Recently, we celebrated The Arc of GHN’s 55th Annual Candlelight Ball. Once again, staff, families and people receiving supports came together for a night of fun, laughter and good food. It was a pleasure to be around the energy of so many compassionate people. This year’s theme was Family, Friends and Community; a theme which captures the elements that makes this agency such a wonderful place to work and which are the bedrock of our mission. In particular, it is our sense of community that strikes me as the driving force behind our efforts and the relationships we build.
“It is not more bigness that should be our goal. We must attempt, rather, to bring people back to….the warmth of community, to the worth of individual effort and responsibility…and of individuals working together as a community, to better their lives…” Robert F. Kennedy
At The Arc we believe that community is not only where we live, and who we live with, but also a state of mind. Yes, we are here to collaborate with and support our neighbors, our local businesses and our local government; but it is more than that. Community is a sense of togetherness, a sense of belonging, a shared commitment to one another. To me, the Arc has a special spirit of community that celebrates our differences while embracing the common thread of humanity which ties us together. As a community, we are able to draw together to influence decision makers, to effect change and to show compassion and decency around us.
One of the most healing forces in our world is that of acceptance. It is feeling part of a community that captures that the most for me. As a community, we give each other permission to make mistakes, and to express our hurt, without fear of alienation. Allowing ourselves to feel part of a community can be scary. It can make us feel vulnerable and exposed. However, when we bring kindness and tolerance to each other, with time, trust develops and that vulnerability eases. When we allow ourselves to be a part of a community we grow and heal – from that stems an ability to share each other’s success and to celebrate our strengths.
At the Arc, I am overwhelmed at times by the transformation that community brings. Personally, I have lived it and professionally, I see it occurring with the people we support. When we see each other for the human souls we are and show kindness and understanding, we are accepting that life is a messy journey, unique to each of us but which, if we allow ourselves to lean in, can bring us to a place of contentment that can only stem from connectivity with those around us.
As our agency continues to evolve, it is my hope that we deepen our sense of community by finding more opportunities to connect with those around us with the goal of enriching the lives of our staff and those we support. I invite you all to find the moments in your life where you can connect and experience the joy that being part of a community can bring.
Abigail Eaves, MA, LMHC
Director of Programs