Community: Giving = Gratitude

 

Community is Connection

As human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop, and to our community as a whole. We find community though family or friends, work or organized sports, and through other activities.

Demographic, social, and economic status can bring a threat of alienation. Community involvement is the thread to bring people together to advocate and support each other in the fight to overcome such threats.

A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role.

Community is Social Justice

My memoir is aptly titled, Out of Chaos. My life was chaotic. I had made poor choices, was homeless at 25 years old and homeless again not long ago. No longer living in chaos, my life is good today.

Writing my memoir took time, lots of time. Lunch breaks at work, evening down time, and early morning wake-up calls got me through the first draft, which took more than a year.

During this year of my jumbled writing, life kept happening. When in my daily commute on foot, I’d see homeless folks and others struggling in the moment. When with friends, I’d feel their difficulties. And news reports would show effects of social injustices.

Giving back to my community is my way of showing gratitude for my life today. I do this through commitment to my library job, through volunteer work with organizations which help others, and through a listening ear for friends and strangers who I cross paths with.

It’s a matter of  working with others to make sure that good things happen. It’s about creating positive change. It’s a matter of avoiding contempt and embracing equality, support, and a sense of caring. So, for me, community is social justice.

What Does Community Mean to You?

There are many ways to get involved in the community through humanitarian efforts. I created an e-booklet, chock full of ideas, resources, and links, all to lead you with inspiration to your calling in your community.

Do you have the e-booklet? People Helping People is now available when signing up for my newsletter. This is new, so if you are already subscribe and don’t have it and want it, let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like to think of community as a collective effort for us to come together as one in celebration of, and not resistance of, our unique differences. Beliefs, goals, and identity may vary among us, but connection can be a constant attribute if we wish. Community has given me stability. It’s polar opposite to my old life; a life of chaos.

I’d like to hear your comments on community.    -Elle-

And if you like what you read here, please share.

 

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Creating Art in the Fight Against Hunger

Creating Art in the Fight Against Hunger

Teaming with the American Institute of Architects and other members of the construction and design industry, this charity drive offers a creative way to give back to the community, in many communities in America and beyond. Teams are responsible for purchasing their own canned food and creating their own structures. All food raised is donated to their local food bank(s).

Canstructures are made entirely from canned foods within a 10’x10’x8’ space. It easily takes several thousand cans, sometimes up to 20,000 cans to create a canstructure.

 

 

 

 

 

What

 ​is

 ​CANstruction?  

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CANstruction is a nonprofit organization in the United States. This charity combines the competitive spirit of a design contest while meeting the needs to feed the hungry. This collaborative event is held in more than 100 cities across America, as well as in other cities, world-wide. It calls our attention to the pervasive issue of hunger in our communities.

It happens each year at about this time. This year, the designs were built on April 10 for display and public viewing all month, through today, April 29. By individual votes and an anonymous jury, the completed canstructures were judged for Best Design, People’s Choice, and other awards.

In my community, here in the greater area of Cincinnati, Ohio, seven downtown places participated. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was one place. I’m both happy and proud to work alongside great coworkers here at this library, who are passionate in this worthy cause.        

What​ ​is​ ​the​ ​impact​ ​of​ ​CANstruction?

This event raises awareness of the need for hunger relief. Many families and vulnerable individuals struggle when it comes to eating on a regular basis. Children who qualify for and receive reduced or free lunches at school, often go hungry on the weekends. More than 13-million American children live in households with uncertain access to food which supports a healthy life.

After the competition and exhibition, the structures are deconstructed, and all canned food is given to community food banks.

 

Volunteering at the Freestore Foodbank’s distribution center.

In my community, all cans are donated to the Freestore Foodbank, which operates nationwide and is part of the Feeding America organization. Feeding America is the national association of affiliated food banks. It is the largest hunger relief organization, connecting community local food pantries in every state of America, bridging gaps.

Resources:

While CANstruction is over for this year, there are other ways to help. Link to Freestore Foodbank and Feeding America for volunteer opportunities.

Links:

Freestore Foodbank

Feeding America

CANstruction on Facebook

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County on Facebook with Post on CANstruction.

Videos of Interest:

This first video was published prior to the event. It is narrated, explaining how to participate in the CANstruction. While locality specific, it is informative and brief, at just under 4 minutes.

For a time-lapsed viewing of creating a canstructure, check out this even shorter video:

Did you visit any Canstructures on display this year? How do you feel about the fight against hunger? I’d love to hear your comments.                        -Elle-

 

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Be In the Moment with a Veteran

Adlai E. Stevenson (23rd U.S. Vice President) said, (quote) “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” (unquote).xxxx
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Dear Veteran-Friends,
The dedication that you—our men and women fighting for our country—is indelible. Your fight on the front-lines and commitment to public service enables us to learn compassion and grow intellectually. Freedom isn’t free. Those who are willing to pay the price, the time away from their families, and the endless dangers of the battleground are our true heroes. Our hearts and minds are changed forever and we are grateful.
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Dear Friends, here are some ways to remember our Veterans.

REFLECTION

  • Read something a Veteran wrote about their experience.
  • Write in your journal how thankful you are for the service of Veterans.
  • Take a private moment to be proud of your country.
  • Observe a moment of silence with family and friends.
  • Take a moment to reflect on what it means to live in America.
  • Hang an American flag in your yard.
  • Use Social Media to #THANKAVET!
SAY THANKS
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  • Write and send a letter to someone who’s currently serving in the military.
  • Thank a Veteran co-worker for their service.
 GIVE THANKS
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  • Donate time or money or supplies to local Veterans Day drives.
  • Volunteer to help a Veteran’s service organization.
 ACTION
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  • Shake a Veteran’s hand.
  • Teach a child what it means to be a Veteran.
  • Send an email to the people on your contact list that tells a Veteran’s story.
  • Attend a Veterans Day event.
  • Go to a Veterans Day parade.
 BE IN THE MOMENT WITH A VETERAN
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  • Ask a Veteran about their time in the military, and really listen to the answer.
  • Visit a home-bound Veteran in their home.
  • Visit a homeless Veteran under a bridge.
  • Take a Veteran out to dinner.
  • Take dinner in to a Veteran.
  • Buy a homeless Veteran a cup of coffee.
  • Mark on your calendar a day each month to do one of the above listed—even though Veteran’s Day will have passed.
Examining our past and learning from it means seeing not only our achievements, but our failings. Accountability to our communities involves not only creating a society which makes us proud, but also recognizing and then changing those darkest impulses which have marred our country.
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Additional Resources:

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https://www.operationgratitude.com/

https://www.dav.org/

  Please share a Veteran-story with us in the comments.
*In memory of my father who I came to know and love only after his death: Robert Frank Wells (1943-2015), Commanding Officer, U.S.N.R., Retired 1969. 
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Thank you Dad, for life
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We Can Do It!

Since the latest political shift in our American society, people are taking a stand in unprecedented numbers — this latest wake makes it difficult to remain neutral.

In January 2017, our Capitol’s front steps saw the largest political demonstration in fifty years; a plea for human rights and equality. Our country hadn’t had such a large turnout since the days of the Vietnam War protest, back in the days I was born.

Eleanor Roosevelt had written a daily column for a syndicated newspaper; these ranged from women’s issues to general humanitarian causes. She was not just another First Lady. She was a changemaker.

 

  My great-grandmother penned an  advice column for women, Dear Polly Potter”. xxx

It ran in a  newspaper many years before Dear Abby. She was not just my role model. She made a positive difference in her community.

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Likewise, we needn’t be just another concerned community citizen.

Through our chosen venue, we too can influence others.

As a Creative Nonfiction Writer and Memoirist, I see my passions include equal rights, advocacy for the homeless, and support groups which don’t isolate members. I’ve been adversely subjected to these problems in society, yet overcame them through action. Not many people can say the same, but many people are affected by these concerns….

The neighborhood I work in is in the heart of a big city, saturated with homeless folks. I put this concern in writing and it is now published in the inaugural issue of One Person’s Trash Literary Journal, even without any journalistic experience.

Like Eleanor Roosevelt, I believe I am making a difference, and I see differences all around me, thanks to my writing.

How will you influence change?

What will you do today to make a positive difference?

For a feel-good-story to get us started, check out the link to this photo (click on the photo), below:

Photo from Newsner

We can make a difference in our communities!

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