It’s About COMMUNITY Dang it!

By Wild Iris

I was reading the paper this morning, with my usual cup of extra strong coffee.  An article caught my attention that focused on a person who was losing their home.  The person had been living without water or electricity for a very long time, the property taxes were in default and he had been eating less than quality meals for years.

As I read the article, the usual rhetoric was applied…his neighbors turned to GOVERNMENT agencies to help him.  The writer built a case for why we need more social services to help people like him…and on and on.  Funny how this piece just happened to come at a time when states are having to cut services because we as a state and country are broke. …Another article for another day.

Excuse me, why didn’t his neighbors and local community do something to help him?  Someone please tell me, what about the local non-profits, Churches, Temples and Mosques?  Who better to know what this person really needs, then the people who live around him?

So here is my rant about those who are continually talking about building strong communities, better communities, and on and on.  Seems to me their conversations stop, the minute THEY need to do something themselves to help someone.  I have found it to be a pattern with the group of people in our society whose war cry is   “we need to help the community and others” or as I like to call them the “somebody else should do it”  group.

I have been involved with multiple non-profits, worked thousands of hours as a volunteer and donated money when I really could not afford to in order to help others.  This group really pisses me off.  Over the years, in my volunteering experiences, it’s these people who never seem to have the time.  They have the time to tell you what you should be doing to help the “community” but not enough time to do any volunteering themselves.

The excuses are, my child or children has “fill in the blank with a school activity, sporting event or whatever”, or I have “fill in the blank with some activity”.  Really?  How about you and your children volunteering to help someone else in your neighborhood like the elderly couple who can no longer mow their yard or needs some home repairs done, but can’t afford it?  Or maybe just sitting and talking with them for a few hours because they are lonely.  What a great life lesson for the family in doing for others, not ourselves.

Moving on to spending or donating money to help someone in their neighborhood.  Now the excuses are really funny. This group is the first in line to demand that the government do more to help the poor, but at the same time think personally they need bigger tax deductions.  Why should they have to pony up more money for the government agencies that is the job of the…drum roll please….”Rich people” The mythical Rich People should pay more taxes, not the “somebody else” group.  I sense another article in my future on this topic.

Here is a thought, if we ALL reached out to help each other and not demanded more government agencies or programs, the tax bill would be SMALLER for everyone.  Guess what, we would ALL have more money in our pockets to help others directly.

In small towns, people help each other for the most part.  Those who live in larger cities seem to have lost any real sense of what a community is.  Look around you, my guess is that at least half your neighbors could use a helping hand. I am not talking about just money.  Perhaps, they are working on a home project and could use some advice or an extra pair of hands.  The couples with a new baby or a child that has not been out on a “date” for months and could use a free babysitter so they can afford a movie and some “them time”.  How about that single neighbor, do they have a place to go for holiday dinners or the safety of knowing that someone cares about them?

You might be asking yourself, right about this time, what has Wild Iris done to help or is this just another person trying to make me feel bad?  The answer is, I have put my money and time, where my mouth is, or in this case, keyboard is.  Most recently, several of my neighbors were at risk of losing their homes.  Now I am not a person with much free cash, however, I do have a lot of talents, so I put a couple of those to work for my neighbors.

One has lost his business and could not find a job.  After a few conversations over the fence with him, I realized he has no skills or understanding of how to find a job in the new world of online everything.  So I jumped on the internet and started finding jobs that he had the right background for.  Shortly, he had a job and was on the road to financial recovery.

Another neighbor has a home based business, but no idea how to grow it, without spending a bunch of money on advertising.  Again, this person was not online savvy nor knowledgeable about marketing.  With some coaching on selling and training on how to put ads on Craigslist (free), the business has slowly been gaining traction.

My point is do you know your neighbors?  Are you involved with them on an ongoing basis?  Are you there when times are tough, willing to do what you can to be of assistance?  Will they be there for you when you need help?  Every little bit of interaction, caring, helping, sharing, builds a truly strong community of neighbors.  With strong communities and neighbors, the need for big “agencies or programs” goes away, while the sense of being a part of something amazing grows.

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