The Power of Community

Zachary - St.Louis, Missouri
Entered on December 22, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: community

I believe in the power of my community. Although controversial beliefs, competitions, and rivalries occasionally exist within my community, when united for a common cause, I know that they can accomplish anything.

When I was only 9 years old, my grandfather died. Just hours after I had last spoken to him, the most influential human being in my life was now gone. My whole family suffered. We received a massive outpouring of sympathy from our entire community who gave us strength, their kindness, and a shoulder to cry on, which helped me get through those dark times.

I was both surprised and pleased, pleasantly surprised, by the time they invested in us, especially my brother and I, in order to ensure our peace of mind. Our neighbors and friends became our family; they gave us themselves without a second thought. They loved us. Their supreme compassion reminded me of a quote by Elbert Hubbard in which he stated that, “The love we give away is the only love we keep”. I believe that his quote rings true among many of the different types of relationships which I have with the world around me because I know that I will only receive what I am willing to sacrifice in return. The love which my community has shown me is a kindness which will be returned by my family and I without hesitation, just like they helped us.

While my family and I were in the Jewish period of mourning, referred to as sitting shiva, our friends and family brought us food so that we had one less thing to worry about. These simple gestures gave my family and I relief and made our lives easier, a priceless gift. They also donated money to various charities of their choice in my grandfather’s name, honoring him in ways which will never be forgotten.

The boundless generosity and love which was demonstrated to me reinforced the strong connection I felt with my community. I realized that rather than thinking of them as merely friends, I will forever know them as my external family. Although many had never met him, they supported us, because they felt as strong of a connection with us as we did with them. They gave us their love and the ability to go on in an especially dark time. My community helped me in ways which I will never forget.

I shall never underestimate the power of my community.