each other

By Joan Hunt - ReminderNews Managing Editor
Statewide - posted Thu., Feb. 14, 2013
Contributed
'We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.' -Winston Churchill - Contributed Photo

Not all news is good. Stories about death and destruction leave us feeling vulnerable and looking for ways to reach out to the victims of these tragedies. And yet often there is nothing significant we can do on our own to make a difference for those victims.

I recall when terrorists attacked the twin towers in NYC on Sept. 11, 2001. In an attempt to do something to help, horrified Americans turned out in large numbers to donate blood. The sad fact was that much of the blood – which has a very short shelf life – had to be disposed of because it was way more than what was needed for the survivors.

Similarly, after the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, people from all over the country sent gifts, fruit baskets and offers for free activities to the survivors and their families. As retired Griswold school superintendent Elizabeth Osga noted when she went to Newtown to help her friend, Newtown Superintendent Janet Robinson, in the days following the tragedy, literally tons of objects had to be checked out by the FBI and then warehoused. “What they [the children] needed was to get back to the comforting routine...” she told our reporter, Janice Steinhagen.

So what do we do with our desire to soften the blow of terrifying events? How do we put the “human” back into humanity? From the heart-warming stories that we print in these pages every week, it appears that we may have to look no further than our own neighborhoods, our local towns and communities where people are hurting and other people are finding ways to help  them.

When the fabric of our civilization rips and tears, it can be repaired one stitch at a time by willing hands and generous hearts. It doesn’t matter where these efforts are applied. Each act of kindness has a healing effect. And there are so many people in our communities who can use a helping hand.

Our food pantries have more visitors than ever before. Meals on Wheels delivers food to the home bound. There are programs for people who need rides to doctor appointments, or in-home companions to keep them company, or readers for the blind. Young mothers sometimes need help learning the ropes, women who have been abused are being helped to get back into the work force and back into control of their lives. Homeless animals are being sheltered while permanent arrangements can be made for them.

These and many other forms of needed relief are being performed throughout our communities by people who have no agenda other than a desire to be of value to others.

Our goal in introducing the “Heart of the Community” program is to connect the people who want to help others with the people who need help right in their own communities. We will feature stories throughout the coming year that highlight how our residents are giving the very best gift they have – the gift of their presence – to their neighbors in need.

But we can’t be everywhere, and we also want to hear your personal stories. If you are involved in a group or project that reflects the “Heart of the Community” or have been served by one, please send me your stories and photos at jhunt@remindernet.com or to my attention at ReminderNews, 130 Old Town, in Vernon, CT 06066.


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