The Power of Community
A few years back, my wife and I bought a house in the College Heights neighborhood. Some friends of ours were already living in that community, and we were excited to join in with the good that was already happening. One of the cool things about our house was that it had a small apartment in the backyard that already had a renter. For a young family trying to make it on a single paycheck while finishing up with school, even a small rent check every month made the difference for us in being able to afford the house.
Our tenant kept odd hours and didn't seem especially interested in getting to know us, so we tried to be good landlords and went about tending to other responsibilities. Then, about a month ago, she let us know that she was moving out of town.
Amanda and I jumped at the opportunity to make some improvements to the apartment, especially since we had never had the chance to work on it without someone living there. Our good friend and CCC/ANI partner Josh Love expressed interest in moving in, so we knew we only had a small window of time to make the desired changes. With that in mind, we decided there was only one course of action worth taking.
It was time to bring in the community.
Calls were made. Texts were typed. Facebook invitations were sent. Face to face requests were asked. Soon, we had contacted enough folks to have reasonable hope that we could make significant progress on the little apartment in the time frame we had available. All we could do was prepare for the workday and hope people showed up.
Sure enough, this past Saturday friends and neighbors flocked to our backyard like the salmon of Capistrano. (If you caught that reference, we should be friends.) A total of sixteen people came to help out on their day off from work, which not only helped us knock out almost all the inside cleaning and painting, but reminded us of how thankful we are for such a great group of people around us. Sixteen people on a day that barely got above freezing was more than we could have asked for or expected. Just to give you a better idea of how instrumental our neighbors were, I'd like to explain a little about a few people who came to help.
Out of the sixteen people who worked Saturday, at least eleven were either current, former, or soon-to-be neighbors in College Heights. (We recruit folks to CH pretty well, so you never know how many people who don't currently live in our area might migrate our way eventually...) That speaks to the phenomenal people who are a part of the life of the neighborhood, and their willingness to help their friends and neighbors. A couple of our workers left spouses at home to watch after their kids on their own, which means even more folks were doing extra work. Two more neighbors from College Heights who weren't able to attend due to scheduling conflicts offered up their tools and painting supplies to help us not break the bank purchasing new stuff. Other neighbors offered to cook us dinner so that we wouldn't have to worry about food that night, even if we were too exhausted to take them up on it.
All in all, the workday was a huge success, and my family owes it mostly to the incredible community in College Heights. Are there some rough edges to the neighborhood? Absolutely. But the good outweighs any negatives by more than can be measured. My hope is that I can be that kind of neighbor to those around me, and that we all can strive to make our neighborhoods full of people like the ones who blessed us so richly blessed us with their presence, their work, and their friendship.