The Greatness of Community

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” ~ Coretta Scott King

What words can possibly be offered during these current days of fear, uncertainty, disbelief, and confusion? The simple answer: none. As someone who loves words and has used them to lift my spirit and heal my heart during the worst of personal times, I have searched the works of great authors and historians to find meaningful inspiration. But these are unprecedented times and we are all being called upon to write the words that will one day be quoted in the history books on resilience, perseverance, and greatness.

Home from school, my children are sad, upset, confused, and anxious; homes everywhere are dealing with these same feelings. My senior is mourning the loss of the fun she was supposed to have and worries she will never again walk the halls of the school or the stage for her diploma. My 1st grader simply wants to play and misses the camaraderie of learning with his friends. He’s asked me for a schedule he can follow to know what to do at certain times of each day so he doesn’t get overwhelmed. Don’t we all wish there was a schedule we could simply follow to ensure a healthy, safe, swift completion to this current situation?

When it comes to childhood cancer, I have always said it is crucial that every child, everywhere be viewed as local. It does not matter where a child or family is from when we are battling a disease, confronting the unknown, and searching the world for answers, knowledge, and hope; instead, we must talk about community and coming together with the communities that matter most to us, regardless of geography. This same philosophy applies to all of us now.

Our digital ‘world community’ is coming together with our fingers on the keyboard and our eyes on the screen to help each other, learn from one another, and find strength in solidarity; but our physical fingerprints and line of sight have been quarantined to the community closest to us.

Each of us has a true community of partners, large and small, thoughtfully supporting non-profits and the requests for sponsorships and donations received daily. Over the last 12 years, my personal experience with the I Back Jack Foundation and Gold In September (G9) have allowed me to humbly accept thoughtfully gifted support in many heartfelt forms. Gratitude has been offered by way of printed and online recognition, personal outreach, and, most importantly, fulfillment of mission to fund new, novel therapies for children battling cancer. But I feel personally called upon now to support those in my community who have sustained the mission for childhood cancer.

As individuals, I urge everyone who can to continue to support the virtual fundraising efforts of non-profits in order to ensure services are met and missions are fulfilled; the needs are even greater now. But we have a unique opportunity to support the people and businesses we have seen printed on event programs, mentioned in advertisements, listed on auction items, and highlighted on websites; to sustain those generous hearts who have given of their resources to help others. Now is the time for compassionate action to ensure the strength and well-being of our communities near and far, to support our favorite people and places that make our communities thrive and make our collective communities great.

We will get through this, we will endure, and we will rejoice when we can once again gather together in person and in celebration. Our philanthropic hearts and pockets remain open to those in need. Resources are precious, but so too are friendships and gratitude an equally precious commodity with which we can offer support.

Two weeks ago, my 1st grader brought home a family log to track the stewardship of our time, talents, and treasures to help others. The assignment is due today, but I can think of no better response to sad, upset, confused, and anxious children then to show them how we can continue to be good stewards of compassionate hope to the community and people that mean the most to us.

In a time when we feel at a loss and struggle to know what to do, my family is going to make an effort to add to our family log for the weeks to come and share the treasure of our gratitude. Just as Gold In September will continue to grow awareness and inspire action for childhood cancer needs, I hope, as a parent, I can help my kids grow compassion and inspire action as members of the communities that mean the most to us. We are all becoming historians of this crisis and have the power to become the next authors of greatness.

Stay safe. Be well. Give blood. Grow hope.

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